What was that all about?

“What does it all mean?” I remember the moment I asked myself that very question.

My use of MSJ’s were up and down. I would repeat the same drill. Buy a batch of 1000; sell some, consume the rest. Have a couple weeks off, then repeat.

It caught up with me in a ‘time off’ period. I remember being in a pool hall in a shady part of town, it was quite lairy (it always was). There was a bit of trouble and I remember feeling really anxious, wishing I could click my fingers and disappear. Scared and confused, I had no idea what had happened. I had grown up in an area where my friends and I was accustomed to this behaviour, we were responsible for it sometimes (none more so than me). But in that moment whilst on the verge of an internal panic attack, I strolled out the snooker hall, my heart about to explode, I asked myself “what was that all about?”. It was the first time I accounted some serious withdrawal symptoms.

I still had my high risk job, one of the most dangerous around and sometimes a Valium the night before felt necessary to calm my nerves. I was competing at a decent level in combat sports so the same went for that. I loved a night at a gig or the pub to watch a band so one or two with a pint was lovely. And to be honest I still loved getting in a right 2 and 8.

I really had slowed my intake , massively slowed it. I justified it as ; well the boys do cocaine , I’ll do Valium instead. But the transient and intermittent way I was consuming, meant I had started to experience and more importantly understand withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms I didn’t like. Detached , anxious, cold, angry and vacant to those around me. The exact opposite of the feeling when I was consuming.

The discontentment started to breed questions I had never thought. I thought I can’t carry on like this. I either quit or carry on the functional addiction. I decided to quit.

I lasted three months , after a trip to an European city synonymous with partying, I ended up getting the highest I had ever been, the ecstasy tablets I took were like nothing I had experienced. The comedown was horrific.

I fought and fought taking the blues but after about 3 days, I couldn’t fight the come down anymore. I got in my car, over to the valley and went in for another thousand. I collected my ticket and it was all aboard the bus again.

Somehow; professionally I was going from strength to strength and I was so happy in my relationship. I was fit and looking my best. I had kept it all under control, all in a pot with a lid on but for the first time it was starting to simmer. I started to wonder about my addiction and once that seed was planted, everything started to change. The fun disappeared; I was asking tougher questions and began to wonder was it all sustainable. I was losing track of who was me straight and was me on Valium. The mind is the most amazing tool but it finds the path of least resistance and the quickest way to break you. And I was in a precarious spot.

My love affair with Valium had started 9 years prior. Barring the odd hiccup on the way I had made it to a point in my life where I wanted a big challenge. I decided it time to take a crack at the capital. High pressure, high stakes with a new young family in tow.

I was optimistic and thought I could sustain this way of living. After all; I’m not an addict (I thought), I stop when I want and go back when I need to. I didn’t really know what that made me back then.

I’ve touched on prior, that life is a series of moments; good bad and indifferent. And every now and then it can throw you a body blow. Once my body blow was delivered, I realised a few home truths….I couldn’t stop when I wanted, I knew exactly who I had become  and I was 100% addicted to Valium…


* 2 and 8 = State


Like a New Me

When I decided to leave my village it was for reasons that began to affect me personally. It’s sad but the harm and hurt caused to others I considered collateral and just carried on with my life. The problem with not having compassion for myself, is how could I expect to have compassion for others?
When it became too close to home I decided to leave, leave for a new place, a new country, a new life.

As I recall my time away i remember how awkward I felt for the first few weeks, I was socially uncomfortable, anxiety and anger consumed me. (perhaps this was quitting cold turkey)
As the weeks turned to months things started to change and my life started to move in a positive direction. I started to question my life up to this point and geared myself for changes. I remember the moment with clarity, sitting in a dirty hot tub; my thoughts far clearer than the water. I remember just how bright that sun was shining on my face, the trees glistened as if fake (maybe they were) but nothing was fake about that moment, I was in it!
For so many years I had used Valium to take the edge of that feeling, to numb life, to exist but not to live. Unbeknown to me at the time, I had just gone eight months without any Valium whatsoever and the world felt beautiful.

I decided it was time to return to my village.

I got back home and after twelve hours I was back on the Valium, this time a small but potent batch with a little “MSJ” stamped in the middle was popped into my palm. Cocaine was still rife in my village as it is throughout my town, my country, my island. But it was never the drug for me I was naturally alert and awake, always switched on; my issue was I longed to switch off, to detach from the network, that was the only way to fully enjoy myself. And in this little MSJ tablet I found the perfect ailment.

I had been home for a few months, I got my dream job, had a beautiful girlfriend and everyone had commented on how different I was. I had dropped the attitude, the bravado, the anger, the insecurity. I felt amazing. I was like a new me.

Six months and I had slipped back into addiction.

II could buy 1000 MSJ’s  for 100 golden coins, I would sell half of them for 120 golden coins and be left with 500 blue pills of mischief with a score (twenty) in my back pocket.
I would make justifications daily: My new job is high risk so I will take one to calm the nerves, my new job has early starts; so I take two to get a good night sleep. My new girlfriend introduces me to lots of new people; so I pop three to feel relaxed. Six doesn’t have the same affect as me on the weekend so I stick ten down my Gregory Peck. My addiction became methodical, organised and essential.

When you wash down an MSJ Valium I guess it can affect people differently, after all, we are all different. My preferred method was to slip a couple under my tongue and let them melt. I would keep them there until the metallic chalk taste started to swill round the bottom of my mouth, then a quick sip of a drink and they were washed straight into my system. twenty minutes later I was calm, the edge had gone. It was nothing like coming up of an E or a bump of cocaine. It was a warm fuzz.
I felt I didn’t care, didn’t worry, I wasn’t scared anymore. It felt like I had popped on the invisible cloak again. A cloak I could take it off when I wanted everyone to see or hear from me. I mentioned earlier about being in the moment; to me that is what life is all about. And that’s precisely what being on Valium felt like, but an emotionless and detached version, are they true moments at all? But and its a big but I have had some amazing nights on Valium and other drugs. They have pushed me into situations I would perhaps never dared to step in, allowed me to live on the cusp of danger and joy. So my feelings will always be slightly conflicted.

Looking back there are large chunks that are just black. How many connections have I made and lost? How many unforgettable nights are dark and forgotten? How many moments did I miss that are now buried?

Many moments I do remember? are losses, betrayals, pains; sadness really. And there lays the conflict.

The truth of the matter is, there is very little positive that I can take and it would be a few more years before ask myself the most important question ; “What positive have these drugs done to you?”

Stay safe.

*Gregory Peck – Neck

“Just take them”

The thing with addiction is there is no “one size fits all”. My addiction was different because I didn’t think I was an addict. After all, I didn’t think it was a problem. To be honest it the word addiction never even entered my head.

By my early twenties I had been taking Valium for four years daily. I vividly remember speaking to a friend and asking him if we were taking too much . His response was “Of course not. The ones through the week are just for sleep”. I thought that he was right. Almost as if because I was still functioning; going to work, keeping fit and because it wasn’t to get off my face it was okay. Those ones in the week simply didn’t count. When I look back, it’s hard to work out if it was denial or ignorance.

Around this time drugs were on the scene constantly, my friends and I hit it hard! I was consuming on average 60mg a weekday, weekends 300mg.

Drugs like cocaine and amphetamine were always around and crack started to creep in with some. It’s those “hard” drugs that seem to grab the headlines but in my opinion the carnage Valium causes puts them in that group.

I read an article in vice magazine which stated “Elvis, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston all had benzos in their systems when they died” But benzodiazepines aren’t eye catching enough, your Doctor prescribes them. It’s heroin, crack or cocaine that hog the newsreel.

My personality shift on benzodiazepines, in particularly Valium was subtle but enough. I had become addicted without really knowing it and I had changed, I became cold. The question for me, is why would I change if I didn’t think there was a problem ?

I spoke previously about the moral compass getting skewed and it was around this time it was totally off track.

I had a cement mixer stolen from my house which I didn’t really care too much about but after a few drinks it’s started to gnaw at me. In the end a friend and I marched to one of the roughest council estates in my city armed with a sword and totally out of our face. We were hoping hedges out the back looking for the mixer. After forty five minutes we left, luckily and by some miracle we didn’t bump into anyone. The binge carried on into the next day, company started creeping inside the group who were questionable (we were questionable) and the situations we were getting ourselves into were a little bit naughty.

The next day a friend took my car for a valet he was blued up to the eyeballs. Two days prior he had written off another friends car. That day …. He did the same to me. No insurance, no licence, no car!

Fast forward five days later and a night spiralled out of control. To cut a long story short I remember being desperate for the loo. I stopped for a pie and mash in the bushes and the police turned up. I shouted “when you gotta go, you gotta go”, to everyone’s amazement they left! In the jeep was a bottle filled with petrol (luckily it was diesel), the number plates had been painted with with white emulsion and all four of us were absolutely smashed. How it got to the point we would drive somewhere to throw a bottle filled with petrol is awful. (or threaten people with it), I shudder at the thought, I shudder at all the lives I could have ruined, I wince at what an absolute c**t I had become.

The reality is the state I was in, I probably would’ve killed me and my friends. It’s clear that at that time I was unhappy and depressed, it can be tough where I’m from but…..But that hate in your heart only existed for me when I was on Valium and alcohol. I can only hope (blindly) it was done as a threat rather than going through with it , if not then it just showed how much I had fallen.

I remember it was dark, looking back it was probably early hours and everyone had gone home. I remember the orange glow, I’m watching the rerun in my head and it is as if with an empty golden quality street wrapper over the screen.. I got out of the jeep and tried to light the rag that was stuffed in the bottle , it didn’t work. I had filled it with diesel at the petrol station and the most awful situation was averted. My friend found a pool cue and put it through a window I can’t remember the rest of the night but……. What the fuck were we doing ?!?!

The following day I was walking to my house where a friend was already parked on my drive. I hoped in the passenger seat and after some small talk I passed him a big bag of Valium. “Just take them” I said. My friend had issues, real bad issues with drugs at the time and here’s me handing him a bag of ticking time bombs. My friend was so thankful “Are you sure?” He asked. “Just take them.” I repeated.

I remember feeling so generous. I felt proud and happy with myself because I ‘sorted my friend out’. I was such a good mate I thought and he thought so to. The cold hard truth is that I was an absolute c**t and I put my friend on a path of destruction that he very really never recovered from.

I have found this piece difficult to write as reading it back isn’t easy. It’s not easy to read what had become of me. But that’s why I have posted it. At the time I thought I was flying but I the reality is; I was drowning.

Anybody who functions with addiction will know the feeling (some will be totally oblivious they even have an addiction). But when you see it in black and white it’s the most bitter pill to swallow.

Stay safe, stay strong!

*Pie & Mash = Go for a slash (pee)

“Really don’t care”

At twenty I knew it all, or Atleast thought I did. I had moved out a year prior and things started to escalate.

Class A’s were more regular amongst my group and Valium became my version of getting high, when I wasn’t getting high. I was functioning , firing on all cylinders …… or it felt like I was .

I would take them daily , treat on a Monday night with a cuppa tea (tea and a Valium was like nectar). A couple after gym was a must, lunch time in work. Even a round of golf became brilliant; walking round a course “blue’d up” was a Tuesday treat for my and my buddy. This became the norm , my routine. It made me like me and therefore( I thought); everyone must like me.

The weekend was a whole different ball game. Even at this early stage it would be normal to consume 300mg over a weekend.

When everyone around you is experimented or even abusing, judgement is clouded and a moral compass gets skewed.

One night my friends and I had a “val session”, it continued until we all passed out. That morning a friend stole the van I had been driving (it didn’t belong to me). He didn’t care of course, he saw it as the craic and I didn’t care if he crashed it and fucked himself up. I just wanted it back!

That’s the thing about Valium you really don’t care, throw in some alcohol and you can get from nought to blind rage in a few seconds.

I jumped in my friends car. (one coked up, one valed up. Both of us drunk.) We went to my friends mother house, the Friend who had nicked the van. I was angry, I bounced through the gate and opened the back door, where I was greeted by his shocked mother! I was rude and aggressive to his mother, I didn’t care. That type of behaviour still makes me wince, there is no excuse for it. I finally caught up with my friend and after getting the keys to the van back, it was as if all was forgotten (After all he was a lot bigger than me).

The next memory I have is a different friend and I fucking about with each other. Throwing beer matts graduated to spitting beer at each other. Escalating to stubbing cigarettes out on each other, until one of us snapped. It was me who went first and after punching him I was dragged outside by friends and angrier locals. I remember being a shambles and of course blaming everyone but myself. I decided I should drive the “precious” van into town. The same van I had made such a stink about my friend driving around in his state. Oh, Valium and hypocrisy go hand in hand with me. I was looking for something else to keep me company. I met a girl in the back of my van and the rest is history. The next thing I remember is being woke up by my father slapping me about and dragging me out of bed, If I was angry, he was livid. He told me to go look at the state of his van. The van had been smashed up. The front was damaged , both side doors had been caved in.

I shot out of bed and fired back some bullshit story. Whilst scurrying down the stairs away from my father I was discovering injuries to myself. I had a scratch on my forehead and Bruises to my arms and chest. A few hours later I checked my phone where I had a text message from an unknown number. “I really hope you are okay, and I think you should go hospital.”. To this day I don’t know who sent that text and what it meant.

It was around dinner time and my mother (bless her) had made me a plate of food to take home. I got in my car and drove home. A car began flashing me and driving right up my Chatham pocket. I was so “valed up” I didn’t know what was going on but I found myself getting angrier and angrier till finally I slammed on the brakes and jumped out. I was furious. The man in the car behind poked his head out of his window and calmly said:

“there’s a dinner on your roof you twat!”

I looked at my roof and he was right; a roast dinner was perched on my sunroof. The man overtook me shaking his head. There I was covered in cuts and bruises, stopped on a single carriageway, picking up a gravy soaked dinner from the top of my car and all I could do is smile.

My behaviour was starting to get questionable. No one was correcting it or keeping it in check so I continued to push the limits. The closest people to me were the friends I had known my whole life and all of us were pushing. I don’t want to paint my friends in a negative light, they didn’t make my choices for me, the same as I didn’t make theirs. And we are all still one the best of friends.

That weekend should have been a wake up call but I was only just getting started.

*Chatham Pocket – Arse

“They’re lush, Valium lush”

There was an expression in my village back in the noughties;

“They’re lush.! Valium lush!”

I can still remember the sticky green sofa I sat on that night in 2003. The thick smell of cannabis, tar stained yellow walls and how hot it was in that flat. I looked at the little blue pills in my palm; this was the first time I held Valium in my hand.

I was late teens and hanging round with the same gang, in the same place I had been all my life. (Anything to alter the mundane was welcomed.)

My knowledge of valium before that day was limited. Ignorant? Perhaps. Naive? Definitely!

That night I started with 10mg Roche tablets . I took my first tablet and washed it back with a can of Uri Gellar. After thirty minutes I felt warm and fuzzy. All my anxiety disappeared , I felt so confident.. I was buzzing. I had taking cocaine, MDMA, ecstasy, etc. I was never fully comfortable with those types of drugs. I treated them as imposters; I was always waiting for the high to end, as opppsed to enjoying the high at the present.

This time it felt different, with Valium it was subtle and the steely confidence it gave me felt so real.  It was like I had an invisible cloak on me. My insecurities disappeared and I really didn’t care what people thought. Really didn’t care about fuck all.

Yeah it’s safe to say that after an hour; I fully understood the “…..lush, Valium lush” expression.

After an hour I dipped in for another.

That evening I continued drinking and dropping the little blue pill.

I cannot remember anything after that…..

Im not entirely sure when I blacked out but I woke up fresh with no hangover. To coin the phrase that would become synonymous with the next fifteen years I was probably “still valed up.”

The fact I couldn’t remember my night didn’t bother me, quite the opposite I loved it. The fact my anxiety had disappeared and I felt tip top the next day all added up to one thing. I had fallen in love with Valium.

I am a long way from that Sunday morning in 2003. The road has been long, especially riding the benzo Bus. It’s now 2018 and my stop is in site, I wonder if I’ll finally be able to get off?

Stay safe.

*Uri Gellar = Stella Artois