Hooked on benzos: Woman's 'life debilitating' ordeal from illegal prescription drugs bought online

March 01, 2021

"I'm not different to the people who are taking drugs on the street."

Cathy - not her real name - started using diazepam, daily, years ago alongside slimming pills.

She bought the tablets online, illegally, without a prescription.

"I have underlying anxiety issues but they were exacerbated by the amphetamines [diet pills], so the 'benzos' would calm me down and help me with sleep," she said.

"I would only take them at night for sleeping but it also had the effect of easing the anxiety."

Starting off on low doses it scaled up quickly, reaching the point where her drug use was non-stop.

"It was as much as I wanted as it's widely available on the internet... it's super easy," she said.

Cathy would fill in a questionnaire online and the diazepam would arrive with a signed prescription, presumably fake, from a "doctor" abroad.

Packages came from India, Romania and Pakistan.

She describes the side effects as "life debilitating".

She said: "Loss of memory, lethargy, lack of motivation, depression, pains, headaches, chills… I could not function for a good part of the day and for the other part I thought I was functioning but I wasn't."

Cathy said she knew she couldn't trust the safety of the drugs but she was "so dependent" she "took a chance".

"You always need more, it doesn't really give you the effect of calming yourself - it's a very temporary, temporary feeling," she said.

And then she started to realise she needed help.

She said: "It was the loss of my memory and the depression that was the worst possible situation for me.

"I couldn't get out of bed… I just felt like life was pointless. I think that was lowest point for me, really realising that I had no desire to live.

"I just didn't have any reason for waking up. I didn't want to wake up.

"Lockdown was perfect because I just didn't want to wake up, so I wouldn't."

She tried to taper off the drugs but physically could not do it.

Alongside her fears of developing a mental illness as a result, or Alzheimer's, it spurred her into seeking help.

Two years at the Addiction to Online Medicine clinic in London and several attempts in rehab and she is now several months "clean".

She described sitting in group therapy sessions next to heroin addicts, and hearing about side effects.

"The feelings, the effects, everything was the same," she said.

"I may not be buying from a dealer on the street but I'm buying over the internet from some kind of dealer."

Despite not buying "benzos" online anymore she still gets emails from sellers.

She said: "Even though I'm not ordering anything, I receive emails, I block emails, and then I receive another email from another person. It's almost like you can't back off."

However, she said she has turned a corner and now has "clarity" and a "sharper" mind.

"I feel happy about life, I feel motivated, I have energy," she said. "It's like being reborn. I literally feel that way."

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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