Sophie Courtney, 28, from Ilfracombe in Devon and mother of Willow, seven years old, and Oscar, four, recovering after nine months as a prescribed painkiller addict.
Talented and intelligent, she is reading psychology at the University of Plymouth. But until last summer she used an average of 60 opioid tablets per day. They mostly came over the internet and once spent £ 6,000 on four shipments of 1,000 tramadol pills that were sent in quick succession from a Canadian website. & # 39; Sometimes it was 40 a day, sometimes it was 80. It depended on how I felt, & # 39; she says.
Her life has been plagued by trauma. At the age of 19 she lost her first child, Harley, when she was five days old, to a failed attempt at CPR in the hospital. She has spent most of the decade since then on antidepressants, from work to work. Three years ago she received £ 100,000 from the NHS as compensation for the loss of her son. Shortly thereafter, she was training in the gym when she broke her calf muscle.
& # 39; It was pain and I was prescribed codeine that did nothing. Then I was prescribed tramadol, & she says.
& # 39; I never drank or smoked in the past, but when I got this injury and started taking these tablets, it became a pure addiction within a few days. By the end of the first week, I took double what was prescribed because I needed many more to get effect. & # 39;
Because the body is used quickly for opioids, it needs larger and larger doses to have any effect.
& # 39; Within a month I took 30 a day and within two months I took 60, & # 39; says Sophie. & # 39; It came to the point where I couldn't get enough from the doctor and got my family and friends to get me prescriptions. My mother could get tramadol because she had arthritis and she wanted to give me a few.
& # 39; It wasn't really about the pain – in between doses I felt so desperate that I needed the next one. I lied and manipulated people all the time to get them. I found that I could function if I had ten tramadol and ten dihydrocodeine per day, which were prescribed by the doctor – and the extra from the internet.
& # 39; I used five websites in the UK to get codeine, with an issue of at least £ 1,000 for a stock of just over two weeks.
& # 39; I just scanned the document describing my calf muscle injury and emailed it to various online pharmacies. Within 12 hours a doctor would approve and send the medication.
& # 39; At one point I went to the doctor and told him that I had spent £ 6,000 on it. He said he would insist on me being referred to the drug treatment service. I saw them three times and they wanted to put me in a declining drug use program. I was shocked by the idea of reducing my intake, so it didn't happen. & # 39;
By that time, Sophie has only £ 4,000 left of her £ 100,000 payout – so last year her sister booked her into a 28-day rehab program at a specialized center.
& # 39; It costs £ 7,000. Oscar & # 39; s father lent me the money, I will pay him back. I was told that when I got there I wasn't addicted, so I wouldn't get a drug substitute: I was going to eat cold turkey.
& # 39; It was hell. I have never experienced pain, projectile disease and diarrhea. I received a codeine every four days.
& # 39; After 13 days I went home, trembling with the worst fear. Despite that, the cold turkey recording worked. Fortunately, I have a supportive family – my mother, my two sisters, and my son's father, who is now my best friend.
& # 39; I would like to say to everyone, do not take tramadol. It won't take away the pain. & # 39;