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Hi, My Name Is Cathryn And I Am An Addict

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Hello my name is Cathryn Kemp and I became addicted to my prescription painkillers following a severe, life-threatening illness.

Despite years in hospital, and an addiction which pretty much destroyed my life and relationships, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

I survived many attacks of acute pancreatitis, I survived a terrifying descent into full-blown addiction to fentanyl lozenges, and I survived the withdrawal process in rehab.

I lost pretty much everything along the way, my relationships, my self-respect, my home, dignity and nearly my family.

As a result, and because I wanted to reach others who have found themselves in the terrible prison of pain and addiction, I wrote my book Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption.

It is a sincere attempt to uncover the struggles many people like myself encounter daily, it is also a chance for me to find my own personal redemption and rebuild my life through the process of writing.

As the book attempts to show, I came to my addiction after falling seriously ill in 2004.

Overnight I went from a successful travel writer and national journalist to a patient in an NHS ward, hooked up on a morphine IV drip with a catalogue of medications to take.

And, of course, I needed them. I was diagnosed with acute-on-chronic pancreatitis and I spent the next three years in and out of hospital, living between medications as I was in excruciating pain.

During that time I lost three stone as I was unable to eat without having an attack of acute pancreatitis, I became more and more debilitated and suffered what I now know to be withdrawal symptoms such as severe muscle cramps, which were treated with additional prescriptions for Tramadol, another opiate medication.

I underwent gall bladder surgery which failed to stop the attacks and became more and more ill as time went by.

Eventually in 2007 I asked to be referred to a London hospital and after several months of asking, I finally found myself speaking to a specialist pancreatic team in London.

The team, led by a prominent pancreatic surgeon, performed an ERCP and I was found to have raised pressure levels in the mouth of the pancreas.

It was a breakthrough. After three years of misdiagnoses and refusals to perform the ERCP in a regional hospital I eventually had an answer to the sudden onset of the pain of the disease.

My surgeons performed two ERCPs and after the second I had another massive attack of pancreatitis and was left despertaley ill.

It was at this point that I was switched onto Fentanyl as an IV and later as transdermal patches and lozenges on a repeat prescription.

The painkiller saved my life – but then tit almost destroyed it.

I was discharged in 2008 and it was at that point I realize now that I was already an opiate addict after years of being on morphine then fentanyl.

It only took three months for me to step over the line between dependency and addiction by taking an extra lozenge.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Within two years I was taking 10 times the daily maximum dosage, all on prescription, and I nearly lost my life for the second time.

By the time I had the courage to admit what everyone else already knew, that I was an addict, I had less than three months to live. That was four years ago.

Recovery is the only way, the only choice, the only prospect but it's a tough path to walk but nothing will ever be as hard as admitting what I had become.

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Cathryn Kemp is author of Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption which charts her descent into addiction to prescription drugs and her eventual recovery.

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