A convicted Island drug dealer and former addict has spoken out about the wave of prescription drug misuse that has been sweeping the Island.
Last week, four people collapsed after taking prescription drugs believed to contain diazepam (Valium) and tramadol, causing chaos at St Mary’s Intensive Care Unit.
Earlier in the month medication was burgled from Boots in Bembridge and an unconscious teenager was then air lifted to hospital after allegedly misusing prescription drugs.
A day later a mother found a bag of what appeared to be prescription drugs close to Barton Primary School.
It seems there is a trend in the use of prescription drugs on the Island, but why are people taking them, and where are they getting them from?
Mike*, a recovering addict, ex-dealer and now outreach worker from the Isle of Wight has given the IW Observer his perspective on the issue.
He explained the reason why people might be resorting to prescription drug use: “The only drug and alcohol service on the Isle of Wight was really bad, and don’t even get me started on our mental health services.
“People are self medicating now more than ever. Because they can’t get the help, they Google it or ask their friends, then they think, ‘right, I need this medication, but I don’t know any drug dealers so I’ll just Google it’.
“Doctors are under pressure not to give out as many drugs too, and this drives people to the internet. There used to be loads of doctors I could go to get scripts (prescriptions) but it isn’t like that now.
“From my own personal experience, I would say this is the internet stuff. Obviously that stuff isn’t always real, the stuff we used to get off the internet was like fake Valium and fake tramadol. It’s never the same as the genuine product and if you’ve got people buying that in bulk [from the internet], then you don’t know what you’re getting.
“When I was active in that world, I would order it off the internet, and every time I did a different packet it was a completely different feeling, there was no consistency.”
The outreach worker said the consistency factor is a good argument for legalising drugs, as users would know what they are getting, receive support at the point of collection and be less of a burden on the NHS as they can avoid overdosing or taking unknown substances.
He explained that in Portugal, all illegal drugs have been decriminalised, and as a result crime is down and rehab service use is on the rise.
Mike is worried young people aren’t using traditional “gateway drugs” like cannabis to get into harder drugs – but are instead using prescription drugs and in some cases, crack cocaine and heroin as their first time drugs of choice.
*Mike’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
Most popular drugs on the Island according to Mike
- Prescription drugs