When many people hear the phrase ‘drug addiction’, their minds automatically turn to heroin, conjuring up pictures of addicts shooting up in a squalid city-centre squat. Whilst this is a very real side of drug addiction, we often forget about the other side: generally law abiding citizens who, for one reason or another, slip into addiction almost by accident. Just last Friday, we heard news that Melanie Hill, the Coronation Street actress who plays Cathy Matthews, had her own battle with addiction after taking co-codamol for two years following a hip operation. Stories such as these highlight the need for us all to be vigilant, not just those who break the law to get their fix.
Melanie, the 53-year-old former wife of star Sean Bean, was appearing in the BBC drama Waterloo Road at the time of her operation and did not want to take any time out from work. To avoid having to use a stick whilst on set, she took the painkillers – which are a combination of the opiate codeine and paracetamol – every day for two years. When she realised that she had become dependent on them for more than their painkilling qualities, it took her three months to wean herself off the drugs that had become a part of her daily life. “I was on the maximum dose of co-codamol painkillers and after 2 years it was hard getting off them”, Melanie explained.
Stories such as this highlight the fact that anybody can fall prey to drug addiction and we should all be aware of the dangers of prescription drugs when misused. The most important thing to remember is that if you do develop an addiction, whether to something that was prescribed to you by a doctor or to an illegal narcotic, you should always ask for help.