Author’s personal memoir on painkiller addiction

Cathryn Kemp. Picture PA Photo/Handout
Cathryn Kemp. Picture PA Photo/Handout
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A FORMER Fleet Street journalist who spent several years suffering from a debilitating illness has written an award-winning book.

Cathryn Kemp, of Manor Road, was suddenly struck down with pancreatitis in 2004 and spent the next four years in horrendous pain.

She then became addicted to powerful painkillers and was once told she had less than three months to live.

But despite the overwhelming adversity she endured she overcame her addiction and has now penned her experiences in a book entitled Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption, which won The Big Red Read Non Fiction Prize 2013 last week.

The BRR prize has been running for 11 years and is voted for by readers from six London libraries.

Cathryn’s book is now being launched in the USA in July.

She said: “I became addicted to my prescription painkillers as a result of living in horrendous pain. In 2004 I was struck down with the life-threatening illness pancreatitis and spent the next four years either on a morphine drip in hospital or taking liquid morphine.

“I was finally released from hospital in 2008 on a repeat prescription for fentanyl lozenges.

“These drugs undoubtedly saved my life but then almost killed me, as they are 100 times stronger than heroin. Within two years I was taking almost 10 times the daily maximum amount as set by the NHS - all of it on prescription.

“ While my GP knew I was spiralling into an uncontrollable dependency caused by the pain levels I was experiencing 24 hours a day, I was so terrified of living in pain that the addiction seemed a price worth paying.”

In January 2010 her GP took her off the drugs, saying she has become addicted.

Cathryn, 41, who wrote features for the Sunday Mirror and People, as well as writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet, said: “I was utterly desperate. I can’t describe the hell I was in. I was refused NHS rehab because I wasn’t homeless or offending. I sold my cottage, borrowed a huge amount of money from my loving and desperate parents and checked into a private rehab for six weeks.

“When I went into rehab they told me I had less than three months to live. I used to leave notes for my family under my cushion in case I died.

“Tragically, some people end up paying the ultimate price by losing their lives in the grip of a terrible addiction.

“It is time that we, as a society, looked openly and calmly about what is looking like the next big health scandal to hit the UK - that of addiction to prescription medication. Sleeping tablets, opiate painkillers like tramadol, anti-depressants and tranquillisers are highly addictive and need considered prescribing from our GPs and careful monitoring.”

Cathryn has the condition acute on chronic pancreatitis and now has to manage the pain without painkillers.

More information on her book is at painkiller-addict.com.