‘God rescued me from my addiction’

Elizabeth Bannister says God helped her overcome her addiction to prescription drugs.

THOUSANDS of ‘ordinary’ South Africans are addicted to prescribed tranquillisers like Xanor, Librium, Rohypnol and Ativan, which are known as benzodiazepines.

This is according to research done by the Medical Research Council (MRC) at various drug treatment centres nationwide in the first half of 2014.

This research shows that five to nine percent of these patients are not only abusing benzodiazepines but also find it extremely difficult to withdraw from the drug.

But not everyone who has been addicted to the drug is still battling with withdrawal symptoms. Elizabeth Bannister, who got off benzodiazepine after 20 years of being on the prescription pill, tells a different story.

Though Elizabeth didn’t want to reveal what she was diagnosed with when the doctor prescribed her these highly addictive tablets, she attributes her escape from this addiction to Jesus Christ.

“I was prescribed this drug for more than a 20 years without any warning or reason as to why I should stay on it. The doctor who initially treated me had no idea of the dangers. His ignorance robbed me of the joy of living because this drug causes depression, and without knowing I had become tolerant over all those years,” she explained.

She also added that nasty side effects caused by taking benzodiazepine can include anxiety, trauma, depression and later, brain damage.

“You cannot just stop taking this drug. A psychiatrist gave me a five-week taper off after I had been on it for 20 years. I went through severe withdrawal symptoms, and my life was in danger. I almost died,” she said.

“God Himself had awakened me to come off the medication, no doctor ever suggested it. There was no doctor to support me through my withdrawal. It was only through Jesus Christ that I found strength. I am now in my seventh month of withdrawal and I don’t take any medication. The tough days have become easier. When we trust in Him, He will come through for us in miraculous ways and yes, He even outsmarts doctors.”

Addiction to prescription medication occurs in all walks of life and is a growing health problem worldwide,  with even international celebrities falling victim.

Medical News Today reported in 2009 that a lawyer hired by Michael Jackson’s family claimed the star was taking prescription drugs to get in shape for his gruelling comeback concert and hinted this may have been the cause of the cardiac arrest which killed him.

It is clearly evident that prescription drugs can be a threat to one’s well-being and one’s life. That is why Elizabeth formed an online support group called ‘Butterflies are Free’ which serves as a therapeutic community project offering emotional support and where people share their stories of addiction.

God also plays an instrumental role in giving spiritual support to group members.

For more about the group, contact Elizabeth at butterfliesarefree777@gmail.com

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