A FORMER Metropolitan Police officer went ‘cold turkey’ to escape the fog of painkiller addiction, which he developed after years of taking Tramadol for arthritis.

Clive Graham, from Hamsterley, County Durham, had led an active working life, with ten years in the Met followed by an engineering career with Kimberley Clarke which saw him travel the world.

Following early retirement, Mr Graham’s severely arthritic fingers and feet were causing him increasing discomfort and intolerable levels of pain.

The 71-year-old said: “An initial visit to my doctor resulted in him offering anti-inflammatory medication. Two months passed and it wasn’t really working.

“Naturally I returned to the doctor to see if there was anything else that could be offered to help manage the pain. I was prescribed Tramadol.

“I am an educated man and I just simply accepted that this was the best option, without thinking.”

Over the next five years, Mr Graham took the prescribed dose – two tablets, four times a day – to help with the pain but unwittingly ended up taking the maximum dose, every day.

One day, a neighbour showed him a newspaper article about the effects of Tramadol addiction which scared him.

He said: “I realised my life had changed quite dramatically since introducing Tramadol.

“I certainly don’t blame anyone. But I was shocked when I realised just how much of an impact this drug had had on my life.

“I had to admit to myself that it wasn’t ‘normal’ to feel warm while wearing just a t-shirt, outside in County Durham, in the winter.

“And I had become a recluse. I’d make excuses why I didn’t want to see people or invite friends round or go and meet anyone. Previously I’d been really sociable and now, it was the last thing I wanted to do.

“My wife put it down to simply getting older, but it wasn’t that.”

Mr Graham visited his doctor who advised him to reduce his pain medication gradually, but he decided to go ‘cold turkey’.

He then endured a fortnight of withdrawal symptoms including not sleeping, sweats, cramps and itchy skin.

Mr Graham added: “It took three weeks to start to feel better and six months before I finally felt ‘myself’.

“When I look back, I realise actually what I was taking was a form of synthetic heroin. I was spaced out, snappy and I really don’t know how my wife put up with me.

“Today I have to pace myself.

“The pain is better when it’s warm and dry, so the damp and wet of recent winters has been hard, but so much better than living in a fog of painkiller dependency.”

If this sounds frighteningly familiar, get help from your GP or visit painkillersdontexist.com