The Devastating Impact of Benzo Addiction: Two Stories of Desperation and Recovery

Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are prescription drugs intended to treat anxiety and other related conditions. However, a growing number of individuals in the UK are resorting to dangerous street benzos to self-medicate, leading to catastrophic consequences. This article explores the harrowing stories of two individuals, Rory Maslen and William Anderson, who battled with benzo addiction and managed to find their way to recovery.

Rory Maslen, a 21-year-old university student from Leeds, shares their haunting experience with benzo addiction. Rory describes the desperation to consume more of the drug that was slowly killing them. Their days revolved around obtaining pills, often resorting to eating them by the handful just to make it through each day. The all-consuming fear of stopping breathing in their sleep plagued Rory, but the desire for more benzos remained overpowering.

On the other hand, William Anderson, a 53-year-old from Edinburgh, turned to benzos as a coping mechanism after the devastating loss of his daughter at the age of 19. Initially prescribed seven pills a day by a doctor, William soon found himself needing more to numb the pain, resorting to acquiring benzos from the streets. What started as a means of escape ultimately led to a life teetering on the edge of destruction.

Benzos are meant to be prescribed by medical professionals, but the illicit market has flooded the UK with dangerous street versions of the drug. Charitable organizations like Turning Point and UKAT warn of the risks associated with self-medication using street benzos. The situation has become even bleaker as testing services reveal that these street benzos are often adulterated with synthetic opioids, such as a synthetic opioid ten times stronger than Fentanyl, posing an even greater threat to vulnerable individuals.

Both Rory and William reached a point where benzo addiction completely consumed their lives, leaving them stripped of any free will. Rory vividly recalls taking an alarming 30 benzo pills per day, resulting in life-threatening seizures and severe side effects. Constant pain, tremors, and sensitivity to the sun became their daily reality. For William, the trauma, grief, and isolation he experienced acted as catalysts for his descent into what he calls “benzo oblivion.” Taking a staggering 100 pills daily, William even resorted to selling benzos to sustain his addiction.

Their stories, however, do not culminate in despair. Both Rory and William found the strength to confront their addiction and embark on a journey to recovery.

Rory’s passion for music and their band, Kiosk, fueled their determination to break free from benzo addiction. With the unwavering support of their family, Rory began tapering off the drug and gradually regained control of their life. Today, they continue to pursue their love for music while inspiring others with their story.

William’s turning point came when he attempted to take his own life after two decades of battling with benzos. Despite the overdose rendering him unconscious for four days, it was the look of shame in his son’s eyes when he approached him for drugs that jolted William into a new perspective. That moment, he decided it was a choice between living or dying. Since then, William has remained sober and has dedicated himself to helping others by establishing “Oor Willie,” a support group with over 1,700 members. He even trained as an addiction support worker to make a positive impact in the lives of those facing similar struggles.

When asked what they would say to young people considering self-medicating with benzos, both Rory and William deliver the same message. They emphasize the dangers of such a path and the devastating consequences it can have on one’s life, relationships, and mental well-being. They urge individuals to seek professional help, rely on support networks, and explore safer alternatives to manage their anxiety or other conditions.

The stories of Rory Maslen and William Anderson serve as powerful reminders of the destructive nature of benzo addiction. Their journeys highlight the immense challenges they faced, but also the hope and resilience that can be found in recovery. Let their experiences serve as cautionary tales and inspiration for those who may be battling similar addictions, reminding us all that there is always a choice between despair and a brighter future.


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