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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 15:24 GMT
Horrible time going 'cold turkey'
Birmingham prison
Sam Christie said cold turkey in prison was "horrible"
As compensation is agreed for six prisoners and former inmates forced to quit drugs by going "cold turkey", an ex-heroin addict describes his experience of being denied drugs in jail.

Sam Christie, 31, of Thurrock, Essex, began taking heroin at the age of 18 and has served seven jail terms for theft and burglary offences committed to fund his habit.

I effectively went cold turkey in Pentonville Prison because it took the drugs detox team 12 days to come and see me when I was last in.

It was an experience I never want to have to go through again. It was horrible. It's like the worst flu and diarrhoea you can imagine, multiplied 10 times.

You have got a constant runny nose, your stomach is doing cartwheels and you can't face food or drink.

You are shivering permanently and your stomach is constantly cramping up. Your bones ache and you get hot and cold flushes.

The courts should do more in the way of putting addicts on rehab programmes

It's almost like an out of body experience. You know that your body needs the drug and it will all be OK if you get it.

Once you've had it, you know everything will be fine. But locked in a cell you know it's impossible.

By the time the detox team did see me and my cellmate, who was in the same position, we didn't want any drugs because we were over the worst of it.

It has helped me give up. I don't want to go back on drugs because I don't want to go through that again.

I am now on a drug treatment and testing order and have to give mouth swabs twice a week. I've been clean since August.

'Not royalty'

Usually when you go into to prison you will see a doctor and when you tell him you are on drugs you would get detox medication.

They will try to wean you off in 12 days. I have never heard of forced cold turkey but the medication is always a lot less than what you would need.

There are drugs in prison but they are seven times the price that you would pay on the streets.

People usually get relatives or friends to pay money into the dealer's bank account or trade with cigarettes.

I have no intention of claiming myself [for compensation]. The Prison Service does what it can with the resources it has.

People can't expect to be treated like visiting royalty. The courts should do more in the way of putting addicts on rehab programmes.

They shouldn't just simply send them to prison.

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