Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 12:32 UK

'No going back' to drug's embrace

Mikaila Tyhurst
Mikaila Tyhurst says she enjoyed her time in The Priory

"I am just so happy that I can sleep normally, it's such a relief to fall asleep without passing out because of drugs or alcohol."

Mikaila Tyhurst from Crumpsall in Manchester has been ravaged by the chemical gamma-butyrolactane (GBL), which is used as a party drug.

Her once pretty blonde looks are gone - instead what stares back is a gaunt face, puffy eyes and a toothless grimace.

She started taking GBL when she was just 18. Now she is trying to repair her life after losing four years to the drug.

She has been receiving treatment in The Priory, a rehabilitation clinic.

As she recovers, the 22-year-old says: "I am never going back there again."

At 18 she had dreams of becoming an air stewardess, but now she is simply happy to get a sleep not induced by drugs.

If I ever think about having some GBL or some drink, I just have to think, how is that going to help?
Mikaila Tyhurst

"I was scared of the withdrawal symptoms, I was terrified that the shakes were going to start. And when the shakes start then the hallucinations follow.

"When I first arrived in the Priory I was quiet and I was a bit nervous, but after that I started to love it.

"It was nice in there and I enjoyed being in there at the same time I was getting help, but it's going to be a difficult road."

The mother-of-one went to workshops about the effects of alcohol and talked about her experiences with former addicts.

"I used to just pass out after I had drank too much or taken too many drugs. I used to sleep anywhere.

"Now I put my pyjamas on and go to bed."

Mikaila Tyhurt when she was 18 (left) and now at the age of 22
Mikaila Tyhurst lost her front teeth in a drug-induced fall

Her front teeth were knocked out in a drug-induced fall, she has liver damage and four months ago she nearly died of an overdose.

She took the drug almost every day for four years.

GBL is an industrial solvent and there is no law against possessing it.

However, when swallowed it behaves like the banned drug GHB. It can make user feel euphoric, but it highly addictive and can also cause unpleasant effects including unconsciousness, muscle spasms and vomiting.

Beating the habit is not easy, with extreme anxiety, nausea and hallucinations all possible.

Despite this, she is determined to conquer her addiction.

"If I ever think about having some GBL or some drink, I just have to think, 'What's another bottle? How is that going to help? I'll drink that and then I'll be back in the same place'.

"I want to spend time with my little girl."

Following campaigns by people who have lost loved ones to GBL, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said he wants to tackle the problems around such chemicals.

He said: "There is a perception that many of the so-called legal highs are harmless.

"However, in some cases people can be ingesting dangerous industrial fluids or smoking chemicals that can be even more harmful than cannabis."



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