The Valium Addict (#19)

A young Filipino nurse develops insomnia and takes Valium, not realizing she was becoming an addict from regular use. She tells her harrowing experience and how she survived.

‘True Tales’ Series – Volume 19

eastwind journals – April 17, 2023 – Archives tr369

By Bernie V. Lopez,

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(Author’s Note. I met many Filipino nurses in Amsterdam and Rome during my three years of drifting through Europe. Names have been changed, and the story dramatized.)

Juliet was a young Filipino nurse in a cancer hospital in Amsterdam. About 90% of the nurses in that hospital were Filipinos. Juliet and I became instant friends. She poured her miseries on me.

JULIET – A cancer hospital is a strange place. It smells of death. People just die so fast. Sometimes, one or two may die in a week. It is totally depressing.

ME – I understand what you mean.

JULIET – No, you don’t understand. The rule is – never get attached to your patients. Don’t love your patients. But I’m not a robot. All Filipino nurses here are the same. We cannot help but get attached to our patients. I had an elderly cancer patient name Sarah, the wife of a millionaire who owned a candy company.

They are conversing.

JULIET – How are you today, Sarah?

SARAH – Never better, Juliet. On top of the world.

They would both laugh because they knew that it was a big joke. Sarah had stage 3 cancer of the brain. She would get bouts of pain. Juliet gave her codeine, a prescribed opioid (derived from opium), a pain killer. The pain would subside instantly. More powerful pain killers were given to stage 4 patients.

JULIET – When I noticed Sarah squirming in pain more often, I bent the rule a bit and increased slightly her dosage and frequency. After a few months, she literally became an opium addict. Not that it was my fault. Most cancer patients taking opioids became addicts eventually after regular use.

At one time, Sarah fell and had a deep gash in the forehead. Juliet cleaned and bandaged the wound regularly.

SARAH – How come, when you touch my wound, it is not painful. (Whispering). When Maryke bandages my wound, it is painful.

JULIET – Of course not. That’s just your imagination.

SARAH – Oh come on, don’t be modest.

JULIET – Perhaps, it is cultural. Asians are different from Dutch, not that we are better.

Back to me and Juliet conversing.

ME – I’ve heard of how patients prefer Filipino nurses in the states.

JULIET – I loved Sarah and when she died, I had nightmares. When six more of my patients died in a span of three weeks, I developed chronic insomnia, sleeping for just one hour a day. Death haunted me. I was getting a nervous breakdown. I called in sick often. I started taking Valium regularly just to get some sleep. Valium is a powerful anti-depressant used for protracted anxiety. I would sleep for two days straight during my off days on Valium. I started stealing it from the hospital medicine cabinet.

ME – And you were never caught?

JULIET – Never. Nurses have robes with large pockets so a stethoscope would fit. I simply took a fistful and dropped it into my pocket. I did not realize I was already a Valium addict. Valium is as deadly as Cocaine or Heroine, only it is legal. In time, I developed tolerance.

ME – Tolerance?

JULIET – Tolerance means your body is adjusting to regular intake of a drug, which becomes less effective. There was a time I was taking 50 Valium tablets a day just to be able to sleep. I became a loner, avoiding friends in fear of being discovered. I refused to go out, moping in the bedroom, lonely and depressed. I developed double vision. I had a hard time breathing, and felt weak at times. It even affected muscle coordination. Once, I fell flat on my face.

ME – Wow. How were you able to kick off the habit?

JULIET – There is only one way – cold turkey or complete withdrawal. Withdrawal is dangerous and excruciating. Trying to detox from Valium without professional help can lead to medical problems and relapse to a higher intake. I needed help.

Juliet asked for spiritual rather than medical advice. She talked to Sister Miriam, a Catholic nun at the hospital.

JULIET – Sister, I need your help. Shhh, I am a Valium addict. Doctors are getting suspicious of my frequent absences and lateness.

SR. MIRIAM – You need to go to a rehab center.

JULIET – No way. Everybody will know eventually. I need spiritual advice more.

SR. MIRIAM – Okay then. Let’s go to the chapel. (At the chapel.) The Lord is beside us right now. He has his hands on your shoulder. He knows your predicament. Follow after me – dear Lord, in your infinite mercy, rescue me. I know I have been taking you for granted. Not anymore.

As they continued to pray, Juliet feels the Lord’s warm embrace. Tears flow down her cheeks.

Back to Juliet and me.

ME – Your tears tell me you were healed.

JULIET – It was easy with the Lord beside me. I did not need a rehab. I did it cold turkey, endured the physical pains and offered it to the Lord. That’s why he healed me.

p512 – the rainbow bridge connecting people

Ang bahag-hari ay ginawa ng Panginoon bilang tulay upang makibahagi at magmahalan ang mga tao buhat sa iba’t-ibang mga bayan. hangingsilangan

p501 – how to pray to Jesus

Imbis na bumigkas ng memoryadong dasal, kausapin mo na lang si Hesus nang masinsinan, lalo na pagkatapos mag-kumunyon. Ilagay mo ang sarili sa harap niya, na kaagad ay nasa tabi mo. Hinihintay niyang kausapin mo siya. Sabi niya, “Ako ay bumaba buhat sa langit upang i-abot sa iyo ang pagkaing nagbibigay buhay. Ang sinumang kumain nito, matatamo ang buhay na walang hanggan. hangingsilangan

p443B – in the winter of our lives

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More Inspirational Articles

FOR THOSE WHO NEED HEALING, spiritual or physical (depression, anxiety, loneliness, terminal cancer, covid, diabetes, etc.) – say an online healing prayer with one or both healers below. Terminal patients have been healed in cyberspace. All you need is to have faith –

1) Father Fernando

2) Sr. Raquel Reodica, RVM –

Download free e-book ‘Healing Stories of Sr. Raquel’ at

Author’s book. At age 26, the author (eastwind) drifted through Europe, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for three straight years. He wrote a book on his adventures, Wings and Wanderlust. He learned deep insights that radically changed his view of life, which he wants to share with readers looking for themselves or wanting to catch the wind. More about the book (get a copy) =

Author’s Credentials. Blogger – ex-Columnist (Inquirer) – Healing Ministry – ex-Professor (Ateneo University) – Documentary Producer-Director (freelance, ex-ABS-CBN, ex-TVS Tokyo) – ex-Broadcaster (Radio Veritas) – Facebook “Bernie V. Lopez Eastwind” / Pages “Eastwind Journeys and Journals” and “Mary Queen of Peace”.


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