Addiction by Prescription: One Woman’s Triumph and Fight for Change

“In 1966, when Joan Gadsby’s four-rear-old son died of brain cancer, her doctor prescribed a ‘chemical cocktail’ of sleeping pills and anti-depressants. It was the first step in her twenty-three-year addiction to benzodiazepines – an addiction which threatened her family relationships, financial security, career and personal health. As a result of the drugs’ side effects, Gadsby was on various occasions arrested, restrained, sedated, jailed and written off as either psychotic or alcoholic. It was only after she almost died following an unintentional overdose in 1990 that she stopped taking the drugs and tackled the horrors of withdrawal on her own.

A marketing executive who has worked with four of Canada’s largest companies and served as a poll-tapping elected councilor, Gadsby has emerged from her addiction to become a tireless advocate in the area of prescribed sedative and hypnotic drugs. In 1995, she formed the Benzodiazepine Call to Action Group. Its objective is to create awareness and lobby for systemic and legislative change that will hold physicians, drug manufacturers, pharmacists, health authorities and political decision makers to a higher standard of ethics and accountability.

Drug free for more than a decade, Gadsby has interviewed thousands – consumers, doctors, health care professionals, pharmaceutical representatives, academics, pharmacists and government officials world-wide. Her extensive international research has earned her recognition as an authority on benzodiazepine addiction.”

This book tells Joan Gadsby’s story of overcoming benzodiazepine dependence and becoming a well-known advocate. The digital version is available on for $24.95, and the print version is available for $37.00. It is 304 pages.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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