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24 hours rehab

Call Now for Immediate Confidential Help and Advice 02038 115 619

24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice

Dealing with Substance Abuse Issues Before It’s Too Late

Substance abuse is something that affects many people in the UK at some point in their life. Being heavily reliant on a substance is never good for an individual, especially if the substance is a substance that can have harmful side effects. The negative effects of substance abuse go further than just affecting the addict, though; it can take a toll on the lives of their loved ones as well. One devastated partner who learned this the hard way is Leanne Harvey, who was heartbroken after the death of her boyfriend, Aaron McCaffrey. He suffered four cardiac arrests after taking more than 250 pills as part of his regular over-the-counter drug-taking.

Succumbed to Addiction

Twenty-seven-year-old Aaron McCaffrey from Greater Manchester had developed an over-the-counter drug addiction after first taking a morphine-based medication for severe headaches. He would purchase dozens of packets of over-the-counter drugs at any given time from various local supermarkets, pound shops, and pharmacies to feed his serious drug habit; a habit that would see him take up to 200 pills per day. The excessive substance abuse finally took its toll in January 2017 when McCaffrey was found unconscious in the toilet of a local supermarket. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors put him into an induced coma in a desperate attempt to allow his body to recover. However, he died six days later without regaining consciousness.


His heartbroken partner, twenty-three-year-old Leanne Harvey, has released a harrowing picture of a collection of empty pill packaging to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse and encourage those in the same position as McCaffrey was in, to seek assistance. She would ideally like to see all medication limited to just two boxes per person as she believes that this would help save lives. She said, “When I got to the hospital, the doctors and nurses told me that they thought they had been treating him for a heroin overdose and asked if I knew what was in his bag. I told them that I thought I knew, and I tried to explain to them what he used the pills for, why he had so many, and how we had tried to help him. They seemed shocked, and said that they had never seen anything like it.”


Leanne explained that doctors informed her that they needed to wait for the drugs to leave his system before waking him from his coma but because of the nature of his condition, they were left clueless as to how long this would actually take. Aaron suffered four separate cardiac arrests while in hospital. Leanne went on to say, “It was really scary because in the beginning they didn’t know how to treat him; they had to contact another hospital to ask how to. For us, it was scary because they said they hadn’t seen anything like it, and we didn’t know what was going to happen to him. He was a fit young man, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, and he walked everywhere. There were no side effects or symptoms that we saw in him. This was a total shock to everyone when this happened, and of how it happened. It was a shock to us as well that he had taken that much.”


Since her partner’s tragic death, Leanne has set up an online petition on Change.org to keep raising awareness of the potential risks that come with the excessive substance abuse of over-the-counter medication. “I just want people to take it more seriously. The doctors did try to do things for him, but I do think that more could have been done, more support could have been given. I believe a hundred per cent that if he had been addicted to heroin or cocaine or illegal drugs he would have got a lot more help. We want to help to educate everyone, the medical profession, people that may be taking these drugs to get high the risks that there are. Just because you don’t have to go to a pharmacy, or ask for them doesn’t mean that they can’t be dangerous if they are used in ways they shouldn’t be,” she said.

Not Taken Seriously

Speaking of when she found out about McCaffrey’s addiction, she explained that it was only revealed once he was forced to admit that he stole drugs from Leanne’s parents. She said, “Unfortunately, he enjoyed the high and the rush it gave him. He also suffered from anxiety and depression, and I think he used the pills to help him. We felt as though his problems were not taken as seriously as someone who was taking cocaine or heroin.” Mr McCaffrey was banned from most of his local pharmacies but appeared to be getting his life back on track; that was until Leanne received a notification of an eBay order of over 500 Imodium pills that were being delivered from the US.

More Awareness

“I always assumed they were just for an upset stomach and Aaron said he wanted to buy them in bulk in case any of us were to get sick. At first, I just thought that he was being responsible, but then I found bags of boxes of medication around the house. One day I decided to go through his internet history because I was worried, and I found all of these forums that he had been going on. They were people in America talking about taking drugs and how they had been taking the Imodium pills which would give them a high. They said that they would get a high if they would take 50 to 100 pills because the trace levels of opiates in each one would add up and help them to get the high. We went to the doctors to get the support that Aaron needed, but we were told in effect to go away and work on it ourselves. I feel Aaron was let down. I just want there to be more awareness of this, so it might be able to help other people in the future”, she said.

Overcoming Substance Abuse Issues

If you have concerns regarding your own or a loved one’s substance abuse and do not know how to tackle this problem, then get in touch with us here at UK Rehab. Our priority is to ensure that any individual who is determined to overcome their excessive substance abuse does so and goes on to lead a healthy, happy life going forward. It is normal for anyone who is entering a clinic for the first time to feel nervous or anxious, and that is where we come in. We will ensure that you are matched with a clinic that will benefit you the most and offer the most effective treatment for you. If you have any queries or would like any additional information, do not hesitate to contact us today and we will do everything we can to assist you further.


  1. Dad of two, 27, suffers four cardiac arrests and dies after taking 250 diarrhoea relief pills (The Sun)
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