Top NI vet opens up on how addiction battle led to new career

Top NI vet opens up on how addiction battle led to new career

One of Northern Ireland’s best-known veterinary figures has told how a journey of a self discovery following a fight to give up a addictive pain killer led him to becoming a coach and counsellor.

Des Rice, who in 2004 was awarded an an OBE for services to Agribusiness, told NI Veterinary Today  that by then he’d become “more interested in the development of people than high performing dairy herds”.

“Although I had these successful businesses, I decided to change career again. I sensed that I had made whatever contribution I could to livestock production and although lucrative, my day-to-day work was becoming repetitive. So, we sold our businesses in 2004 to a customer, ABN.”

He explained: “I realised that what limited their success was less to do with technical know-how (my speciality) than how they managed themselves in front of a client. As a result, I became more interested in the personal growth of people.

“And, I had another reason as I said earlier. In the early 1980s I was prescribed a tranquilliser called Ativan, which I was told was non-addictive. It was prescribed due to anxiety stemming from problems in my wider family and exacerbated by loss of balance when in 1979 I had a prosthesis fitted to my inner-ear to overcome premature deafness due to hereditary otosclerosis.

‘Horrendous withdrawal symptoms’

“Ativan turned out to be as addictive as heroin. On attempting to stop taking it I was incapacitated for three months, going through horrendous withdrawal symptoms; including panic attacks for weeks on end, sometimes believing I would die.”

Having visited Belfast Central Library daily, for weeks, and read extensively about mental health Des not only learnt how to help himself but also others in their recovery from panic and depression.

“I retrained as a business coach and as a Human Givens psychotherapist. A bit crazy, doing this in my mid to late 50s when most people are thinking of retiring!”

Since then his company CCO has since trained thousands of people to manage stress and hundreds of individuals to recover from anxiety, depression, self-harm, anger outbursts and more.

“Our approach lets people know that the symptoms of stress, do not mean that they are ‘going mad’, nor that they have to give-up on life,” said Des.

“On realising that it is just adrenalin/ cortisol overload, they can recover completely. They don’t just recover; they become an even better, more compassionate and effective person who can achieve more with less effort.”

Read the full interview with Des in the latest edition of Northern Ireland Veterinary Today.