It has been 7.5 years since I got off benzos, the drug that damaged me the most, and 6.75 years off all meds; the final medicine I tapered was a tricyclic antidepressant, nortriptyline, in autumn 2006. Since that time, I have not taken another psychoactive medicine, nor have I had any desire to. Neither have I sought out therapy or the like. Personally, I’m sick of labels, sick of the industry, sick of talking about my “problems,” sick of navel-gazing, and would just rather live. Full Article →
Anyone who has used benzodiazepines and sleeping pills knows how difficult it is to get off them (worse than heroin!) and how much time it takes to recover. Although there is a lot more helpful information on the web these days, a lot of it is based on anecdotal accounts, personal stories and theories rather than “real” evidence. Full Article →
If you are supporting someone experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to benzodiazepine, Z-drug, or antidepressant use, you may find that the usual approaches are not effective. Withdrawal can cause bizarre behavior and uncommon physical and psychological. This can be overwhelming and so you may be feeling unsure about how to proceed. Here are a few tips which I hope you will find to be useful. Full Article →
Military.com reports that doctors from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are continuing to prescribe tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax despite the VA’s guidelines advising against their use in association with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Studies, however, have not shown benzodiazepines as effective treatment for what are called the core PTSD symptoms of avoidance, hyperarousal, numbing and dissociation,” the article states, but many of the veterans taking the medications are “Vietnam War-era vets, who perhaps began taking benzodiazepines years before guidelines were in place.”
From what I’ve learned, it seems that the minute you walk into a psychiatrist’s office or have the misfortune to be locked up on a ward is the minute you’re given a diagnosis and medication(s), and perhaps even electroshock. There is no “normal”; “normal” is not allowed. You have a “lifelong disorder” of whatever ilk, and it must always be medicated. This is the paradigm. Full Article →
This is how it started: Pregnancy. Now, you may guess that a hormonal tsunami could turn my body into wreckage and you’d be right. I’m not the first woman to get pummeled by the swift waters of pregnancy and I won’t be the last. What you might not guess is that despite knowing this, a doctor specializing in these particular imbalances would proffer benzodiazepines as a cure for hormone induced insomnia. You might also be surprised that my first script would be written for an amount usually reserved for those having grand mal seizures. Full Article →
I remember the feeling, one of not exactly isolation but otherness. A sense that not only did I not fit in many places where I used to, but also that I lacked the energy to even try — to, like an actor, wear the skin of the old me for an hour or even a few minutes so that others would not feel uncomfortable in my quivering and clearly perturbed presence. Full Article →
Drugs that pass into the water supply can alter the behavior of fish, according to a paper published today in Science magazine. Experiments using the same concentrations of benzodiazepines found downstream of a Swedish sewage treatment plant found that perch “became more antisocial, they became more active, and they were actually eating more”, possibly as a result of disinhibition that could also result in the fish exposing themselves to more danger.
Psychotropic medications, including short-acting benzodiazepines, strongly increase the frequency of falls in the elderly, according to research from the Netherlands published in Maturitas: The European Menopause Journal.
If you’ve ever driven your car in a blizzard, you realize that the biggest hazard isn’t the snow or ice on the road; it’s mostly other drivers. You of course have your own vehicle (and welfare) to look out for, and it’s certainly stressful driving slowly, keeping traction on the slippery tarmac, maintaining concentration, watching out for black ice, and so on. But these variables remain somewhat under your control. Other drivers; not so much. Full Article →
An editorial in Thorax reviews the evidence for an association between mental illness, benzodiazepine use, and pneumonia. The authors find an equally augmented rate of pneumonia among schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and phobic anxiety disorders, and a 95% greater risk associated with recent benzodiazepine use.
I hope this post doesn’t seem like a stretch, because it’s about something so basic it’s almost embarrassing: Walking, the intuitive act of putting one foot in front of the other to carry you from one place to the next. Yet if you’ve ever endured damage or a withdrawal syndrome from a psychiatric medicine, you’ll also know that things, like walking, that look and seem basic to others, and that did so in your past, “pre-medication” life, do not in fact come easily. Sometimes, on the worst days, they don’t come at all.
It’s stunning what a quarter milligram of a benzodiazepine can do to the body. Even less than that, I’ve found, can send the body spinning into the deep dark unmentionable. I’ve been detoxing off a high dose of benzodiazepines since … Full Article →
The Times of London reports today that more than a million people in the U.K. are addicted to benzodiazepines prescribed to them by their doctors, often for transient conditions. The Times notes that benzo addiction receives little attention from the National Health Service or support from doctors, despite the number of those addicted to benzos significantly outnumbering those addicted to illegal drugs.
A 15-year prospective study, in the British Medical Journal this week, of 1063 subjects by researchers from the University of Bordeaux and Harvard University found that use of benzodiazepines raises the risk of dementia by approximately 50%. The researchers recommend that “physicians should carefully assess the expected benefits of the use of benzodiazepines in the light of these adverse effects and, whenever possible, limit prescription to a few weeks.”
I have almost four months to go until I am done with the little pills. After that, I’m told it will take two to nine months until my brain will regulate, until I will be able to eat normally, to stand without shivering, to hold my children without fear of falling. I will make it. But I am here to state the obvious: Benzodiazepines are dangerous. We need more research. We need to know that an invisible epidemic is in our midst and there is much that can be done. Full Article →
Researchers in the U.K. find in a 22-year prospective study of 1134 men, 103 of whom took benzodiazepines regularly for one or more period of the study, that benzodiazepine use was associated with a more than tripled risk of dementia. This effect was observed even after adjustment for psychological distress and other covariables.
Researchers from the Taiwan and the United States find through a study of 5,183 subjects with motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) and 31,093 matched controls that subjects who had taken antidepressants were 70% more likely to experience an accident within a month. A similar association was found for benzodiazepines (56% more likely) and sleep aids (42%). This relationship was not found for antipsychotics. Results appear online today in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
With drugs for ADHD increasing 17%, and an “unprecedented increase in patients taking antidepressants and antipsychotics,” overall prescription drug sales in the United States reached a record $319.9 billion in 2011 despite downward pressure from the sale of generics. According to ACS Chemical Neuroscience antipsychotic sales grew $2.1 billion from 2010 sales to reach $18.2 billion, an increase of 2.4% in the number of prescriptions that was filled 60% of the time by brand-name rather than generic drugs.
Researchers from Tufts and Harvard find in a review of 233 medical charts of psychiatrically hospitalized youth at three points in time (1991, 1998 and 2008) that rates of psychotropic medication use rose over time, while rates of hospitalization for youth with more severe psychiatric disorders stayed the same. Results appear online in Psychiatric Quarterly.
“Xanax Withdrawal” is by Dr. Stuart Shipko, a clinician in Pasadena, California who has focused to some degree on tapering people off psychiatric drugs and withdrawal syndrome. He’s one of the few doctors who will give a diagnosis of withdrawal syndrome for insurance purposes or in a lawsuit.
The authors of an article in Journal of Psychosocial Nursing reviewed the literature on psychotropic PRN medications in order to respond to a request to clarify the best protocol for nurses at St. Vincent’s hospital in Sydney, Australia. They found “considerable variation in nursing practices related to administration of PRN medication. In an area of practice that is undertaken with such regularity and with considerable potential impact on consumers, these findings point to the need for further research to establish best practices.”