Anne Hull and Dana Priest, of the Washington Post, received a Pulitzer prize for breaking the story of the horrid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where men were “afloat on a river of painkillers and antipsychotic drugs” Each morning, they were expected to rise at dawn for formation, though most of them were snowed under by benzodiazepines, opiates, alcohol – anything that would push Iraq and the pain away. A year later I too would be snowed under and would fight an invisible war of my own. It wasn’t until months later, deep in withdrawal tolerance that I realized my slide into disability was caused by the drugs. Full Article →
According to a study in the British Medical Journal, benzodiazepine use is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some experts have argued in news reports that the findings simply indicate that people with Alzheimer’s are more often prescribed benzodiazepines. However, the study authors have pointed out that there appears to be a dose-dependent response occurring. Discuss →
The Boston Globe interviews people who became ever more severely dependent on sedating benzodiazepines without realizing it, because as they tried to stop taking the drugs they thought their withdrawal symptoms were actually symptoms of underlying anxiety problems. “My anxiety was getting worse; I was getting dizzy spells; I was getting sick more often, and my capacity to deal with stress was less,” Alison Page told the Globe. “I thought I had a worsening anxiety disorder.” (more…)
“Fish that have been exposed to a common anti-anxiety drug are more active and have better chances of survival than unexposed fish,” reports Nature. According to the article, a study published in Environmental Research Letters noted that previous studies had only looked at the harms of pharmaceutical pollutants on fish. So a team led by Jonatan Klaminder from Sweden’s Umeå University exposed Eurasian perch to the benzodiazepine sedative oxazepam and looked for “positive” effects. Discuss →
In a follow-up to an earlier commentary on the topic, Paula Span discusses the widespread use and negative effects of sleeping pills among the elderly in long-term care in the New York Times, including falls and hospitalizations for adverse drug reactions. She also discusses a new study of tapering attempts. “Of the group that attempted to gradually stop the drug, more than half succeeded, and another 22 percent reduced their dosage,” writes Span. “Among those who didn’t make the attempt, the greatest reason — get this — was discouragement from their physicians or pharmacists.” (more…)
As a prescription drug and addiction expert for The O’Reilly Factor, Fox National News and many other news outlets, I am often called when a celebrity death occurs. While the loss of a talented actor or musician is tragic, I know from personal experience that the magnitude of devastation from legal drugs is happening to millions of innocent people – through psychoactive medications. Full Article →
It is hard to believe that a year has gone past since I posted Playing the Odds: Antidepressant Withdrawal and the Problem of Informed Consent. The feedback I received underscored the more controversial aspects of SSRI toxicity. Common themes concerned the abrupt onset of new symptoms 3 to 12 months after stopping the drug, reinstatement of the drug failing to help withdrawal related symptoms, the possibility that withdrawal-related symptoms can persist indefinitely and concerns about using benzodiazepines to help with tardive akathisia. Full Article →
Many personal stories of people struggling with an addiction that they were never told could happen punctuate an article about indiscriminate benzodiazepine prescribing in Oregon’s The Bulletin. “You take it for a while and it works, and you think you’ve got this miracle going on and then it stops working,” Carol Brainerd tells The Bulletin. “So the doctor ups it and ups it, and that’s where a lot of us get into trouble.” Ann Metcalf says, “The Xanax wears off after four hours. I would wake up even more panicked than when I went to bed.” (more…)
My name is Leah Harris and I’m a survivor. I am a survivor of psychiatric abuse and trauma. My parents died largely as a result of terrible psychiatric practice. Psychiatric practice that took them when they were young adults and struggling with experiences they didn’t understand. Experiences that were labeled as schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder. My parents were turned from people into permanent patients. They suffered the indignities of forced treatment. Seclusion and restraint. Forced electroshock. Involuntary outpatient commitment. And a shocking amount of disabling heavy-duty psychiatric drugs. And they died young, from a combination of the toxic effects of overmedication, and broken spirits. Full Article →
The other day I talked to a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a while. She told me that she had been prescribed Seroquel for sleep problems about a year ago. But when she started to read about it a couple months ago she got really nervous that it was causing her long term health complications and she stopped taking it – cold turkey – without tapering. I wondered about our conversation afterwards and thought about the countless amount of people who don’t tolerate their psychiatric meds and quit cold turkey. This common experience often leads to horrendous withdrawal symptoms that are easily mistaken for underlying “mental illness”. This can lead to new diagnoses, increased dosages and polypharmacy. And then people get really stuck. Full Article →
One of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of withdrawal is that feeling of being misunderstood, unsupported and isolated. If someone has diabetes, dystonia or other chronic illness or experiences a life event such as a bereavement, people will more often empathise and offer support. They understand these issues – the required dietary restrictions, medication, etc., and they will be able to tell you the stages of grief. Support of every kind is forthcoming because there is enough awareness, shared through every medium, on these topics. Full Article →
Being an ex-accountant I am always interested in figures (not to mention that prescribed benzodiazepine drug addiction has played such a major part in my life). According to a yearly booklet released by the Home Office in the UK, benzodiazepine drugs accounted for more deaths than ALL the so-called hard drugs put together. Full Article →
MIA Blogger Richard Lewis lands an op-ed in New England’s South Coast Today: “Not a week goes by without some news headline reporting about opiate-drug-related deaths spreading across many cities and towns in Massachusetts. What has not been reported about this tragic loss of life is a hidden story that desperately needs to be told; a story about the little-known dangers of benzodiazepine prescription drugs. Attention everyone! Documented evidence indicates that over 30 percent of all people dying from opiate-related overdoses also have benzodiazepines in their system.” (more…)
The Daily Beast dives into the debate over SeaWorld’s use of benzoiazepines to stop their killer whales from “acting aggressively toward each other in the stressful, frustrating conditions in which they’re confined.” SeaWorld has faced widespread criticism for the treatment of its whales, as well as for an incident in which a whale that killed three trainers.
I recently read an article by Fredric Neuman, MD, titled The Use of the Minor Tranquilizers: Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium. Dr. Neuman opens by telling us that benzodiazepines are “Very commonly prescribed for any sort of discomfort . . . They are called anxiolytics, and they are prescribed for any level of anxiety and more or less to anyone who asks for them.” Dr. Neuman has been working at the Anxiety and Phobia Center for 41 years, first as Associate Director and then as Director. So when he says that benzos are routinely given to “anyone who asks for them,” it’s probably safe to say that he’s being accurate. Full Article →
A “systematic review” of all outcome studies of patients with mood disorders, in the March issue of the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, finds that “the long-term outcome for patients with mood disorders in the predrug era was reasonably positive. Most patients recovered and the majority seemed to remain well after their recovery.” In the modern era, however, “the recurrence of mood episodes appears to have significantly increased.” The authors conclude that “These data . . . provide no comfort for those, including ourselves, who have believed that drugs provide an effective prophylactic treatment for at least a substantial minority of patients with affective disorders.”
When the benzodiazepines were first introduced, it was widely claimed, both by psychiatrists and by pharma, that they were non-addictive. This claim was subsequently abandoned in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the addictive potential of these products is now recognized and generally accepted. Full Article →
Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine finds that 12.6% of primary care visits in the U.S. involved prescriptions for benzodiazepines or opioids, an increase of 12.5% each year from 2002 to 2009. Visits involving an opioid prescription were 4.2x more likely to also involve a benzo description. “More research is needed to elucidate the reason behind the increase in benzodiazepine prescription, and a national effort is needed to highlight the danger of co-prescription of benzodiazepines and opioids,” said principal investigator Sean Mackey, MD,
MiA blogger Jeffrey Lacasse‘s study of psychiatric prescribing in response to perinatal/neonatal death (co-authored with Joanne Cacciatore) finds that 37% of participants in an online bereavement support community were prescribed meds. Of those, 80% were prescribed antidepressants, and 20% were prescribed benzodiazepines. 32% of prescriptions were written within 48 hours, 44% within a week and 75% within a month. Most of the prescriptions given shortly after the loss were prescribed by obstetricians or gynecologists, and most who were prescribed antidepressants ended up taking them long-term.
Note: The episode did not air as expected. ABC indicates it will air Tuesday, January 21.
Six weeks ago a producer from ABC World News with Diane Sawyer contacted me. “ABC wants to do a piece on addiction and prescription drugs,” she told me. “Would I agree to an interview?” I was not without reservations. I have a healthy disregard for much of mainstream news, but I also realize their reach and potency. The proposition was risky, but one which I decided to take. It’s a cliché, but one with truth: If one person can benefit, then it’s worth it. I said “yes.” Full Article →
Research from London and Taipei finds that neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is associated with the number of different antipsychotics used (polypharmacy), rather than the overall dose. The researchers also found an association between NMS and Haldol, Abilify, benzodiazepines, and depot flupentixol. A correlation between NMS and non-white ethnicity was also found.
Researchers in Taiwan found a 3.33x greater risk of benign brain tumors in patients who had been prescribed benzodiazepines for at least 2 months. The research drew on data from the National Health Insurance System of Taiwan on 62,186 patients who had been prescribed benzodiazepines matched against 62,050 controls. The study appears in Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
If I had remained med compliant I wouldn’t understand the simple joys of caring about my hygiene and my surroundings. I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time but I’ve not done it and I think it’s because I still have shame around how slovenly I became. I hid it from others fairly well most of the time, but I couldn’t hide it from myself. The fact is the drugs stripped me of some very basic elements of human care. When one doesn’t care about their immediate environment and their bodies, they really just don’t care about themselves. It’s a very painful place to be and yet when it’s caused by drugs it’s all muted and weird and not really who we are at all and so really all that is left is horrible shame. Full Article →
“My studies in this area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them. It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”
- Peter Gøtzsche, MD; Co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration
Sources for Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Health Care: