I am an award-winning singer/songwriter with a number one record to my credit. I also owned several small businesses and founded a 501c3 non-profit for women’s health. I ate healthy, swam and cycled every day and had a very active lifestyle. This was before benzos came into my life. Since withdrawing from benzodiazepines five months ago, I still cannot play one of my own compositions all the way through without a mistake.
“We asked people from all over the world to share about the iatrogenic injury they sustained from taking benzodiazepines as prescribed and why they are participating in 'World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day' on July 11th. These are their stories...”
I have given up on psychiatry as a system capable of “being there” for people who are dealing with life and death issues. Psychiatry as a system of care lacks validity. Every day — unfortunately — we learn of new examples proving this statement. But here’s the good news: every day we meet people who show us that the predictions of psychiatry are not true; that there are “cures,” that it is possible to reduce or withdraw psychiatric drugs. This October 15th, we will host Scientific Symposium – Psychiatric Drug Risk and Alternatives in Gothenburg, Sweden, to gather and build on what we learn from them.
Beginning with the glamorization of Miltown in the 1950’s, the “I don’t care” pill was a way to ease the growing awareness that the world is indeed unsafe, and that something is deeply bankrupt in the promises of burgeoning science, technology, and industrialization. Still, we sought to heal these wounds through application of more of the same mentality – one of dominance, management, and suppression of all obstacles into submission. As our bodies, minds, and spirits become more and more separated from nature, each other, and ourselves, the worry, discomfort, and unease mount. Now that the going has gotten very tough, we are reaching for medications more than ever. Surely, however, turning off the smoke alarm is not the best way to deal with a fire.
For the Huffington Post, David Freeman asks “By tamping down anxious feelings, could it be that these so-called “anxiolytic” drugs are blunting our empathy and rendering us less willing to lend a helping hand to those in need?”
A new study, published in BMJ Open-Access this week, found a significant link between the level of air pollution in a community and the mental health of the children living there. After controlling for socio-economic status and other potential variables, researchers in Sweden discovered a strong association between the concentration of air pollution in a neighborhood and the amount of ‘antipsychotic’ and psychiatric drugs prescribed to children. The link remained strong even at pollution levels well below half of what is considered acceptable by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The war against the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts may be pushing another potential public health crisis into the shadows,” the Metro West Daily News reports. Anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines, like Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax, were involved in over thirty percent of all opioid-related overdose deaths in 2014, according to a new CDC report.
The 11 July 2016 will be the inaugural World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day, part of a campaign to raise global awareness about the issue of doctor-induced benzodiazepine dependency, which affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to debilitating withdrawal symptoms that often last for years. You can buy t-shirts in support of this campaign here.
A groundbreaking article for The Province is “sounding the alarm over the heightened risk of death linked to the use of psychiatric drugs.” They report on two studies, published this month, that studied the connection between benzodiazepines and mortality. "The interesting thing about this is that it's a prescription drug and people think they're safe," a doctor told the paper. "But as it turns out, we're probably prescribing these drugs in a way that's leading to harm."
“In a bid to raise awareness towards the global epidemic of abuse on Benzodiazepine or ‘benzos’ abuse, a global campaign dubbed as World Benzo Awareness Day (WBAD) has been gaining ground,” Morning News USA reports. “I have seen so many people suffering, committing suicide because they cannot tolerate the prolonged withdrawal reactions and the damage done to them any longer, and there is very little, if any, help available to them.”
Today, organizers have released a statement announcing a "World Benzo Awareness Day" to take place on Monday, 11th July 2016. "This day has been made necessary due to decades of inaction on the part of global governments over the most serious of public health issues - that is doctor induced benzodiazepine drug dependency and associated iatrogenic damages." See the full statement below.
The hearing for Bill H4062: Informed Consent for Benzodiazepines and Non-benzodiazepine Hypnotics took place on Monday – in the middle of an April snowstorm! The discussion clarified some important points in the legislation and gave survivors an opportunity to tell their stories. I was so proud to be there and witness the courage, camaraderie, resilience, advocacy, and vulnerability of fellow survivors. This legislation is our chance to be heard. As one survivor said, through tears, to the committee, “Do not let my suffering be in vain. I beg you to pass this bill.”
The Massachusetts Benzo Bill H4062: Informed consent for benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics was just scheduled to be heard by the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse on Monday, April 4th. Less than a week away! The committee will decide whether the bill moves forward to the house and senate, goes to study, or is denied.
As the benzodiazepine crisis spreads throughout the United States and other parts of the world, so does the debate within the benzo victim/survivor community. We know that it can be terribly invalidating to label and treat a person as a “drug addict” who is only physically dependent on benzos — and taking these drugs exactly as prescribed by a doctor. However, it can be equally invalidating to deny that “iatrogenic benzo dependence” intersects in multiple ways in the lives of people struggling with “addiction.” People will ALSO SUFFER when yanked off of their benzos, or forced into similar rapid tapers when a doctor becomes aware of their addiction history.
On February 24th, 2016 Bill HD4554 – An Act relative to benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics was filed by Representative Paul McMurtry in the Massachusetts State House. The bill received 47 co-sponsors during the seven-day open period in which legislators can co-sponsor. This is an impressive and promising turnout.
When I was born, everyone was expecting me to have arms. The doctor’s mind raced; how am I going to tell this mother and the father that their son has hands but not arms? If he’s missing so much in his extremities, mustn’t he also be missing a mind? My mom looked into my eyes and knew – in a way that only mothers know – that I had a mind, and spirit.
A large study of the population in Taiwan reveals that long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs, commonly prescribed for anxiety, significantly increases the risk for brain, colorectal, and lung cancers. The research, published open-access in the journal Medicine, also identifies the types of benzodiazepines that carry the greatest cancer risk.
Last year the British Medical Association (BMA) released a report on dependence and withdrawal from prescription drugs including benzodiazepines, z-drugs, opioids, and antidepressants. Now, in light of their findings, the BMA is commiting to changes to medical practice, policy, and research.
“Health Commissioner Leana Wen will join other health directors across the country today in asking the federal government to require a ‘black box warning’ when prescribing opioids with a class of drugs called benzodiazepines,” reports the Baltimore Sun. “The health directors believe the combination of drugs are helping to drive the epidemic of prescription drug overdoses.”
A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health calls for policy level interventions to reduce the use of benzodiazepines, drugs commonly prescribed for anxiety, after presenting data on their increased use and the high rate of overdose deaths. Tracking medical data from 1996 to 2013, the researchers conclude the benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose deaths have increased considerably.
On November 12th, 2015, the third anniversary of the day that I abruptly stopped taking benzodiazepines, my dear friend, J. Doe, published a two-part article here on Mad in America examining the language that is commonly used to describe benzodiazepine (benzo) iatrogenesis. I wanted a summary of these articles captured in a Youtube video so that those in the thick of benzo neurotoxicity could tune into these ideas in a way that might be more easily digestible. I hoped more benzo sufferers would begin to question how they describe (and allow others to describe) an illness that remains decades behind in understanding and recognition. I also wanted to draw attention to the content again in hopes that more medical professionals would read and understand the crucial distinctions in language surrounding this problem.
“The anguish, anxiety and nightmares were unbearable,” the former film executive Tod Abrams had wrote in a note to his family. “It was only a month after he had sought help with his addiction to Xanax, a sedative used to treat anxiety, at a $60,000-a-month residential facility run by Caron Treatment Centers in an upscale oceanside neighborhood in Delray Beach.”
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