Doctors Rarely Warn about Benzo Withdrawal

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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.”

“Medford resident Karen Psaledakis was prescribed Ativan to treat panic attacks after her father’s 2006 death,” reports the Boston Globe. “Her psychiatrist offered ‘zero’ warnings, she said.”

“We still hear from members [in the United States] that their doctors claim there is no potential for dependency or addiction with this class of drug,” a leader of an online discussion forum about benzo withdrawal told the Globe. “Some doctors even sometimes ‘cold turkey’ their patients off large doses of benzodiazepines, even after protracted use. This is extremely dangerous.”

“[Doctors] get used to prescribing these drugs and they forget what they’re dealing with,” John Kelly of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital admitted to the Globe. He described the corresponding “false sense of security” patients can get from their doctors that the drugs are “safe, or much safer than illicit drugs you’d obtain on the street.”

When withdrawal is the hardest part (Boston Globe, September 8, 2014)

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Mad in America, PLEASE use proper terminology when speaking of benzo patients, otherwise you are just harming them and their cause further.

    Above, you say: “The Boston Globe interviews people who became ever more severely addicted to sedating benzodiazepines without realizing it…”

    If you aren’t abusing the drug and you don’t even realize what’s happening, it is called dependence, physical or physiological dependence, iatrogenic dependence. Some people do use “accidental addiction” which is a better term than just “addicted”, but is still largely improper based on the definitions of the two.

    “Addiction is a biological and psychological condition that compels a person to satisfy their need for a particular stimulus and to keep satisfying it, no matter what.
    It is a compulsive behavior that demands more and more drugs, regardless of the consequences that lead to dysfunction.”

    VERSUS

    “Dependence is a physical state that occurs when the lack of a drug causes the body to have a reaction. Physical dependence is solely a physical state indicating that the body has grown so adapted to having the drug present that sudden removal of it will lead to negative consequences such as a withdrawal reaction. This can occur with almost any kind of drug.”

    Thank you.

  2. ““safe, or much safer than illicit drugs you’d obtain on the street.””
    Buehahaha (evil laughter).
    I had a head of the unit I was involuntarily held at tell me that benzos don’t cause amnesia. When I challeneged her and said: “please, go to the computer, and type in “benzodiazepines and amnesia” in pubmed” she quickly changed and say “eh, well, but that’s in very high doses” and continued arguing with me. When I was released from the unit I was adviced to take 3 different drugs to “manage” my symptoms (mainly being pissed at them because of the abuse). Have I been a compliant person I’d have no memory and no liver (a side effect of another drug).