Call To Action: Massachusetts Bill H4062 for Informed Benzodiazepine Use is Official

Alison Page
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On February 24th, 2016 Bill H4062An 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.

The bill was assigned bill number H4062 and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Because the bill was unseasonably filed, it does not have to be heard by the Joint Committee before this legislative session ends, but there is still a chance it could be heard before the July 2016 deadline. The committee will hear testimonies from experts in the field about why this bill is so important to public health and safety. At that point, the committee will decide whether the bill should pass, “go to study”, or be denied.  If the bill “goes to study”, meaning that it will require more research before a decision is made, then the bill will be effectively “dead in the water” until next year.

The likely and hoped for outcome is that the Joint Committee will pass the bill, at which point it will go before the House and the Senate for debate until it ends up on the floor of the House and Senate for a final vote.

What are the Specifics of Bill H4062?

  • Anyone receiving a benzodiazepine prescription will receive written informed consent from their doctor stating the risks of taking this class of drugs. The consent form will ensure that patient’s understand that benzodiazepines and sleep aids can lead to physical dependence, and in some cases, addiction. The informed consent form will also specify that this drug can, in some cases, cause an injury to the nervous system and dangerous and/or disabling withdrawal reaction. The consent form will also specify that long-term use is contraindicated.
  • Benzodiazepine prescriptions will be written on brightly colored paper to ensure that patients know that they are receiving a potentially harmful substance that could lead to physiological dependence or addiction.
  • No patient will be taken off benzodiazepines or sleep aids without their full consent. No patient will be “cold turkeyed” off their prescription. For patient’s choosing to come off,  a safe taper schedule will be implemented.
  • Drug labels will indicate that long-term use is contraindicated.

 

What Can You do to Help?

1. If you would like to help this bill pass and gain momentum, please reach out to Massachusetts state senators and representatives by phone and e-mail. Tell them how benzodiazepines have harmed you or a loved one, and why passing this bill is important to public health and safety.

2. E-mail your personal story of benzodiazepine harm to Attorney Garrett Burns at [email protected]. Your personal story will be presented as evidence to the Joint Committee as they decide whether or not the bill moves forward. The sooner you can send your personal story the better, since it is unclear when the committee will meet. You do not need to live in Massachusetts to send in your story. You can send your story from anywhere in the U.S. and internationally, there are no restrictions. 

Please include the following information in your e-mail:

  1. Full Name
  2. Town and State (if you live within the U.S.)
  3. Country (if you live outside of the U.S.)
  4. Use “Bill H4062” as the subject line
  5. If you are writing from outside of Massachusetts, include how this bill will affect your state/country. For example, if this bill passes in Massachusetts, you are hoping a similar bill will pass in your own state/country.

This email should be addressed to: Dear Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse OR Representative McMurtry

Thank you for your support!

15 COMMENTS

  1. I went on clonazepam, .5mg.s, 3xday, in 1994, to assist in the withdrawal from chronic iatrogenic polypharmacy. Dr. Ballou & myself designed what we *thought* was a reasonable protocol.
    In given the 3x/day Rx, there were supposed to be 3 “steps” down, and although even in 1994, it couldn’t be written as a “PRN”, our understanding was that I would NOT take it, when and if I did not believe I needed it. Soon, a “30-day” supply was lasting 2, 3, 4, or more months…. Most days I didn’t take ANY.
    After Dr. Ballou’s retirement, and sadly, passing, my “care” went to Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock,Keene(CMC/DHK). The standard of care at CMC/DHK is pathetic.
    Since ~2012, CMC/DHK has either abruptly terminated, or arbitrarily reduced, the Rx, 3 times.
    I was NOT EVER fully informed, or consenting, in the IATROGENIC HARM which CMC/DHK has inflicted on me. Yes, “benzos” should only be used at LOW doses, for SHORT periods of time, and closely and carefully monitored. I intend THIS comment to be also part of the H4062 comments.
    And, yes, I do intend to return here, later, for more TESTIMONY. (“Benedryl” does seem to offer SOME relief for withdrawal agonies….)….
    BLESS YOU, Allison Page!

    • Maybe niacinamide will be helpful, as it goes to the same receptor sites as the benzos, and also has anticonvulsant properties. You’d probably have to use a lot- starting dose of 500mg./day, up to 1-2g 3xday. You’ll become nauseated if you take too much- cut back 1g/day from your schedule if that happens. Your shrink may tell you you’re poisoning yourself with a quack remedy, but remember who got you on benzos in the first place.

      • Thanks, “bcharris”. You’re very helpful. But let me clear up a couple minor points of confusion. “Dr. Ballou” was an “old-school”, Air Force veteran, General Practitioner.
        He was actually helping me get away from the pseudoscience of psychiatry. I haven’t seen a psychiatrist in 20 years, and would NOT EVER see one again. The lies of psychs stole the best 20 years of my life. I don’t have good medical support
        for use of niacinamide, mostly due to the poverty of disability, and the general poor state of “Medicine” today. Any “hell” the benzos have given me, is a lot better than the **HELL** of psych drugs, and polypharmacy!….And, wouldn’t a GOOD multi-vitamin also help? Thanks again. Keep commenting.

  2. It’s probably a good thing the state introduced that bill. The benzos are fat soluble, which makes them real stinkers in withdrawal, because it takes weeks or months to clear them from the system. I wouldn’t hesitate to withdraw someone from alcohol to keep them from collapsing or convulsing on the street (I usually have several hundred 500mg. niacin tablets around the house, being a schizo), but benzos are a different story, though I’m sometimes afflicted with the temptation.

  3. I still have resentments about being made dependent on these benzo drugs without being warned and having hellish withdrawals and being forced to behave like Oliver Twist “Please sir, I need some more” to make those withdrawals go away.

    No one told me dependence means you have panic attacks from hell if you quit taking the stuff. I thought dependence meant you just like fell in love with the drugs effects totally and didn’t like your normal anymore . I had no idea how it really worked.

    This bill is pretty balanced, the “war on drugs” crowd, who I don’t usually agree with, should like the idea of proper warning labels and it protects informed people who chose to risk dependence for the possible benefits of drug therapy from being abused with forced withdrawals.

    Seems like a win win.

  4. Alison, well done on getting this information out.

    Would it be possible for you to put a sample email on this webpage for us to copy and paste into an email? Include a note stating “insert your story here” so each one of us can put our own personal story in.

    Then could you put the list of email addresses for Attorney Garrett Burns, Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Representative McMurtry; the Massachusetts state senators and representatives right on this page so that we can just copy and paste them into an email?

    It would be so much easier for those of us who are really sick! I think many won’t do this because this is way to overwhelming for them at this particular moment. You adding those things will help greatly. I’m sending in my story to Attorney Garrett Burns, Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Representative McMurtry at this point. If you list the senators and representatives emails, I will email it to them as well. Thank you!!!!

  5. Alison,

    Concerning the following:
    Quote: Anyone receiving a benzodiazepine prescription will receive written informed consent from their doctor stating the risks of taking this class of drugs. The consent form will ensure that patient’s understand that benzodiazepines and sleep aids can lead to physical dependence, and in some cases, addiction. The consent form will also specify that long-term use is contraindicated.

    The above sounds like the symptoms of going off hydrocodone. The above statement doesn’t nearly describe the horrific side effects that are listed in the Ashton Manual. I did have one doctor tell me the drug was additive but I assumed it was additive like hydrocodone. I’ve gotten off hydrocodone after a surgery. Never in my life would I have thought it would cause the symptoms in the Ashton Manual which I experience. Is there any way the above statement can include a more specific list of side effects??? Or is that included in the Bill?

    • Hydrocodone, other narcotics and benzos are two different families of drugs. Withdrawal from the narcotics is much easier, because they’re water-soluble and thus clear your system faster; whereas benzos are fat soluble and can therefore hang around in your body from several weeks to several months.

  6. I was hospitalized in Massachusetts on a six day scam to bilk Medicare. While hospitalized I was put on an abrupt one-week taper from benzos that I had been slowly and successful tapering down from for years. They wanted to replace the benzos with seroquel – to treat my insomnia. I have never had a psychotic episode, and seroquel is not an appropriate treatment for insomnia – which is not a psychotic condition. Soon after discharge I went into an unsupervised episode of severe withdrawal. Thankfully my PCP returned my benzo dose to the previous level and I have successfully continued with my slow and steady taper down.

    When I filed a complaint about mistreatment my medical records were altered to cover up the Medicare fraud. Medicare denied payment for the sham hospitalization.

    I’m very much in favor of the cautious use of benzos, but not if the plan is to replace them with far worse (but more lucrative) anti-psychotic medications.

    Be careful what we wish for, and be mindful of the money trail.

      • I would strongly disagree. Seroquel is a neuroleptic just like any other, and the one and only time I took it (after naively being convinced it wasn’t a neuroleptic back in the late 90’s when I didn’t have the sort of access to information I do now), it made me dystonic and gave me sleep payalysis. I was certain it was a neuroleptic not even an hour after I took it, and I would turn out to be right.

      • “want to” not ant o !

        When I was in the the hospital, the abusive one, they wanted me to take 800 ! mg of Seroquel.

        I knew 25mg was more than enough to put me to sleep, taken it before so I figured taking the dosage they ordered would put me so asleep I would never wake up, so I refused. Self preservation.

        Instead of explaining pharmacology or treating me like a human being they went right to threats of injections and you *must* take all these pills or injection !

        I *must* take 32 times the dose of Seroquel that normally knocks me out and Haldol and some dangerous ‘mood’ drug that’s also an epilepsy pill ?? all at once !!

        NO , and if you assault me with a needle penetration you won’t like it when I see you people alone outside this hellhole someday without your goons and panic buttons to save you. They continued the needle threat but never carried it out. I continued to refuse.

        My nightmare lasted a month as they ripped of my insurance.

        • Yeah, that’s actually a very good strategy. One of the major disagreements I always had with the MFI folk, is that if the law is on their side but the victims aren’t willing to break the law to exact justice, then what exactly might even possibly stop the atrocious victimization’s from occurring? Protests. That’s right; “blow up” the phones by trying to call them 500 times a day, try to get 10-20 people to stand outside the hospital holding signs then try to get a journalist to “cover” it because supposedly then a THOUSAND people might show up! Ridiculous. Protesting has never accomplished anything. It’s not but annoyance, and if anything that only fuels your oppositions disdain for you even more. A recklessly dangerous thing to do when the health and well-being of the person you’re protesting for is in the control of the haughty professionals you’re protesting.

          Let a forced drugger know how seriously you feel about it, how there’s zero chance that you’ll “let it go” at ANY length of time and how “functional” you’ll be in “such matters” and unless you’re a ward of the state he can have shipped off to a group home 100 miles into the middle of nowhere, your odds of escaping that needle have just gone up astronomically. If one person who made that stand got the needle and followed through with natural justice, the odds that anyone would escape the needle from then on would go up astronomically.

          Like it for not, violence and “terrorism” work. If not, then tell me why the media wont show a picture of mohammad.