What Patients — and Doctors — Should Know About ‘Benzo’ Withdrawal

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From The Washington Post: “When my primary care doctor prescribed Klonopin to treat my severe anxiety in the months before and after major surgery in December 2021, I had no idea that getting off the drug later — as well as the Ambien I had taken for over a decade — would become a nightmare.

After struggling to quit on my own, and unsure of where to turn, an online search led me to several frightening, confusing weeks in detox and rehab facilities. Despite the intervention, I still suffered what seemed like endless sleepless nights, heart palpitations, severe agitation and tremors. As it turns out, I was one of the lucky ones — my withdrawal could have been not just miserable but also long-lasting or even life-threatening.

An estimated 30 million adults in the United States take benzodiazepines such as Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax and Valium for anxiety, stress and related mental health conditions. Millions more take sedative-hypnotics including Ambien for sleep, which, like ‘benzos,’ work on a specific brain neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.

Yet there is little awareness about the consequences of withdrawing from long-term use or high doses of these medications and how to do it safely. Even primary care physicians — who write half of all benzodiazepine prescriptions — are often unaware that a slow, supervised taper off the drugs is necessary.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. An update on my loved one who I allowed to be put on a benzo for three days, to deal with (IMHO) a “drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis” (albeit, not caused by withdrawal from psych drugs … just a proper withdrawal from other “Rockefeller medicine” petrochemicals, a now medically known adverse drug interaction).

    Since being released from the hospital, my loved one dealt with some common withdrawal effects of the benzos – the of worst of which have been aphasia and a form of dyskinesia. Hopefully, the aphasia seems to have largely gone away after only a week or so. My loved one is still trying to heal from the dyskinesia, which has taken the form of a walking disorder (he lifts one leg oddly). Which is obviously, still bothersome to him.

    But, for the most part, my loved one knows he’s dealing with adverse drug reactions, and has been given hope, not hope destroying, defamatory DSM “life long, incurable genetic” lies. And I’ve informed him that the brain is neuroplastic, so it can heal itself. (And we do have a family history of neurologists being excited about the medical proof of how the human brain heals itself, after our father’s passing.)

    Honestly, I believe this is such a more healing message to give a person, than being defamed with any of the “invalid” DSM disorders. But please say a prayer for my family, since we are going through a hard time right now.

    But so far, in regards to my research in regards to the benzos and other psych drugs, I do agree with the honest doctors, who say a very short course of benzos may be a less harmful alternative, to the never ending antidepressant and antipsychotic, systemic, anticholinergic toxidrome poisonings and lies of the psychiatric and psychologic, DSM deluded industries.

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  2. So over 50% of benzo prescription are made by GPs, and don’t know nor warn about withdrawal.

    Not that simple.

    Back in the 90s I did knew a psychiatrist that was proselitist about using benzos for anxiety. A then proorganic psychiatry psychiatrist, training to be psychoanalyst. Despite surgeons knew that using them, as since then has been proven, makes things worse.

    I knew a case of a medicine family. The father a doc, the mother a nurse and a descendant a doc too.

    The doc father prescribed benzos to his junior doc and to his nurse wife. The doc father took doses from the wife’s supply, I asume obviating the need to write a prescription for himself.

    The doc father also prescribed to another relative, and at least once the doc father could not give a prescription to his junior doc because apparently he had given too many controlled prescriptions that month(!?). Mind you, by then he was “retired” but kept a shared consulting office, rarely used, otherwise?.

    Since prescriptions should have an address of an office with all the law mandates, from thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, exploring table, etc. Otherwise it is illegal…

    Well, it might seem off topic, but guess why the junior doc started taking benzos?. Because a psychiatrist very steemed to this junior doc and of course the family, really close affair, prescribed them to the junior doc, apparently for anxiety more than 10yrs when I saw all I’m relating regarding this family. More than Ten years! More than Ten years doing that…

    I ignore if this psychiatrist prescribed to the mother nurse or the doc father but that, on the long run, was a bad example. An initiation ritual to something…

    And I saw prescriptions by various GPs for the junior doc when the prescription by the doc father could not do. I won’t go into details, but there are situations when you have to show a prescription in case posesion of a controlled substance is suspicious.

    From colleagues testimony I heard that this junior doc asked several colleagues for benzos prescriptions a few years before I saw what I narrated previously. I imagine because the father was way away, and I assume sending one prescription by courier was not an option. I imagine the zip code could be problematic at the dispensing, really, drugstore.

    After some years/decades of the I assume original prescription by a psychiatrist three psychiatrists told the junior doc the benzos were not to be used like that: only whenever you feel anxious. Which to me looks more recreational and/or to qualm long term withdrawal effects of taking benzos for so long, even if ocasionally, apparently.

    They also told the junior doc that apparently the SSRI based treatment for anxiety was not working. There was a need for change, but as far as I know no psychiatrist called the people in blue, nor the health authority. So, collusion.

    Ethically, several medical ethics books I read decades ago recommend making an intervention on the dependent/addicted physician. That is, ethically, these psychiatrists should have involved colleagues of the doc father and the junior doc so they stop doing what they are doing.

    As far as I know that did not happen, the psychiatrists were remiss on their legal and ethical obligations to their colleagues. As I understand it. One of them was a psychiatrist from the United States!. Very concerning fellow too, but that’s off topic.

    The junior doc persisted and last time I knew the doc father still provided the prescriptions for his junior descendant doc.

    I got the impresion there was an adhoc, informal network in that town where “I write you one if you write me one” happened. But that’s my impression, I never was privy to that directly. More of my inference. But they probably were GPs started in the habit/dependecy/addiction causing benzos by psychiatrists way back then. Around 20yrs ago I speculate.

    And that’s not all, I got the impression the doc father and the junior doc, at least, were proselitists about using benzos.

    I even have the memory, maybe false, that they kind of offered benzos when they saw someone anxious in otherwise social situations, but I might be wrong on this particular memory. That is inmoral and illegal, they had no clinical relationship to the new inductee, and they never saw it in a clinical office that fulfills the laws and regulations that govern clinical practice in Mexico.

    This father doc and the junior doc were in my opinion the kind of docs that don’t update their knowledge. They apparently were kind of narcicists, the junior doc kind of brag about it, precisely because the estimed psychiatrist told the junior doc so. “We physicians are kind of narcicisists”(!?). I always wanted to add: more like SOME are psychopathic, but I would be diagnosing and never got permission for that. And now I don’t believe in such labels.

    And, given they took SSRIs too, and benzos, and alcohol, I doubt any argument, evidence or research could change their now pernicious and probably illegal habits/dependencies/denials/addictions.

    They probably should land themselves in rehab, and possibly jail, or at least under an administrative sanction. What sanction other than exposure and moral censure the original estimed family friend prescribing psychiatrist deserves, dunno.

    And all apparently started from the pen of a “estimed” psychiatrist, very close friend, apparently, to this “medical” family.

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  3. And as for the three psychiatrists duty of confidence/secrecy? Well, the federal penal code is very clear on the duty to report crimes to the appropiate authority. It is also in a federal regulation that governs medical facilities and derives from the health law, not the penal code.

    They quote no exception, and wheter it is a crime to be reported or not is up to the “district attorney” not to the physician.

    Reporting some crimes, even if as usual “potential” is in practice done without the consent of the patient, and sometimes against his or her will. It’s a mandate. District attorneys way back then were pissed if we as practitioners didn’t report crimes of the physicial kind, even if minor. I can imagine if I didn’t report a suspicious case of drug dealing!.

    I am no lawyer but it seems clear to me that duty of secrecy/confidence does not cover illegal behaviour that could cause addiction on a person that is not a patient in a proper clinical relationship and environment. That sounds to me like “danger to others”, and as far as I can appreciate psychiatrists love to do even illegal things based on that.

    And a callous defensive psychiatrist might say: “But I have no proof of that! It is testimony and that’s speculative”. Well, precisely, it is the job of the district attorney to determine if there is ANYTHING to investigate and prosecute, it is not up to the physician!.

    But IMO physicians do place themselves as disctrict attorneys, police people, judges, legislators, etc. There is a current case of an anesthesiologist in hot water for posession without a permit/license of controled substances including a strong “destilate” of cannabis. Apparently he thought he was a regulatory health authority with the excuse he was, literaly said: “just saving lives!”.

    So, to my lame opinion, the three psychiatrists omissions are unethical, unmedical and proably illegal. But they jive with the collusion mode of psyhciatric practice in my humble opinion, knowledge and direct experience.

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    • And on the anesthesiologist’s case the news reports are not that clear. But from the few “facts” even transporting and STORING controlled substances not in use by the patient require a permit/license/notification.

      Even crossing a state line with a flower or maybe a piece of food requires inspection. They have inspection facilities several kilometers along federal highways in Mexico, or at least they used to.

      Even a vault!, but I’m speculating.

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