Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Comments by FG

Showing 10 of 10 comments.

  • Thanks Richard and J. Doe.

    I am not the only one who found themselves drinking heavily while on benzos. I have talked to a couple of other people who said the same thing. I don’t buy the theory that alcohol is essentially a liquid benzo but this definitely goes to show there is a cross tolerance. Sometimes I wonder if I would be healed now had I not drank so much back then, but I can’t beat myself up too much considering that I know that it wasn’t “me”. There are also a fair number of folks who didn’t have that kind of history with alcohol who still end up suffering from protracted withdrawal so who really knows.

  • I don’t think it is a bad thing to want to acknowledge the part that addiction can play when it comes to benzos but the dependency issue dwarfs any kind of addiction issues, and as such I simply do not see the need for some kind of movement to acknowledge the people who are “in between”. I don’t see it as a big problem and it only serves to undermine the push to get everyone on the same page as to the need for differentiating between two separate and distinct issues.

    Also, as J. Doe pointed out, it is likely that a lot of this gray area between addiction and dependence is not really gray at all. Before I touched a benzo or AD I was always a one or two beer a day kind of guy. Never had much of a taste for hard liquor and although I drank often I very rarely drank to excess. But that all changed when I got tangled up with psych drugs. One or two beers a day became six or eight stiff vodka and grapefruits.

    Was I displaying “addictive” behaviors with my increased alcohol use, or was my body subconsciously compensating for benzo tolerance (because I was dependent) by craving alcohol?

    I continued to drink after coming off the benzo, but as of about 18 months off I started noticing that my tolerance for alcohol and my desire to drink were starting to wane and by 20 or 22 months off I wouldn’t have been able to drink more than a couple of alcoholic beverages if I wanted to, and by about 24 months off alcohol was flat out making me sick. I am starting to tolerate alcohol better now that I am just over 5 years off, but I have no cravings and probably only average about 1 drink per month, if that.

    Did I need treatment for addiction? No, I needed to get off of those awful synthetic pharmaceutical drugs and allow my body to revert back to its natural state.

    It seems like there are a fair number of benzo survivors who ended up in a similar situation and because of the ignorance surrounding dependence they “default” to using addiction language and even label themselves as addicts when it is wholly inappropriate, and this only serves to create more confusion for everyone.

    What we need is a clear and concise delineation between addiction and dependence before we can even begin to discuss the nuances of any sort of gray areas. At this point any kind of push to “bridge the gap” is only going to create more confusion and that will stand in the way of the ultimate goal of ensuring that folks who are dependent receive humane treatment, which we all seem to agree on.

  • I have spent the past 5 years recovering from the effects of these awful drugs and most of that time I have been involved in the online support community. I have met a few people who abused benzos and some who had been addicted to other drugs in the past but the thing that strikes me about this whole discussion is that I can’t think of one person who would have been truly “harmed” by any kind of attempt to clearly differentiate between addiction and dependence.

    On the other hand, I have talked to hundreds if not thousands of people, including those who have or do have addiction issues, who have been gravely harmed by the medical community (and to a lesser extent family and friends), and much of this can be attributed to the iatrogenically dependent people being mislabeled as addicts.

    There is no “gap” that needs to be bridged. As it stands it one big tangled mess of misinformation, ignorance and confusion that has destroyed thousands of lives.

  • Fantastic response Brighid.

    Yes, first and foremost it is important to separate addiction from dependence in order to protect people from the effects of these dangerous drugs. Avoiding the stigma of addiction is secondary.

    I was peripherally aware that these drugs can be “addictive” when they were first prescribed to me. I asked my doctor about this and she said “I’m not worried about that with you”. She thought that as long as I wasn’t abusing them that nothing could go wrong.

    My doctor obviously was clueless about the true dangers of these drugs, so here I am, almost 5 years after my last dose and still dealing with some significant symptoms that cause me pain at times and prevent me from being able to live a “normal” life.

    Had my doctor not been a victim of this ignorance I have to wonder if I would have had 5+ years of my life destroyed.

  • There is a difference between saying “addicts bring it on themselves” and “it is also wrong to treat iatrogenic benzo sufferers as if they deserve their suffering by using terminology that implies that they brought it upon themselves”.

    We didn’t create the stigma and ignorance, we are simply trying to avoid that ignorance being used against us. Right or wrong the word “addiction” does imply that you brought it on yourself. But that is another issue altogether, and one that we have to distance ourselves from if we want any chance of benzo dependence/damage to be taken seriously.

  • I also agree that dependence is technically not the right word for the damage we have suffered. After a certain period of time reinstating the drug usually doesn’t work, so how can I be “dependent” on something that doesn’t help me? And I know that technically receptor downregulation isn’t “damage” in the sense that downregulation on a smaller scale is a a natural thing, but make no mistake- it certainly is brain damage in the sense that whatever these drugs do to the brain and CNS of the unlucky souls like us it is VERY HARMFUL to the body and absolutely needs to be acknowledged as such.

    Regardless of these facts the first step is to get everyone on board with the currently accepted definitions. Hopefully this push to label benzo dependence as “Heather Ashton Syndrome” is successful because that should go a long way towards allowing this to be recognized for what it is.

  • There are some people even in the benzo support community who take issue with separating addiction from dependence despite there being different medical definitions for both.

    It took me awhile but I am starting to understand where this is coming from. I think some of it stems from 12 step dogma, and I understand how that might cause some folks to look at this a little differently. I don’t agree with conflating these terms under any circumstances as I believe that it only serves to cause people more harm, but I understand how some people might be a little misguided on this subject from dealing with their own issues.

    What I truly have no tolerance though for is the people who try desperately to lump as many people as possible under the addiction umbrella. Now that I feel like I truly understand the gravity of the issue I am starting to realize that this is a horribly selfish thing for people to do. I doubt most of them have malicious intent, but many of them don’t seem to care that muddying the waters will only result in more pain and suffering for others and to me that is inexcusable.

    It is one thing to identify yourself as an addict but I get the impression that some folks desperately want to create confusion on this issue to help them feel better about themselves. They have decided that anyone who is harmed by a class of drugs that is deemed to be “addictive” just has to suffer from the same stigma right along with everyone else. And you can’t reason with these people at all. The fact that other people will continue to suffer in part because they don’t want anyone who took “addictive” drugs to feel or act superior to them means nothing to them. All they care about is making sure that everyone sees that “an addict is an addict”, even if it means that more and more people who are physically dependent on a drug (or more accurately were physically damaged by it) continue to suffer. Any attempt to clarify the difference between addiction and dependence is met with hostility and the premise for their anger is the idea that anyone who tries to distance themselves from the addict label is only doing so to help them to feel better about themselves, and this only serves to add fuel to the stigma surrounding addiction.

    To me this is deplorable. It’s one thing to formulate an opinion when you don’t have all the facts, but it is another thing to ignore the evidence when it is put in front of you just to suit your own agenda.

  • Richard,

    It think part of the problem here is that the ignorance surrounding this subject is so pervasive that us benzo victims have no choice but to take a stern stance in distancing ourselves from addiction.

    So while I agree with you that the problem with benzos is not only that they can create debilitating dependence that can last for years on end (I will be 5 years off next month and still suffer from some significant symptoms), but that is indeed the main issue with these drugs and it is the only issue that most of us who have had the hammer dropped on us by these drugs are really invested in. So although it may be beneficial to some people to expose the other dangers with this class of drugs, the most important thing for us is to focus on the dependence issue, especially considering that any tie in with addiction is likely to create more confusion regrading dependence and cause more people to simply tune out.

    Ideally we would be able to explore all angles of this simultaneously but the reality is that as long as the ignorance is so prevalent we can’t afford to confuse people even more by exploring these other issues. Benzo withdrawal is too big of a bite to chew in and of itself when ignorance prevails.

  • Thank you for writing this amazing article. I have been saying this for a couple of years now and I don’t think that even most people in the benzo support communities were really grasping how important it is to use the proper terminology. I am glad that I now have an article that I can direct people to when I am trying to make these points. It says everything I have been saying and then some and with all of these points being clearly addressed I don’t know how anyone could continue to argue against the need to use the right terminology.

  • I agree with the gist of what you are saying but just because someone wants to avoid stigma doesn’t mean that they are perpetuating it. I have more respect and compassion for people who have found themselves addicted to drugs since I have learned more about it while dealing with benzo related damage but at the end of the day people who are addicted to drugs often do engage in self destructive behavior over which they have control, and although I don’t believe that they should be stigmatized as they are I also do not believe that it is fair to lump me into that category, as my benzo dependence didn’t result from any kind of control issues.

    The problem I see is that people who identify as addicts tend to take the dependence/addiction distinction as a personal jab when it really isn’t about that. Just because one of the reasons I don’t want to be called an addict is because I don’t want to be stigmatized as an addict doesn’t mean that I condone the stigma or that I am looking down on someone who has addiction issues.

    For the sake of benzo issues I think it is important to focus on the distinction. For most of us benzo victims addiction isn’t part of the problem so we have nothing to gain by trying to find connections and I would even go so far as to say that it is in our best interest to go out of our way to distance ourselves from it. I didn’t create the stigma, I don’t condone it and I sympathize with people who find themselves a victim of the stigma but at the end of the day it doesn’t help me to allow myself to be victimized by it as well.