While any effort to generate awareness and potentially curb the benzodiazepine epidemic is commendable, we have to ask ourselves, is Xanax just the scapegoat in this situation? Will legislative action and media attention for only one benzodiazepine out of so many make any difference?
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.”
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.
Anxiety is an awful reality. You feel a horrible paralyzing fear in the core of your chest or stomach, spreading to your arms and legs. The uneasiness gnaws away at you, or spreads into an overwhelming panic. It is paralyzing, and relief can’t come soon enough. However, the myth that anxiety is a biological disease is false. The reason there is no evidence that human problems come from neurotransmitters and genetic defects is because it’s not true.
Massachusetts Bill HD 4554 needs to gain sufficient state representative support by Tuesday, March 1, 2016. This bill will put restrictions on the prescribing of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine sleep aids, and will require that all patients be informed of the potential dangers of these drugs, specifically the dangers of long-term use.