The UK has another round of info about benzodiazepines in the news again. I’ve mentioned several times that for whatever reason the British Media seems to cover the hazards of these drugs much more faithfully. I’m doing a little round-up without too much commentary as I’ve covered Benzo Info extensively for many years. See my Benzo Info Page here.
Protracted withdrawal syndromes are most common among benzo and SSRI users. All the psychotropic drugs seem to potentiate somewhat similar broad autonomic dysfunction in some people and on an individual basis I’ve seen worst case scenarios in some people using any and all the classes of psychiatric drugs. But in terms of sheer numbers, there is no question in my mind having frequented withdrawal boards of all classes of psychiatric drugs now for many years that people are most often seriously struck with long-term withdrawal issues after having come off of benzodiazepines. They are nasty drugs and it’s no exaggeration when people say they are worse than heroin to come off of. I’ve met a few people now who’ve done both. Heroin does not sicken people for months and years after having withdrawn like benzodiazepines can.
One of the favorite things that defensive medical providers like to say about those of us struck with such illness after benzodiazepine use is that people who become addicted and/or suffer from protracted withdrawal illness did not take the drugs as prescribed. While it’s true benzodiazepines are used on the street and therefore taken illegally quite often, most of the people I know, myself included, (and we’re talking the large majority of users seeking help to free themselves) always took their benzos AS PRESCRIBED. It’s a LIE to say that if you take these drugs as prescribed you won’t have a problem with them. It’s also true that some people take benzos and withdraw from them without incidence. That doesn’t negate the experience of so many who do have severe and sometimes disabling problems being on them and freeing themselves from them.
From NHS Choices:
Sleeping pills taken by millions are linked to dementia, according to The Daily Telegraph. Given that an estimated 10 million to 11 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are reported to be issued each year in the UK, could we be at risk of “sleepwalking” into a public health disaster?
From BMJ (British Medical Journal):
Conclusions In this prospective population based study, new use of benzodiazepines was associated with increased risk of dementia. The result was robust in pooled analyses across cohorts of new users of benzodiazepines throughout the study and in a complementary case-control study. Considering the extent to which benzodiazepines are prescribed and the number of potential adverse effects of this drug class in the general population, indiscriminate widespread use should be cautioned against.
From the Independent:
A popular anti-anxiety drug has been linked with an increased risk of dementia in pensioners, according to new research.
Patients over the age of 65 who start taking benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, have a 50% increased chance of developing dementia within 15 years compared with people who had never used the drug, according to the study.
Researchers from the University of Bordeaux, France, warned that “indiscriminate widespread use” of the drugs, which are also used to treat insomnia, should be cautioned against.
It’s worth noting that Grace Jackson has written a book about the increased and significant risk of dementia with all the psychotropic pharmacology in use today. Not just the benzodiazepines: Dementia on the rise — Grace Jackson MD argues that psychotropics are in part to blame
From Chris Lane (Psychology Today)
Earlier this week, The Times in Britain ran a front-page story on the results of a detailed investigation it had conducted into tranquilizers Britons and North Americans are known to take in large numbers. “The Tranquilliser Trap: Scandal of 1 million hooked on benzodiazepines,” its report, uncovered “the plight of more than a million people [in Britain] addicted to tranquillisers prescribed by their doctor.”…
…“The Times has spoken to dozens of patients who have taken the tranquilliser for years, enduring shocking side effects. They have told of the harrowing process of trying to wean themselves off a drug considered more addictive than heroin.”
“Many are unable to work or engage with family and friends,” health editor Martin Barrow writes of the patients, and “some have contemplated suicide.” His article not only runs to three pages, but also is rare in detailing the scope and extent of some patients’ suffering while on the medication.
I have a PDF of The Times Piece available here.
For more details of the scope and extent of some people’s suffering I remind you to visit the Benzo Info Page on this blog. There are several harrowing stories of people I know on it as well as an extensive list of articles about both the use and safer withdrawal from Benzodiazepines.