Warnings of the dangers of benzodiazepines hit the media

About 2 decades too late and a good decade after the alarm bell was sounded in the UK but it’s better late than never.

From the Washington Post:

673valiumBenzodiazepines, often prescribed to manage anxiety, panic and sleep disorders, include Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin. Originally pushed as an alternative to barbiturates, their use has grown rapidly in the past 30 years. But critics say their long-term effects have gone largely unaddressed. Health professionals and consumers are increasingly recognizing that taking the drugs for more than a few weeks can lead to physical dependence, often ending with a grueling withdrawal….

….John Steinberg, a physician and former medical director of the chemical dependency program at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, estimates that 10 to 20 percent of those taking the drugs for extended periods will have problems with dose escalation and physical dependence. “For a serious side effect, that’s a fairly large, significant number,” he said. “It is, after all, a devastating and debilitating adverse effect for those who experience it.”

The ordeal of withdrawing from benzodiazepines can rival that of kicking a heroin habit, according to some who have had success. Abrupt withdrawal can result in hallucinations, seizures and even death, experts say.

Uh, I’ve been told by people who’ve withdrawn from both benzos and heroin that benzos are far worse!

Last year, after jail officials in Cleveland denied R&B singer Sean Levert’s repeated requests for his Xanax, he hallucinated for hours and ultimately died from the effects of withdrawal, according to the coroner’s report cited in court records. His widow sued the corrections center and medical staff. The suit is pending.

And people DON’T die from heroin withdrawal, period.

And from the balancing side of the equation…or in other words those docs who still have their heads up their asses:

Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who has written several books on addiction and anxiety and maintains a psychiatric practice in Rockville, said the drugs are widely successful in treating panic and anxiety. He said that 90 percent of his patients have no difficulty taking the medicine, and those with problems are most likely to be people who’ve had issues with addiction in the past.

This guy is truly full of it. These drugs were given to me by my doc and I never asked for more and as the dose increased, by his recommendation, I was told I could take twice as much as I was taking and I refused because I’d heard it was addictive. Had I followed my doctor’s instructions I would have ended up on twice as much. Nonetheless I still ended up with a massive habit.

I’m painfully withdrawing from the tail end of a huge dose. Should be over in a matter of weeks. No thanks to the people responsible for my prescribing the drugs of the addiction. People like Robert DuPont. So sure they were acting in my best interest and dealing with me, someone who was clearly NOT a drug seeking addict. You make these lame judgments with the health and wellbeing of your trusting patients, doctors. Drug addicts can be made..they need not seek…they only have to find YOU who tell them the drugs are safe.

I was subtly coerced to believe it was okay to take more and more, even as each time the dose increased I hesitated…I knew…but I had no one to help me follow the light of my knowing and I needed that. I very much wanted someone to give me alternatives, but I never got them and had to find them 20 years later on my own after I was hooked on 6 drugs.

Shame on you, you legal drug pushers. Doctors.

For additional information including an extensive list of links on Benzodiazepine use and withdrawal go here: Benzo Info

21 thoughts on “Warnings of the dangers of benzodiazepines hit the media

  1. Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse…..

    “This guy is royally full of shit.”

    Yes he is. My husband hired this guy, DuPont, as in the DuPont Family, to be an expert witness to conduct a court ordered psychiatric evaluation on me (me = Major Depressive Disorder and GAD) to demonstrate to the court that I did not need alimony.

    The testimony he gave said in effect that in the absence of a safety net (alimony) I would eventually overcome my “problems”, although he expected that I would fail a few times. I was 52 years old at that time and had not/could not work for several years.

    I was recovering from Major Depression (and subsequently relapsed, to put it mildly) when I found myself literally abandoned after 25 years of marriage. I am still recovering from my illness – and from the fact that this opportunistic former 1980’s “Drug Czar” is clearly for sale. (Does he need the money?)

    Google this guy- there’s lots of interesting and disturbing history.
    You may never swallow the words from an “expert” in quite the same way again.


    1. Alexandra,
      I’m sorry…that’s such a gross abuse of power. it’s truly disturbing. in moments like these I really hope there is an afterlife where one is dealt with according to the sort of crap they gave others.

      hope you’re feeling better now.


  2. All I can say about this question of addicts, Us vs. Them, is that going through the withdrawal pains from neuroleptics gave me a hell of a lot more empathy for two members of my family who quit drinking. My oldest brother, in particular, who went to a detox facility after hitting rock bottom, nearly drinking himself to death after his wife left town with their baby daughter… and his best friend.

    Detox is an agonizing process, whether you got on the junk by prescription or dealer or bottle. Blaming the person for how they came to be hooked in the first place is probably only doing more harm to the healing process. Ultimately, it all started from a place of pain, and focusing on whether the way someone tried to medicate it away was legal or not distracts from dealing with the root causes of that pain. It also discourages empathy.


    1. It also discourages empathy.

      yes!! I’m in a “professional” group of people who are anti-med (I’m talking psychiatrists and psychologists) and it’s horrifying how they demonize those of us who get caught in the trap…sickening really since they call themselves mental health professionals…

      I’m routinely appalled in that group…I stick around because some of them know a lot of good shit too.

      it’s a strange world…I get attacked from hard-core anti-psych people more than I get attacked by pro-pharma people…

      ahhh…I get so tired of all the different US and THEMs out there…people are always dividing everyone up that way.

      I have the strangest assortment of friends though…no one would ever guess….they span the whole spectrum of the med issue…


  3. you ever wonder whether some “noble” profession would wither and die without their adversaries? What if there were no narcotics on the streets, surely we would need no drug cops and no addiction specialists, like doctor dupo?

    doctor dupont may well bleat on about waging a war on drugs, but if he could break his own habit of deceit and for once be candid, even he would probably acknowledge that the narcotics trade is run by the very same power elite that controls his own rogue industry – psychiatry.

    narcotics make addicts make shrinks..

    One expert in his own field of IT security – is often claiming that the powerful corporations which make the anti-virus software for our computers are actually releasing the viruses! and it’s a billion buck boom industry… most people think he’s mad for believing that…. but he reckons he has the proof…

    there are probably loads of other examples.. i think it was the german philosopher, georg hegel, who theorised the “hegelian dialectic”.. a social control framework for steering a population towards accepting your agenda..

    manufacture the problem (plentiful narcotics).. provoke a reaction (the horrors of addiction).. propose a solution (costly addiction therapies)

    problem – reaction – solution


  4. Gianna,

    That’s why I said it could probably be said about any drug. I’ve never felt I was any different from someone with any kind of drug “dependency.” Heroin? Vicodin? Neuroleptics? Benzos? Nasal spray?It’s all the same thing, with slightly different symptoms … one gets physiologically adapted to a substance. That’s all.

    What I meant by my comment is that drug dependencies (of all kinds) are blamed on a weakness in the person rather than a problem with the drug itself, which then leads to all manner of asinine “treatments” that address those personal weaknesses rather than an objective treatment of the effects of the drug. There is also a masive amount of judgment heaped on the person who is dependent on any kind of drug. That’s why there is so little support much less kindness and understanding for people who are dependent on what are generally illegal drugs (although methadone, for example, is a prescribed drug … and more destructive than heroin).

    Anyway, I hope that makes it clearer.


  5. Although benzodiazepines are not as obviously bad as the neuroleptics, they still have suppressive effects. I also read that they are extremely addictive. Some people have described withdrawl from benzodiazepines as being really bad and sometimes dangerous.


  6. Selene,
    I hear you but frankly in my mind it’s just splitting hairs…

    this culture is messed up on drugs…illegal and legal…frankly I don’t feel a need to differentiate myself from someone who uses drugs illegally…even if some of our behavior is different…

    I won’t stigmatize those folks who get on drugs through illegal means. In general they don’t intend on becoming addicts either…we’re not so different. They simply don’t have a legal source for their habit and we do.

    I’ve known people like me who’s doctor’s have refused to continue to prescribe and they end up just like a street addict…

    we are no different in many regards…

    and we’re all looking for a quick fix even if we do it through legal means…

    our drug culture, the quick fix culture, is the problem…individuals manifest the sickness of our culture in different ways.

    also, if someone is fully informed, I have no issue with adults making their own choices…about legal and illegal drugs for that matter…


  7. I actually saw a joke ad one time for a psych drug. The symptoms it should be used for, and the possible side effects — were identical lists! I should go look for that again…


  8. Just want to point out that the words “addiction” and even “dependency” when used concering someone taking benzos doesn’t reflect the situation.

    I saw one website that labeled it “benzo illness” which seems more appropriate. Addiction and dependency label the person and the person isn’t the problem, the drug is the problem (of course, perhaps that can be said about all drugs).

    Anyway, the words addiction and dependency lay the blame with the person … insinuating they only became ill because of some kind of personal weakness.


  9. If there is one calss of drug that should be permanently removed from the market, benzos are it. The danger and side effects outweigh any possible potential benefit – ask anyone who has ever had to come off them.


    1. well, actually one of the reasons they’re still on the market is because a significant number of people DON’T have troubles getting off them…

      people like us who have a ton of difficulty are hardly rare, though. There are hundreds and thousands of us.


  10. Ah! So then you will have to take a benzo after all! And of course, the drugs just revealed your underlying disorder. Good thing you found the doctor just in time!


    1. yeah, they can make anxiety worse and they can also cause psychosis rarely…all psych drugs can do the opposite that was intended, as a general rule…


  11. If you read the “fine print” on the benzos, they list “anxiety” is one of their common side effects! Isn’t “anxiety” the reason they are supposedly prescribed. So, what ARE these for?

    Inquiring minds want to know!


  12. Oh, and the medical ‘alternative’ is to prescribe SSRI’s?? They are safer?????? How much more delusional can psychiatry get? Criminal, even? Yes, let’s treat the panic and anxiety with something that runs a high risk of inducing depression and suicidal ideation. Idiots.


    1. Yes, let’s treat the panic and anxiety with something that runs a high risk of inducing depression and suicidal ideation. Idiots.

      more ironic is the fact that SSRIs often cause panic and anxiety or make it worse!!


  13. I too, mentioned to my doc, “Isn’t this stuff addicting?” he blew me off. “Oh no, it’s not so much addicting, it just has street value.”


  14. Yes, shame on you legal drug pushers, especially when you do not look for other solution. There are many. People who do more good than harm are not motivated by greed and coercion.


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