Change labeling on benzodiazepines

Benzo victims have gotten together to submit a petition to the FDA to change the labeling on benzo packaging. The very serious risks of extended disability due to addiction and withdrawal to this class of drugs is not widely recognized. Please sign this petition and support these proposed changes.

You can download a PDF to look at the proposed changes at that site as well. Below is an excerpt of the document.

When one goes to their doctor and is prescribed one of the benzodiazepines, the last thing on their mind is they will get “hooked” on this drug if taken as prescribed. Benzodiazepines are only meant to be taken for short periods of time; they are temporary solutions to problems such as anxiety and sleeplessness. In fact, safe and appropriate use of benzodiazepines is for no longer than two to four weeks if taken daily. They were never meant to be the long-term solution to these problems. Unfortunately, doctors prescribe and allow multitudes of people to stay on these drugs for months and, in many cases, years. Taking benzodiazepines for more than two to four weeks frequently leads to the development of tolerance and physical dependency. All benzodiazepine package inserts and literature accompanying the drug mention the possibility of developing physical dependency and subsequent withdrawal symptoms. However, unbeknownst to most providers, pharmacists, and patients, only the makers of Ativan clearly mention in their package inserts and accompanying drug literature that benzodiazepines should be prescribed for no longer than two to four weeks of use, and they warn stopping abruptly after only one week of use can cause withdrawal symptoms. All benzodiazepines have the same mode of action affecting the gamma-aminobutyric acid-benzodiazepine receptor complex (GABA receptors), which ultimately leads to nervous system depression and the risk for developing physical dependency with short-term use.

If tolerance and physical dependency occur and patients and their medical providers do not recognize this has happened, patients frequently find themselves inaccurately diagnosed, and the fact they are actually experiencing withdrawal is overlooked. This misdiagnosis often results in physicians prescribing increased doses of benzodiazepines or other classes of drugs in an effort to alleviate symptoms or treat nonexistent disease entities, which are actually manifestations of withdrawal. Consequently, proper treatment is not rendered, with resultant devastating physical, psychological, and social outcomes.

If tolerance and physical dependency is recognized, the patient will need to be correctly withdrawn from their benzodiazepine. Once tolerance and physical dependency have occurred, patients often have a very difficult and long road ahead of them going through the withdrawal process. There is also the serious risk of developing benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome/protracted withdrawal syndrome. There is evidence that in some cases the often debilitating symptoms of withdrawal can last for months or years after the drug is out of the system, due to the changes the drug caused within the brain which led to physical dependency. Time away from the drug is required to heal and help the brain/CNS-central nervous system go back to a pre-drug state. The issue of protracted withdrawal is never mentioned in any package inserts/labels and accompanying drug literature for any benzodiazepine drug or by most doctors who prescribe the drug.

We of course need such changes in labeling with other classes of psychiatric drugs too. Let’s start here.

The phenomena of protracted withdrawal is ugly. People sometimes take years to recover and this is denied by most of the medical profession.

There is no treatment but time for this damage at this point. Alternative docs are as clueless as anyone. It’s an awful, lonely, painful journey. Not everyone is effected but a significant number are. Most people who would be effected never try to get off these drugs and instead live compromised lives on drugs without knowing what is wrong with them as they are never told its the drug that is their problem.

This is what it can look like An incredibly well-written wikipedia page.

Robert Whitaker covers the horrors of it in his new book as well if anyone should need further convincing.

Thanks for your support.

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