Disturbing stats: 37,485 deaths to prescribed drugs

An article written by a prescribing psychiatrist detailing part of the problem with psychiatric drug prescriptions. He includes only tranquilizers (benzos) and stimulants here. The fact is all the psychiatric drugs are neurotoxic, many of them cause death too. If they don’t cause death they more often cause disability and chronicity. We have a serious problem on our hands on many different fronts. This is considering one front.

I’ve actually seen much higher stats of prescription drug deaths (going over 100,000 a year), but that includes ALL classes of drugs. I’m assuming these numbers are for just these classes of drugs covered in this article.

Ronald Ricker, MD writes at Huffington Post:

In 2009, the annual number of deaths (37,485) caused by improper/overprescribing and poor to non-existent monitoring of the use of tranquilizers, painkillers and stimulant drugs by American physicians now exceeds both the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents (36,284) and firearms (31,228). Deaths from street drugs during 2009 were vastly less than those caused by prescription drugs. Medical doctors are leaving regular drug dealers in the dust.

“Tranquilizers” are benzodiazepines in general, though neuroleptics are sometimes also called major tranquilizers, I don’t think he’s including them here. They certainly have all sorts of their own very serious and sometimes deadly issues too. The drugs Ricker refers too though, benzos, not only sometimes kill people, but if people manage to survive them and try to discontinue them instead, a good number become disabled for up to several years in the process. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and can lead to a slowly less and less productive and generally unhealthy life should one remain on them. Still there has been a revival of marketing for this class of drugs.

 Read more about benzodiazepines here (the myriad of potential problems and how to withdraw more safely).

Every 14 minutes one American is killed by prescribed painkillers and psychiatric drugs. The number of “anxious” people or prescription tranquilizers taken by “anxious” people for “anxiety” has jumped 286 percent between 2000 and 2009, and should reach 341 percent by the end of 2011. Really. The prescription of stimulant drugs, amphetamines and methyl-phenidate — Adderall and Ritalin — has skyrocketed. The U.S. now consumes 86 percent of these drugs worldwide…

…The vast majority of these 37,485 deaths were not caused by intentional suicide…

I was told by my psychiatrist that the benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) he prescribed were safe. I actually asked him many times over the years and he always said they were safe. I trusted him. I am now physically disabled as a result of having taken them and other psychiatric drugs. Benzodiazepines are well documented to cause severe withdrawal syndromes that disable people for many years in some cases. Other psych meds cause similar disability but it’s not as well documented as of yet, though that is changing.

…The only specialty group of which I am a member, psychiatrists, is the only one about which I have direct knowledge. We are major contributors to the prescribing of many of the drugs the CDC has identified as killers: tranquilizers and stimulants. We are the 5-15 minute drug-check prescription writers….

My doctor was a very well-reputed doctor. He still is. I write to him with some frequency and share posts from this blog. He’s never acknowledged doing harm to me. He did one time say he was sorry if he contributed to hurting me. I keep writing him because even if he never acknowledges his responsibility, I hope that he won’t do this to anyone else. He is a nice man, but I think it’s hard to realize that much of what you’ve done your whole career has gravely harmed people. He didn’t set out to harm people. It’s really quite sad.

The author of this article ends with a call to us. The people of the United States, who indeed, take part in this by wanting a quick fix.

…Let’s not leave us out. Us civilians. We also drive the problem. We are a pill-crazed society. We want pills. We have to want less. The war on drugs didn’t work. Efforts at education about drugs usually fall deafly on the ears of the deaf and are welcomed by the ears of the already believers — preaching to the choir. Will we respond better to the horrendous information about prescription medication misuse than we did and do to information about illicit street drugs? (read the rest)

MORE INFO: Benzodiazepine information page: risks of use and safer withdrawal resources

General info to free oneself from psych meds: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

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