One Nation, Under Sedation

The title from the ProPublica article from the other day was too good to not highlight and share. What does it mean that we are, indeed, a nation under sedation? I think it means we are not awake to what is going on around us in far too many ways and that we’d better take heed. I’m just sharing a link to the article and then cutting and pasting my benzo page below it. The benzodiazepine information page takes a critical look at the prescribing of benzodiazepines and offers suggestions about how one might free themselves if one already takes and is perhaps addicted to the drugs.

One Nation, Under Sedation: Medicare Paid for Nearly 40 Million Tranquilizer Prescriptions in 2013

In 2013, the year Medicare started covering benzodiazepines, it paid for nearly 40 million prescriptions, a ProPublica analysis of recently released federal data shows. Generic versions of the drugs ‚ÄĒ alprazolam (which goes by the trade name of Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin) ‚ÄĒ were among the top 32 most-prescribed medications in Medicare Part D that year. (read more)

thanks to Mad in America for the heads up.

I want to also highlight Grace Jackson’s book here:¬†Drug induced dementia ‚ÄĒ the perfect crime.¬†Prescribing these drugs to the elderly don’t make sense in many ways, but any of us who would like to keep our wits about us to the end have additional reasons to be wary.

Benzodiazepine info, news, resources and recovery stories

Benzodiazepines are prescribed primarily for anxiety and/or sleep issues. They are a highly problematic class of drug. Most people are not told the risks involved when they are first prescribed. This page provides information on the risks of taking benzodiazepines. It also offers information and resources for freeing oneself from benzodiazepine dependence.

I thought I would put a page together on benzo information and benzo withdrawal in particular since I have more collected info about this class of drug than the other 5 classes of psychotropic meds I’ve withdrawn from. Basically benzos and now antidepressant drugs are the two classes of drugs for which there is really quite a lot of info on the web regarding withdrawal. It’s still mostly anecdotal and not studied, but it’s been recognized much longer that there are severe problems with withdrawing from these two class of drugs so it’s easier to collect information regarding such. So here is what has become a rather extensive collection of articles and stories that deal with just benzos.

Please visit: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up page for a larger picture of how to more safely withdraw from these drugs where lifestyle changes are talked about and several books are mentioned to help one support body/mind and spirit.  

Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up is a compilation on withdrawal issues in general to help one understand the risks and benefits of withdrawal of all classes of psych drugs. Much about withdrawal remains the same in each class of drug.

Benzodiazepines can be dangerous to withdraw. It’s important to understand the risks. Medical doctors, including psychiatrists, are often woefully misinformed. Please educate yourself before discontinuing the drugs whether or not you are under the care of a doctor. They often do not realize how ignorant they are and can unintentionally cause their patients great pain and harm. Unfortunately it is often essential to advocate for yourself and stay safe. Sometimes the best we can do is find a doctor who is willing to learn with us. I was blessed with such a prescriber while I came off my cocktail.

See also: Peer support? This is the real thing. Free of institutionalization. (psych drug withdrawal)

And: the¬†‚ÄúIt Gets Better‚ÄĚ Series¬†if you’re sick and in the midst of psychiatric drug withdrawal

These are popular and helpful posts I’m highlighting at the beginning of this resource page:

‚óŹ ¬†Antidepressant vs benzodiazepine¬†withdrawal

‚óŹ ¬†‚ÄúThe biggest mistake I ever made was‚Ķgoing to see a psychiatrist‚ÄĚ (Stevie Nicks) a benzo story

‚óŹ ¬†¬†New video: ¬†Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs: A Harm Reduction Approach | Will¬†Hall

News and general info on benzodiazepines:

Help for getting off of and recovering from benzodiazepine use:

Recovery Stories:

Benzo stories from my own experience (much of this has applicability to others in withdrawal, I often talk about my experience with others suffering from withdrawal syndromes too): **These archives ¬†now span close to five years. They are a record of a time in my life when I was learning and transforming at a rate unlike any other time in my life. I say this as a way of disclaimer. In the earlier years of this blog I am processing shock and dismay. In the early years I am undisputedly angry. I have worked out much of that and see things in¬†a much less judgmental manner now.¬†This continues to evolve. I sometimes want to take down old posts because they no longer convey how I feel, but I realize that they may still be helpful to people who are going through something similar now. The journey got me to where I am today, it’s just odd to have some of it in writing here for all to see.¬†

Good books on how to deal with anxiety:

Online support:

There are other online groups and boards if you do a google search. There are also lots of videos on youtube that have been made by people coping with withdrawal.

See here for more info about Online Withdrawal Support

General info: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

I’ve found that all support groups and forums have their own particular culture and dogma. Please use your own best judgment. The most important thing to remember is that you are an individual and withdrawal manifests differently for everyone. Also be aware that the benzo boards in general know very little about the particular risks and dangers of other drugs one may be on along with the benzos and in fact often give very bad information. This is a generalization but it pays to be aware of a lack of knowledge and experience by people who sometimes act as if they know more than they do. Multiple drug situations get extremely complicated and most benzo folks think it’s benzos are always at fault when speaking about withdrawal issues when it may or may not be true in any individual situation. One board made it explicit to me that I was NOT ALLOWED to talk about other drugs at all after I gave some information to someone who had started a thread about antidepressants. The information I gave was limited to responding to a direct inquiry about a particular documented risk involved in taking antidepressants. This silence about another class of drugs in a benzo forum is a dangerous precedent to set and so if you have any other drugs involved in your taper I would recommend going somewhere you can freely talk about all of them. The same thing happens on antidepressant withdrawal boards where people are routinely on benzos and no one realizes how dangerous the benzos are.

Be aware all the psychotropics have serious issues as well as withdrawal problems. That some people sometimes choose to take other drugs to mitigate withdrawal from a drug is fine…it is their right to do so, but if information is withheld about the risks involved in doing so how is the board different from a psychiatrist saying everything will be fine while they feed us benzos.

As always informed choice is what is missing. Once the information is available people should have the right to make whatever decision is right for them.

Some thoughts on stopping psychiatric medications¬†— things to think about before deciding if you should discontinue your medications For information for safer withdrawal in general

see: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up (***To navigate the rest of the archives on this blog check out the drop-down menus at the top of the page) Also see:

Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs & Withdrawal (newly revised edition) 10/2012: New: Beyond Meds Facebook page

Support Beyond Meds. Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. THANK YOU or make a donation with PayPal


What should doctors know about psychiatric drug withdrawal?

Another video from CEP, featuring:

Baylissa Frederick
Withdrawal adviser, survivor of Benzodiazepine withdrawal, and author:
Recovery and Renewal: Your Essential Guide to Overcoming Dependency and Withdrawal from Sleeping Pills, Other ‚ÄėBenzo‚Äô
and Antidepressants

thanks to CEP for the video

Baylissa is talking about benzodiazepine withdrawal in the above video when she makes reference to the Ashton Manual which is about more safely withdrawing from that class of drug. The fact is what she is speaking about is completely applicable to other classes of psych drugs as well. You might also view this video on Antidepressant vs benzodiazepine withdrawal

The truth is that far too often MDs are not only untrained in helping folks come off psych drugs, they also don’t know how to recognize serious withdrawal issues. Just as Baylissa speaks about in the video. It makes for a very dangerous situation. A lot of folks are told that their very serious withdrawal issues are psychiatric and not real.

I’m now going to cut and paste an old post about this phenomena that includes some suggestions about how one might go about finding a doctor to work with if one decides they’d like to come off psychiatric drugs.

The post:

1flowerI always find it sadly and tragically amusing when critics of psychiatry (generally professionals who are trying to cover their asses I guess) slam the psychiatric system and then tell people to be sure that they have a doctor to help them withdraw from drugs…as if these doctors are readily available. The thing is these people making this recommendation KNOW that they are not readily available and so they participate in the chaos by creating and perpetrating yet another double bind for those who’ve been subjected to and often already harmed by psychiatric treatment. We have it hard enough without these folks, too, pretending it’s better than it is.

The truth is ugly in this instance. The truth is that when people tell their MDs they want to come off meds some MDs will discharge these patients without support. Other MDs will commit and force drug these patients. The truth is it is often dangerous to tell your doctor the truth. This is a tragedy that needs to end. People should be able to get support from a medical professional. I understand the wish that it were something that might be the case, but it’s simply very often not on offer. So slamming psychiatry and then telling people in the same breath to get medical care to disentangle themselves from psychiatric drugs is, well, kind of delusional.

I think a lot of people really don’t want to believe this is what it’s like. But when that denial is foisted upon those who are subject to this reality it compounds the harm that has already been done. These are human rights issues. We have a right to not be on neurotoxic drugs and we have a right to find a safe way to get off. We need to know that it’s often not safe to approach our doctors. It’s really very simple. Tell the truth.

We can, once we know the truth, get on the phone and interview potential new doctors if we have the luxury of choice. Not everyone has that luxury so in those situations people are forced to continue seeing a prescriber without necessarily telling the prescriber that they are withdrawing from the drugs. Again, this is not something I recommend because, frankly it sucks. It sucks really badly and it can also be dangerous. But again, this is reality and people have to do this with some frequency. Please, if you’re in a position to consult folks in such a painful, lonely and scary position, do them a favor and be honest with them. Thousands of us have freed ourselves from drugs now without any meaningful medical support because we had no choice but to do it that way. We  chose our health and wellbeing over finding a non-existant doctor.

I generally tell people that often the best one can do is find an MD who will cooperate with your plans to come off medications. To find an MD who will listen to the very real and scary issues that might come up during the withdrawal process and to learn together about how to come off the drugs. I only found someone to cooperate with me…he really didn’t care much about what my experience was and I had to do all the research and footwork to figure out how to manage my taper. I was grateful I had a cooperating prescriber though because I needed prescriptions in ever-changing doses and many people are not so lucky to get an MD to even cooperate with the initial plan.

I’ve now worked with thousands of folks coming off medications via this blog and via all the withdrawal boards I’ve participated on. I often wish I didn’t know what I know, but I do and so I speak up because there are far too many people out there who deny what is happening to so many thousands of people.  I want the harm to end. Help us end the harm.

I’ve written about finding an MD: Medical compliance? Adherence? No. My MDs are my PARTNERS

Update 2016: It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that¬†it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention.¬†

For general information on withdrawing from psychiatric drugs see here: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

For additional information on psychiatric drug withdrawal support and withdrawal boards see here: Support in withdrawal

And for professionals:¬†A plea to prescribing physicians and psychiatrists: please help us¬†heal¬†‚Äďplease share with all the MDs you know.

For a list of withdrawal friendly doctors see here: ¬†Recommended doctors, therapists, or clinics¬†¬†‚ÄstPlease add to it as well if you know of others. Right now it‚Äôs like finding a needle in a haystack for most people. Let‚Äôs work to change that! You can also refer to the directory at Mad in America. ¬†Please don’t assume that just because a doctor is on these lists that they are necessarily safe. You still need to practice due diligence. There is no formal vetting on either one of these sites and a lot of MDs who think they know a lot about withdrawal are still rather incredulous and really don’t know what to do when confronted with some of the folks most impacted by serious withdrawal issues. The fact is, not knowing what to do and admitting it is part of good care when it comes to healing from protracted issues. A lot of folks need¬†more assurance that in time it will change than any actual treatment quite a lot of the time. Knowing when not to treat is as important as knowing when to treat. Knowing how to sit in support with our agony and learn to be with it as we heal is as important as anything else. This is also hard for a lot of doctors. It’s hard to watch others in pain. Doctors want to fix. Protracted withdrawal issues¬†are often not fixable in any traditional sense.

See also: Peer support? This is the real thing. Free of institutionalization. (psych drug withdrawal)



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