Could Benzodiazepines Be America's Drug Epidemic?

By NotAJediOrSith · Mar 10, 2018 · ·
  1. NotAJediOrSith
    We are all painfully aware of the current opioid crisis taking place in the United States of America. Since 2015 more than 33,000 people have died from opioid-related overdoses; deaths from heroin alone exceed those of gun homicides. And yet, over the last decade benzodiazepine-related deaths have continued to grow exponentially, as have the amount/rate of prescriptions for them.

    The abuse of these drugs, such as Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) to name a few, has become all too casual in modern society, according to Dr. Anna Lembke, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

    "These are highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs, and many people don't know that," Lembke said. "Sadly, most physicians are also unaware of this and blithely prescribe them without educating their patients about the risk of addiction." These sedative-hypnotic medications are prescribed for a litany of conditions, such as generalized anxiety disorders, panic attacks, short-term insomnia, seizures and muscle relaxation. But, with doctors prescribing these medicines more and more in recent years the overdose related deaths have skyrocketed.

    Prescriptions for benzodiazepines have increased by 67% between years 1996 and 2013, that's an increase of 8.1 million prescriptions to 13.5 million prescriptions. That's a growth of 5.4 million prescriptions over 17 years. According to researchers the quantities of these drugs being obtained had more than tripled during that period. Consequently more people are becoming addicted to benzodiazepines and are tragically losing their lives to overdoses. Benzodiazepine-related overdoses multiplied sevenfold between 1995 and 2015, with an increase from 1,135 deaths to 8,791 deaths.

    "Just like with opioids, people overestimate the benefits and underestimate the risks of benzodiazepines," Lembke said. "They are effective for a panic attack or severe insomnia, but when taken daily long-term, people develop tolerance and dependence. They stop working and they can even make anxiety and insomnia worse." Many overdose deaths involve users taking the medication along with another substance, namely opioids or alcohol. Even in the face of this growing problem the rates of prescribing benzodiazepines along with opioids has nearly doubled, jumping from 9% in 2001 to 17% in 2013.

    With recent times we have learned there are much more effective treatments for chronic anxiety than the long-term reliance on benzodiazepines, as a result hordes of people have become dependent on them for years. "Benzodiazepines are best used intermittently," Lembke said, "no more than a couple of times a week. More frequent use should be limited to a very short duration, no more than two to four weeks."

    "If you're someone who's relying on benzodiazepine to get through a day, you need to think very seriously about getting off of them," Lembke added.

    When users become heavily dependent on the drug they find themselves no longer taking them to ease their symptoms (e.g. anxiety or insomnia), but to ward off symptoms of withdrawal, rather. Dr. Lembke is a huge proponent of regulations being placed in the medical community to restrict benzodiazepine use by employing methods similar to the ones now being used to combat the opioid epidemic. An example of said methods is a health care provider should be mandated to check a prescription database before prescribing benzodiazepines, in an effort to make sure the patient is misusing the drug, doctor-shopping or using the drug along with other dangerous pharmaceuticals.

    Original Source

    Written by: Dennis Thompson, Feb 22, 2018, Xanax, Valium Looking Like America's Next Drug Crisis, HealthDay

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Jmths
    "This can't be mentioned too often"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 10, 2018
    Solid concrete info on an issue wich a substantial part of society is confronted with on a daily basis. The often sold as innocent relaxation pills namely benzodiazepines have a riskprofile that has more in common with opiates then most people realize. Whereas especialy the long term consequences are often overlooked in this matter.


  1. TheBigBadWolf
    More information of the patients about the discontinuation syndrom and about the risks involved with taking it together with opioids and/or alcohol (mainly!!) would probably help.

    No, benzodiazepines are not the problem.
    The problem is that people think there is a pill for every ailment , you swallow it and magically your problems are gone.
    As long as American society doesn't come down from this idea I fear there's no cure.
      m0Lexx, aemetha and NotAJediOrSith like this.
  2. ladywolf2012
    I'm with BigBad here. The article makes no mention of the difficulty of withdrawing from these medications--which is a large part of the reason that people stay on them--including me!

    If some research money was filtered into a drug, or drugs, that would help make Benzodiazepine withdrawal bearable for long-term users, then we shouldn't have so much of an issue about them.

    I would add to what BigBad said above about people thinking that there is a magic pill for all ailments. Throughout these recent past decades, doctors have acted that way too with the Benzos. "Here, take two of these and your problems will go away." It's been just too easy for doctors to overprescribe them.
      m0Lexx, aemetha and NotAJediOrSith like this.
  3. aemetha
    I don't really blame the doctors so much. I blame pharmaceutical companies. Every new drug they pump out is a "non-addictive" alternative to the previous addictive one. Opium addiction? Here, try this non-addictive heroin. Barbiturate addiction? Here, try this non-addictive benzodiazepine. Oh no, you can't get addicted to oxycodone if you're using it for pain, it's impossible!

    They need to find a way to take pharma profits (including the marketing spend) and channel them back to the FDA so that the information doctors gets comes from an objective source instead of one motivated by selling drugs.
      m0Lexx and NotAJediOrSith like this.
  4. TheBigBadWolf
    How will that be possible with a POTUS who is so adrift aside to the real world like The Orange One (look at what the looney does in respect to steel and aluminium, that guy seems to hate international trade of all kinds)
    I sadly do not see any opposition happen there save of some activists who put themselves outside of the neolib/altright mainstream and so out of interest... They will be incarcerated in the blink of an eye, effective as the espionage on the own citizens is.
    If there's a constitutional problem of a service spying on own citizens one can always ask a "friended" intelligence service, (i.e., the MI5 or the German BND). ugh-
    The US of A are about to become victim an autocracy of Northern Korean Pattern.
    No Market will rule anything, then. Not even on tthe pharm sector.
    Money will be given to who slips up The Orange's arse the farthest.

    Proletarians of all Countries, Praise The Lord!

    (Yes, I am very anti-tronald-dump, for those who still need to ask, I am allowed to be, for I am a free European from The Land Of The Free and The Home Of The Brave, Germany) - I wouldn't even have voted for him if I were an American..
      m0Lexx likes this.
  5. ladywolf2012
    I call him Thumper because he is so ridiculous, and I have refused to watch him or hear him give a speech since before The Coronation. He is not MY president--I refuse to acknowledge that he is and so far it has worked rather well. I am barely aware that he exists.

    No,obviously the government will be of as much help in dealing with THIS drug problem as they have been in dealing with all the others. Don't they just do a bang-up job of helping with the drug crisis?
    1. tatittle
      they created the drug crisis, prior to Prohibition none existed in the modern sense.
  6. Cid Lysergic
    Two things:

    First, it says "many" of the drug overdose's involving Benzodiazepines are the result of combination with either Opiates, Alcohol, or both. How about changing the word 'many' to 'most'? I'll defend it to the end that it has the same safety profile as magic mushrooms. Meaning your much more likely to cause harm to yourself by stupid stuff you choose to do while under the drugs influence, not the drug itself. Mixed with Opiates or Liquor however, well you all know it.

    Second, doctors do check a prescription data base. I've been caught frantically going to four walk in clinics in a different town of my home trying to get Diazepam. I even went to the emergency room where I got a few after so many hours of fucking up the system. I'm not proud sitting there eight hours claiming withdrawal. Maybe I did it because I was in detox at the time & had nothing better to do.

    Even when I finally got a prescription from one of the doctors I saw, the pharmacist wouldn't fill it "out of concern" for me.

    I have noticed however though, the system that they use to track prescriptions is a chronological list. Meaning it is possible to just flood that list with bullshit prescriptions & doctor visits. Doctors can't be bothered to scroll down more than a few pages or past six months of time.
      m0Lexx likes this.
  7. alacool
    Overdoses deserve to be studied scientifically if anyone wants to find solutions to overcome the increase of drug-related deaths in north america.

    This has to be checked but it seems there are many people who tried to commit suicide with benzodiazepines and who didn't succeed, suggesting that benzodiazepine alone is quite safe for the risk of overdose.

    Of course it can still be very dangerous in association with alcohol, opiates and external factors.
    1. Cid Lysergic
      Myself included. Man, was I ever a stupid/lucky fool back then. I don't even remember why I tried killing myself in the first place. All I remember is laying on my couch without a care in the world, and I was in a park at one point with three friends who had just met one another. I convinced them that right then & there was a great place for them to try Salvia for their first time. The setting couldn't have been worse. Luckily we avoided them having bad trips, but when I went for my turn, it didn't do a thing! I don't know why, as it was retardedly potent (80x), but it caused me to get extremely furious (paradoxical Benzodiazepine anger) which then I proceeded to throw my mini bong on the cement breaking it. :(

      When I came too, three days later, my house was cleaned, I had an ounce of weed, over $500, résumé updated, and best of all, a job at the city's biggest concert venue for raves. Woot .
  8. m0Lexx
    Labeling this as "another epidemic" is going to hurt the many individuals who are on benzodiazepines for legitimate reasons. This includes the people for whom (like myself) benzo's are the only group of medications that treat the condition, with every other treatment exhausted
      TheBigBadWolf likes this.
    1. TheBigBadWolf
      The "epidemic" label does only make those responsible who have done the least to get in the situation: the patients.
      m0Lexx likes this.
  9. ladywolf2012
    Benzodiazepines on their own ARE pretty much totally ineffective as a means to suicide. They must be mixed with alcohol and/or something like opiates.

    I met a poor man at an AA meeting who had just awakened from taking 150 10 mg. tablets of Valium. His wife had died, and he tried to join her, and all he got for his efforts was three days of deep sleep and an intense headache upon awakening. And, of course, all we had to offer him--besides support-- was coffee and doughnuts!
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