Benzodiazepines do patients more harm than good

September 15, 2015
5mg diazepam / Valium, a benzodiazepine

5mg diazepam / Valium, a benzodiazepine

Dr. Nicole Beurkens recently shared her experiences about benzodiazepines on the blog: Say NO to Benzodiazepines for anxiety!

In my experience as a clinical psychologist benzodiazepines do patients more harm than good. While it is appealing to think that a pill can quickly and effectively remove symptoms of anxiety, panic, and/or insomnia, the reality is that there are significant negative long-term consequences for most people who use these medications.

It is not uncommon for me to have patients on multiple psychotropic medications, including benzos, due to symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, or other mental health issues.

Patients can quickly become dependent on these medications, and they are often prescribed higher doses over time with diminishing returns.

Some patients reach a point where they are not having symptom relief with the benzos, but they cannot function at all without them.

This issue is fresh in my mind because I have a 24-year-old male patient who is entering a rehab program next week due to addiction and substance use issues. The gateway drugs that led to these addiction issues for him were Ativan and Adderall prescribed to him since he was 14 years old. He now sees that these drugs have done a significant amount of damage, but we are having to admit him to a long-term treatment program to get off of these medications (and other substances) safely.

I maintain that if prescribers fully informed patients of the risks involved with these medications most people would never start taking them. We need to do more to educate patients and practitioners about the realities of these medications, as well as safer alternatives.

I am now devoting a significant amount of time and attention to this issue not just for benzodiazepines, but psychiatric medications in general. Especially where children are concerned, parents and professionals needs to have appropriate facts about these drugs and understand the many non-medication options that are available. I’m writing about this and providing resources at my site http://www.DrBeurkens.com for anyone who is interested. Thanks, Trudy, for getting this information out to more people!

As she says, it’s so important that we need to do more to educate patients and practitioners about the realities of these medications, as well as safer alternatives. Here is a recent blog post where she does just that: Beware the Rush to Prescribe

I appreciate that Dr. Beurkens is now devoting a significant amount of time and attention to this issue not just for benzodiazepines, but psychiatric medications in general. Her motto is to provide “Solutions to End Overmedication of Children with Developmental or Mental Health Concerns.”

 

YOU’RE WELCOME TO INCLUDE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE AS LONG AS YOU INCLUDE THIS COMPLETE BLURB WITH IT:

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of www.everywomanover29.com, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

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70 Comments on "Benzodiazepines do patients more harm than good"

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Arwen
Arwen
Please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Benzos can also make it possible for people to function normally, so they can actually live a life and not spend their entire time worrying about having a panic attack, or having to cancel or pull out of major events. I don’t think they should be the only tool in the box. For me, food intolerance and thyroid disorder have been the major causes of my anxiety, so avoiding those foods and treating the thyroid condition has been vital. I also use aromatherapy and meditation and vitamins to help myself,… Read more »
Dr. Jennifer Leigh
Dr. Jennifer Leigh
Trudy, Thanks for taking the time to educate the public. About 50% of people who take a benzo for more than a few days will experience tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are very dangerous as they cause brain damage. I was damaged very badly by the drugs. I know run a private benzo withdrawal community and I have a website and blog at benzowithdrawalhelp.com I also blog for addictionblog.com The drug companies have known for decades that ALL benzos are addictive and dangerous. Many of us are doing our best to have these drugs taken off of the market… Read more »
John Smith
John Smith

Hello,

Where is your medical evidence that they cause ‘brain damage’ I am a professional scientist so please link to me any peer-reviewed research. I stopped benzodiazpines after 10 years use no problem – I stopped because a psychiatric nurse-practitioner (not a real doctor) was convinced I was a drug seeker. All that happened is my baseline anxiety is where it was pre-use. Who are being harmed and killed by these drugs? They have done far more good for me than bad.

jackie rodgers
jackie rodgers
john go on facebook and go to the benzodiazepine recovery site. you will read about the suffering people are going through coming off of these drugs. I am one of them. I was put on colozepam for anxiety caused by too many antibiotics. in two months I reached tolerance where the dosage was not working any more. so I went up a little, kept going up because again tolerance. I was getting withdrawal symptons, I was sick. until I was switched over to a long acting benzo and tapered off, I was tapered off fast. I still suffered withdrawal symptons… Read more »
Nicole Beurkens
Nicole Beurkens
Hi Arwen, I agree that there can be appropriate times for using benzodiazepine medications, but in my opinion those times are very few and far between. The reality is that if someone is having severe anxiety and panic symptoms there are root issues that need to be addressed. The solution is not to be on these medications long-term, even if they are not being used daily. Every person is unique and there certainly are those who do not experience ill effects. However, the vast majority of people would benefit from a treatment plan utilizing other approaches rather than benzodiazepine medications.
Abbetira
Abbetira
Arwen, Before you allow these drugs to trick your brain into thinking you have control of these substances, I strongly recommend that you read my article at: https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/07/falling-through-the-cracks/ I didn’t think they were the root of all my problems at first either until a 4 to six week treatment turned into a 16 year dependency. I am still suffering with PAWS at almost 11 months off the drug. I can’t urge you enough to get the help of someone that really understands how bad these drugs are. If I had been informed, I would have only taken them for the… Read more »
Regina
Regina

I often see Tryptophan recommended as a calming supplement. However, I do not see amino acid practitioners advising those with anxiety to first have their inflammatory status checked, especially their gastrointestinal inflammation status.
It is very important that Tryptophan not be given without first checking the above because in the presence of inflammatory states Tryptophan will add to anxiety, rather than decreasing it, by going down an alternate biochemical pathway which results in the production of Quinolinic Acid a highly excitatory toxin in the brain.

Angela Pretel
Angela Pretel
Your Message I was prescribed Klonopin .5 2 x daily by my Psychiatrist 7 years ago for anxiety after my daughter was born. I took it has prescribed. I insisted on titrating off of this medication two years ago. My Psychiatrist would not agree with me and always said that it was not a good time due to my mental or physical health issues. I basically was immediately at tolerance level, did not increase klonopin, and lost myself and began abusing alcohol. I was no longer myself, I didn’t care about myself, anyone else or anything in my life. I… Read more »
Nicole Beurkens
Nicole Beurkens

You’re brave to go through this process, Angela. Many people don’t because it’s difficult and uncomfortable. Wishing you continued progress with your health and well-being!

Angela
Angela

Thank you so much Nicole.

ginger
ginger

I have been taking .5 grams per night since 1994 for insomnia. The doctor didn’t inform me that it was addictive. Now that I’m 65, I’ve decided to wean myself off of it, as I’ve recently learned of the dangers.

My question is how do I do this without too much emotional and physical pain? I recently read about liquid titration. Do you agree with that or is there a better way? And other therapies concurrently, such as diet, supplements, etc.?

Hoping to hear back from you or hope you mention it during the webinar.

ginger
ginger

I forgot to say which medication I am taking. It’s clonazepam .5 mg per night since 1994.

Angela
Angela

Ginger,

Goto Benzobuddies.com, There is a wealth of information about safely titrating off of klonopin. It is called the Ashton method.

Mary Ellenberger
Mary Ellenberger

I have taken .5 mg of Clonazepam since 98 for insomnia. In April/May I weaned off using Valium. I did pretty well for the first month but the last 2-3 months have been really rough. I’m hardly sleeping and my anxiety is through the roof. Would love to hear about support for anxiety and insomnia. I keep telling myself I want to be dig free, and feel determined but I’m having trouble functioning. Thank you!

Arwen
Arwen
Mary, I had great help to sleep and reducing anxiety with an aromatherapy blend I make (and actually sold in large numbers, so I know it works for most people). Blend 1 oz of a carrier oil (almond, or jojoba – it doesn’t go rancid) with 10 drops each of ylang ylang and frankincense oils, 7 drops of bergamot oil, and 5 drops of lavender oil. Blend well and apply to your pillow when you lie down at night, or inhale or diffuse whenever needed. If you buy the oils and mix it at home, make sure you do it… Read more »
Mary
Mary

I am feeling similar getting off of Xanas. Today I talked to the pharmacist and she said she would work with me in reducing the dosages with smaller pills. From the 1 mg..to .5…to .25 and then eventually off. I am nervous about this whole process. I don’t know what to supplement with after the taper is complete as sleep has been elusive the last half of my life without the aid of drugs. I know nutrition and supplements play a big role but will need guidance on that as well. Thanks for listening.

Cary
Cary
Hi Trudy. I’m very interested in hearing this study. I have a panic disorder and have tried everything natural out there and find some relief at times but not enough when it gets really bad. I have no choice at times to turn to a very small dose of klonopin until my system can calm down. I would love to hear of something that could possibly help because I don’t like turning to the benzos at all. I have tried passionflower like you recommend but it doesn’t seem to work well for me. I’m sure it works great for general… Read more »
Regina
Regina

Mary, have you had your Progesterone level checked? Progesterone is a calming hormone, is essential for tha conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to Free T3, the active thyroid hormone essential to every cell in our bodies. Once my very low Progesterone level was improved with compounded bioidentical Progesterone I began sleeping soundly for the first time in many, many years! Best wishes for health and sound sleep!

jenna
jenna
hi, i’ve been on xanax, long with antidepressants and mood stablizers, for two years and i have become increasingly dependent on the xanax. i used to use it just to sleep, and now find myself needing it every 3-4 hours or i start to shake and feel completely anxious. my psychiatrist wants to switch me to ativan or klonopin before starting to wean off entirely bec he said either of those is easier to wean off of then xanax. any idea if this is true? i know i need to get off and really want to be med free. i’m… Read more »
Arlis
Arlis

oops. I missed the beginning of the webinar, and didn’t tune in until almost a quarter after 5. Is this going to be released for download?

Gayle
Gayle

Yes please send us the link. I had just gotten in from traveling and saw the email; so I missed it. I have been on 10 mg of Serax/Oxazepam for 20+ years! If I don’t take it I don’t sleep and don’t sleep too well on it. I have never had a desire to increase it. I learned the ‘truth’ about these a couple of years ago:( I was prescribed this for PMS years ago to knock the edge off. the dose was 3 per day which I never took. Thank you for addressing this and your help!

Cary
Cary

Thank you for your reply. I have tried GABA and it made me feel weird. I do like Natural Calm magnesium which has worked great for years. I’m 42 so I had my hormones checked and I’m low in progesterone so tried the Bioidentical progesterone cream and my system was WAY to sensitive to that. Still searching.

Thais Carr
Thais Carr

I just saw the announcement about the webinar, dang it. I would love to be able to listen to it. I couldn’t sign up at the webinar link- is there a way to do so?

Kelly
Kelly

Hi Trudy I am traveling and really wanted to sign up for the webinar so I could get the replay, but could not find WiFi. Could I get access to the replay?

Thanks Kelly

Antoinette McDaniel
Antoinette McDaniel
I have been Klonopin free for 1 year and 15 days and it hasbeen a long long journey.I still donot sleep at all.my eye sight continue to get worse and I still have anxiety and good and very bad days.imcreased appetite at night .I was on klonopin for 12 years and have and have had very little sleep in the last ten years and the cycle continues .javr tried sleep studies etc.only Benadryl works but I feel like I have a hangover the next day and I don’t drink.I guess I will never sleep naturally but at least I am… Read more »
Becca
Becca

Hi Trudy,
This topic caught my eye because our 7 year old son has Epilepsy. He was recently started on Onfi along with his Keppra to better control his seizures. This decision was not taken lightly, and actually came after a 1-2 week period of emergency non-convulsive status.

I was wondering your take and experience with Onfi, being a benzodiazepine, for use in epilepsy. We have had to make peace with needing pharmaceuticals at times with our son’s condition, but it still makes me uneasy. Any advice on Onfi from your experience would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Amy
Amy
Hi Trudy, I did the questionnaire and I pretty much fit every question in every catagory. Is this odd? What do you start with then? Also, I desperately want to get off klonopin, but am SO ANXIOUS after reading all the horror stories about withdrawal. I tried tapering this past week and felt terrible. I couldn’t tell if it was because of w/d symptoms or my own anxiety about withdrawing! I ended up caving and going back to my regular dose. Ugh… I definitely need to address my anxiety before I try to taper again. Is it safe to take… Read more »
Jill
Jill
Amy, I completed my taper from Ativan/lorazepam about three months ago. You can do it. I read the horror stories also and it made my anxiety and panic worse. But then I read positive stories. Not everyone suffers! You have to remember that our bodies and their sensitivities are so unique and what hurts some of us won’t hurt so much for others and things that help others won’t necessarily help you. Since benzos work on gaba receptors taking GABA can prolong the healing. I always say if it’s natural and it doesn’t ramp up my symptoms then I’ll try… Read more »
Amy
Amy

Thanks Jill! I’m on such a small dose, 0.25mg a day. And as far as I see in Ashton manual it doesn’t have a taper schedule for that amount.
I noticed my symptoms of withdrawal on the 4th day too! I felt like I was going crazy and not in my mind. It was weird and scary.
What supplements/aminos helped you?

Jill
Jill
That is a small dose. You’re so close to being done! I was on an amino acid blend that had more than ten aminos in it but also took extra glutamine on top of that. The amino blend was from a company that offered micro nutrient support. A nurse there is who told me to take extra glutamine. I ran out of the blend and stopped taking it last month but noticed my symptoms upped a bit when I wasn’t taking them. Ever since finding out about Trudy and her work I’ve been wanting to try individual aminos to single… Read more »
Amy
Amy

Thanks Trudy! I wish I could afford your program right now, it seems like a great deal.
I’m going to look into getting you’re book and giving GABA a try.

Amy
Amy

Thanks Trudy! I wish I could afford your program right now, it seems like a great deal.
I’m going to look into getting your book and giving GABA a try.

Claudia K
Claudia K
Totally agree that Benzodiazepines should not be used long term. My sister starting taking low doses of Klonipin a couple decades ago. She went from slight anxiety to full blown panic attacks in the meantime. Her doctor just kept upping her doses and over time I have watched her Cognitive and Social functioning deteriorate. She was a nurse, she is pretty much a shut in now, and spends her days afraid to leave her home. She has frequent falls, and is very forgetful, she gets lost if she tries to drive a handful of blocks from her home. It’s awful… Read more »
Wayne Douglas
Wayne Douglas

We have set up World Benzo Awareness Day (W-BAD) to help raise awareness about the risks associated with benzodiazepine drugs such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium etc. Please help to spread the word!

http://www.benzo-case-japan.com/publicity-b-english.php

http://www.morningnewsusa.com/exclusive-world-benzo-awareness-day-first-step-end-global-dependency-woes-2374611.html

Beth Fischer
Beth Fischer

Wondering if you have a list of people like yourself Trudy who will help people like me. With anxiety, etc. I live in Texas USA. I know your practice is full. But hopefully there are others who are awakening to this. And perhaps some who will help via Skype.

Also someone mentioned ‘liquid titration’ when getting off of benzos. Can there be a bit more explanation please. Thank you.

Jane
Jane

My son takes Frisim for epilepsy!? Should i reconsider something else? ….. This worries me (has been on it a few months now)
Many thanks

John Smith
John Smith

I stopped benzodiazepines after ten years because psychiatric nurse practitioners (fake doctors) started treating me like a drug-seeker. I stopped cold turkey. Now my baseline anxiety is where it was pre-prescription and my quality of life has diminished. For me the good of these drugs completely outweighs the ‘bad’.

LeeAnn Arnold
LeeAnn Arnold
I don’t remember the website. But apparently most people cannot absorb Gaba, because of the fact that it does not pass the blood brain barrier? But there are some people who actually have a leaky blood brain barrier in which Gaba will pass. As I was reading , I came across something called phenibut. I believe it is one of amino acids. This product is used in Russia over the counter and is actually needed to help Gaba pass the barrier. I have been on clonazepam since 1998 and effexor xr at different strengths during my life. Why they put… Read more »
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