Professor Malcolm H. Lader says it well: “It is more difficult to withdraw people from benzodiazepines than it is from heroin.” For this reason we need to say NO to benzodiazepines for anxiety (and other conditions)!
Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs that work by enhancing the effect of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, and are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, pain, muscle spasms and a range of other conditions. They are widely prescribed, particularly among elderly patients and may even be used off-label with children with autism.
Use of this medication is very controversial. We know long term use leads to tolerance, dependence, and many adverse psychological effects and even physical effects. Short term use is generally considered safe but even using them for 2 – 4 weeks can lead to problems for certain individuals.
This presentation provided an overview of benzodiazepines; when they are used; who they are prescribed to; details about tolerance, dependence, and the many adverse effects; how to taper, including nutritional support during the taper; what to do instead of saying yes to a benzodiazepine prescription in the first place; and additional resources.