Monday, October 14, 2019

[Video] - This Is Life with Lisa Ling: The Benzo Crisis

Holy fuck, guys.  If you're reading this now, take a few minutes to watch this excellent piece on benzos by Lisa Ling.  If you're feeling brave, go to Youtube & read the comments under the video itself.  It's full of identical stories of almost unbelievable suffering due to these innocuous little "chill pills".  I can attest to the fact that it's ALL TRUE.  I've spoken about my own benzodiazepine withdrawal experience many times here & it's exactly in line with what's shown in this piece.

Unlike the opiate crisis, the benzo crisis won't consist of peaceful overdoses but deaths by suicide, homicide, violent seizures & other ungodly manifestations of the insanity they can cause with long-term use.  To be clear, I don't advocate banning benzos; doctors just need to prescribe them responsibly for occasional use in severe panic or anxiety--not as a nightly sleep aid or daily anti-anxiety/depression meds.  They make ALL of these problems infinitely worse over time and then when you quit, your mental health can deteriorate further.  Withdrawal can even be fatal.

This Is Life: The Benzo Crisis

Watch full video on here.

Many of the teens & other young folks substituting Xanax & other benzos for opiates that are now harder to come by have no idea what they're getting into.  While opiates have their own serious risks, benzos are insidious in their ability to make anxiety, insomnia & depression worse with repeated use, causing you to increase your dose to combat those symptoms.  You eventually reach a point where no dose helps & you're having inter-dose withdrawals all the time.  At that point, you've got two choices:  continue down the miserable, hopeless path you're on or quit the meds altogether--the latter of which will somehow make ALL of this worse than it already is...sometimes for months or years.  Even if you taper at a snail's pace.  

If you already happen to suffer with an anxiety or mood disorder, all of this can be enough to drive you over the edge into suicide territory.  But even if you don't, benzos have been shown to cause mania and depression in people who have never experienced either condition.  They also make sleep quality & cognitive functioning worse with repeated/frequent use as well as damaging your physical health in numerous waysAgain, this is only when used long-term on a frequent basis.  They can be quite safe if reserved for situational, occasional uses like public speaking or flying on an airplane once in a while.  But it sure is tempting to overuse them if you enjoy that laid back booze-in-a-pill feeling.

Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell & Sparklehorse lead singer Mark Linkous all had benzos in their system when they committed suicide.  In the Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven, it's claimed that Klonopin affected Kurt worse than heroin, making him "delusional, paranoid & manic" shortly before his death in '94.  Actor & comedian Freddie Prinze Sr. was addicted to Quaaludes, an older drug with a similar mechanism of action when he killed himself.  Ditto for Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, who was prescribed phenobarbital for his seizures & rapidly developed crushing depression according to his band mates.  This family of GABA-binding drugs all work in a similar manner, slowing down neuronal signalling in the brain to produce relaxing/sedative effects.  The flipside of this is what's known as the rebound effect, which is what happens when you attempt to stop taking the drug.  Neuronal impulses speed up to dangerous levels, causing symptoms like severe panic, high blood pressure & even seizures or convulsions.  

If you're looking to quit a benzo habit, please check out The Ashton Manual for advice on safe tapering & what to expect.  It pretty much saved my life when I quit etizolam & is considered the "Holy Bible of Benzo Withdrawal".  Dr. Ashton was sounding the alarm bell long ago in the 1980's but few doctors would listen.  There was a huge public call to ban the drug temazepam (Restoril) in Scotland in 1995, so it's safe to say the U.K. is better informed than the U.S. about the dangers of benzos in general.  I fear we'll be learning too late as usual & go too far in banning the drugs rather than simply prescribing them more sensibly.  That seems to be the pattern.  

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