Benzos: more dangerous than the conditions they treat?

Benzodiazepines may be the most dangerous drugs in the world. “Benzos,” as they’re commonly called, were introduced as anti-seizure medications in the mid-1970s. One of them—Klonopin—has since become the drug of choice for millions, second only to OxyContin or opiods in general.

Benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed in the US, with 100 million prescriptions written in 1999, according to the DEA.  Benzodiazepines mimic the action of a substance [GABA] that occurs naturally in the brain, whose effect is to quiet or tranquilize the body.  In fact, 40 percent of human brain cells respond to GABA. The long term use of benzodiazepines produces both dependence and tolerance, which cause the naturally occurring chemicals in the brain to lose their potency and become ineffective. Withdrawing suddenly is therefore risky, because the body has lost its ability to quiet itself in situations of panic or anxieties that naturally arise, even in safe settings. Withdrawal can include extreme anxiety, paranoia and agoraphobia and can be quite long lasting.

The effects of benzodiazepines have caused some to label drugs, such as Kllonopin, “the most dangerous drug in the world.” Since its original introduction as an anti-seizure medication in the mid-1970s, klonopin has become the drug of choice for millions, second only to OxyContin or opioids in general.

Singer Stevie Nicks has publicized the dangers of Klonopin by describing her own detox from the prescription drug as “hellish” and worse than withdrawing from cocaine or heroin. In fact, Nicks was introduced to Klonopin at The Betty Ford clinic, with the intention of assisting her with new-found sobriety! Recovering addicts and alcoholics have all too often been helped off of one drug addiction by being introduced to a new one, all with the best of intentions, of course.

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have died as a result of potent drug cocktails prescribed to them by the Veterans Administration, which included benzodiazepines. Anna Nicole Smith and Mariel Hemingway both were found to have multiple drugs in their systems at time of death, including benzodiazepines. Emergency rooms now see three times as many visits for benzodiazepine related problems – eclipsing heroin and cocaine.

Treatment with benzodiazepines is clearly recommended for short term use only – dependence can form in as little as two weeks. In addition, there is a great danger of drug interactions being fatal.

So why is it  commonly prescribed for extended time periods? Psychotropic drugs represent a huge profit center for big pharma, running into the billions of dollars for the industry every year. This provides an incredible incentive for drug companies to “push the envelope” when drug sales representatives are presenting their products to the medical and psychiatric professions. Representatives of pharmaceutical companies frequently downplay potential dangers of particular drugs, while emphasizing what a marvelous job they can do for patients. Americans can surely trust their MDs and psychiatric professionals to take into account the fact that they are being exposed to sales pitches from commissioned sales persons.

Trusting in the discretion of professionals gets called into question when you take into account that pharmaceutical corporations purchase favorable articles in professional journals. The editor of one of the most respected medical journals, “The Lancet”, has publicly stated that science journals are being co-opted by drug companies pushing their drugs. When peer-reviewed journals cease to be a reliable source of information for professionals, patients are placed in danger by the very system that is supposed to “first, do no harm”.

The situation described in this article is yet another example of corporate greed run amok. The simple fact  is that while some industries exist to perform necessary functions, they not be run simply to provide a good “return on investment” for stockholders. The story of powerful and wealthy corporations that buy their way into further profits through lobbying and campaign contributions is becoming so commonplace that it is difficult to pique the interest of the general public. The story of the dangers of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines demonstrates that the public grows cynical at the risk of its own health and very life.

 

 

 

Mike Davis Mike Davis (47 Posts)

Mike Davis is a local community organizer for groups such as the Coffee Party and Moveon.org and works with Veterans for Peace on a regular basis.


  • —-

    Help is available at benzofreedom.com. 

  • ralphie

    The people at benzofreedom.com have helped tremendously in getting the word out and getting people off these drugs.

  • Retour

    The idea that Big Pharma has marketed this drug with the help of psychiatry is something right out of Scientology. You’re not trying to pass this off as journalism are you?

  • Munchkinkitties

    You know Retour,
    This a very good Journalism! Getting the word out there is what is needed to stop these drugs from ruining people’s lives!!!

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  • Abland

    Before you make a statement like that , try Klonopin for one year!!

  • Ninadavisinteriors

    I was prescribed Klonopin 15 years ago. I knew nothing of the dangers and many doctors continued to prescribe it for insomnia and anxiety. I went into treatment for 2 and a half months where I was taken off the drug over night, rendering me something far less than the human being I was before. I entered hell. The emotional and physical pain were overwhelming. I remained free of the drug for 6 months with no improvement in the withdrawal effects and was put back on it. I live in a world of fear, panic, lack of interest in anything, barely able to leave the house. I feel like a terrified zombie. I am weak and unable to do many of the most basic things in life. I am afraid to take a walk alone, leave the house. I have little appetite, no interest in anything, my creativity has vanished, I can’t work. The list is endless. The drug controls my life , what life I have. I am about to get off the drug again and get my life back. It took talking to over 60 Doctors before I found someone who is willing to help me. The original doctor who put me on the drug banned me from her office after I called her begging for help. Beware of ever taking this drug.

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  • BBopper

    You MUST be A huge douchebag? A huge, ignorant douchebag!

  • disqusted

    Are you still around these days? What ever became of your situation?

  • disqusted

    I was put on this drug (Klonopin) as a naive 21 year old for anxiety and RLS. The devil manufactured this poison. Now in my early 30’s, it has ruined my life to the point of non-function. I haven’t been able to feel any form of happiness, pleasure, enjoyment or general emotion for… I don’t even remember what it’s like. I haven’t had a libido and didn’t even through my 20’s. As a guy. I’m ostensibly asexual now, I don’t even have sexual feelings anymore. All my junk works, I just couldn’t give a s*** about sex, life, people. I’ve felt totally dead inside for years and now even my mental and physical health are deteriorating rapidly. I have tried to get off of this for years, and even super slow reduction, I can’t do it. I’m so physically hooked it’s impossible. It doesn’t make me high or relaxed or any of the things some people start taking it for. I can take 10mg at once and I wouldn’t know any better. So don’t think it’s a psychological addiction- this is physical dependence. I hate it and want desperately to be off but like Nina’s comment, good luck. Most doctors are either totally naive, don’t believe you or don’t know what they’re doing at all. I’ve had to face cold turkey withdrawals out of my control in this decade+ and what people like Stevie Nicks say is no exaggeration. I don’t fear hell anymore. That’s how horrifying withdrawal is. It’s worse than physical pain could ever be and in those times, suicide seemed less scary/horrible than what I was going through mentally and physically. Any other drug withdrawal is not even comparable. As said, opiate withdrawal? No. Coke, amphetamine, heroin— I don’t care what you put benzos up against, I can tell you… nothing touches it. I’m still hooked and hopeless and I’m barely into my 30’s and have given up on life totally. It’s a damn shame. Nobody told me. A doctor Rx’d it and always has. This isn’t some addict off the streets, I have a college degree, I used to be someone, I used to have a life; now I have a death wish. No, I won’t even say that. I’m not even sad. I’m just nothing. I can’t feel a thing, I don’t care about a thing and Klonopin did this. No doubts. I just think maybe today I’ll finally physically die today and I can just be gone cause I feel dead anyways. This isn’t a pity party, this isn’t an exaggerated melodramatic scene— this is reality. If you’re thinking of this or even if you’re still just new to it, not too far gone yet— get as far away as possible, sooner the better… Or you will be me, for real. If I could save 1 life to replace the one that’s been stolen from me, I’m gonna try. And that’s what I’m typing for. To warn people before it’s too far gone. Maybe not, but don’t be that one thinking oh that’s not gonna be me. Don’t fool yourself. And if you end up a walking corpse way before your time, remember “the guy who tried”…

  • Erik

    This is me too, degree and everything. Tied to this shit drug like food. Not because it helps anything, but because if i skip a dose my body and mind flip into madness. Very painful, no sleep for 5 days or more, etc… Paradoxal syntoms I never had before I started. I was just a little neuroric and depressed when i was prescribed it a decade ago. Now, if I miss a few days, I go full blown manic!

  • disqusted

    Sounds like they fixed that problem right up then, huh? A little neurotic— and now like me, ready to be put in state mental care after being off of it for any length of time. Isn’t it infuriating? I actually just had to get in bed because I’m having all kinds of problems and so ironically as I got this notification I had a 2mg under my tongue dissolving, hoping like hell it’ll make some of what I’m feeling just stop. My condition has only worsened since my post— no shock to anyone familiar with it. Yeah people just have to understand it’s not a drug fiend it becomes a physical need, like food as you said. Sure you can willpower it out (doubtful) just like food to and you’ll be dead abstaining from both. I can’t remember what my original post said and I can’t read it right now, but what’s your situation, dose wise and years been on this crap? How has your life changer over that time? Besides acute withdrawal states, have you noticed a negative impact on your functioning or mind or any of that kind of thing? Aka how has klonopin f–ked YOUR life up, to be blunt? I’ll come back after I’m feeling better and can think clearly; and I’ll definitely get a notification if you write back. Thanks for taking the time to chime in.