The Problem With Benzodiazepines…..

I absence to thank David Allen for the afflatus for this post when he commented that for the re~on that an addiction psychiatrist, I was probably seeing a skewed sample of family addicted to benzodiazepines and that might be why I have such a bilious view of them.  I appliance the above bubble diagram to throw light upon how benzodiazepines are prescribed by docs like me through a strong bias toward preventing absorption compared with physicians who have ~t any such bias.  To make permanent that we are on the same page, benzodiazepines are all technically tranquilizers or sedatives.  They distinguished a therapeutic advance from the earlier barbiturate class  in that their therapeutic characteristic (ratio of the drug that produces toxicity in 50% of patients to the prescribed portion that produces a therapeutic response in 50% of patients) is a great quantity greater than earlier tranquilizers like barbiturates.  The adapted to practice measure is that it takes plenteous higher doses to produce respiratory apprehension and death.  Despite the increased security these drugs are addictive.  People be able to develop a tolerance and in some people they produce a euphorigenic import, very similar to the effect of spirits of wine.  Some people describe benzodiazepines to the degree that “alcohol in a pill.”  Unfortunately we answer the purpose not know the percentage of folks where that occurs or how to descry them. There are many common clinical situations in which place the safety margin of benzodiazepines is cancelled extinguished by other factors.  Mixing them through alcohol and opiates are two of the principally common dangerous situations and if you are treating immersion – you see that happen all of the time.

Rather than list the entire table of benzodiazepines, I am going to choose the commonest ones that I suffer being abused.  In order from the chiefly frequently abuse that group would hold alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium).  Of those compounds Xanax Bars or 2 mg alprazolam tablets appear to be the most commonly abused through far.  The maximum recommended disagreeable lot of alprazolam is 4 mg/~light and I frequently have seen men taking 8-20 mg/day in conjunction with other street drugs.  Benzodiazepines take all been generic for a tedious time so they are very inexpensive to power if you have a prescription.  If you slip on’t have a prescription and acquire them illegally the “public way value” of a drug is a sign of abusability.  The medial sum street value of alprazolam is with regard to $5 for a 2 mg fasten with a ~.  The immediate risk of using benzodiazepines excessively is accidentally overdosing without interrupti~ the single drug or in confederacy with alcohol and other drugs of lash.  There is also a indicative seizure risk from abrupt withdrawal then the supply of medications have been used.  The misuse of benzodiazepine like compounds that are in addition typically used for sleep like zolpidem (Ambien) or eszopiclone (Lunesta) does fall out but it is more likely to occur in coalition with alcohol for alcohol related sleeplessness.  A common example would subsist a person with alcohol dependence who takes zolpidem at darkness so that they can sleep end the entire night.  Without it they would predictably stir up up at 2 or 3 AM from the retirement effects of alcohol.  Chronic employment of benzodiazepines whether by prescription or acquisition from illegal sources can lead to tolerance and inveterate withdrawal symptoms that can last instead of months if the drug or medication is stopped.  That real existence alone should be considered as part of the hazard of taking benzodiazepines – even in the plight where the person does not wish an addiction and has anxiety that they achieve not believe can be treated ~ means of any other means.  In my actual feeling, I am not sure that race of anxiety exists.

Another common puzzle with benzodiazepines is that they be possible to be psychologically debilitating, even if the bodily substance affected never takes the pill.  It is totality part of the behavioral pharmacology of addicting drugs.  It usually starts public with a panic attack.  That alarm attack can result in people going to the pressing necessity department once or twice because they give faith to they are having a heart invade.  Somewhere along the line a physician prescribes alprazolam to take “in ~-ending of a panic attack.”  That starts to betide and even if the panic attacks are thin, brief, and situational – the person vain starts to believe they need to push forward alprazolam around with them wherever they be considered “in case” of another panic engage.  They may not have had a violent attack in years, but they are to a greater degree anxious about whether they are carrying a pill while they get on a plane, christian religion a bridge, etc.  The pill own taken on Talisman-like features based up~ their using it for a rank that for most people fades gone over time.  Some  who dress in’t know the sequence of events strength suggest “what’s the harm” allowing that somebody develops such a belief hypothesis around a pill.  In my esteem the harm is that the person’s normal conscious state has been transformed and they be in possession of exchanged one form of anxiety as far as concerns another.  The debilitating effects of uneasiness depend on the illusion that your life needs to be modified in a sort or way to accommodate it.  Proving to yourself that is not well and good is one of the best ways to adapt.        

Despite those reservations, I be in actual possession of prescribed a lot of benzodiazepines in my course.  They are very good medications to practice in controlled environments for acute spirits of wine and sedative hypnotic withdrawal, acute seizures, catatonia,  akathisia, and changeable agitation syndromes associated with acute psychosis and mania.  The goal is typically to procure to be the patient off the medication in the presence of they are discharged and to shun treating patients with addiction with benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines are also useful for the first month in treating alarm attacks, but that typically takes a fate of work.  The work involved is convincing the invalid that a medication that seems to drudge rapidly is not a good some to take for the long take in tow.  The other dimension that is operating in this place that is rarely commented on and not at all explicit is whether the person receiving the benzodiazepine enjoys seizure it.  Medications that are potentially addictive ~ership to an array of problems that are not there with drugs than are not addicting.  The continent one is that they tend to have existence viewed as solutions for everything.  Instead of condign anxiety or panic people will take them in favor of insomnia, stress, or just to draught down at the end of the day.  Medications that reinforce their concede use have the problem of inventing new uses that they were never prescribed as antidote to and that can lead to escalating doses of the medication.  In more complicated situations benzodiazepines are added to discuss anxiety.  They have been used in psychiatric patients with multiple problems and been shown to tag no benefit.  They are commonly added to multiple medications including opioids in patients by chronic pain with no additional do good to.

Benzodiazepines are a big problem in chief care.  The NSDUH survey illustrates that greatest number people with an addiction are not mindful of it and further that single a small minority seek treatment and perceive it.  That same survey suggests that nearly 1.5 million Americans start using tranquilizers and sedatives (they conclude not have a unique benzodiazepine predicable) for non-medical use very year.  Even grant that it is apparent to a primordial care physician and their patient that every addiction to benzodiazepines exits, there are expressive obstacles to reversing the process.  Although there are protocols for slowly tapering the medication without ceasing the Internet, it takes a surpassingly highly motivated person and ideal pecuniary standing to accomplish this.  Outpatient detox from importunate care, the emergency department or an outpatient clinic is problematic because the corresponding; of like kind medication that the patient is not ingenious to control is being given to them to self administer at home.  It is often met with that the detox medications are totality taken the same day or in some cases at once.  Structured detoxification in the American hale condition care system is practically impossible to contribute, especially in the case of benzodiazepines that prescribe careful attention to seizure prevention, the interrupt of withdrawal delirium, and adequate handling of chronic withdrawal symptoms when they rise .  Some primary care clinics are attractive the preventive approach of not starting benzodiazepines in the before anything else place.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey in c~tinuance Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.

There is a al~ of resistance to the ideas of addiction docs when benzodiazepines and their lingering term effects are discussed among physicians.  There is at all times a physician who claims that they have successfully treated a person with one alcohol use disorder with benzodiazepines or they be in actual possession of people who have stayed on frugal doses for decades in order to handle their anxiety.  I see the failures.  It leads to the topic of how many people are clever of staying sober, not developing a endurance to benzodiazepines, and not experiencing a negative striking on their life.

As far viewed like I know there are no lively studies that address that question and I would not calculate upon that there will be.  Any study that allowed subjects to commingle alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines would have ~ing unethical and should not be approved ~ means of any Human Subjects Committee.

George Dawson, MD, DFAPA

Zoloft and Paxil belong to a assign places to of drugs named Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI.

Recent Comments