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Are Benzodiazepines Being Overprescribed?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used for their anxiolytic and sedative effects. Benzodiazepines work by acting on the neurotransmitter GABA, effectively calming an individual who is faces with a situation that causes them to become overly anxious. While often effective in short term use with patients suffering from anxiety and other conditions, they carry a high potential for abuse.

Benzodiazepines are astonishingly overprescribed by doctors and psychiatrists. Dr. Christopher Lane, in a 2014 Psychology Today article entitled The Hidden Danger of Benzodiazepines, asks, “Do American doctors and patients know, for example, that since 2010, there have been 6,507 U.S. drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines? That in 2010 alone, 124,902 Americans were rushed to the E.R. just because of Xanax? And that, one year later, addiction to the same drug resulted in 39,408 confiscations by law authorities? If they didn’t know this, they should. 49 million prescriptions for Xanax were filled in the U.S. in 2011 alone.” The use of benzodiazepines, particularly amongst older adults, can lead to addiction and dangerous health consequences.

There are some benefits of benzodiazepines, but only in a small amount of cases that do not justify their over prescription. In a 2017 Huffington Post article entitled Yes, Benzos are Bad for You, Allen Frances explains, “While benzos do wonders for patients with catatonia, this disorder is rarely encountered. Benzos are also useful short-term for severe agitation in psychosis, mania, and depression. And they are sometimes helpful for patients with severe panic disorder who need instant relief in the several weeks before SSRI’s kick in. Benzos would be fine for occasional ‘as needed’ use in times of special stress or insomnia. But since you can’t predict who will get hooked, it is wise not to try them at all for this purpose. In my opinion, all of the legitimate indications for benzos are very short term. However, in real life most people take them long term, in doses high enough to be addicting, and for the wrong reasons.” Many people are prescribed benzodiazepines and falsely believe that taking them in the doses prescribed will be harmless. However, even in minimal doses benzodiazepines can lead to addiction and consequential dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Your life doesn’t have to be one of diminished health as a result of addiction. You can seek help now and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, is staffed with caring and compassionate professionals dedicated to helping clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431