When benzodiazepine tranquilizers came along in the 1960s, they were hailed as a big improvement over the heavy-duty barbiturates that they replaced, such as the ones Marilyn Monroe took.  Benzos were easier to take, and they really seemed like kinder, gentler drugs. But, it was a delusion. Benzos are a trap. They are so highly addicting. They are physically addicting as well as psychologically addicting. And getting off of them can be shear hell. And the irony is that they seemed to be less toxic. But, we know now that there are people who, even after a short course on a benzo such as Xanax and Ativan, never get completely over it. They are left with an edge of anxiety or panic that lingers permanently. The cerebral and neurological axis that it affects remains permanently damaged.

It often starts casually. The patient sees their doctor complaining of stress, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. So, the doctor suggests they take a low dose of Xanax or Ativan. It’s bad advice. Its bad medicine. It’s bad everything. It is a road you don’t want to go down, and that’s true even if it seems like a godsend at first. What’s likely to happen is that, at first, a tiny dose seems to work wonders. It eases you into sleep at night, and you bask in it for a while. But then, you get so used to it, you have to raise the dose to get the same effect. And then serious psychological dependency sets in, where you can’t wait until it’s time to take it again. It’s as strong as any drug addiction that is out there. Then, at some point, you realize that you need to get off this stuff,  and that’s when you discover how trapped you are because even lowering the dose causes in tolerable withdrawal symptoms.

The track record on these drugs is well known. The danger that they pose is well documented. So, why does any medical doctor today prescribe them? Now, to be fair, not all do. There are doctors who won’t give them, who prescribe newer drugs with less dependency. But, there are still plenty of doctors who dispense these “brain candies” as though they are harmless. And I really think that it constitutes malpractice. I think the only ones who should be given benzos are perhaps people who are dying, who are terminal, who are nearing the end of their lives, and the only consideration is to try to make them comfortable. But, anyone who has a prospect for living should not be given these drugs. And there really is no excuse for giving them- with all that we know about their harms and dangers.

And frankly, I’m not enthused about the drugs that followed the benzos, such as the z-drugs (Ambien, Lunesta, etc.) for sleep and BuSpar for anxiety, and I don’t care for SSRIs and the SNRIs either. I like SAM-e for depression. I like some of the stress-relieving herbs, such a lemon balm. I like L-Theanine, which is an amino acid from green tea which makes it relaxing. I like the amino acids glycine and taurine, which act as inhibitory neurotransmitters. These things are all safe.  But, whether a person takes them or not, the most important thing is: don’t get started on benzos because you are sure to regret it. It’s like the Pied Piper, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Here are some videos on Youtube by regular people who got caught in the benzodiazepine trap. It’s just a bad decision to start taking them, and I hope you believe that.