grassy cemetery

Benzodiazepines can Kill You

I’ve written about the dangers of Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and other drugs in a class of drugs called ‘benzodiazepines’.  The drugs are grossly over-used by patients, and over-prescribed by psychiatrists, usually for patient complaints of anxiety.

My primary concern over use of benzodiazepines is that when used to treat anxiety, they are more likely to aggravate than improve a patient’s symptoms, especially if taken regularly.  Patients develop physical and psychological dependence to benzodiazepines very quickly.  Once physically tolerant, patients experience withdrawal symptoms if doses are missed, and generally interpret the withdrawal symptoms as manifestations of their own anxiety disorder.  The progression from taking alprazolam or clonazepam ‘as needed’ to taking them regularly is as predictable as any other biological process.   And after physical tolerance has developed, symptoms that were once considered manageable become part of an unmanageable ‘anxiety disorder.’

I have learned over the years that the term ‘anxiety’ means different things to different people. The complaint shouldn’t cause doctors to automatically reach for the prescription pad.  When asked to describe his ‘anxiety’ in detail, a patient said ‘I will pace around the house, looking for something to do.  I will turn on the TV and change channels, but there is nothing interesting.  I feel…. restless and bored.  I need to get out of the house, but there is nothing for me to get outside to do.  I’m like a caged animal.  You know— anxiety!’

I responded, ‘you mean you were bored?’

Poppy field

Blame Suboxone!

I recently came across the blog of a person who has dedicated his life to trashing buprenorphine treatment.  I won’t provide the name or link, as I don’t want to waste my own ‘page rank’ on supporting his misplaced anger.  But I suspect many readers of my blog have stumbled across that one as well, given the similarity of our keywords.    His blog doesn’t contain personal comments, I suppose because there are only so many ways to say ‘darn that Suboxone’.  Instead he auto-posts stories from across the country from newsfeeds, with keyword combinations of ‘Suboxone’ or ‘buprenorphine’ plus ‘robbery’, or ‘death’, or ‘overdose’, or ‘real bad person.’  I made the last one up, but you get the idea.

The person lost his son several years ago, a tragedy that would usually keep me from adding my own commentary.  But in the several years since his son’s death, he has written a number of diatribes on other anti-buprenorphine web sites.  In other words, he has contributed to the deaths of enough young people that by now, counterpoints are long overdue.

In his ‘about me’ section, he writes that his son took Suboxone for about 18 months, and died over two years after stopping buprenorphine/Suboxone.  He explains, in twisted logic, how the death is not the fault of his son’s drug addiction, or the drug dealers, or easy prescribing of prescription opioids or diversion of opioid agonists, or poppy policy in Afghanistan… but because of Suboxone.

Questions and Answers about Opioid Dependence and Buprenorphine