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Your Stories about Tranquilliser Dependency
I was on diazepam/valium for 22yrs from 1968. During the eighties I had it confirmed by That's Life that I was addicted to these drugs, which I had suspected for a long time. I was on 40mg/day. Having come off them (which wasn't easy) I tried to sue the Roche company but was told that because I was no longer on these drugs and had come off them with no help, I'd have a difficult time proving drug addiction. It saddens me that so many people are being let down by the medical profession.
I have mild mental imbalance and have tried psychiatric help, various drugs etc. I have managed to cut down all my medications to just temazepam tablets for sleeping. I find no side effects to this mild and extremely helpful drug and it enables me to lead a fairly normal life, that is go to work etc. Without help I cannot sleep and it makes normal life difficult. Please do not patronize people like myself by suggesting that a little relaxation technique will do instead as chemical imbalances cannot be wished away. I know some doctors prescribe these drugs incorrectly, but if all drugs that were proven to be wrongly prescribed were banned there would be no prescription medications left on offer. If the staff of Panorama believe that all drugs that can cause addiction should be banned or very strictly controlled why are you not making programmes trying to get alcohol banned. I agree we have a very poor medical services who use prescriptions for everything but some of the reasons for this is that there is really no money provided for alternative treatments that could be helpful. What is going to happen to so many people like myself if you have your way. I will have to go onto some far worse anti-depressant or seek illegal help on the streets from sedative drugs such as cannabis as I cannot afford to live without working. Leave us poor neurotic people our only line of legal help. Go and do some good where it is needed such as illegal drugs being sold in our schools. One last lie you mentioned is the cost to the health service. I pay £6.20 for my Temazepam and I believe the cost is way below that as this is one of the cheapest drugs on offer. May I add that I am not the only not-addicted person I know who uses these tablets for sleep. Still I am sure you all feel happy thinking you are fighting evil in our society just keep on dreaming.
Excellent programme which covered the subject well. All that was missing was a more complete presentation of the dreadful after effects of withdrawal from dependency on prescription drugs such as diazepam. I was fed diazepam and a cocktail of other pills for thirty years and five years ago voluntarily stopped following advice in an article reprinted from an American medical journal. Five years on I have chronic pains in my legs which apparently defy diagnosis by UK GP's but is documented in the USA.
In my opinion far too little work has been done in this area and it will be difficult to get people to withdraw unless they know that support is in place to cope with the after effects.
I have taken Nitrazepam every night for 32 years.
Without them I could not sleep so why all the fuss. I am most grateful to the many understanding GPs who enable me to have a good quality of life.
Do you know that there are 100's of people taking antidepressants who cannot get off of them. I know someone who has been on them for 11 years and nobody knows how to get him off of them. He was not reviewed by the GP regularly either just given repeat prescriptions. There is a professor called Charles Medawar who is campaigning about this problem.
There are 100's of people on the internet all complaining of bad side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
I wish I had known you were doing a survey on tranquillisers because I've been on Ativan/lorazepam for, wait for it... over 20 years - many different doctors kept giving me them and now I'm dependent on them.
I watched the programme and wondered why GPs do not prescribe the anti-depressant drug "Seroxat" for patients, instead of tranquillisers, when treating depression and anxiety attacks. I take it myself, as do many others in this country, and this drug is not addictive.
The programme was biased, scare-mongering and unscientific. Whilst it is true that some people are genuine victims of inappropriate benzodiazepine prescribing, the real incidence of cases that can be blamed at the door of G.P.'s is fractional to what was implied. I have frequently been sworn at and threatened by a sub-group of people who demand such medications; the eight minutes in a consultation that society has given me and my colleagues to sort their problems is a laughably inadequate amount of time to dissuade them from further drug use. It is my experience that this group of people are the first to complain when, despite being warned, they realise they are dependant. Your programme did not touch on this. A second point; if benzo use is so widespread did it not cross your mind that a sizable proportion of people are benefiting? I know from clinical practice that this is true as there a many individual situations where patients' lives are vastly improved over many years by these medications. Of course this would make a less populist broadcast, and require a kind of integrity that has not been evident on Panorama for many years. Why does a public broadcaster persistently discredit one of the hardest working professions whose numbers are dwindling to crisis levels?
Why is no publicity given to the many people who have found benzodiazepines to be invaluable? This includes their long-term use. As for myself, benzodiazepines aided my recovery from severe anxiety state, depression and phobias.
It is rare to find any useful help out there from the same doctors that prescribed these things to millions of people over the years, including me.
I have been working at getting off these for 2 years off and on and it is the hardest thing I have ever done. But there is a new resource now available by Prof Heather Ashton, the same one who was interviewed on the show. Here is an internet link to her new manual called Benzodiazepines, How They Work and How to Withdraw - http://members.dencity.com/ashtonpapers. And here is a web site with links to all known web sites on benzos - http://www.geocities.com/benzowebsites. In my opinion what's needed is a bigger lawsuit than the one a few years ago which had 17,000 benzo addicted plaintiffs.
Thank you BBC for revealing part of the horrible scandal perpetrated on innocent people by the drug companies and their jobbers and revealing the irresponsibility shown by many prescribing physicians who are too lazy to be patient with the addicts they have created.
Beware if your doctor wants to take you off these things too fast as it will only compound the problem.
I believe I am one of the longest addicts of Lorazepam, I started taking them in 1974 following a car accident and finished taking them in 2000 (26 years). I was 18 when I was first prescribed them and the effect upon my life has been devastating, like others I thought I was going out of my mind, a fact my doctor was only too willing to agree with. At one point I was prescribed 10mg a day and even as late as 1980 I was told to take more when I felt anxious.
I tried various methods to end my addiction including my doctor making me go through cold turkey which nearly killed me, when this failed I was told that it had nothing to do with the tablets and that I had a personality disorder. I eventually succeeded via a method used by MIND in Sheffield, which I believe to be by far the best method. I noticed a lady in the programme who was cutting the tablets down into small pieces, this is OK but eventually you can't cut them any smaller and withdrawal is very difficult. The best method and one that was not discussed, is to have the tablets ground into powders that can be made in ever decreasing doses - my last dose was a powder that was 0.08mg. This method provides the best results with the minimum of withdrawal.
What I should also like to say is that their seems to be a lack of understanding as to the long term effects of taking these drugs. I feel that there is probably permanent physical damage, there is definitely long term psychological damage. I am forty five and I can't remember what it was like when I was 18, I can't remember a time when my life was not governed by fear. I may function in society, but that does not mean I can lead a normal life. However I find that the medical profession believes that now I no longer take these drugs, that I am back to full fitness. All the support I received, was from MIND and I had to actively seek that out. I was offered no support from anywhere and yet if I was an Heroin addict, I would have had masses of help and support.
Having seen the programme on tranquillisers I realised I've been on Lorazepam for 25 years, I'm an addict because of them, but I only realised this when I saw the programme.
My doctor prescribed Librium continuously for 10 years in the 70-80s after a minor bout of anxiety. My memory is permanently impaired over that period.
I have been on this medication for 34 years, yes 34 years, and all because I had a small concern in 1967. All doctors told me was to keep taking the meds. One year ago I started to find out that I didn't need it. BUT to get off it is a serious job, people need help and advice. I nearly died of going into convulsions as I didn't know enough about how to withdraw, I'm still in a very serious condition called derealization , the Dr. said it was like stopping smoking, I nearly killed my self
I have Panic Disorder with
Agoraphobia and use a
benzodiazepine on an
occasional, "as needed", basis.
For me it is the only drug that
has ever worked to alleviate
the terrible symptoms
associated with this disorder.
I have read widely on the
subject of benzos and anxiety,
both academic papers and
I have to say that I regard
this current outbreak of
scaremongering about benzos
to be misplaced. In the US,
many observers make a
clear distinction between
"addiction", which can be
characterised by the user
abusively taking larger doses
and enjoying the buzz and
"dependence" which implies
that without the medication a
person would experience
symptoms of the underlying
illness. Some anxiety sufferers
may need to take benzos
for ever. If their quality of life
is significantly improved... then
where is the problem? Would
anyone be equally disapproving
of a diabetic's life long need for
Insulin? I would also like to
point out that in the US, the
benzo Xanax (Alprozolam) is
the only medication approved
by the FDA for the treatment
of Panic Disorder.
Contrary to the depiction in the
programme, my GP knows
nothing about the use of
Xanax in the treatment of
anxiety and has been scared
by propaganda into refusing
to prescribe it. Therefore, I test
the limits of legality by buying
it on the Net from overseas. I
would much prefer that my
medication was under
supervision but I have no
choice. My GP's lack of
training and knowledge
about benzos worries me far
more than their responsible
use to provide relief.
I've taken Diazepam for panic attacks for the last 7 years. Without them I wouldn't be able to travel. I suffer from bouts of depression for which I take Prozac and it is carefully monitored. I have never felt the need to continue with the Diazepam other than these moments. I'm obviously a rarity as I have an understanding Doctor and it would seem my medication is 'just right'. However, I found the results of the programme alarming and firmly put the blame on doctors who obviously have no understanding of mental health. Is it really that easy to prescribe 'another dose' rather than correctly treat the illness?
My mother died 28 years ago of an "accidental" barbiturate overdose, leaving behind 3 children who have never really recovered from her loss, or the strange and disturbing world of uppers and downers that we experienced as very young children. She was originally prescribed Purple Hearts following a domestic violence incident in the 1950's, and this began the "pills to get up, pills to go to sleep" rollercoaster. When she died, she was taking Mogadon at night and other drugs to function during the day, all with the approval and often insistence of her doctors. I am writing because I miss her, and it seems very possible that these pills were prescribed for 20 years so that she could be coped with, not so she would be helped. She died in 1973 when I was 10 years old and is no longer here to tell her story. I have lived with the result of her addiction to prescription drugs ever since.
I was left unmonitored on benzos for 17 years. Withdrawal was a nightmare - hallucinations & mania.
I have been on valium for 37 years
and still no help.
Doctors don't care for your health
My Mother took tranquillisers for over 20 years. But heroically getting herself off them 10 years ago. It has taken many years to be free of the memories. She understands and sympathises with the problem.
I found the Panorama programme extremely one sided I have been taking diazepam for over twenty years.
The only problem I have is the 'top up effect'. The drug has helped combat my IBS and so doing hold down a reasonable job. Programmes like tonight's only make me more anxious (and I imagine others like me) in the fear that my supply will be stopped. I do not know of any alternative and goodness knows I've tried a few dozen. I think it highly irresponsible not to show the good effects even for long term 'addicts' and feel the programme has certainly done me no favours.
I'm 28 and I was offered Tranquillisers by my local GP over a year ago. It came about as I have not been sleeping properly for a few years and I decided to go to my GP and seek his advice. His first reaction to my horror was to offer me Tranquillisers. I subsequently refused to affect this as a valid prescription which he seemed fine with and offered me other forms of treatment that could help with my lack of sleep. He did however offer to write me a script for Tranquillisers whenever I felt desperate enough to take them. I was not happy with the outcome of my visit to my GP. After this visit I have been very wary of going to see him on other matters in case the topic should ever occur again, as I still suffer from a lack of sleep, but I'm coping. I turned down his offer of Tranquillisers as I remembered watching the "That's Life" programme on the subject in the 80's. If I hadn't have remembered that they were additive I too may now be hooked on Tranquillisers.
I really do hope that some good comes out of this programme as it was very well made and I hope that it makes GP's stop and think before they just hand out these kinds of drugs without a backward glance as my GP tried to do with me.
Why don't any programmes on the subject of Benzodiazapines shown on the television tell the story of those/us that are left with the horrendous side affects for years after full withdrawal from these drugs. There is as many as 300 plus side affects that can occur and most have a very extreme affect on the individual with some life threatening. The depression is so severe that very many of these involuntary addicts commit suicide because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Why doesn't the programme that you portray as supposedly for and to help the people of this country show the devastation caused by these drugs and not the pathetic description of addiction that was shown last night on your Panorama programme.
I was very interested but horrified at the findings in your programme. I was prescribed Valium type drugs for about 10 years, having no idea these were addictive until the That's Life programme. I was left entirely on my own to get off the drugs and only got the courage to do so when That's Life informed me that what I was suffering was not an illness but an addiction. So I knew that if only I could stick it out, I should beat it in the end. Which I did!!
I have worked as a GP since 1952 so I think that I have understanding of the tranquilliser problem.
Even before computerisation there were always doctors who preferred to give repeat prescriptions rather than try to help patients deal with their problems. Since computerisation this tendency has become infinitely worse. It is so easy to sign a repeat script.
Only better education of patients and doctors will help.
However, there is no evidence that tranquilliser addiction will not be replaced by some other addiction, e.g. alcoholism.
I posted a message on your board the other day. I got a reply from Pam.
My nearest and dearest has been prescribed mogadon for more than 20 years. Repeat prescriptions all too easily obtained - no questions ever. Your expose has resulted in my closest person throwing away her remaining mogadon tabs. I have written to GP questioning everlasting sanction of these dreadful soul-destroying drugs. Thank you a million fold for this programme.
My husband (aged 53) has been taking tranquillisers for more than 20 years. In the late 1970s, Ativan was prescribed for Manic behaviour. He became so dependent on them that even the highest possible dose was not enough. In 1991 he went on a 3 week programme at a private hospital (paid for by my company's private health scheme) and he was weaned off them, but put on Valium. These he still takes and we feel they are no longer working for him. He has been unable to work since the mid 1980s.
Have you any suggestions as to what he can do next?
Many thanks for highlighting this major problem.
Peoples' lives have been ruined as a result of taking benzodiazepines. They've caused untold misery to the victim and their families. God knows what permanent damage these drugs may have caused. To add insult to injury, resources are not being made available, and its time plans were implemented as a major priority in order to give these people the help and support they so desperately need to come off these drugs safely. Doctors today are nothing short of drug lords, and I'm disgusted that they haven't heeded the warnings given out about tranquillisers years ago. Doctors and the pharmaceutical companies have a lot to answer for.
I have been taking Nitrazapam for 20 years, I can't stop taking them. When I was given them by a hospital Doctor I was told that they were to relax me so that I could sleep. I was not told anything about them being addictive, obviously I have found out that they are highly addictive. If I do not take them my whole body shakes to such an extent that I cannot hold a cup of tea in my hand. I also get terrifying dream's, there is much more that I can tell you about them.
I watched the programme on Panorama last night, I have been on 1mg of Lorazepam a day for the past 2 years, I've have also been on 75mg of dothiepin for the last 6 months... while I can admit that I am probably addicted to lorazepam it occurred to me whilst watching the programme that most patients who are/ have suffered using benzodiazepines...were in actual fact probably suffering from depression from the outset and therefore were prescribed the wrong treatment i.e. : they should have been prescribed Anti-depressant (of which are not addictive) instead. Also I do take great care when taking prescribed medicine, and always read the accompanying leaflets that come with my medicine. These leaflets give all the relevant info , even on side effects, prolonged usage etc: it's not only is the responsibility of doctors but also of the patients to read these leaflets.
I do not think the TV programme displayed all sides of benzo addiction. I am aware many GP's want to stop prescribing this drug but have no support i.e. CITA counsellors. The letter sent to patients offering no extra support is of little use in inner city areas, where many patients cannot read, do not understand the letter, or do not want to stop taking the drugs.
After 30 years addiction I finally withdrew from Tranxa year ago, I had no help whatsoever and no support since withdrawal. Why doesn't the Health service set up clinics for addicts wishing to withdraw? and as I see it the drug companies haven't spent one penny to help addicts
My uncle was prescribed Atavan over 25 years ago. The doctor then prescribed practically every other drug that was mentioned on your fantastic insight in to this brushed under the carpet crime. He is agoraphobic, intense mood swings and all the symptoms the programme mentioned.
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