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    Tuesday, August 25, 2009


    The use of "benzodiazepines, often prescribed to manage anxiety, panic, and sleep disorders," has increased "rapidly in the past 30 years. But critics say their long-term effects have gone largely unaddressed." Some "critics say benzodiazepines are broadly over-prescribed, can have serious side effects with estimates that 10 to 20 percent of those taking the drugs for extended periods will have problems with dose escalation and physical dependence. Benzodiazepines, often prescribed to manage anxiety, panic and sleep disorders, include Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin. Originally pushed as an alternative to barbiturates, their use has grown rapidly in the past 30 years.
    But critics say their long-term effects have gone largely unaddressed. Health professionals and consumers are increasingly recognizing that taking the drugs for more than a few weeks can lead to physical dependence, often ending with a grueling withdrawal.

    Some physicians are now prescribing "selective serotonin reuptake replace benzodiazepines." SSRIs are thought to be a safer alternative for panic and anxiety disorders, with less risk for dependence and a less dangerous withdrawal.

    In 2008, 85 million prescriptions were filled for the top 20 benzodiazepines, an increase of 10 million over 2004. The drugs bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, intensifying the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. "So pretty much it kind of tells your brain to slow down," creating a calming effect. But in some people, that can lead to memory loss and impaired motor skills.

    Critics say benzodiazepines are broadly over-prescribed and can have serious side effects. Some patients find themselves on high dosages after a few years because their bodies need more of the drug to get the same effect, according to health experts.

    The ordeal of withdrawing from benzodiazepines can rival that of kicking a heroin habit, according to some who have had success. Abrupt withdrawal can result in hallucinations, seizures and even death, experts say.

    Please remember, as with all our articles we provide information, not medical advice.
    For any treatment of your own medical condition you must visit your local doctor, with or without our article[s]. These articles are not to be taken as individual medical advice.


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