Would you take a med for your anxiety if the doctor told you this about it?:
- It won’t fix your problem
- Your body will be addicted to it within a few months as it loses its effectiveness, and…
- When you are addicted, you will experience anxiety as a side effect of withdrawal (daily, when it’s getting close to dose time).
I’m talking about the benzodiazepine family – Xanax, Valium Klonopin, Atavin, et al – and I’m revisiting the tranquilizer problem because use of the addictive medication is growing globally. I browse various online peer support groups for anxiety, and it seems most people writing in are taking some form of medication long term, perhaps unaware they are making their problems worse.
Statistics from the American Psychiatric Institute say doctors write 50 million prescriptions a year for benzos, and that between 11-15 percent of Americans have a bottle of benzos in the house. The API report pointed out that the med is best used for short term relief of extreme anxiety. If intense fear is keeping you from working on recovery, I advise talking to your doctor about your recovery work and request a short run with a benzo –like 3 weeks max. Klonopin has the longest life cycle, meaning fewer doses per day.
I can talk about this because I was addicted to Xanax for several years. What I was taking to treat my panic attacks and agoraphobia actually delayed my recovery by years. I guarantee you cannot overcome your panic disorder and agoraphobia while you are addicted to benzos because they create anxiety. I can talk about this because I worked as a mental health social worker for 17 years and sat in with psychiatrists as they prescribed for clients of mine with a variety of mental illnesses. I’ve heard many a lecture about the dangers of benzodiazepines and have read widely on the subject.
Please listen to me. If you are not now engaged in regular work toward recovering from panic disorder, begin doing so at once and then schedule an appointment with your prescriber to begin a slow tapering off process. I went off benzos twice during my prolonged use. The first time was spread over a few months, and I felt somewhat anxious most of that time. After I was off, the anxiety totally disappeared. The second time was hard; it was in a medical addiction treatment center, and I was coming off both alcohol and Xanax. I had Valium for a couple of days, but then cold turkey.
I shook so badly for several days that feeding myself became problematic. Finally one of my fellow patients brought back from the kitchen one of those 2-foot long metal stirring spoons so I could transport food to my mouth. This could be you someday, is why I’m mentioning it.
Panic disorder can be totally overcome by anyone willing to put in the work required to re-wire the way you think, respond and create. I recently read the piece I’m providing a link for below; it’s the best story on benzos I’ve seen.