I recently wrote a blog called “Recycling Amphetamines” about the Adderall epidemic but Benzos may present a worse problem. I’ll quote from the article “The Mystery of the Terrifying Xanax Resurgence in America.” This in depth historical article states that the opioid epidemic was caused by aggressive pharmaceutical marketing, but marketing doesn’t account for the deadly rise in benzodiazepines.
More people died of opioid overdose but statistically between 1999 and 2016 opioid deaths increased by a factor of 5, but the overdose deaths due to benzos rose by a factor of 8.
Valium was given the despicable name “Mother’s Little Helper” because they said it helped Mom get through the day! On their own, benzos are bad enough but they get much worse when mixed with alcohol and opioids. And who doesn’t mix their drugs and alcohol! That’s probably why the benzo death rate is climbing. In fact, 30% of the opioid deaths are caused by fatal mixtures of the two types of drugs.
The benzo brand names are Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Librium and Klonopin. In the 1960’s Valium was all the rage. I remember it being part of the culture in evidence on TV and in movies. In my private practice from 1979, women would tell me they had been on Valium and had a hard time getting off. The drug label insert says “for short term use only.” That “rule” is rarely followed and patients take the drug for years at a time, become addicted and then have a terrible time going off it.
According to Spice writer Alan Cabal “The popularity of Xanax accounts for a lot of the idiocy I see on the road. People who wouldn’t dream of drinking and driving think nothing of getting behind the wheel on Xanax. That’s a really bad idea. Xanax has a much more profound impact on response time, not to mention that it induces a sort of blissful apathy that’s not conducive to any sort of quick decision-making.”
I have customers who have been on benzos for years who are struggling to get off them. Medical intervention can have them admitted to drug detox clinics and put on drugs like Neurontin to help them withdraw. Then they have to detox and wean off Neurontin in a never ending cycle of harm.
There is also a vicious cycle that’s created with magnesium deficiency causing symptoms of anxiety and tension that are treated with benzos. All drugs will increase magnesium deficiency and make symptoms worse, resulting in taking more drugs. A magnesium RBC test may help to uncover a magnesium deficiency. However, the test range is going to reflect the fact that 80% of the population may be deficient in magnesium. This means you want your levels to be in the upper 20%. If the magnesium RBC is 3.8-6.8, you may want to be above 6.
Magnesium is necessary for the function of 700-800 different enzyme systems in the body. It can help detox medications and heavy metals, relax muscles, calm nerves, help you sleep at night and give you energy during the day. All these functions can help you overcome symptoms of a benzo addiction especially if magnesium deficiency is the reason you began the drug in the first place.
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Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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