This is something of an incoherent article and I'm not sure what its real point is. While I have no doubt that the NHS does take benzodiazepines more seriously than the US system it does not take the addiction question anywhere near as seriously as it should do. If you include drugs such as zopiclone, zaleplon and zimovane (broadly similar in their effects), prescription levels in the UK are rising not falling, creating new addicts continuously in spite of the victims of historic prescribing being left to fend for themselves. Nasty things do migrate from the US to the UK but there is no justification for an American continuing love affair with tranquillisers to assist in the resurrection and rehabilitation of a truly devastating class of drugs here.
From The Sunday Times September 6, 2009 The growth of prescription drug addiction
I discovered that the relaxing haze Xanax induced was rather essential on all flights, anxiety or no anxiety Laurel Ives
The revelation about the mass of prescription drugs that were pumped around Michael Jackson’s body by his enabling doctor reminded me of a brief flirtation with the world of tranquillisers when I was living in New York. It was soon after 9/11, and having witnessed the terrorist attacks, I was jittery about a flight to LA. A friend suggested Xanax, one of the family of so-called benzodiazepine drugs that includes Valium, so off I went to my dishy doctor. Xanax was duly prescribed with a bedside manner (“Any questions or concerns?”). I discovered that the relaxing haze it induced was rather essential on all flights, anxiety or no anxiety. Fortunately, I was on a repeat prescription. No questions asked. As long as I had the $80 or thereabouts (insurance paid some, but by no means all, of the bill), the pills were mine.
Back in the UK, it was a different story. Contemplating the jet lag of an upcoming trip to Malaysia, I went to my GP to get sleeping pills. Once I’d convinced him I wasn’t an addict (he barely looked up from his pad during this “conversation”), I left with a prescription for four pills. Four! I felt as I imagine my toddler feels when I won’t allow her a second helping of ice cream.
Yet, in a way, the old-fashioned stuffiness that takes drugs like these seriously was reassuring. Prescription pill-popping has become fashionable in America — after all, why risk a brush with the law when you can get a legal high that is reliably pure without any dodgy dealing? The Wire may dramatise the story of the poor skulking on corners to score heroin for a few dollars, but for celebs and the aspirant middle-class mainstream with the financial means, the man in the white coat has become the pusher in chief.
One expat friend in New York got so hooked on Ambien (the sleeping pill of choice in the States), it wasn’t until she returned to Blighty that she was able to go to bed without it. Most trends wend their way across the Atlantic, however bastardised they become on the way (just look at what we did to nail bars). The number of prescription drugs dispensed in the UK rose by 5.8% last year, that 1970s staple Valium is back in fashion and, in recent weeks, we have heard about the death of a talented young student who took a drug — GBL, used in nail-polish remover — that we didn’t even know people were abusing. Yet experts at the Priory say it can take six months to get an addict off Valium, whereas heroin can take a measly 10 days. Yes, the NHS may be crusty and stuffy, but in this case (and there aren’t many), substance is definitely better than style. Comments
jay herron wrote:
I was prescribed Xanax in the generic name of Alprazolam. I was also needing comfort while flying to Hawaii-I suffer from anxiety related to PTSD. (BTW-I am a US citizen-our Veterans Administration medical system gave me the drugs) The effects were good in the beginning-I was given a prescription and refill that lasted me almost 200 days. I became strange-strange enough it bothered me and I dumped them.
Being a former 'coke' addict-I can say honestly,cocaine was easier and faster to shed my body clean. I read-Alprazolam is also used to treat dogs that have behavior problems. I learned that NO ONE is to have more than a 14 day supply/treatment. I learned the chemical builds up in our brain and 'time releases' over months. It took months-MONTHS to be be clean, and the sickness and withdrawals were misery. Never again.
And-the States call marijuana dangerous?
Michelle Wiley wrote:
I'm currently going through a hell of a withdrawal from Ativan. It has taken me a month just to cut 1/8 of the dose, and I have health issues now from it. If anyone out there is thinking about taking these drugs, please think again. Try exercise, a change in diet, meditation...all of these can help anxiety. These drugs can actually make it worse if you take them on a regular basis.
I'm an educated person, but I wasn't educated enough. I never thought I'd be an addict.
ros levine wrote:
Six months to taper safely off tranguilisers is a very optimistic evaluation. Depending on how long they hae been taken can take years. Cold turkey can be extremely unpleasant and even in some cases cause death. Some people can become chemically adicted after just 2 weeks. The recent advice that you can become chemically addicted to painkillers after just 3 days should also be applied to these drugs. Some people can get away with it but many are left with long-term withdrawal that is devastating. doctors need to become more educated about the Ashton manual.