Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Ambien, and other Benzos - Should not be taken longer than the recommended 1 month
Posted Jan 04 2012 3:09pm
The benzodiazepines family of medications has been around for almost 50 years. The first "blockbuster" of the family was Valium and was a huge superstar. An entire generation of people freely took Valium and other benzodiazepines as if it were no different from aspirin.
In one clinical study over 25% of the people were taking two benzodiazepines at a time. The second benzodiazepine having been added to the prescription when the first stopped working.
In the late 1970s benzodiazepines became the most commonly prescribed of all drugs in the world. Their effects of sedation, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsants and muscle relaxant and alleged lack of dependence potential made them ideal drugs for many common conditions and were freely prescribed.
Benzodiazepines were prescribed long-term to people, often for many years, for complaints of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and everyday stress. They proved to be quite effective at first for these conditions, and seemed harmless, but harmless they were not. More than one-third of people taking benzodiazepines for anxiety for more than one month become dependent on them.
By the early 1980s long-term users themselves had realized that the drugs lost effectiveness over time and instead benzodiazepines became noted for its adverse effects. Patients found it difficult to stop taking benzodiazepines because of withdrawal symptoms and many complained of benzodiazepine addiction.
In 2008, 85 million prescriptions were filled for the top 20 benzodiazepines, an increase of 10 million over 2004, according to IMS Health. Included were 66,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, according to a study by Department of Veterans Affairs physicians.
Tolerance to the anti-anxiety effects of benzodiazepines develops slowly and over a few months. Long-term use does little to control and may even aggravate, anxiety. Dosage escalation occurs in users for the anti-anxiety relief. In one clinical study over 25% of the people were taking two benzodiazepines at a time. The second benzodiazepine having been added to the prescription when the first stopped working.