OUR COALITION TURNS THREE
I’m happy to announce that Benzodiazepine Information Coalition turned three on August 3, 2019. So much has changed since 2016 that it’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when the changes happened. What I can say is that the future of the prescribed benzodiazepine problem no longer feels utterly hopeless. I do still believe that the majority of patients today are not receiving any sort of relevant informed consent or appropriate help when harmed. This angers me, as too many will continue to be harmed, have their suffering invalidated, or lose their lives from the lack of recognition and resources. Benzodiazepine activists are frustratingly tasked, with their own limited abilities and resources, to correct decades of harmful and inaccurate information taught to a frequently-disbelieving and sometimes-disinterested profession. That all said, I can still see this movement slowly trudging upward.
I want to quickly thank those in the healthcare profession who follow our updates — thank you for taking the time to listen. I also want to thank the media professionals, elected officials and their support staff who have taken our plight seriously and included our stories and perspectives in their work. Lastly, I want to thank the harmed patients and their loved ones for having our backs in all of our efforts. Going forward, I will compile seasonal updates to show the state of the benzodiazepine problem and the progress surrounding it. I hope you find these updates useful and informative as we watch this story evolve and change together. – Janice Curle, Founder
Our latest events, media outreach and blogs:
- We celebrated World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day July 11.
- BIC General Advisory Board members Angela Peacock, MSW and Sonja Styblo, MSW attended the National Conference on Addiction Disorders East in Baltimore where a benzo-wise talk entitled Examining the Risks and Benefits of Benzodiazepines was given by Rakesh Jain, M.D. and Saundra Jain, MA, Psy.D., LPC. We handed out 200 pamphlets and around 300 business cards. We impacted 116 prescribers and addiction professionals and had over 65 conversations.
- This Is Life With Lisa Ling on CNN posted a video announcing their upcoming 2019 season. Krissy Tyrrell, who serves on BIC’s General Advisory Board, invited Lisa Ling to her home to share her struggles with prescribed benzodiazepine harm. Her story, along with other benzodiazepine survivors, will be featured in a full episodes this season.
- Christy Huff, M.D., director of BIC, was interviewed by MK Mendoza on KSFR 101.1 FM in Sante Fe.
- BIC submitted comments in support of the FDA‘s Guidance of Industry for Drug Abuse and Dependence Section of Labeling for Human Prescription Drug and Biological Products. This document distinguishes between addiction, abuse and dependence.
- Dr. Huff was interviewed for Amy Keller, RN‘s Drug Watch article on safe prescription drug use.
- Nicole Lamberson, PA, who serves on BIC’s Medical Board, tells the story of Arnold Knutsen, an elderly former NASA analyst, and his protracted injury from lorazepam. This story appeared on Kevin Pho, MD‘s blog KevinMD.com and our own blog.
- Christy Huff, M.D. was interviewed on Erin Stair M.D.’s Cause or Cures podcast.
- Liz McCarthy, MA, LPC, serving on BIC’s Medical Advisory Board, weighs in on Ken Kaulker‘s story about an inmate death from benzodiazepine withdrawal on NBC Wood TV.
- BIC helped Emily Baucum with an NBC News for San Antonio story about benzodiazepine and pregnancy, where she interviewed Angelita Hernandez, a benzo harmed patient.
- BIC assisted Susan Samples of NBC Wood TV with her piece Xanax Withdrawal: I Was Fighting for My Life featuring benzo-harmed Sara Jane Niemczewski.
- BIC released free PDF, Nook and Kindle versions of The Ashton Manual, which is currently #1 in both psychopharmacology and drug guides on Amazon.
- Christy Huff, M.D., D. Foster of Benzo Free and Steven Wright, M.D. of The Alliance for Benzodiazepine Best Practices had a benzo meetup in Colorado.
- Angela Peacock, MSW, a member of BIC’s general advisory board appears in the upcoming feature length documentary film, Medicating Normal, directed by Lynn Cunningham and Wendy Ractliffe. Combining cinema verité and investigative journalism, Medicating Normal follows the journeys of five subjects, three of whom were initially prescribed benzodiazepines resulting in protracted injury. The film’s website and trailer will be coming out in the coming week, so stay tuned by following their Facebook page and Twitter.
- We posted a new video on our YouTube channel depicting part of the harmed patient experience. This video was used at the NCAD East conference.
These are our top benzodiazepine-focused picks:
- Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force seeks patient testimony about their experience with benzodiazepines.
- Australian Designer Aurelio Costarella shares his story of harm on with Leigh Sales of ABC Australia.
- Benzodiazepines come in third on USA Today‘s Michael B. Sauter‘s most dangerous drug’s list.
- The Mind Deconstructed Podcast: Dr. Kaz Nelson‘s Beef with Benzos.
- Benzo Free Podcast’s D. Foster interviews Steven Wright, M.D.
- Eric Knapp biked Virginia and the Carolinas to benefit BIC and benzo awareness.
The latest research we find interesting:
- Investigators Yue Leng, PhD, and Kristine Yaffe, MD, University of California, San Francisco, found that older adults who reported taking sleep medications often were more than 40% more likely to develop dementia over 15 years than their peers who rarely, or never, took sleeping pills.
- Odile Sheehy, MSc, Jin-Ping Zhao, MD, PhD, and Anick Bérard, PhD found in their nested case-control study that any benzodiazepine use during early pregnancy is associated with spontaneous abortion.
- Yale University researchers, lead by Julie Womack, PhD, CNM, FNP-BC looked at 13,000 cases of people who had fallen and found that falls are not only a concern for people over 65 but also for people in their 50s, especially in those taking certain medications like muscle relaxants, prescription opioids and benzodiazepines like Ativan or Klonopin.
- In a review by Sophie Grigoriadis, MD, PhD, combined use of benzodiazepines and antidepressants in the first trimester was linked to an increased risk for major congenital malformations in three studies.
- Babies born after being exposed to both opioids and benzodiazepines before birth are more likely to have severe drug withdrawal, requiring medications like morphine for treatment, compared to infants exposed to opioids alone, according to a Vanderbilt University Medical Center study published in Hospital Pediatrics featuring Lauren Sanlorenzo, MD, MPH.
- Although psychiatrists were significantly less like to prescribe benzodiazepine monotherapy compared with practitioners in other specialties, benzodiazepine monotherapy was used in nearly 1 in 10 office visits involving patients treated for depression, according to a nationwide study led by Mate M. Soric, PharmD, BCPS, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
- A new study from Harvard Medical School researchers Dr. Sumit Agarwal and Dr. Bruce Landon found that outpatient visits in which a benzodiazepine was prescribed doubled from 3.8% of visits in 2003 to 7.4% in 2015. While most of the prescriptions were for FDA-approved indications, such as anxiety and depression, the largest increases in prescribing were for non-FDA-approved indications, such as back pain and chronic pain. Additionally, while benzo prescriptions by psychiatrists remained stable, the proportion of primary care visits in which benzos were prescribed more than doubled.
All our work is possible because of individuals like you who support our mission. Please help us keep going!