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Benzodiazepine-Induced Brain Injury: The Hidden Prescription Epidemic
November 1, 2021
The session features presenters:
Nicole Lamberson, PA, of Benzodiazepine Information Coalition’s Medical Advisory Board
John Staight, patient advocate
Alexis Ritvo, MD, co-chair of Benzodiazepine Action Work Group
D.E. Foster, co-chair of Benzodiazepine Action Work Group, Benzo Free Podcast, Easing Anxiety
Moderator: Jamie Feld, MPH
There is a growing crisis of patient harm from prescribed benzodiazepines, a class of medications traditionally prescribed for anxiety, sleep and anesthesia. While benzodiazepines have some limited indications, they are often prescribed in the absence of adequate research and for far longer than the recommended time limitation of 2-4 weeks. In September 2020, the FDA added a boxed warning to prescription benzodiazepines. This warning states that “Physical dependence can occur when benzodiazepines are taken steadily for several days to weeks, even as prescribed.” And that “Stopping them abruptly or reducing the dosage too quickly can result in withdrawal reactions, including seizures, which can be life-threatening.” Unfortunately, much of the public and many healthcare providers are unaware of this warning. Studies report 10-44% of chronic benzodiazepine users experience moderate to severe protracted withdrawal symptoms upon cessation lasting months to years; some have suggested calling this phenomena “Benzodiazepine Induced Brain Injury” or “Benzodiazepine Injury Syndrome”. This session looks at the benzodiazepine crisis from the perspectives of medical professionals, affected patients, and community organizers. The goal of this session to increase knowledge about safer prescribing and deprescribing of benzodiazepines.