Is Your Drug a Benzodiazepine or Z-Drug?
What Is Informed Consent
Informed consent is the process by which doctors empower patients with sufficient information to accept or decline treatment based on a full understanding of the relevant risks, benefits, and uncertainties related to the proposed intervention, as well as alternatives. For more information, see here.
How Many People Take Prescribed Benzodiazepines?
While exact numbers are difficult to come by, an industry study conducted in 2012 found that 94 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines were filled annually in the United States.
What Is The Difference Between Benzodiazepines and Z-Drugs?
Non-benzodiazepines (“Z-drugs”) are a class of psychoactive drugs that are benzodiazepine-like in nature. Non-benzodiazepine pharmacodynamics offer very similar benefits, side-effects, and risks as benzodiazepines. However, non-benzodiazepines have different chemical structures, and therefore differ from benzodiazepines on a molecular level.
What Are the Side Effects of Long Term Benzodiazepine Prescription?
Common side effects include memory and cognitive impairment, increased or new sleep impairments, increased or new anxiety, neuropathy, pins and needles sensations, unexplained new health or psychiatric problems, increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lack of balance with an increased risk of falling and related physical injuries, digestion issues, sleep apnea, and tremors. For a more complete list of side effects, see here.
What is Considered Long Term Use of Benzodiazepines?
Anything longer than 2-4 weeks.
What is Tolerance?
Tolerance occurs when a higher dose of the drug is needed to achieve the same response achieved initially. Tolerance can be likened to a mini withdrawal for someone dependent on benzodiazepines, because the body demands the drug, and is technically receiving the drug but is too acclimated to the dose to respond in the intended manner.
What is Interdose Withdrawal?
Interdose withdrawal refers to the withdrawal effect experienced when the drug wears off prior to the next scheduled dose.
Do Most Patients Who Have a Benzodiazepine Injury Know They Have One?
No. Patients, especially those still on the drug, tend to experience multiple “unexplained” issues and receive multiple incorrect diagnoses.
Do Benzodiazepines Interfere with Mental Health Therapy?
Yes. They impede the ability to retain information and form memories, which are essential for the most highly effective anxiety therapies, CBT and exposure therapy. They can also interfere with EMDR and first-line PTSD trauma processing therapies.
What Are the Risks with Low Dose Benzodiazepines?
“Low dose” terminology is deceptive. Even 0.5 milligram of Klonopin (equivalent to roughly 10 milligrams of Valium) can create dependence after two weeks and requires a slow taper. For more on benzodiazepine dosages and risks, see here.
Do All Patients Experience Negative Side Effects?
No. Some patients do not experience any detrimental side effects while taking benzodiazepines. In other cases, they do experience side effects — such as digestive issues, autoimmune or thyroid problems — which are misdiagnosed or not correctly attributed to the drug.
Are Benzodiazepines a Concern for the Elderly?
Very much so. Benzodiazepines appear on the BEERS List for Potentially Inappropriate Drugs for Elderly. In spite of this, elderly prescriptions continue to rise.
Why Does the Department of Veteran's Affairs Say Veteran's Shouldn't Use Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are contraindicated in PTSD, can exacerbate depression, and are especially dangerous to anyone on opiates, all of which are situations many veterans experience.
Are Benzodiazepines Safe for Pregnant Women?
Benzodiazepines can complicate pregnancy, and create dependent babies.
Can Children Be Harmed By Benzodiazepines?
Children can be harmed just like adults. Many children under the age of 10 tapering off benzodiazepines like Onfi (clobazam) experience more severe issues than adults.
What is Irresponsible Use of Benzodiazepines?
Irresponsible use is daily or frequent use beyond 2-4 weeks. Occasional or “as needed use” that is not daily or biweekly for more than 2-4 weeks rarely creates dependency problems but may still subject patients to other problems associated with the drug.
Which Benzodiazepine is the Safest to Take?
There are no notable differences in safety for any of the classes of benzodiazepines. We see an equal amount of injury from each brand within the class. They all have comparable side effects and all can result in tolerance, withdrawal, post acute withdrawal and disability. Some prescribers believe Klonopin, Ativan or Onfi are non-dependency causing. These beliefs are patently false.
Frequently Asked Questions About BIC
Why Was Benzodiazepine Information Coalition Founded?
Benzodiazepine-injured patients, who grew tired of suffering in silence, decided to take action and spread awareness and advocacy for patients about the benzodiazepine epidemic.
Are Donations Tax Deductible?
Yes, BIC has 501(c)3 non-profit status
In What Capacity Does BIC Aid Benzodiazepine Injured Individuals?
BIC provides resources on their website, instigates media coverage and research, and networks with medical professionals to break the silence around this epidemic and to bring benzodiazepine injury to the forefront of medical discussion.
Can BIC Help With a Benzodiazepine Taper or Problem?
We provide resources and recommended providers and support groups. We can not help individuals with specific cessation questions or support, and do not answer these questions. For more on specific providers and support groups, see here.
Is Benzodiazepine Information Coalition an Anti-Medicine Movement?
Absolutely not. BIC exists to educate on the dangers of benzodiazepines only.
Does Benzodiazepine Information Coalition Seek to Ban Benzodiazepines?
No. Due to the complicated and potentially disabling nature of benzodiazepine cessation, we firmly believe each patient has the right to a fully informed consent in choosing if and when to take benzodiazepines, and to choose a taper rate of their own when they decide to stop taking them.
We hope to prevent further patient injury by providing accurate information on the risks of benzodiazepine use. We understand that the most complicated and dangerous aspect of benzodiazepine use is cessation; the last thing we want to see is an outright ban on benzodiazepines that would result in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
How Do I Make a Media Request or Interview?
Contact us at [email protected]