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  1. By Alison Page Featured Blogs February 26, 2016 Massachusetts Bill HD 4554, also named “An Act relative to benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics,” needs to gain sufficient state representative support by Tuesday, March 1, 2016 so it can then come before the appropriate committee for an official vote. Only five days away! What is Bill HD 4554? This bill will put restrictions on the prescribing of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine sleep aids. It will require that all patients be informed of the potential dangers of these drugs, specifically the dangers of long-term use. If the bill passes, many people will be spared from the unnecessary and long-term suffering that taking prescribed benzodiazepines and sleep aids can cause. Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers including: Ativan, lorazepam, clonazepam, Klonopin, Xanax, alprazolam, Restoril, Valium, and many others. This bill will also regulate sleep drugs like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. These are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world today, and there is currently little acknowledgement of their dangers. What are the specifics of Bill HD 4554? Anyone receiving a benzodiazepine prescription will receive a written informed consent form from their doctor stating the risks of taking this class of drugs. The consent form will ensure that patients understand that benzodiazepines and sleep aids can lead to physical dependence, and in some cases, addiction. The consent form will also specify that long-term use is contraindicated. Benzodiazepine prescriptions will be written on brightly colored paper to ensure that patients know that they are receiving a potentially harmful substance that could lead to physiological dependence or addiction. No patient will be taken off benzodiazepines or sleep aids without their full consent. No patient will be “cold turkeyed” off their prescription. For patients choosing to come off, a safe taper schedule will be implemented. Drug labels will also specify that long-term use is contraindicated. If the bill passes, and the prospects are looking good, a committee will be established to set up a safe tapering protocol. Doctors will be mandated to follow this protocol and will no longer be able to haphazardly taper or “cold turkey” their patients off benzodiazepines. The committee will include doctors and representatives from the psychiatric recovery community, and will pull from pre-existing tapering protocols such as the Ashton Manual. MORE HERE: http://www.madinamerica.com/2016/02/call-to-action-support-a-bill-for-informed-benzodiazepine-use-2/
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