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Call to Action: Support a Bill for Informed Benzodiazepine Use


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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/

I am not a medical professional and nothing I say is a medical opinion or meant to be medical advice, please seek a competent and trusted medical professional to consult for all medical decisions.

 

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Done my part...

 

"Dear Representative Livingstone and Representative Toomey,

I hope you are able to take a brief moment to read my note. From 2009 to 2012 I was a graduate student and active duty US Navy Officer at MIT. I lived both in East Cambridge and Beacon Hill during this period. In 2010 the combination of a rigorous academic program and failed relationship led me to the MIT Mental Health Clinic with anxiety and stress related mild depression. The decision to seek help from mental health professionals has been the greatest mistake and regret of my life.

I was prescribed Ativan (a benzodiazepine) and told simply to "take as needed" by the psychiatrist. No explanation of its strong dependency forming characteristics and adverse side effects was given to me. Being a naval officer, it should go without saying that I have never used illicit substances or abused prescription drugs and was entirely naive when it came to benzodiazepines.

Over the course of a year, I developed a physical dependency to the Ativan and exhibited neuromuscular symptoms that resembled MS and Parkinson's. My mental torment and despair after discontinuing Ativan was nothing less than horrific and cannot be captured in words. The experience tore apart my life, took my career, and nearly resulted in suicide.

This experience WAS ENTIRELY PREVENTABLE and I know and fear for the tens of thousands of other Americans being haphazardly given this class of medications without giving informed consent. The scientific research and the anecdotal evidence has shown that this class of drugs is far more damaging and dependency forming than heroine, opiates and alcohol. The withdrawal (both acute and post-acute) from benzodiazepines lasts years, and for some, a lifetime.

I implore you to consider the damage the pharmaceutical industry is imparting on your constituents with the irresponsible and haphazard prescription of these drugs by medical doctors.

HD.4554 will save lives. It will serve as a model for reigning in the careless prescribing of psychiatric medications that have destroyed millions of lives, one of which is mine.

Sincerely,

David X. XXXX "

Year 0:      Social anxiety, obsessive thoughts, NO depression, NO suicidal ideations

Years 1-2: Ativan (benzo) <1mg as needed, not abused but developed physical dependence

Years 2-3: Paxil (20mg) augmented with Adderall XR (10-20mg) due to withdrawal from Ativan

Years 3-Present: Severe depression, headaches, psychiatric hospitalization, lost job, etc.

 

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Thank you for this David, your letter is very articulate and your story very compelling.

I am not a medical professional and nothing I say is a medical opinion or meant to be medical advice, please seek a competent and trusted medical professional to consult for all medical decisions.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's an update:

 

http://www.madinamerica.com/2016/03/call-to-action-massachusetts-bill-h4062-for-informed-benzodiazepine-use-is-official/

 

This is now open to any person to participate in from any other state or country.  Please send your stories of benzodiazepine harm!

I am not a medical professional and nothing I say is a medical opinion or meant to be medical advice, please seek a competent and trusted medical professional to consult for all medical decisions.

 

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