Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.
However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.
With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.
Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated
It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.
The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:
While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.
According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,
“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”
“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”
And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.
But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.
Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.
Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths
As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.
“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”
What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.
Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.
One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,
“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”
This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.
It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.
Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.
Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:
There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.
Fighting Anxiety and Addiction
Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.
In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.
However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.
Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
How much does drug abuse or narcotic medication have to do with the body-count of a killer? Is the fiction of Dr. Jekyll self-medicating with a bottle of liquid evil and mutating into Hyde an ugly and exaggerated metaphor of a more flesh and blood reality? Or is any speculation of drugs causing psychotic breaks another fear-based propaganda piece?
While the number of drug addicts far outnumbers the population of serial killers or assassins in their midst, which may make this seem like a bit of a reach, some new data is suggesting there may actually be some truth to the idea that drugs can impact the risk of homicide. So why write about it? Truthfully because it is an interesting hypothesis to explore. Could more motives for murder be chemical than personal, and does it make a difference to the average addict?
Killing in the Name Of…
Over time there’s been a lot of debate over whether psychotropic drugs, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants can create violent behavior. This discussion became even more relevant following the numerous massacres committed over the years by young individuals in schools and other public places in the United States and other countries. Many examined the lives of these troubled teens, scrutinizing their vicious crimes and placing the blame on the drugs.
Professor Jari Tiihonen’s, leader of the study, stated in regards to the research:
“It has been repeatedly claimed that it was the anti-depressants used by the persons who committed these massacres that triggered their violent behavior. It is possible that the massive publicity around the subject has already affected drug prescription practices,”
Recently there was a study published in the journal World Psychiatry that was the first of its kind… ever… in the world. This study was aimed to find the relationship between drugs and homicide and in the process the researchers found some intriguing and unexpected revelations.
Professor Tiihonen’s led an international research team at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience, where they analyzed the use of prescription drugs of 959 persons convicted of a homicide in Finland between 2003 and 2011.
The data was collected analyzing the Finnish homicide and prescription drug databases. Researchers found a pattern that associated an increased risk of committing a homicide to use of certain drugs that affect the central nervous system. So what drugs were they, and how big is the risk?
Of course to accurately study the link between drug use and the risk of committing a crime, a certain criteria must be followed, including reason for using the drug. One also has to take into account the effects of any other drugs and intoxicants used simultaneously, so not to dilute the results of one drug under the influence of another. Because no other studies like this have yet to be published further research may expand more on the conclusions drawn here.
The results show:
- Anti-psychotics not associated with a significantly increased risk of homicide
- Anti-depressants associated with slightly elevated risk (+31%)
- Benzodiazepines associated with significantly elevated risk (+45%)
So the research team found the odds of committing homicide were 31% higher during time periods when offenders were on antidepressants, versus when they were not. But while this relative increase might sound concernedly large, it actually represents a small shift in a risk that is already pretty low to begin with. So there is still doubt that this is a cause and affect scenario. And when it came to subjects younger than 26, which is the age for which concerns about antidepressants are greatest considering the numerous aforementioned tragedies, there was no connection between the medications and homicide risk.
Highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
In persons under 26 years of age, the highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
- Opiate painkillers (+223%)
- Benzodiazepines (+95%)
So the team did find that when offenders were on valid prescriptions for opiate painkillers like OxyContin their odds of committing homicide were roughly doubled, versus periods when they were off the drugs. But while the study looked at prescriptions, opiates are commonly abused, and the study concluded drug abuse could make a major difference in what makes these drugs dangerous to people with a history of aggression.
Still this data should offer some reassurance on the safety of antidepressants in that regard, according to lead researcher Dr. Jari Tiihonen, who believes as far as the science goes there’s little evidence that the medications carry such a risk. Two psychiatrists from the United States reviewed the study, and agreed with that assessment.
Cutting to Conclusions
If you have read this far, let me be clear and say I’m not asserting these statistics prove everyone who uses these drugs are killing people because of drugs, if this was the case I’d be the Patrick Bateman of my generation. It’s only referring to those people who are killing, and whether or not they are commonly using these drugs. This study is about attempting to find the connection, following the patterns and assessing the damage.
According to Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, there is no medication influential enough to turn a normally non-aggressive person into a murderer.
While no direct correlation is absolute without more solid and supportive data, this still brings to mind a pretty important question: do people who are already a little unstable or violent run a greater risk of killing someone when using painkillers or other medications? Should “may cause random homicidal outbursts and death of friends and family” be written on the pill bottle warning label?
OK, maybe not to THAT extreme… but you get where I’m going with this?
Any addict can tell you chronic drug use will mess with the mind, that should be a given and that is the point. Drugs can shatter what self-control and logic we hold tightly on to in attempts to stay normal. So this isn’t a scare tactic, it’s an acknowledgement of some extremes of the devastation. We can’t blame the drugs for murder, but can we at least look into the impact they have on a fragile mind?
In this case Dr. Jekyll would have been teetering over the psychological edge far before picking up a pill.
Benzodiazepines are said to weaken impulse control, and past studies have determined painkillers affect emotional processing. As a former addict I can say while I actively abused these exact kinds of prescription medications I see where my own emotional stability had been compromised, and where my impulses were definitely more aggressive, irrational or inappropriate. But then again, drugs take their tolls in different ways on different people. Either way, to say it doesn’t corrupt a persons reasoning is careless, but to blame murder on medication at this point may also be irresponsible.
I’m just saying I haven’t killed anyone… today…… yet.
Drugs and alcohol often change us into people even we don’t recognize, and sometimes we can’t see what a profound change these substances have on us until it’s too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Benzodiazepines (Benzo) are a class of prescription drugs that are mainly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. Examples of benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. These drugs are also highly addictive and very powerful, and benzo addiction detox is usually the best way to get off of these drugs safely.
Benzo addiction detox is necessary because benzo abuse can create several serious health issues including a physical dependence, as well as the possibility of adverse effects on cognitive function, physical health, and mental health. There is also an extensive list of the long term effects of Benzo abuse such as depression and flu-like symptoms especially during withdrawal, making benzo addiction detox all the more helpful. Due to these increasing physical and mental issues, slowly weaning off the medication is recommended for long term users, and done in a safe and controlled medical environment in a Benzo addiction detox facility.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Physical Dependence
Some of the more common symptoms that could occur as long-term effects of Benzo abuse include:
- Emotional clouding
- Sleep problems
- Memory impairment
- Personality changes
- Social deterioration
- Employment difficulties
Given these long-term effects of Benzo abuse, the Benzo addiction detox process is made more complicated when addiction in the adverse effects of benzo withdrawals.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Withdrawal Process
Symptoms of benzos detox range from mild anxiety and shakiness to extremely severe and possibly fatal health complications.
- Suicidal behavior
- Delirium tremens (“the DT’s”)
Symptoms from the DT’s are characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever, the death rate from which is estimated to range from 1% to 5%.
The worst of the symptoms become only more dangerous as they go untreated. Death can result from the withdrawal symptoms alone! Commonly death from a Benzo detox is caused by trauma to head sustained from a fall. The idea that these withdrawals are so dangerous only re-enforces the idea that Benzo addiction detox should be done with the assistance of professionals. Trying to detox from benzo addiction at home cold turkey is an unnecessary risk.
Severe Benzo withdrawal symptoms are a medical emergency. If seizures, fever, severe confusion, hallucinations, or irregular heartbeats occur, either take the patient to an emergency room or call 911.
Benzo Addiction Detox: The Professional Treatment
Benzo addiction detox is designed to safely and consistently provide the highest level of professional patient care. The facilities at this level of care are full of staff with extensive experience with related fields of therapy and holistic care, and with the health insurance industry. In order to create the most influential and positive changes necessary for rehabilitation, Benzo addiction detox facilities actively offer personalized detox and aftercare programs. It is very important to give patients a variety of treatment methods and supports to choose from.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Affordable Care
Benzo addiction detox programs can appreciate how serious this addiction is. Plenty of changes that make it necessary to offer a new model of alcohol and drug addiction treatments have taken place in recent years, and Benzo addiction detox facilities do their best to facilitate the highest quality of care without financially creating obstacles for the family.
This way Benzo addiction detox programs give those who are struggling hope, so that they can receive the therapy and health care they need, with options for loan assistance for all who qualify and other payment arrangements. Doing everything possible to provide quality treatment in the most cost-effective way is an important element of Benzo addiction detox treatment programs.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Strong Medical Staff
Benzo addiction detox programs are complete with nursing and other medical staff that is experienced in the area of drug addiction, substance abuse, and alcohol addiction. Benzo addiction detox centers strive to create an experience where the staff is attentive, supportive, and innovative. Any symptoms or withdrawals should be addressed and cared for with compassion and done as effectively as possible.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Continued Recovery
Benzo addiction detox is designed to attempt to educate patients on the continued process of recovery from addiction and substance abuse. The disease of addiction is one that does entail staying active and growing after detox, and there are all types of treatment programs and after-care resources included after completing a Benzo addiction detox. These programs teach patients new ways to work on self-improvement, coping skills and continued recovery to build their recovery structure for a new life.
Benzo addiction, or any addiction for that matter is dangerous and can be fatal. The toll that substance abuse and addiction takes on an individual is mental, physical, and emotionally debilitating, and can cause residual pain and suffering, which can even hurt the addicts loved ones. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Between 1/3 and 1/2 of all Americans have some level of insomnia and complain of poor sleep, and many of them have opted to the quick fix and looked into sleeping pills to solve that problem. While these medications may be effective at ending your sleep problems, this solution should definitely be only considered short-term. It is important to make sure you understand everything you need to know about sleeping pills, because it is very possible to become addicted to sleeping pills. That includes knowing about sleeping pill side effects. Most sleeping pills are labeled as ‘sedative hypnotics’. That’s a specific class of drugs used to induce or maintain sleep. Sedative hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics.
Benzodiazepines include anti-anxiety medications such as:
While these drugs may be useful short-term, all benzodiazepines are potentially addictive, so it is especially easy to become addiction to sleeping pills of this category.
Barbiturates is another drug credited to this sedative-hypnotic class. These medications depress the central nervous system and can cause sedation. Short or long-acting barbiturates can sometimes be prescribed as sedatives or sleeping pills, but more commonly these hypnotic drugs are limited to use as anesthesia. Side effects of prescription sleeping pills can include:
- Burning or tingling ligaments
- Changes in appetite
- Constipation and/or Diarrhea
- Dry mouth or throat
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Unusual dreams
If you have been relying on sleeping pills long enough, it is very possible you have become addicted to sleeping pills. While some may just feel like it becomes a habit that can be easily stopped but excuse it as a minor inconvenience, they are only ignoring a real problem and prolonging a possibly painful recovery. Being addicted to sleeping pills is a struggle, in every waking moment for most addicts. To help identify the problem, here are 9 signs you’re addicted to sleeping pills.
- You find it hard to cope without sleeping pills
Like any addiction, when the substance is removed the coping skills go right out the window. This is just as true with sleeping pills as with any other illicit narcotic.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms
There is a possibility of having serious physical withdrawal once you have stopped using sleeping pills. Like most drugs, a physical dependency on the chemical develops after a period of using long enough.
- You have an obsession for trying to obtain these drugs
It is no secret that when you are addicted to sleeping pills, like every other addiction, you will develop an obsession with getting more of the drug. Whether you excuse it with seeking out sleep, experiencing withdrawal, or just need it to feel OK.
- Increased tolerance to the drug
After using sleeping pills for long enough and becoming addicted to sleeping pills, your tolerance for the effects of the medication will increase. Your body will get used to the chemical reaction, and you will require more and more of the substance to get the desired effect.
- Loss of interest in hobbies
One of the most underestimated characteristics of any addiction is how it effects the things we are most passionate for. When you are addicted to sleeping pills, you lose interest in your hobbies and the things in life that make you happy. Your attention will focus on those pills, how to get more, and sleeping them off in between using.
- Deterioration of hygiene
Drug addicts tend to stop taking care of ourselves when we give all our focus to chasing and abusing drugs. Being addicted to sleeping pills also does real damage to hygiene and grooming.
- Defensiveness or denial
Drug addicts are notorious for not wanting to admit to our problems. We often fight back and become overly defensive or protective of our drug use, and can spend a decent amount of time in denial that there is even a problem. With those who are addicted to sleeping pills this may be especially true because they believe it is a necessity to get rest, and these pills are the only way to do so. This denial will hold them back from getting real help.
- Lack of Responsibility
Letting hygiene and hobbies fall apart is one thing, but letting everything that you are personally and socially responsible for suffer as a result of you being addicted to sleeping pills is a definite sign you need to seek help. When you are risking your job, your home, or especially your family over sleeping pills, it has crossed a line and getting help is vital.
- Inability to reduce dosage
When you are unable to stop taking as much as you have gotten used to, or even lower the dosage a little bit without suffering from painful and troubling withdrawals, than you need to seek medical help, and more specifically substance abuse treatment. This shows that you are physically as well as mentally addicted to sleeping pills and the physical dependence can be even more dangerous.
Newer medications help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. These sleep-inducing drugs are said to be non-habit forming. They work quickly to increase drowsiness and sleep. There are also more natural methods of sleep-aid that are available, and if you seek treatment for being addicted to sleeping pills you will most likely be educated on more health and sustainable alternatives. Sleep is an important part of life, but if you are addicted to sleeping pills, it might be time to wake up to the dangers your exposing yourself to. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
When you are trying to get off of drugs or alcohol, looking for detox centers in Portsmouth, RI might be just what you need. Whether you are using cocaine, heroin, alcohol or benzos, going to detox can be very beneficial. It can get you started properly on the path to recovery and long-term sobriety.
Detox Centers in Portsmouth, RI: Detoxification
The very first thing any addict or alcoholic will have to do to get sober is go through detoxification. At detox centers in Portsmouth, RI, they will first drug test you and evaluate you to see what type of detox is required for you specifically. There are different withdrawal symptoms for each substance and the withdrawals for alcohol and benzodiazepines can be deadly. With withdrawals, you usually experience fatigue, hot and cold sweats and chills, anxiety, stress, tremors, shakes, seizures, vomiting and many more symptoms. Going to detox centers in Portsmouth, RI can assure that you go through the process safe & comfortably.
Detox Centers in Portsmouth, RI: Treatment
After you have detoxed all of the drugs and alcohol out of your body, the next step (if you want to achieve long-term sobriety) is going into a treatment facility. The purpose of going to a treatment center is to learn more about the disease of addiction and find ways to stay sober. In rehab they have you meet regularly with a therapist and go to group therapy sessions. To help you learn how to stay sober they usually take you to 12-step meetings with all the other clients and let you get acquainted with the recovery community around you. You learn life skills and how to be a functioning member of society in a treatment facility.
Detox Centers in Portsmouth, RI: IOP & Sober Living
Once you have finished your period of in-patient treatment, it will be time to go to out-patient treatment. In out-patient, otherwise known as IOP, they have you come to the treatment center a couple of times a week for group therapy and continue seeing your therapist. This is so you are still being held accountable but have a lot more freedom and can live outside of the rehab facility. They typically recommend you go to a sober living environment like a halfway house. In a halfway house you are continuously drug tested, expected to pay rent on time, clean the house, have a job and attend meetings.
Detox Centers in Portsmouth, RI: Meetings
Going to 12-step meetings (AA, CA, NA, etc.) is definitely what has kept me sober to this day. After treatment, it was nice to go to the meetings and be around the fellowship and create a support system. I definitely suggest finding meetings that work for you and making it a part of your daily routine to attend them after you finish rehab. If you go to detox centers in Portsmouth, RI they can show you how good life can be when you’re in recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.