Approximately 30 million individuals in the United States are utilizing benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, which accounts for around 12.5% of the adult population. For many years, medical professionals and psychiatrists have prescribed these medications to address anxiety. However, a recent investigation has unveiled that the use and cessation of benzodiazepines can lead to detrimental effects on the nervous system and overall quality of life.
According to a team of researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, individuals who are in the process of discontinuing Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin experience notable withdrawal symptoms.
“Despite the fact that benzodiazepines have been widely prescribed for decades, this survey presents significant new evidence that a subset of patients experiences long-term neurological complications,” said Alexis Ritvo, M.D, M.P.H., an assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and medical director of the nonprofit Alliance for Benzodiazepine Best Practices. She emphasized the need for the medical community to reassess its approach to prescribing benzodiazepines, Zerohedge reports.
The research was conducted in collaboration between CU Anschutz, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and various advocacy groups focused on raising awareness about the harmful effects of benzodiazepines.
“Patients have been reporting long-term effects from benzodiazepines for over 60 years. I am one of those patients. Even though I took my medication as prescribed, I still experience symptoms on a daily basis at four years off benzodiazepines. Our survey and the new term BIND (benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction) give a voice to the patient experience and point to the need for further investigations,” said Christy Huff, MD, one of the paper’s coauthors and a cardiologist and director of Benzodiazepine Information Coalition.
Approximately 76.6% of the participants experienced persistent symptoms following the discontinuation of benzodiazepine usage. Nearly half of the respondents reported enduring these ten symptoms for a duration exceeding one year:
- low energy
- difficulty focusing
- memory loss
- sensitivity to light and sounds
- digestive problems
- symptoms triggered by food and drink
- muscle weakness
- body pain
The study's most concerning aspect was that the aforementioned symptoms were novel and distinct, not encountered by the respondents before their use of Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Many participants disclosed adverse consequences such as strained relationships, unemployment, and heightened medical expenses. Additionally, 54.4% of the respondents revealed experiencing suicidal thoughts or having made suicide attempts.