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Report on my radio interview today


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See my earlier thread where I said I was invited as a guest on a radio programme to talk about benzos.


Here is a brief report on what happened.


The interview went well and some who listened told me it was very informative.


Pippa Jones, the presenter opened the show with an interview with Prof. David Taylor, Director of Pharmcy and Pathology at Maudsley Hospital in London and Prof., of Psychopharmacology at Kings College, London.


The questions and answers went as follows (I made notes, I think this might be a very long thread):


Q. Tell us the history of benzodiazapines?

A. They were developed in the late 1950's - 1960's  You ahd Librium, Valium Ativan etc.  They were widely used for general anxiety, distress, sometimes epilepsy, sleeping tablets.  The use is much less now but still quite widespread.


Q. How do benzodiazapines work?

A. There is a chemical in the brain called gaba.  These chemicals work on receptors.  Benzodiazapines also work on the same receptors of the brain and have the same effect as gaba to reduce anxiety, to help sleep, to reduce epileptic seizures etc.


Q. In the 1950's and 1960's these drugs were prescribed quite freely in the UK.  Does this mean that we never heard about any possible addictions then?  Or has this been swept under the carpet?

A. In those days they used to give barbiturates rather than benzodiazapines for anxiety.  Barbiturates were very dangerous and you could die from an overdoes.  Benzodiazapines were thought much safer as you cannot die from an overdose.  People saw them in relative terms as very good - in absolute terms there have been problems.  Sometimes we produce something better but fail to see problems that might occur.


Q. What is the link with taking them safely and not having terrifying episodes with withdrawal?

A. Benzodiazapines remain very useful medicines and when properly prescribed can be helpful.  It should be said that their benefits outweigh the risks if used less than a month.  Even so, the benefits are best realised by taking them every other day or other night.  Taking benzodiazapines daily for several months or several years will cause withdrawal problems.


In these days in the UK, it is very unusual to be prescribed a prolific amount of benzodiazapines.  GPs have, as far as possible, been well-versed in the dangers of overprescription of these drugs.  GP's are relucant to continue prescribing benzodiazapines in the UK.  They have caught on to the benzo trap in the UK.


Q. What are the symptoms of benzodiazapine withdrawal?

A.  Most people wouldn't know they were addicted until they stop taking them.  If you take them daily you wouldn't know you were addicted.  Only when you try to stop taking them you may have problems.  Maybe not straight away, maybe a week later you will experience symptoms.  There is no craving of the drug but you have discontinuation symptoms like: anxiety, insomnia, vivid dreams, flu-like symptoms, out of body experiences.  There are limitless symptoms.


Q. How are people advised to withdraw from benzodiazapines in the UK?

A. The easier benzodiazapines to give to people are the longer-acting ones like valium.  If you are not already on valium, you are generally switched to it and your dose is accordingly reduced by a small proportion each week, then the severity of the discontinuation symptoms is reduced though they may be for a longer period.  This method is generally successful. 


Q. Can the withdrawal symptoms from the longer acting as well as the shorter acting  benzodiazapines last for years?

A. Yes, this is a subject of some argument because the medical view is that symptoms may last from 4 - 6 weeks.  However some people claim years later they are still suffering from benzowithdrawal.  It is not altogether clear although doctors do come across some continuing withdrawal cases.  It is possible they may be protracted or yes, there may be a permanent change in the neurological structure of the brain.


Q. What would you prescribe in place of valium?

A. For epilepsy use of benzodiazapines is useful to offset epileptic fits.  For insomnia there are Z drugs now that act in a similar way to benzodiazapines and are restricted in range of time for use.  For anxiety, I would prescribe the new SSRI's which can be more effective in treating anxiety.


Q. Can you mix benzodiazapines with alcohol?

A. The advice is not to take alcohol and benzodiazapines together - they have the same similar actions on the GABA receptors.  Can cause very profound uncoordinatoin, sedation and at times can lead to death by inhibiting breathing.  BUT benzos in high doses are usually used to treat alcoholism as they can lessen the effects of alcohol withdrawal.


Then Prof. Taylor had to go to give a lecture.


I was asked about my story - I explained about having a panic attack, being given 3mg Alprazolam a day, getting dependant after 3 or 4 days, my Valium taper and the withdrawals.


For the second half of the show, there was a woman who runs a health clinic who discussed lymphatic drainage and other therapies which she linked in with benzodiazapine withdrawals.


For instance, we discussed flares of benzo symptoms after several months or years when you think you are better.  She said that you usually feel better than you are and the flare is the body's defense mechanism to slow down.


We touched briefly on the financial incentive of the pharmaceutical industry to the doctors.  She gave a humour quote : "One's health is not necessarily the driving force in medicine"  !!


She talked about the lymphatic drainage.  She said the lymphatic system comes under a lot of stress.  The stress parks itself all over the body if it cannot be released hence you can get problems with your muscles and joints, fibromyalgia and all manner of other illnesses (tiredness, panic attacks) which are primarily stress-based.  If you clear the lymphatic system and get rid of the backlog of stress, the system works more efficiently,  You need to flush out the stress to kick-start it again.    Her treatments for this are lymphatic massage and also some kind of machine that works on your body (painless). 


She also has a thermal imaging machine which can indicate if one is suffering from stress or if there is a nerve problem etc.


That was about it really.  The presenter had put in a call to Prof. Heather Ashton's office and her PA did call back, by which time Prof. Taylor had agree to talk on her show.  The presenter did not realise what a guru Prof. Ashton was to us but I was very impressed by Prof. Taylor - he seemed very clued up.


Sorry if there are typos in this but am bashing it out.





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Thanks Chiggy - I hope I didn't miss something out??  I don't think we heard anything we didn't know but it is important to "educate" others.  Thanks for listening.


Chiggy, so sorry about Wayne and the docs.  What are you gonna do?


Angel xx

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Q. What would you prescribe in place of valium?

A. For epilepsy use of benzodiazapines is useful to offset epileptic fits.  For insomnia there are Z drugs now that act in a similar way to benzodiazapines and are restricted in range of time for use.  For anxiety, I would prescribe the new SSRI's which can be more effective in treating anxiety.



I don't like that answer.





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Why Smoke?


Instead of an SSRI, "A placebo" should have been said.


I'm not trying to be funny. There are too many things that can cause anxiety.

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Well he´s a doctor isn´t he?!  That´s what they do!  I actually am happy on my SSRI and haven´t found it made me anxious.


Not to sound like a jerk, but a Dr is who caused me to seek and find these forums.


Not to sound like a jerk again, but there will come a time when you'll wish you never started the SSRI. It may not be in the near future, but it will happen.


When my mother started them 20+ years ago it was for anxiety and depression. At first she was very happy and spoke highly of them. She can't get off them now and suffers horrible anxiety and depression. Now her shrink is trying every pill in the book, only making things worse for her. It's pretty sad when a widow doesn't cry at her husbands (of 30+ years) funeral. She's emotionally detached, hates it and wants her emotions back.








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No need to be sorry Smoke.


I have been on them before for 8 years and got off them okay.  I shall get off them this time, not till I am healed - I have a great benzo wise doctor who promises he will get me off them safely.


I agree they numb the emotions.






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It is the day after my interview.


Pippa Jones the presenter has just forwarded me some feedback with a question to me ... :


Message to S.... Thank you for providing a real insight of what this type of drug can put you through. It must be very difficult to explain the whole experience. My question to S... is: has she at any point felt really angry with the doctor for prescribing her the drug and forcing her to take such huge quantities in the first place, and without informing her or her husband of the risks?? i am chocked to hear that such a dangerous drug is still being prescribed.. Thank you Sa.... Great talk today, and great insight.



I shall respond accordingly and affirmatively!



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