‘Recovery and Renewal’ by Baylissa Frederick

recovery-book-coverRecovery and Renewal is essential reading for anyone trying to withdraw from benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. In fact, it of considerable value to anyone recovering from dependence and addiction.

‘This widely successful book is recommended for anyone in the throes of withdrawal, and for family, friends, professionals and other carers who will be able to better understand the experience and will be well equipped to give support. Doctors, counsellors, rehabilitation staff, recovery and mental health organisations will gain invaluable insight critical to providing best care.

‘Recovery and Renewal’ is regarded as a ‘lifeline’ and readers are inspired by the author’s courage and determination. It gives all the validation needed to eliminate the stress that doubts and uncertainty of what is taking place may bring, and does so with the reassuring feeling of one’s hand gently being held.’

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‘Psychiatric Drugs: More Dangerous Than You Ever Imagined (A New Video)’ by Peter Breggin MD

Peter Breggin is a very special man and has been detailing the dangers of biological psychiatry and psychiatric drugs for many years. Here is a video he posted on Mad In America.

‘We are facing a tragedy of enormous proportions!  Psychiatric drugs of every kind are exposing people to long-term risks of a declining quality of life, apathy, chronic disability, and even shrinkage of the brain.

When they try to withdraw from the drugs, they are likely to find themselves afflicted with new symptoms of drug-induced harm that the medications were suppressing.   Then they may find it physically and emotionally painful, and even dangerously unsafe, to withdraw from these psychoactive medications.

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‘Why Don’t They Know? A Letter to My Doctor’ by Lisa D.

lisadWestern societies today are drugging large numbers of people into illness. And I don’t mean street drugs you get from dealers.

I mean the prescription drugs you get from your doctor, the ones promoted and pushed by drug companies. The ones you think are going to help you overcome your problems. Instead, many people find they cause them problems, problems they take years overcoming.

If you want to know more about this, then you must visit Mad In America. I’ve been using some of the stories and articles on this website on Recovery Stories. And they make fascinating – and concerning – reading.

Here’s a letter that Lisa D. wrote to her doctor about her prescription-drug induced problems (please note that I have shortened the length of some of the paragraphs, without altering the content).

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Open Paradigm Project – Matt Samet

Rock climber, author, and Mad in America Blogger Matt Samet discusses his experience becoming addicted to, and subsequently coming off of, benzodiazepines. Check out Matt’s book Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness.

“The Other Side’ by Matt Samet

msametI’ve really enjoyed reading Matt Samet’s blogs on the excellent Mad in America website. Here is his first one, which provides some important insights int withdrawing from psychoactive prescription drugs and recovering from addiction.

‘With little fanfare and even a glance at the calendar to confirm it, I realized as I sat down to write this that December 5 marked the seven-year anniversary of the last time I took a benzodiazepine tranquilizer.

I had been prescribed the pills for a “panic disorder” starting at age 21, and took them daily from 1998 to 2005 as a “prophylaxis” against anxiety, in ever-escalating doses as prescribed. My final dose was, I think, a quarter-milligram of lorazepam, administered on the fourth-floor Affective Disorders Unit of the Meyer Psychiatry Building, at the Johns Hopkins Institute in Baltimore. I have not taken any since.

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‘Benzodiazepine Guidance’ by djmac

Diazepam-3‘SMMGP has published guidance for using benzodiazepines and benzo-like drugs in primary care. It’s a comprehensive 60+ page document which covers most (but not all) of the bases and reinforces the need for caution when prescribing the drugs.

The guidance is so long in coming because consensus could not be reached. Benzo prescribing is an issue where people have strong views.

The guidance sets out a major problem: that current prescribing guidance is that these drugs should not be used for more than 2-4 weeks, but in practice this is widely flouted with over one million people on these in the long term.

As I say the document is comprehensive, so I’ve just picked out a few nuggets here.

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‘Prescribing Influences in Mental Health’ by Heather Ashton

Talk given at the Adverse Psychiatric Side Effects Conference, April, 2008.

‘C Heather ASHTON DM FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Newcastle University, worked in the drug and poisons information unit at Newcastle Royal Infirmary for 15 years. An expert on the effects of prescription drugs on the mind.

Professor Ashton’s manual for benzodiazepine withdrawal is available worldwide at no financial benefit for the author but of great emotional and personal benefit to many thousands of people who have accessed this detailed manual. The manual is available on benzo.org.uk and many other web sites.

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Marta’s Story: Recovering from benzodiazepine addiction

bzacuteHere is a benzo story from the excellent Recovery Road website.

‘My benzo story started over 26 years ago with a panic attack. I was a very active person, I had 2 beautiful children, a good hubby.  Life was good, my children had just started school, I was sad about it, I didn’t want to let them go, but I had to of course. I worked when I wanted to so that was good and I had a very busy social life.

I suddenly started getting panic attacks. They were frightening and I thought I was about to die. I went to my GP and was given 60 diazepam 2 mg pills. She said take one, twice a day.

I took one 2 mg pill a day, my panic attacks stopped and I got on with life. I was grateful that the med was stopping further panic attacks.  At no point did my doctor warn me of any dangers, I thought it was okay to keep taking them,  and in the early days it stopped my fear of another panic attack.

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‘Benzodiazepines treat anxiety, cause long-term problems’ by Markian Hawryluk

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsThis article appeared in The Bulletin in Central Oregon.

Meant for short-term relief, these medications are prescribed repeatedly.

Over three decades, Marjorie Carmen had helped her husband, Milton, through many of his health issues. From heart surgery to cancer to a hip replacement, they had survived each of them.

But in 2007, as her husband slowly descended into dementia, it scared her. It was not so much the fear of him dying or leaving her alone. It was the angst over what the Yale-educated, highly successful real estate developer with his New England upbringing and sensibilities would have to endure, unable to fend for himself – the sheer indignity of dementia.

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Recovery Road website from Baylissa (Bliss) Frederick

UnknownPlease check out Baylissa (Bliss) Fredericks’ wonderful website Recovery Road. This is an excellent resource.

The website has  self-help information, coping tools and other resources for people affected by withdrawal and dependency on sleeping pills, other benzodiazepine tranquillisers, Z-drugs and antidepressants. There is also information for family members, families, counsellors, doctors and others who provide care.

The aim of the website is to help people feel reassured, encouraged and empowered. There are lots of videos to watch as well as content to read.

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‘Support for those in Withdrawal Who Struggle With Family & Friends Not Understanding’ by Baylissa Frederick

bfrederickOne of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of withdrawal is that feeling of being misunderstood, unsupported and isolated.

If someone has diabetes, dystonia or other chronic illness or experiences a life event such as a bereavement, people will more often empathise and offer support. They understand these issues – the required dietary restrictions, medication, etc., and they will be able to tell you the stages of grief. Support of every kind is forthcoming because there is enough awareness, shared through every medium, on these topics.

Even an addiction to cocaine, alcohol or heroin receives more attention and holds more credibility than protracted benzodiazepine and antidepressant withdrawal. It is saddening indeed that those in withdrawal are so terribly misunderstood.

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‘My Story of Benzo Withdrawal and Activism’ by Barry Haslam

Barry-SueLatest from Mad in America is the story of a remarkable activist.

‘My story starts in 1976. I had a nervous breakdown whilst studying for my Accountancy Technician examination (which i passed with distinction). Plus I was holding down 2 jobs and bringing up a young family. My daughters where then aged 5 and 7.

I was then prescribed a series of benzodiazepine/anti depressant drugs for 5 years. This information was gleaned from my medical records (from 1976 until 1986) at a later date, as I have COMPLETE MEMORY LOSS, no memory at all, for that time.

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“Benzodiazepine withdrawal as told by a woman in the midst of it…” by Monica Cassani

A very moving video. There must be much more awareness raising about the effects of these drugs, particularly amongst doctors and psychiatrist. Here’s what Monica Cassani had to say and she has included essential links:

‘This is a story I know so well and I generally can’t and don’t read stories anymore having read literally 1000s of them now. This video, however, grabbed me and it also brought me to tears. This is my story too. And the story of 100s of thousands of us and yet it’s a story that is still widely denied within psychiatry and medicine in general.

Benzodiazepines are not the only psychiatric drug that create this sort of withdrawal syndrome. Please educate yourself about psych drug withdrawal syndromes here.

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‘A Caregiver’s Story – And How I Became an Addict’ by Madeline Goldstein

Unknown-1Addiction to prescription drugs is a huge, but often ignored, problem. I’ll be focusing on recovering from prescription drug addiction over the coming weeks. Here’s a moving Recovery Story for starters, from the Mad in America community website. 

‘“There are only four kinds of people in this world – those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who need caregivers.”  Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

In 1994, my nineteen-year old daughter, Cristina, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). It was a diagnosis that came totally out of the blue and as a complete shock.

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What Works in Treatment?: Sapphire’s Story, Part 2

rsz_img_2115Last week, we looked at Sapphire’s Story, with the aim of showing the importance of person-centered treatment. Along Sapphire’s journey into and out of addiction, things went well when Sapphire was intimately involved in decisions about her treatment, but poorly when professionals took sole control.

We left Sapphire’s Story after the Community Drugs Treatment had reduced her prescribed methadone dose against her will and she started to use street drugs again. She eventually became addicted to crack. This drug took over Sapphire’s life, until the day she ended up in hospital: “I’m not sure what actually happened one particular day. I know that I had been up for about five days smoking crack and I think I had a fit and was taken to hospital.”

Sapphire was transferred to the drug and alcohol unit of the hospital and put on a high dose of methadone. When she left this unit, she did not go back to the controlling and abusive man she had been living with since she was 16 years old.  Her parents had found out about her drug-taking and became very supportive.

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What Works in Treatment?: Sapphire’s Story, Part 1

rsz_img_2357Sapphire’s Story shows the importance of person-centered treatment. Things went well when Sapphire was intimately involved in decisions about her treatment, but poorly when professionals took sole control. We’ll look at various stages of Sapphire’s treatment career.

Sapphire was being prescribed methadone for her heroin addiction, but as the dose was not high enough she was suffering withdrawal symptoms. To counter the discomfort of this withdrawal, she was purchasing methadone on the street and using benzodiazepines. Then a problem arose from her urine sample:

‘When I was 25, my urine screening revealed that I was taking benzos and the CDT sent me to a shared care GP who was to prescribe my methadone and benzos. At my first appointment, I decided to be honest and tell the GP about the methadone I was buying, and how bad my benzo use had become.

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