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Author Topic: Brain damage from benzodiazepines  (Read 93 times)

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Brain damage from benzodiazepines
« on: July 20, 2021, 05:15:08 PM »

Brain damage from benzodiazepines

Posted November 18, 2010

Researchers have long-known that benzodiazepines can cause brain damage.

Last week, Britain's Independent newspaper published a bombshell for psychiatry and medicine: the country's Medical Research Council had sat on warnings voiced 30 years earlier that benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax can cause brain damage. As 11.5 million prescriptions for these drugs were issued in 2008 in Britain alone, my post on the revelation focused on the consequences of the cover-up for the millions of people affected.

Given the feedback I received from numerous recovering patients in Britain and the U.S. attesting to their profound difficulties quitting such medication, as well as their continued impairment from the drugs many years later, I want to retrace the drugs' controversial history, to help explain why the suppression of evidence about their side effects is deservedly national news in Britain, and why it should be here in the U.S., too.

Concern about the adverse effects of this group of drugs dates to the 1970s when vast numbers of people began taking them for stress and anxiety. Once the most-popular minor tranquilizers in Britain, the U.S., and much of Europe, benzodiazepines ("benzos" for short) include such household names as Valium, Xanax, Librium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

Between 2002 and 2007, the number of U.S. prescriptions for them grew from 69 million to 83 million. Their popularity trailed off in the 1980s and '90s, when Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and other SSRI antidepressants outsold them as "blockbuster" drugs—so-named because their annual revenues surpassed $1 billion. But benzos actually made a comeback earlier this decade, due in part to the highly successful marketing of Xanax for more than just Panic Disorder.

With SSRIs represented in the 1980s and ‘90s as well-tolerated and nonaddictive, as distinct from the extensive, well-documented side effects of benzodiazepines, the resurgence of prescriptions for benzos in the early 2000s is not only striking but a serious concern.

Back in 1975, when benzodiazepines were widely touted as a wonder drug for anything from chronic anxiety to mild stress, 103 million prescriptions were issued for them in the U.S. in that year alone. The following year, David Knott, a physician at the University of Tennessee, voiced strong concern about short-term memory loss among such patients, warning: "I am very convinced that Valium, Librium, and other drugs of that class cause damage to the brain. I have seen damage to the cerebral cortex that I believe is due to the use of these drugs, and I am beginning to wonder if the damage is permanent."

Two years later in Britain, Malcolm Lader, an expert on benzos at London's Institute of Psychiatry, called them "the opium of the masses" because of Britain's very high prescribing rates, a pattern that correlates with Europe and the U.S. In Britain, a country with a population now barely exceeding 61 million, a staggering 32 million prescriptions for the drugs were written in the early 1980s.

"We knew from the start," Lader explained on the 2002 Discovery Channel documentary In Pills We Trust, "that patients taking markedly increased doses could get dependent. But [we] thought only addictive personalities could become dependent and that true addiction was unusual. We got that wrong. What we didn't know, but know now, is that even people taking therapeutic doses can become dependent."

In the U.S., too, Lader spoke and wrote consistently about his concerns over long-term use of benzos. As Ray Nimmo, editor, pointed out to me, author Vernon Coleman noted in his 1990 book Life Without Tranquilizers: "At a conference at the National Institute of Health in Washington, USA, in 1982, a British Professor of Psychopharmacology, Malcolm Lader, reported that brain scans done on a small group of patients who had been taking diazepam for a number of years had produced evidence suggesting that their brains had been damaged. Although warning that his preliminary findings needed more research, Lader pointed out that the work he had done suggested that the brains of regular benzodiazepine takers were damaged and shrunken when compared to the brains of people who had not taken benzodiazepines."

Then the controversy truly ignited. In 1989, one of Lader's colleagues, renowned anxiety specialist Isaac Marks, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry a critique of then-recent reports about Xanax and its "efficacy" in treating panic disorder (his quotation marks). Marks, with 10 other colleagues from comparable research institutes in France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and the States, drew yet more attention to "serious adverse effects" of the drug that only "become apparent later," he asserted—long after most clinical trials had wrapped up. He also wrote of worrying signs of brain atrophy among long-term benzodiazepine users, including "cerebral ventricular enlargement."

The article continues at the source link ...
I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.


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