Skip to comments.A Host of Anxiety Drugs, Begat by Valium
Posted on 02/24/2005 4:19:25 PM PST by neverdem
Among famous inventors, Leo H. Sternbach may not immediately leap to mind.
But this May in Akron, Ohio, Dr. Sternbach, who is 96, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He holds more than 240 patents, but perhaps his most famous invention, in collaboration with colleagues, is a chemical compound called diazepam, better known by its brand name, Valium.
One of the earliest benzodiazepines, Valium was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1963 as a treatment for anxiety, and it would become not only the country's best-selling drug, but an American cultural icon.
Referred to knowingly in Woody Allen movies, enshrined as "Mother's Little Helper" in the Rolling Stones song, condemned as poisonous in best-selling books, Valium reached the height of its popularity in 1978, a year when Americans consumed 2.3 billion of the little yellow pills.
But by the 1980's its reputation for creating abuse and withdrawal problems was well known, and the new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac were widely considered better treatments for anxiety and panic disorders.
Still, the benzodiazepines - there are now more than a dozen others available besides Valium - never disappeared. They are still widely prescribed and, in the view of many doctors, extremely effective in treating not only anxiety and panic disorder, but bipolar illness, insomnia, catatonia and alcohol and drug withdrawal.
"The key is to use them correctly," said Dr. Eric Hollander, director of clinical psychopharmacology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Using them correctly is not so simple. Benzodiazepines cause sedation, which can be either therapeutic or a side effect, depending on the patient's ailment. Dr. Steven Roose, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, said that for anxiety the "S.S.R.I.'s are still the first-line treatment, but they can initially cause an exaggeration of anxiety symptoms."
"Pretreating with benzos can prevent this," Dr. Roose continued, citing Ativan, which "can be used for the sleep problems that S.S.R.I.'s can cause, although it should be used only for a brief term."
The use of benzodiazepines in drug withdrawal may seem paradoxical, since they can be addictive themselves.
But the newer longer-acting benzodiazepines like Klonopin may have fewer withdrawal problems than the older drugs because they are metabolized more slowly and leave the body gradually.
Even though they don't usually induce euphoria, benzopiazepines can become street drugs of abuse for their sedating effect, and some cocaine users like them to "chill out."
The benzodiazepines can also impair motor function, especially during the first weeks of treatment, and cause temporary memory impairment. The drugs do not help with depression, so those with both anxiety and depression, a common combination, may be better off with the double effect of the S.S.R.I.'s.
People who use alcohol as self-medication for anxiety are not good candidates for benzodiazepines, which can be deadly when combined with drinking.
Perhaps most notoriously, there is the danger of addiction, but some believe that may be exaggerated.
"My view is that the risk of dependency and tolerance is overblown," said Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard and editor in chief of The Harvard Mental Health Letter. "People being treated for anxiety are not looking for a high; they're looking for relief from their anxiety symptoms, and if benzos give it to them, that's good."
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
The benzos are very nice for treatment of certain illness.
benzo's can be the worst and hardest drug to get off of and then you can get severe protracted withdrawl....much worse than Heroin.....I know cause some jerk put me on Klonopin about 14 years ago cause of some situational panic attacks. Well i moved alot so just stayed on them......when going off several years ago, I almost died and suffered severe neurological, adreanal, brain and immune system problems. In bed for almost a year and 3 years to recover. I finally found websites that others went thru this severe protracted withdrawl......this crap is nothing to fool with if on for longer than a few weeks.......
What went wrong with the adrenal gland dysfunction and immune system, if I may ask.?
FWIW I understand that some people experience adrenal exhaustion during withdrawal from these drugs. It is not commonly diagnosed as the symptoms are nebulous but some think it is fairly common especially if the person has been under long term stress.
I've been on Ativan for 3 weeks now, prescribed by my doctor as a way to get off of Effexor. He prescribed 2-3 a day, but most days I'm only doing one, mostly to help me sleep. Boy, do I sleep solidly when I do. But out of fear of addiction, I'm trying to avoid more use than that.
Three years ago, I was taken to the emergency room for a back injury. After three hours of morphine (iv) not even putting a dent in the pain, the attending m.d. gave me valium and toradol mixed together. Within 25 min. 80% of the pain was gone. Within 45 min. I was pain free and released the next day. I realize some have addiction problems, but I found valium (mixed with toradol) to be nothing short of a miracle.
ativan and xanax are the shortest acting......i'm not trying to scare anyone but being on this crap longer than a couple of weeks is playing with fire.......google benzodiapzipine protracted withdrawl and I can give you sites that you would read horror stories on......and I mean horror stories......not what you see on tv when an addict is kicking.....i mean ruined devastated lives cause you can't function......not everyone goes thru this but if you are in the 15% that do.....you will never, and I mean never go thru anything worse.........not even 9/11 was worse than this
Ativan can tackle severe anxiety and catatonia in one hour.
yeah.....but soon you will build tolerance and up regulate your receptor sites, need more and possibly it can become toxic......this is NOT a long term solution......I don't want to ponificate, but I'm an expert in this stuff and know more about it than most doctors.....unless someone is in the less than 1% that actually have a chemical imbalance, this stuff is trouble at least long term
I know nothing about either of the maladies your mention, but I do know that when my back pain was kicking morphine's a$$, valium came to the rescue.
Valium is known to be much less effective when given IM (into the muscle), but works well orally, intraveneously, and even rectally. In fact, many kids with seizure disorders have a syringe of Diastat at home (valium that is given rectally). The rectal route is almost as well absorbed as the IV route. The problem with IV valium is of the high risk of respiratory arrest. However, I'm glad the combo of Valium and Toradol worked for you.
Not a long term solution, but in the short term, some of the best pychoactive meds around.
I am sincerely glad you made it through okay. I have read the horror stories of protracted benzo withdrawal. This is coming from somebody who has been through full blown opiate withdrawal before, and despite how agonizing that was (so painful, you can't even imagine it unless you've lived it) I was always deathly afraid of (and thankfull that it wasn't) benzos because of what I knew about them.
I can't beleive the irresponsiblity of doctors who let that happen to a patient. Some doctors are just plain ignorant about the drugs they give.
Hope that you're feeling better now, and I wish you the best, I honestly do. Even though opiates is a whole different ball game, I know what it's like to feel something that there are just no words to describe and nobody could even come close to understanding unless they'd lived it.
And with opiates you start to feel better in a few days, I shudder to think of going through something like that for MONTHS.
It's no picnic living with her and my gyn. gave me ativan this summer - a fifteen pill Rx with half left. My sister is at the point that she can hide her own Easter eggs. We used to be able to have discussions, but her train of thought is constantly derailed these days.
What do you think, is it possible the benzo drugs are contributing to her anxiety? And what would be the alternative, since without the drugs she's self destructive?
thanks Bones......and opiates are recognized as the 2nd worse wd......but you are right......it was months of agony, I couldn't walk around the block for 10 months, and it took me 18 months to go back to the gym (and I was a natural bodybuilder)....I'm glad you realize the horrors of this sh**. I don't blame those that haven't lived it but like you said, it makes other withdrawls look like a day at the beach.....and it can go on for months and years cause the central nervous system is the slowest healing in the body....I am 90% now and thanks........I appreciate it, but it took alot of work on my part to get her, and yes, I blame the drug companies and the idiot doctors who throw pills out and not tell anyone about the risks......glad you made it too........
How much valium were you taking and how long had you been on it before you tried to withdraw?
I was on only 1 mg of Klonopin for 12 years.....in hindsight, it started to effect me negatively after about 8 but becuase it was so slow and insideious, you don't know it is the drug......near the end, I was hostile, anxious, obsessed, lacked judgement etc....just like a drunk since they hit the same receptor sites.....it took me a long time to recover....i worked hard......guess what....I have no anxiety, or anything after recovering.......it was the damned pills that made me sick and I now have medical proof of that..
you are right and if they do work, they will stop working. I tried to ween off with doctors but they don't know crap about it....it got so bad, I went to detox center and did cold turkey....the addictionologist there knew nothing about protracted withdrawl....the shit hit the fan....and it got worse after 4 months where I almost went insane and lost all functions almost.....this crap should never ever be cold turkey...this stuff has happened to hundreds at least in the US...but you never hear of it cause doctors don't know about it or don't see it or cant diagnose it. MOst people go back on cause they can't stand it....
Excellent thread- thanks to all who openly discuss their experiences with these drugs.
Many years ago I was given an MAO inhibitor (nardil) for over a year. When I came off it I thought I was truly losing it- felt psychotic for about a month...finally it went away- but withdrawl was sheer agony. These are life-saving drugs when we need them- but long term effects are so important to understand.
So what would you all recommend for mild anxiety?
I don't understand the addiction to hydrocodone and big opiates because my body rejects them. Ativan was good for sleep for 2 days because I slept well later without them. I didn't get high from any of this stuff. All I need now is about 2 Darvocets for breakthrough pain. It's up to 4 months now after 3.5 years.
good if you got off...hydrocordone is very addictive. Benzo's don't make you high though I know some people like them cause they can give the soothing effects of alcohol but bind much tighter to the receptor sites.....everyone's brain is different and if it likes the stuff, it will battle the hell out of you when you want off
I feel for you. Messing with the GABAergic system is NOT smart long term. Quitting cold turkey can lead to DEATH, although I'm sure on some days you wished that you were!
A melatonin pill and a Valerian root capsule. Available at Rite-Aid over the counter. Your anxiety will turn into a yawn. No coffee!
I have valium and robinol (an atropine derived antispasmodic) for very painful spasms of my common bile duct...I don't take the valium often, but when the pain gets up into heart attack type levels, boy, it can make the difference between hurting like no tomorrow or no pain.
Can't take narcotics for this pain - soon as it wears off, the duct spasms worse!
"So what would you all recommend for mild anxiety?"
What is your diet like? Do you exercise?
proper diet and exercise are a good start and possibly some cognitive behavioral therapy are best for most mild anxiety's......many people don't realize how diet can effect this along with alcohol and nicotine.....there are many good books and manuals at the bookstore or Amazon that can help you with this.......medicine for 95% of this is just a short term crutch cause it addresses the symptoms but not the cause
Hopefully you purchase the valerian "standardized" extract...they're a little more expensive but worth it.
Melatonin is a cortisol antagonist, and a great sleep aid but can magnify depressive tendencies if you have them.
One woman's mild anxiety is another's full-blown panic attack:)
Mild anxiety...seems to respond well to persistent walking, running, swimming or biking...minimum 2-3 miles- enough to get the endorphins kicking in on a regular basis..
you are lucky it only lasted a month or so.....with benzo's it can go on for months and the damage take years to correct, plus MAO inhibiters can be deadly if you eat the wrong foods........glad you are off......
no kidding......I knew they were addictive but didn't know the long term effects......and I was only having panic during a situational time.....not a panic disorder...I wished I were dead for almost a year and took two more years for my central nervous system and adrenals to heal. Doctors should know more about the risks.......idiots....
thanks.......I guess they don't use benzo's as much anymore though in the 70s and 80s they handed 'em out like candy....makes opiate addiction look like a day in the park but glad you made it.....what I went thru was analagous to a prisoner of war camp and I AM NOT exaggerating.....those who have gone thru this would tell you that life after protracted benzo withdrawl is a piece of cake.....
long term after effects of benzo's can last a very long time....glad you survived...if you read some of my other posts on this.....I went thru the most horrific protracted withdrawl that left me incapacitated and didn't recover for over 3 years
I guess I'm not an addict because I had to take them until my body rejected them. I never got "high". I think my body rejected them all along in 2001. As for diazepines, 48 hours max for me before feeling somewhat weird after sleeping well.
I must reveal to you that during my stoner days a long time ago, my "buddies" and I took some Meleril pills. That was the last time I took drugs for recreational use. If they were meant for psychotic patients, we were feeling that way for a day. NO MORE after that.
You know what's a drag? They use benzo's for opioid withdrawals!
I failed to post that I had a seizure, that left me in the hospital for a week. Doctors said it was caised by sudden withdrawl from Valium. I am glad you are 90% better.
I don't know the name of the drug that was like herion but like you said, any psychotropic drug can lead to havoc..just look at the SSRI's now in the news that they say can lead to suicide in teens.....I have reports and such on this and books that talk about his 5 years ago, but the drug companies hold all this stuff back.....I'm not as familiar with opiates......and there is a diffence between being an addict and physically dependent....I was not an addict cause it didn't make me high and there was no psychosocial behavior around the drug......i took it cause the doctor said I should.....I learned my lesson from that and he was dead wrong.........your body rejected them cause some people have paradoxical effects or they can become toxic which is different than "tolerance"
well in that case they are ok.....just like they use benzo's in alcohol withdrawl...in that case it is fine to get thru the initial days and so you don't have seizures or in the hospital if one is seizing, they administer ativan. I have no problem with those uses. It is the long term use for anxiety or sleep problems that they can be devastating
thank you......definitely seizures are a part of benzo wd, that is why they put you on anti convulsants when detoxing.....thank god you didn 't have severe protracted wd like me....you would know it if you had.....
IMHO, these things should be prescribed for only a week before a follow-up appointment.
In my case, if I ever get into a serious injury situation, it will take a dilaudid injection to kill the pain.
Oxycodone is the cancer pain-management drug I was talking about.
got ya......ya, Oxy is more addictive than most pain killers short of morphine though if it is for cancer pain and it is terminal, I certainly don't have a problem with that....if ya took an ativan or valium every once in awhile it is no worse than booze,......everyday for any length of time can be worse than booze in those predisposed
I have the GNC "fingerprinted" valerian root caps, which just made me pull my magnifying light down to look closely for the first time. No fingerprints unless that is the horsey smell. I have the PharmAssure Melatonin 3mg tablets. There is vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine HCL) mixed with it 3/2 and smells normal.
One of each together helps me sleep nice with some vegetable juice. Works for me! I must wake up at 4 AM and switched to tea instead of coffee. If melatonin magnifies depressive tendencies at 4AM, that's for the observer, not the observed. I have work to do. If you're standing around observing, I may make you do something.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.