“Just left the doc’s office. ‘What to do for anxiety?’ LOL, that’s no longer a relevant question ’cause I picked-up a scrip for Klonopin. That ought to take care of that!”
Well, having used clonazepam (Klonopin) on a daily basis for two years many moons ago, I have no doubt our friend’s level of anxiety will subside. However, the bigger issue is, at what cost?
Oh, s/he may be aware of the potential for tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal from benzodiazepines. But I wonder about being dialed-in to the potential nasty consequences of long-term use?
As Chipur’s owner and producer, and a licensed counselor, I believe it’s my responsibility to bring you objective information regarding anything having to do with the mood and anxiety disorders. That said, it’s not my responsibility to tell you what, or what not, to do – or imply a passing of judgment.
In that spirit, we really need to chat benzodiazepines.
Two years ago, I posted a three-part series on the “benzos” – Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series, Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series: (“Addicted?!”), Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series: (Withdrawal (“Ouch!”)). Plenty of important information, so click those links. Thing of it is, though, I didn’t include much about the potential for major issues from long-term use. And I need to make that right.
In review, the benzodiazepines – alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), and many more – impact the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at its GABAA receptor. Depending on the benzo, the action is sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and amnesic-dissociative.
Okay, so we’ve established most folks are aware of potential issues with tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal from benzodiazepines. Hmmm, but there’s the matter of the possible dangers of long-term use. Oh, and for the record, the definition of “long-term use” varies from researcher-to-researcher, doc-to-doc, case-to-case.
As I list noted symptoms of long-term benzodiazepine use, please understand they don’t present in 100% of cases. Still, it’s important that you know what you may be facing should you take a walk on the wild side – or continue to do so. So, let’s take a look..
- General cognitive impairment
- Impaired concentration and memory
- Personality changes
- Perceptual disturbances
- Emotional clouding
- Social deterioration
- Problems at work/school
- Exacerbation of physical and emotional/mental conditions
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep problems
- Immunological disorders
A stunning list, don’t you think? No doubt about it folks, this is very real – and I have clients who could testify.
As you can imagine, there’s so much information available on the potential icky effects of long-term benzodiazpine use. And there’s just no way I could cover everything in one article. So, the mission here is to make you aware of a legitimate and potentially dangerous issue, and encourage you to perform your due diligence.
Okay, I can’t resist – how unfortunate it is that all too many prescribing physicians don’t share this information. I mean, haven’t they heard of “informed consent?”
To get you going on your own research, I’ve included some links just below. And if you really want to ramp-up your efforts, enter “benzodiazepines long term use” in your favorite search engine. Believe me, you’ll have tons of information at your fingertips.
If you’re pondering what to do for anxiety, benzodiazepines may seem like an easy – even logical – turn-to. However, well beyond withdrawal from benzodiazepines is the potential serious harm from long-term use. And in my book, that’s cause for a loooong pause and a ton of questions.
Now you know – so get busy!
Hey! I’d like you to read more Chipur articles. If we’re singing out of the same hymnal, take a peek at some titles.