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Benzodiazepine-Induced Brain Injury: The Hidden Prescription Epidemic (Recorded Live Oct. 28, 2021)

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

This presentation was recorded live at the 2021 Annual Meeting for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and is presented here on our channel courtesy of that organization. Please visit their website via the links below.

Presented at… Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention – 2021 Annual Meeting October 28, 2021


Watch the Video



0:00:00 Introduction 0:00:54 Presentation: D E Foster 0:08:55 Presentation: Nicole Lamberson, PA 0:30:17 Presentation: Alexi Ritvo, MD 0:51:20 Presentation: John Staight 1:03:50 Q&A


Event Description

There is a growing crisis of patient harm from prescribed benzodiazepines, a class of medications traditionally prescribed for anxiety, sleep and anesthesia. While benzodiazepines have some limited indications, they are often prescribed in the absence of adequate research and for far longer than the recommended time limitation of 2-4 weeks.

In September 2020, the FDA added a black box warning to prescription benzodiazepines. This warning states that “Physical dependence can occur when benzodiazepines are taken steadily for several days to weeks, even as prescribed.” And that “Stopping them abruptly or reducing the dosage too quickly can result in withdrawal reactions, including seizures, which can be life-threatening.” Unfortunately, much of the public and many healthcare providers are unaware of this warning.

Studies report 10-44% of chronic benzodiazepine users experience moderate to severe protracted withdrawal symptoms upon cessation lasting months to years; some have suggested calling this phenomena “Benzodiazepine Induced Brain Injury” or “Benzodiazepine Injury Syndrome”.

This session looks at the benzodiazepine crisis from the perspectives of medical professionals, affected patients, and community organizers. The goal of this session is to increase knowledge about safer prescribing and deprescribing of benzodiazepines.



Benzodiazepine Action Work Group (BAWG)

D E Foster (BAWG Co-Chair, Founding Member, Host of The Benzo Free Podcast) — A Bit About Benzos, Dependence, and Withdrawal

Nicole Lamberson, PA (BAWG Founding Member, BIC Medical Advisor, Co-Founder of the Withdrawal Project) — Lived Experience, Tolerance, “Detox” and Protracted “Withdrawal” Syndromes

Alexis Ritvo, MD (BAWG Co-Chair, Founding Member, Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Program Director for the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, University of Colorado School of Medicine) — Benzodiazepines: The Hidden Prescription Epidemic

John Staight (BAWG Founding Member, Patient Advocate) — Inside the Struggle: A Tapering Journey


Presentation Links

— Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention ( — Benzodiazepine Action Work Group (BAWG) ( — The Alliance for Benzodiazepine Best Practices ( — Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (BIC) ( — The Ashton Manual (


Site Links


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