Dependence, Disbelief, and the Doctor Dilemma
Updated: Mar 23
Do you feel all alone in your dependence on benzos? Do you feel like no one believes you? Not even your doctor? Well, you’re not alone — thousands of others feel exactly as you do.
In episode 6 of the podcast, we’re going to shake things up. Today we will talk about the difficulties many of us face in finding qualified, educated medical assistance. We’ll share differing opinions on the subject and provide a few suggestions on how to find the compassionate support you deserve.
Video ID: BFP006
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00:00 Introduction 09:20 Benzo News 12:02 Benzo Stories 16:45 Feature: The Doctor Dilemma 30:45 Closing
Welcome to episode 6 of the Benzo Free Podcast. We’ve received a lot of feedback from you, the listeners, and have made some changes accordingly. We’ve changed up our podcast format a bit, added some new content, removed a few others, and enhanced the functionality to our feedback form while we were at it.
First, let’s list the resources used in this episode, and then we’ll dive deeper into the content of episode 6.
The introduction of today’s episode is a bit longer than most. Since we launched the podcast on Thursday, Feb. 21st, we finally have some feedback from our listeners. Most of it was positive, but there was some critical feedback too. And thus, we made some changes.
Feedback Form – We’ve added an optional location field, a permission check box, and instructions for submitting audio content. Check out the form at https://easinganxiety.com/feedback.
Podcast Format – We also changed up the format of each episode by adding two new sections, Benzo News and Benzo Stories, and eliminating our closing section, Moment of Peace. We also changed the name of the Q&A section and will now call it Mailbag which will include both questions and comments from our listeners.
Length – We’ve also decided to try out a slightly longer episode length of 30-45 minutes.
This is where we share questions and comments from our listeners.
When are you going to have some interviews? We are working on scheduling interviews currently. Part of the delay is technological. We still need to set up and configure recording software for Skype so we can record remotely. We hope to have this ready to go in a few weeks.
Here are some news items that we wanted to share:
Patient Surveys – Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (BIC) BIC is currently supporting two completely separate surveys on patients’ experiences with benzos. Please check them out if you wish to participate. Survey w/ USC Annenberg (on BIC Blog) Survey w/ Salem State University (on BIC Blog)
Increase in Benzodiazepine Prescriptions – JAMA Network Several articles have been written lately about the increase in benzodiazepine prescriptions in outpatient facilities. One article, on the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network’s webpage, was titled. “Patterns in Outpatient Benzodiazepine Prescribing in the United States.” It stated that the rate of visits which included a prescription for a benzodiazepine in outpatient visits increased from 3.8% to 7.4% for the years 2003 through 2015. The largest increase was not from psychiatrists’ offices, but from others including primary care. In addition, benzodiazepines are being prescribed more frequently now for pain, especially chronic pain and back pain. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2722576
Even though we are receiving comments from the listeners, we are still light on personal stories and anecdotes. Today I shared a short observation of my experiences with some protracted symptoms during a charity poker game I attended the night before. Even though symptoms still plague me from time-to-time, I try and remind myself that I am so much better now than I was during the acute phase of my withdrawal.
Today’s featured topic: Dependence, Disbelief, and the Doctor Dilemma
Today’s topic was triggered by a comment from a listener about the difficulties that so many face when trying to find a doctor who can help them with their dependence and withdrawal.
Here are a few excerpts from her comment:
I work as an admin in a group on Facebook helping others as best I can, within my limited abilities and mostly from experience, reading resources and audio resources as well as observations gleaned over a long period of years. I recognize the need for a disclaimer to protect oneself but I am caught in a dilemma when it comes to saying work with your trusted physician as those are few and far between if for many they even can be found. [Speaking about doctors] Most are sadly ignorant and only learning of the withdrawal but still harbor doubt. Those who are aware and accept the problem aren’t aware of safe tapering methods. I started tapering in 2011 along with some other prescription drugs and its been a minefield of narrowly and luckily avoiding a detox or too fast taper dangers.
I’m now 63 and loving life post benzo withdrawal but had I listened to doctors and worked with them I can’t begin to guess where I’d be in life. I question, in fact, whether I’d still be alive.
I understand Kathryn’s frustrations and empathize. 90% of all prescriptions for benzos come from primary care physicians, and this was also true in my case. I visited five different primary care providers during my withdrawal, and only one of them was well educated on benzos in my opinion. I completely sympathize with people like Kathryn. It’s hard enough when you have a doctor who will work with you, I can’t imagine what it’s like without one.
This is problem which is gaining some attention from medical associations:
There is a pattern in patients’ notes where doctors don’t believe that their withdrawal symptoms, such as pain, fits and psychiatric disorders such as panic and obsessiveness, are associated with the drugs… All too often doctors fail to take note of the fact they have been on benzodiazepines for years.
— Marion Brown, a psychotherapist working with the British Medial Association, from an article in The Daily Mail by John Naish titled “Betrayed by the Doctors Who Turned Us into DRUG ADDICTS: How a Nation of Patients Became Hooked on Prescription Pills,” published on May 22, 2017.
The truth is, I’ve spent a lot of time on some of the discussion boards, and I’ve heard the horror stories. And they can be terrible. Disbelief, denial, rapid detox… the problems seem endless. I wish that all doctors were properly educated on benzos and how to properly withdrawal, but sadly that is not always the case. So, thanks to Kathryn for her input, and I hope I have done it justice.
I am limited in what I can say and share on this podcast — legally. As I’ve mentioned, I am not a medical professional, and this podcast is not medical advice and should never be substituted for it. Yes, it is true that I cannot advise anyone to disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it. That being said, I would like to also say it is not just a legality here. I actually believe what I say in my disclaimer. Still, I realize that there are two sides to this issue and Kathryn has done an excellent job of raising some very valid concerns.
All I can do is share my experience, some experiences I’ve heard from others, and tell you what I think. That’s it. Yes, I am limited do a degree in what I can say here, but despite my difficulties finding medial support during my taper, I am very glad that I didn’t give up trying. It wasn’t easy. Not by a long shot. But it was worth it.
You see, I truly believe that most doctors want to help their patients. That’s how I feel about it. Perhaps I don’t live in the real world, but that is my belief. The truth is, there are some amazing doctors out there who are our biggest champions. Prof. Ashton, Prof. Lader, and Dr. Christy Huff (BIC) are just a few examples.
If you can’t find a doctor, there are some resources which can help you. Many of them. The Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (BIC) has an article on their site titled: “How to Find a Doctor: 10 Tips to Quit Benzos.” They also have a list of benzo-wise or benzo-aware doctors throughout the U.S. W-BAD also has a full page of information on support for your taper, which also includes a list of doctors. And other sites have similar support. Links can be found in our resources section at the top of the show notes.
Here are my thoughts on benzos and doctors. Take it or leave it, it’s just my opinion. I believe withdrawal from benzos is a complicated, medical procedure and should not be done without the supervision of a licensed physician. Yes, I’m supposed to say that, but I also believe it. Benzo withdrawal can be a medical nightmare for some people, and to have a doctor to work with us, who is sympathetic to our needs, is crucial. Not only did I need someone to prescribe tapered dosages, but even more so, I needed a doctor who knew what I was going through and could help me diagnose all of my symptoms. Especially those 5 EKGs that I’ve had.
This is what I would do if I had to do it all over again. I’m not advising anyone on anything, but these are my thoughts:
First, I would educate myself on benzos. • I would read the Ashton Manual, probably twice. • I would go online and read articles and board postings. • I would use my common sense to determine what is true. • And I would develop a plan of how I want to taper if that is what I decided to do.
Second, I would speak with my current doctor or psychiatrist. • I would see if I can work with him or her. • We already have a working relationship, so better to start here.
Third, if that doesn’t work, I would seek out a benzo-wise doctor. • I would check out the benzo-wise doctor lists I just spoke about. • I would ask people on the boards if anyone knows a benzo-wise doctor in my area.
Fourth, if that doesn’t work, I would find one I could work with. • Perhaps this person isn’t well educated on benzos, but if he or she is willing to listen, they may just be the doctor for me.
I believe that to solve this problem, we need to work with doctors and not against them. That may sound naïve to some, but it’s my opinion.
But that, in no way, means that I don’t recognize the nightmare that some of you have experienced trying to find medical support when you so desperately need it. It should be easier, and doctors should be better educated.
I hope this topic has been helpful. Thanks for listening.
The following resource links are provided as a courtesy to our listeners. They do not constitute an endorsement by Easing Anxiety of the resource or any recommendations or advice provided therein.
Resources Mentioned in the News Section of Podcast
JAMA Article: “Patterns in Outpatient Benzodiazepine Prescribing in the United States”
Resources Mentioned in the Feature Section of Podcast
“90% of all prescriptions for benzos come from primary providers.” – from an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Meg Kissinger titled “Thousands Prescribed Too Much Medicine,” published on March 15, 2017.
Quote by Marion Brown from an article in The Daily Mail by John Naish titled “Betrayed by the Doctors Who Turned Us into DRUG ADDICTS: How a Nation of Patients Became Hooked on Prescription Pills,” published on May 22, 2017.
Benzo Free’s Webpage on The Ashton Manual
“Yes, Benzos Are Bad For You,” by Dr. Allen Frances on Pro Talk: A Rahabs.com Community, published on June 10, 2016.
“How to Find a Doctor: 10 Tips to Quit Benzos” by JC Curle, on Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (BIC) blog published Dec. 12, 2018
“Find a Doctor” webpage on the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (BIC) website.
“What If My Doctor Stops My Prescription?” webpage on the World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day (W-BAD)website.
“Finding Medical Taper Support” webpage on the World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day (W-BAD) website.
The Benzo Free Podcast provides information, support, and community to those who struggle with the long-term effects of anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium) and Z-drugs (Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata).
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