BENZACT

Benzodiazepines - A Silent Disaster

Benzodiazepines underestimated in drug deaths

 UPDATE This post is from 2014 and the figures have not been updated. However, the latest figures show benzodiazepines were implicated in 59% of drug deaths in Scotland in 2017 compared with 27% of deaths in 2015. Benzodiazepines were found in similar proportions (76% & 71% of drug deaths in 2017 & 2015). This suggest the way benzodiazepines are judged to have contributed in individual deaths may have changed.
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Cause of Death ‘acute benzodiazepine withdrawal’

A Medical Emergency

The effects of benzodiazepines are insidious and unpredictable – suddenly stopping or withdrawing them too quickly can kill.

Acute benzodiazepine withdrawal is a medical emergency which can be life threatening.[1]

Sudden or too rapid withdrawal from benzodiazepines after regular use can cause seizures, psychosis, hallucinations and delirium, as well as many other severe symptoms. These include memory loss, confusion, sensory disturbances, neurological and other physiological symptoms. The reinstatement of a benzodiazepine is vital as they must be withdrawn slowly – 3 months to a year or more. [2] read more

Cut Off

 John* died 6 months after his doctor suddenly stopped the diazepam prescription he had been taking for 10 years.

A patient being prescribed benzodiazepines in the UK in can have their prescription terminated by the prescriber (which can be life-threatening) and also be denied access to any care and support. This is because all responsibility for diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering the adverse effects of benzodiazepines (where they have been medically prescribed), lies with the GP. read more

Abandoned for 30 years

The UK government have known the dangers to public health of benzodiazepine prescribing since 1981

The UK Government were warned that benzodiazepines were harming patients at a meeting called by the Medical Research Council. Measures to help affected patients were agreed at the meeting but by1985 the most of the plans were abandoned and all documents closed in the National Archives.

Now, the problems caused by benzodiazepines and the number of patients affected has escalated and the British Medical Association are calling for the same measures abandoned in 1985 to tackle what is now a ‘major public health issue’. read more

Dementia link – major study

Patients prescribed benzodiazepines long-term risk dependence and disabling side-effects, but the help they need to withdraw from the drugs and recover is not available to them – Now, the findings of a new study show they could also be at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The study, published in the in the BMJ, ‘Benzodiazepine use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease’ , found no increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s with benzodiazepine use of less than 3 months, but found the risk increased by up to 51% with use over 3 months and by 84% with use over 6 months. Additionally, the risk of Alzheimer’s was greater with the use of long acting benzodiazepines such as diazepam. read more

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