This is a really good look at benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan, and the anxiety epidemic in America from 5280. (Please read through to my comments below.)
More than 40 million American adults are currently diagnosed as having anxiety, making it the most common mental health disorder in the United States. Judging by the numbers, it seems as if our country is experiencing a collective nervous breakdown. But perhaps what should really be causing our angst is the all-too-common—and some say dangerous—way we’ve come to treat our unease: with a benzodiazepine prescription.
It’s not difficult to understand why benzos are all the rage in the United States: According to the World Health Organization, we are the most anxious country on the planet. More than 40 million American adults (including about 627,748 Coloradans) currently live with a diagnosis of anxiety—a disorder with many variations—which is generally defined as excessive fear or unrealistic worry even if there is little to incite those feelings. And it seems that our fears are growing exponentially: Diagnoses have seen a 600 percent jump since 1990.
Likewise, prescriptions for benzodiazepines have jumped—17 percent since 2006 and 44 percent since 1981. The drugs are a hit because in the short term, they’re cheap, effective, and have relatively few side effects. With the pop of a pill, all that stress about work, family, finances, and your dying mother melts away.
But here’s the issue: There is no medical study that shows long-term benzo use improves anxiety. What researchers have demonstrated is that long-term benzo use can cause structural changes to the brain and central nervous system, depression, and memory loss and may lead to other psychiatric diagnoses. Reports have simultaneously shown that even short-term benzo use can damage cognitive and intellectual abilities. And, ironically, benzos have been known to worsen symptoms of anxiety.
This is a very informative article on benzos. I was disappointed, however, that there was no mention of cannabis as an alternative treatment. It mentioned SSRI antidepressants, which have horrible side-effects. It even discussed alternative therapies like meditation and supplements, but not cannabis. Too bad that such a well-respected magazine in a state at the forefront of cannabis research and policy would leave such crucial information out. Hard to believe such a blatant omission came from 5280, a Colorado publication.
You can read the rest of it here: High Strung and Drugging It | 5280. Aside from the big gaping hole that is cannabis, it really is worth your time to read.