One of the more difficult challenges of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is that most medical professionals are completely unaware of it. To the best of my knowledge, it’s not taught in medical, nursing or pharmacy school. It’s likely that your doctor, nurse practitioner and pharmacist either haven’t encountered it or didn’t recognize it when they did. Without acceptance by the mainstream medical community, or even within the specialty of addiction medicine, people who encounter the syndrome often have trouble finding the support they need. As a result of this, its also very likely that family and friends won’t understand either. Oftentimes the only ones to provide validation are those one meets on the various support groups that can be found online.
Brian Baxter, who tells his story in the video below, certainly found this to be the case. So did I. To that end, I’ve decided to put together a series of links to resources that medical professionals (and by extension, one’s personal acquaintances) might find more credible than the anecdotal stories of people on the support groups.
The first (and most important) link, which I mentioned in my last entry, is “Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How To Withdraw” (by C. Heather Ashton DM, FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England) colloquially know as “The Ashton Manual.” Ashton received her postgraduate Doctor of Medicine (DM) in 1956. She was elected FCRP (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London) in 1975. She also became National Health Service Consultant in Clinical Psychopharmacology in 1975 and National Health Service Consultant in Psychiatry in 1994. Her main clinical work was in running a benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic for 12 years from 1982-1994. She has published approximately 250 papers of which over 50 concern benzodiazepines. She is arguably the most knowledgeable person in the world with regard to the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
The paragraph above is a shortened and slightly edited version of Ashton’s curriculum vitae as it appears in The Ashton Manual.
As The Ashton Manual is quite lengthy, this next link is quite the opposite. Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a simple one-page patient handout published by University Hospital East, Talbot Hall, Department of Addiction Medicine, The Ohio State University Medical Center. I like this link for two reasons. The people you’re trying to convince likely won’t have the patience to read something as lengthy as The Ashton Manual, at least not until after they’re convinced what you’re experiencing is legitimate. This document is brief and to the point. It’s also published by a United States-based medical university thus, perhaps, lending some legitimacy in the eyes of U.S.-based healthcare providers.
I also like “The Benzo Trap: Anti-anxiety drugs ensnare millions of Americans in a web of addiction and pain.” It was published in the July/August 2008 edition of Natural Solutions magazine. Having been published in Natural Solutions, it might not get much respect from your doctor, but it’s easier to read than The Ashton Manual and more in-depth than the Ohio State University Medical Center’s patient handout. This might be a good choice for family and friends. You can read it at the link provided. Or I have a PDF file of the article as it appeared in print which I’d be happy to e-mail to anyone who requests it.
For further resources and/or support, consider the following:
• Join a benzodiazepine withdrawal support group. The one I belong to is BenzoBuddies. Googling “benzodiazepine withdrawal support group” will get you many more to choose from. Most of these groups keep lists of valuable links. And the groups themselves offer much needed support.
• The Wikipedia article on benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome has lots of useful information. Links to scholarly articles can be found in the source materials at the bottom.
• For help finding a benzowise doctor, you can Google “benzowise doctors” or ask on the support groups. There wasn’t one in my area, so I asked a therapist I was seeing if she knew of any compassionate, open-minded doctors. She did. Oftentimes those two traits are far more important than pre-existing knowledge of the condition.