What Happened to Dr. Jordan Peterson?
The not-so-obvious risks of taking benzodiazepines.
Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist that has over three million subscribers on Youtube disappeared from the stage.
I’ve been suffering from severely impared health… as a consequence of ceasing to take benzodiazepines.
He started taking the medication 5 years ago, in the correct dose and recommendation.
Like many others, anxiety was the cause of taking this type of medicine, but that was the least of his problems. Severe post-use withdrawal when trying to quit the intake of benzodiazepines. A common side effect that causes serious neurological damage.
The use of this type of drug to treat anxiety is very common in the US. Around 5.2% of adults between the age of 18 and 80 are taking this type of medication.
More than 10 million people are consuming them.
With advice from a professional, you can avoid the worst consequence — Death. It could happen in particular cases like the one of Dr. Petterson. He decided to stop the consumption “cold turkey”.
Nonetheless, the side-effects of taking benzodiazepines affect everyone. People like you, and I and Dr. Peterson can fall into the dark pit that is dependency. Why?
It’s all about the way you think about the medication and how you decide to use it
This is a group of drugs that work on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in your brain. They produce a sedative effect by inhibiting the arousal of key pathways in your brain.
Benzodiazepines are useful in depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. They are useful because of their fast action. Some of the most common are:
They have been in the market since the late 1950s, making them easy to prescribe for doctors. But in reality, their use should is dangerous, as these drugs can cause addiction.
Benzodiazepines are among the most-addictive substances in the world, after heroin, cocaine, and nicotine. — Northpoint recovery.
There is a vast difference between addiction and tolerance. When you take benzodiazepines, the dose increases to maintain the effects of the drug.
So instead of taking half of a pill and having that work, now you’ll notice that you need to take 2 pills.
This does not mean you are addicted. Addiction involves dependence — the need to take it. Tolerance in benzodiazepines is a common side effect, requiring proper professional care.
So were good until this point.
Where Does Everything Start to go Wrong?
Imagine you have a case of anxiety and insomnia. Your physiologist prescribes Xanax as the following:
Take up to four times a day, as needed.
She also prescribes Klonopin, another benzodiazepine that has a longer latency. Thus, it takes a while to kick in.
You start by taking a tablet of Xanax to finally get some sleep. At work, you take some more so you can be productive. At home, you get into some trouble with your wife, so you take another one.
Soon enough you are consuming 4 tablets per day.
You go back to your psychologist for the refill. It turns out that the other medication prescribed, Klonopin should be kicking in soon. So the instructions have changed. Now you have to take Klonopin once a day and try to lay off Xanax.
But work got so stressful that you need your Xanax to stay focused, to keep your anxiety in control. Your psychologist gets worried and sends you to a psychiatrist. She tells you to take 1 tablet of Klonopin per day at most.
But you feel like you need more…
You end up taking 3 tablets per day, which consumes the whole bottle in less than a month.
You promise the doctor that you’ll start to reduce the consumption when work slows down. One day, during a business trip you run out of Klonopin. You think that it doesn’t matter because in less than a week you’ll be back home. And, you promised to reduce the dose…
Less than 2 days later, withdrawal symptoms kick in…
You wake up feeling in panic, anxiety symptoms are coming back but stronger. You will suffer from seizures if none calls an ambulance. This is an extreme case after taking benzos for longer than 3 months in high doses.
Benzodiazepines are made for short therm use, but everybody knows somebody that has been taking them for years. — Medicating Normal.
They help in anxiety cases since normal antidepressants have latency in response. This means that they take around 4 to 5 weeks from the start of the treatment to reduce the symptoms. A patient taking benzos more than 3 times per week is above normal usage. This causes dependence and soon enough other problems arrive.
Daily long term use of benzodiazepines can lead to:
- Cognitive changes
- Reduction of mental alertness
- Emotional clouding
- Balance problems
- Memory impairment
Once a patient needs to stop their consumption, the recommendation is to take it slowly. Each month the dose decreases in small quantities. This lets the body adjust to changes over time.
How long it takes depends on how high your dose is, some people take a couple of years to stop completely. — Dr. Marks.
She recommends avoiding this problem by considering benzodiazepines like a “last resource”.
In case of emergency, take one.
Take benzos to keep you from going to the hospital because your feeling like your having a heart attack. Do not take it to forget about your crappy day. This is one way of not falling into dependency.
Not everyone develops a dependency on benzos when prescribed by a professional. But rest assured if you do, it will change your life. Be aware of this type of addictive meds, protect yourself and your loved ones.
Barker, M. J., Greenwood, K. M., Jackson, M., & Crowe, S. F. (2004). Cognitive effects of long-term benzodiazepine use. CNS drugs, 18(1), 37–48.
Petursson, H., & Lader, M. H. (1981). Withdrawal from long-term benzodiazepine treatment. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed), 283(6292), 643–645.
Golombok, S., Moodley, P., & Lader, M. (1988). Cognitive impairment in long-term benzodiazepine users. Psychological Medicine, 18(2), 365–374.
Olfson, M., King, M., & Schoenbaum, M. (2015). Benzodiazepine use in the United States. JAMA psychiatry, 72(2), 136–142.
Youtube Channels — Medicating Normal, Dr. Marks.
Blogs — NorthPoint recovery.