United States of Xanax

(Credit to the New York Times for the title, please check out the link at the end.)

Aside from the opiate epidemic, the use of benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Valium) are at an all time high.  Long term use of benzos increases the risk of early onset Alzheimer’s. It is easy to develop a dependency and withdrawal is difficult and often requires medical intervention.  The combo of opiate and benzo use can be deadly.  As a physician it is difficult to deal with dependent patients. Constant monitoring is needed as you taper the patient off the drugs.  Herbs, supplements and acupuncture are effective at combating addiction. It is easy to swap an herbal/supplement regimen for pharmaceuticals; it is more difficult to find the root cause. It is too easy to take a benzo or valerian for sleep but finding out why we can’t sleep is trickier.  The instant gratification of popping a pill to sleep is too tempting for most. Practice sleep hygiene.  Make sure you don’t have an obstructive disorder.  Seek counseling.

Anxiety comes at us from many angles.  Too much social media is one culprit. Everyone’s posted perfect world can cause one to feel less than adequate. Constant negative media can also contribute to anxiety.  Limiting your exposure is helpful. Finding quiet, taking a slow drink of water and a few deep breaths usually resets you back to the parasympathetic nervous system.

With all the alternatives available for chronic pain and anxiety there truly is very little need for addictive medications.