Benzodiazepines: Bad Drugs

Benzodiazepines: Bad Drugs

Julian Whitaker, MD

Louise, a patient of mine, took the advice of her conventional physician, asked no questions, and ended up in a one-year drug withdrawal program to help her with her addiction to Xanax.

Another patient, Sarah, was getting Xanax refills for three years past her original prescription date, no questions asked, from her gynecologist! Only after she did her own research and realized how dangerous and addictive this drug is, did she stop using it.

“Benzo” Whats?

Both Louse and Sarah were taking benzodiazepines (ben-zo-die-as-a-peens), a class of drugs that includes most sleeping pills and tranquilizers such as Xanax, Valium, Halcion, and Librium. In addition to these, pharmaceutical companies are cranking out newer benzodiazepine-like drugs with a high abuse potential—just turn on your TV to hear about the “wonders” of sleeping pills like Sonata and Ambien.

In her book, Addiction by Prescription, Joan E. Gadsby details her 20-year battle with benzodiazepines. She discuses the roles of doctors and susceptible patients, and points out how lucrative it is for the pharmaceutical industry to bait and hook both parties. Gadsby backs this accusation by noting that benzodiazepines are the “best-selling drugs in the history of medicine, with annual worldwide sales of an estimated $21 billion.” Her insightful book explains just how easy it is to fall prey to controlled substance use, abuse, and eventual dependence.

If you or someone you know has a problem with any type of drug abuse, get professional help. The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service offers around-the-clock referrals to treatment programs in your area. Call (800) 662-HELP (4357) for details.


  • Gadsby, JE. Addiction by Prescription, One Woman’s Triumph and Fight for Change. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Key Porter Books, 2000.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services. Prescription Drugs Abuse and Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report Series. 2001 July.
  • National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse. Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of Controlled Prescription Drugs in the US. 2005 July.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2005. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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