by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A doctor, wrote,
I feel that your article on benzodiazepines is irresponsible and may cause those with disabling anxiety disorder to avoid treatment.
There are many patients with panic disorder that are well-maintained on Alprazolam for decades without the anxiolytic effect being lost or diminished or the need to increase the dose. They lead normal lives without panic attacks whereas prior to beginning pharmacological treatment they had several panic attacks each day and ended up housebound.
I can understand your position as a doctor trained to view pharmacology as the primary means to treat various “mental” disorders such as anxiety. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin.
The reason I wrote that article is because the negative side effects of benzodiazepines have damaged and are continuing to damage many thousands of people. These people need to be warned of the dangers of taking benzodiazepines since many doctors aren’t doing it. Specifically, they need to be warned that depending on these drugs can cause more troublesome side effects than the original condition the drugs were prescribed to treat. It seems to me that most doctors are prescribing benzos without warning people of these dangerous side effects.
How can doctors who take the Hippocratic oath that says “First do no harm” justify prescribing benzos when they are known to harm thousands of people each year? Yes, they may help some people, but at what cost in the long run? It sounds as if you are saying that it is ok to harm thousands of people because at the same time you are helping numbers of others.
If doctors didn’t prescribe benzos, then people wouldn’t be damaged by their side effects and I wouldn’t have had any reason to write this article exposing the dangers of benzo problems. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be receiving emails from people saying that if they had known the horrible side effects they would experience, they would never have taken the benzos their doctors prescribed.
What you are saying is that you justify deliberately putting thousands of people at risk in order to help some people that likely could have been helped by non-pharmacological means such as counseling, dietary and lifestyle changes, etc.
Please—get back to truly helping people and “first do no harm!” with any treatment.