Experts and Benzos and Covid, Oh My!

Guess what happened last year?

Not that.

Well…yes that, AND also the FDA finally enhanced its official warnings for benzodiazepines! An ironic move considering the prescribing of benzos like Ativan and Klonopin for anxiety spiked last May by 34.1%. Just to put that into perspective, according to the FDA, the US dispensed roughly 92 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines in 2019. Now, increase that by a third. And while I don’t have any official numbers (but, as biologist Rupert Sheldrake says, anecdotal evidence IS data) from what I’ve gleaned from the online Covid19 long-haulers support community, many more people have been prescribed benzos since then to treat the symptoms associated with the virus’s long term syndrome, symptoms such as insomnia, pain, and anxiety. Recognize any of these? They’re also the symptoms of benzodiazepine long term syndrome. Some other symptoms these communities have in common are cognitive impairment, irregular blood pressure, hair loss, loss of or modified sense of taste, motor sensory problems and new sensitivity to chemicals, just to name a few.

Do these two syndromes sound uncannily similar?

They did to me. At first I wondered if the symptoms of Covid19 weren’t just a result of all the drugs the people hospitalized for this virus were being given. But then I saw it in my own extended family. And while there still may be a correlation between medications consumed and the severity of Covid19, what’s really disturbing is to consider that the reason these two illnesses are so similar, is that this pandemic may be just as man made as the often silent and unrecognized benzodiazepine epidemic. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest this, to the point where the WHO and 13 countries are now calling for an official investigation. Do you know what other epidemic is currently ravaging the U.S.? The other one caused by the pharmaceutical industry, the opiate crisis, with overdose deaths rising by as much as 29% in 2020. As celebrity guru Russel Brand points out (ah Russel, you wonderful, lanky Brit with your fabulous accent!) the industry we’re relying on to give us the vaccines to treat the Covid19 epidemic, is the very industry that has killed as many people with the opiates they dishonestly promoted and distributed with their disinformation campaign, as have died from Covid19! And don’t forget that, just like the new Covid19 vaccines, all those opiates were FDA approved.

click here to watch Top 5 Psych Med Myths

Isn’t it doubly ironic, that the pharmaceutical industry, which may have created this virus in the first place, is now making huge profits by distributing a class of medications to long-haulers that can create or exacerbate the very symptoms doctors are trying to treat? It’s a bit like a woman going to her abusive ex for relationship advice isn’t it? And while I’m grateful the FDA (after 60+ years) is finally acknowledging the long term disability caused by benzodiazepines, they’re hardly the good guys here. The FDA approves 96% of all products submitted to them. Not, surprising given 1 in 4 FDA employees ends up working for the pharmaceutical companies they regulate. Cha-Ching! This has led the pharmaceutical industry paying more than 35.7 billion dollars in fraud lawsuits for all those FDA approved drugs.

image from Top 5 Psych Med Myths

At some point we have to get off this merry-go-round folks!

What would that look like? I’m glad you asked! I suppose we would START by STOPPING. First, we stop pathologizing perfectly normal responses to things like being sick and isolated for months on end without an income, labelling them with reductionist terms like “anxiety” and “depression”. If our children can’t sit in a chair 5-6 hours a day, doing arithmetic and worksheets, then maybe they don’t need medication. Maybe the kids aren’t the ones who need to change. Maybe we are. If a new mom can’t handle being all alone with a brand new baby day after day, or going back to a 9-5 job right after giving birth, maybe there’s nothing wrong with her. Maybe we’re the ones who need to reassess the value we place on the creation and nurture of life. And if the thought of a virus ending our lives or the lives of our loved one fills us with such terror that we are willing to comply with anything to stop that from happening, then maybe we need to look at how we view this inevitable aspect of mortality that each and every one of us will experience at some point in our lives. Do you get my point? I mean, if everyone who believes there are a slue of conspiracies all around us were diagnosed with psychosis, how many of us would be locked up? (raises hand)

But seriously, if Covid19 is good for anything, maybe it’s that it’s required us to stop, take a breath, and rethink the direction we’re headed as a society.

Now that we suddenly have masses of people who can relate to all those who have been suffering with long term medically induced illness, maybe we can all be a little more compassionate and invested in each other. Can you imagine if we were all motivated to discover new ways to research and treat illness that don’t include millions of people dying or suffering from disability in our society as an “acceptable risk”? I mean, when did we ever think that was ok? Medicine is still the third leading cause of death in the US, and that doesn’t account for the untold cases of disability. To me, the thousands of people I interact with in these medical harm support communities every year are not acceptable risks. They’re people, with families, dreams and love they want to share with the rest of the world. But they can’t now, because they are a byproduct of the industries we place our faith and trust in, the authorities we invest with power. Because when things get scary we need to trust in a higher power, that’s just human nature.

Is the Covid19 pandemic every bit as man made as the opiate and benzo epidemics?

Yes, because we created it. One way or another, we allowed this to happen. And only we can solve it. So, let’s keep the good things we have, like the idea of a body of people assigned to review products for safety, or the medical advances we’ve made over the past generation or two. And let’s listen less to the “experts” and more to our inherent Wisdom. Let’s start listening to that little voice inside that says we need to slow down, be a little more honest, and change our work schedule so we’re more available to visit with our neighbors. Listen to Wisdom when she encourages us to live on less, move closer to home, spend more time out doors and more time on our knees. And when we ignore that little voice, and it turns into a great big physical and emotional wall of pain, let’s definitely pay attention to that! If the only way to fit into society when that happens is to numb away the pain, then maybe we need to change society. Maybe we need to find a way to be more accepting and accommodating of those times in our lives when that happens and more respectful of the people it’s happening to. Perhaps we should listen more to the people hearing voices in our world today, because maybe those voices have something important to say. Maybe what we all really need is a little more faith in ourselves, that we really can create that kind of change, that we really do have that kind of power.

Because we do.

To Learn More about the new benzodiazepine warnings click below:

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