The Bitter Pill

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Whitney Houston and Psychiatric Drugs – Xanax

A post by Peter Breggin:

Often when I think about how much I love my wife, Ginger, I wish I could sing to her. But I cannot sing. Instead, I imagine Whitney Houston singing to Ginger in her incredible soaring voice. Whitney became the voice expressing how much I love my wife. That is how much Whitney came to mean to so many of us who knew her only through her music. She became the music about love we carry in our hearts.

Whitney’s passing has raised the specter that she was taking the benzodiazepine Xanax (alprazolam) at the time she died.

If it turns out that Whitney was under the influence of Xanax (alprazolam), then there’s a good chance she would be alive today if that drug had never been put on the market.

Although Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, and in my experience the most dangerous, the same harmful effects can be caused by all benzodiazepines, including Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Serax, Halcion, Dalmane, and Halcion. When I address Xanax, I’m also talking about all of these drugs.

Reports that Xanax and other benzos are not usually lethal when taken alone are vastly misleading. Xanax is rarely taken alone. Why? Because as much or more than any other prescribed drug, Xanax causes medication spellbinding. It corrupts judgment, memory and self-control, so that individuals have no idea how badly they are being impaired. Eventually it erodes all mental faculties, often without the person fully grasping this loss of function. The impairment of judgment and self-control causes people to overdose on drugs or alcohol without intending to, leading to coma, cardiovascular collapse and death. The Xanax-induced memory impairment causes them to forget how many pills or how much alcohol they have already taken, again increasing the lethal risk.

Xanax has been called “alcohol in a pill” because its effects are so similar to alcohol. However, as will be documented, Xanax can be far more dangerous than alcohol. It should not be prescribed to patients with alcohol problems, because it becomes a powerful impetus for alcohol abuse.

At critical moments in their lives when individuals are suffering from serious emotional problems, their ability to deal with them is further compromised as a result of Xanax-induced medication spellbinding and cognitive deficits. In acute distress, they often have no idea what is happening to them. They have no idea how impaired they have become, they forget what they’ve already taken, or increase the dose, or increase or add other medications or alcohol.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: adverse drug reactions, medication, psychiatric drugs, psychotropic drugs, Sudden Death, Whitney Houston, Xanax, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TIME Magazine on Psych Drugs and Violence

Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence

By Maia Szalavitz Friday, January 7, 2011

When people consider the connections between drugs and violence, what typically comes to mind are illegal drugs like crack cocaine. However, certain medications — most notably, some antidepressants like Prozac — have also been linked to increase risk for violent, even homicidal behavior.

A new study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published in the journal PloS One and based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System has identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others.

Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior. For example, in the case of opioid pain medications like Oxycontin, people with a prior history of violent behavior may seek  drugs in order to sustain an addiction, which they support via predatory crime. In the case of antipsychotics, the drugs may be given in an attempt to reduce violence by people suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders — so the drugs here might not be causing violence, but could be linked with it because they’re used to try to stop it.

Nonetheless, when one particular drug in a class of nonaddictive drugs used to treat the same problem stands out, that suggests caution: unless the drug is being used to treat radically different groups of people, that drug may actually be the problem. Researchers calculated a ratio of risk for each drug compared to the others in the database, adjusting for various relevant factors that could create misleading comparisons.

10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline, this drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) A drug related to Pristiq in the same class of antidepressants, both are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Effexor is 8.3 times more likely than other drugs to be related to violent behavior.

8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) An antidepressant that affects serotonin (SSRI), Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence

7.Triazolam (Halcion) A benzodiazepine which can be addictive, used to treat insomnia. Halcion is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs, according to the study.

6) Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Strattera affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the average medication.

5) Mefoquine (Lariam) A treatment for malaria, Lariam has long been linked with reports of bizarre behavior. It is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.

4) Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD and affect the brain’s dopamine and noradrenaline systems. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence, compared to other drugs.

3) Paroxetine (Paxil) An SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with more severe withdrawal symptoms and a greater risk of birth defects compared to other medications in that class. It is 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs.

2) Fluoxetine (Prozac) The first well-known SSRI antidepressant, Prozac is 10.9 times more likely to be linked with violence in comparison with other medications.

1) Varenicline (Chantix) The anti-smoking medication Chantix affects the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which helps reduce craving for smoking. Unfortunately, it’s 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs — by comparison, that number for Xyban is 3.9 and just 1.9 for nicotine replacement. Because Chantix is slightly superior in terms of quit rates in comparison to other drugs, it shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out as an option for those trying to quit, however.

Filed under: antidepressants, violence, , , , , ,


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