Some doctors have to think more about a number of anti-anxiety medications they prescribe because of the increase of drug abuse rates in the United States.
For example, New York City emergency room (ER) visits related to benzodiazepines medications (like Xanax and some other medications for anxiety treatment increased more than a half, according to 2004-2009 New York City Department of Health. On the top of that, benzodiazepines were the cause of more than deaths in 2009. Almost all of those cases involved benzodiazepine as one of the several drugs (both licit and illicit) taken by abusers.
You can read more about drugs abuse in the article here.
One of the most medication for anxiety treatment among the benzodiazepine drugs is Xanax, which is on the 11 place of the prescribed bill rate in 2010, reported IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Many measures were taken by health care providers to prevent the anti-anxiety abuse by the U.S. citizens. Psychiatrists who work at the Seven Countries Services network of mental health clinics in Louisville, Kentucky, halted all the prescriptions related to Xanax. This halt is effective till now, for about one year.
Benzodiazepines act fast when it comes to treatment of panic attacks, especially acute ones, according to Dr. Scott Hedges, senior vice president for medical services at Seven Counties. He also said that this kind of drugs is not designed for long-term treatments and so he focused more on behavioral therapies. He pointed out other, more effective treatments with better outcomes in terms of long-term treatment than the use of the short-term medications.
After long-term use of Xanax, some abusers complain about more intense anxiety and panic attacks. One of them said that after he started to take the benzodiazepine, he noticed that its effect doesn’t last long and he had to increase the amount of medication taken. As he said, he had to double or even triple the dose of medication to feel any changes. The abuser also told that he was taking his medication with other, illegal drugs, like many other Xanax addicts. He was trying to decrease the intense of panic symptoms caused by his attempts to quit heroin. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to reveal his identity, but he is in recovery now.
A director of the Emergency Department at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, Dr. Jeff Rabrich, said that he saw negative effects of benzodiazepines and other illegal drugs combination. He said that Xanax made overdose even worse, and possibly could transform mild overdose into fatal.
According to American Psychiatric Association (APA) practice guidelines, health care specialists should avoid Xanax (alprazolam) prescribing to patients who are under or were under of any substance abuse. The APA explained their caution for prescribing Xanax or its generic form to abusers on recover. They said that any benzodiazepines abuse is associated with other drugs or substances abuse, regardless if they are legal or not. Plus, benzodiazepines cause the euphoric response and so lead to higher rate of the drug usage during the treatment.
The manufacturer of Xanax, Pfizer Inc., said that they don’t try to bear with the abuse of Xanax or other products and said healthcare providers should be aware of the risks of the drugs. Pfizer said that Xanax has an established safety profile and millions of patients approved Xanax benefits as a treatment option. Pfizer has prescription information sheet (Pfizer Information Sheet or PPI for short) and in that sheet, a doctor can find the warning about the possible dependence (psychological and physical) associated with Pfizer’s products in overall and Xanax especially. According to PPI, some patients had difficulties in discontinuing from Xanax and especially the patient who took higher doses of the drug for a long-term period. On the top of that, those patients who received medications and addiction-prone should take Xanax under the careful doctor’s supervision.
You can also read about try of Medicaid officials to control substances abuse in Colorado.
A drug counselor who helps the abuser, mentioned above, said that she was confident that Xanax and other similar medications are overprescribed in the U.S. She said that she didn’t doctors took enough time with their patients to understand what problem was occurred. She added that it should be a doctor who doesn’t have time and personnel and isn’t paid much, so the doctor just prescribes the medication as quickly as possible to accept another patient.
An expert on benzodiazepines at University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology, Dr. Karl Rickels, said that Xanax and other similar medications should be understood better by doctors who prescribe those medications. He also added, that his advice is not to prescribe benzodiazepine medications if provider knows about patient’s abuse of any other substations and in the case when provider learned about the abuse later, the provider should reduce the amount of medication taken by the patient.