Fast-Rising Benzo Abuse Signals Another Psychiatric Drug Epidemic

by | Sep 7, 2018

“CCHR has been issuing warnings on the dangers of these psychiatric drugs for decades,” said Diane Stein, President of the CCHR chapter in Florida. “Now we are seeing the start of a benzo epidemic to match the opioid epidemic.”

“CCHR has been issuing warnings on the dangers of these psychiatric drugs for decades,” said Diane Stein, President of the CCHR chapter in Florida. “Now we are seeing the start of a benzo epidemic to match the opioid epidemic.”

Earlier this year, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) reported that benzodiazepines, commonly called benzos, were a factor in the deaths of Tom Petty, Prince, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and other creative artists. In the same article, CCHR, a non-profit mental health watchdog that has, for 49 years, worked to restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health, also reported that in the United States more people die from psychiatric drug overdose than heroin overdose, citing the fact that in 2014, 10,574 people died of heroin overdose while 15,778 (nearly 50% more) died from an overdose of psychiatric drugs. Not surprisingly, the biggest killers were sedatives such as benzos, antidepressants, psychostimulants, and antipsychotics. [1]
According to NBC Health News, the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan are skyrocketing and while many doctors are unaware of their debilitating or deadly side effects, numerous experts are starting to compare the abuse of prescription benzos to the beginnings of a new opioid crisis.[2]
This crisis is prompting more people to come forward including filmmaker Holly Hardman who is producing a documentary called “As Prescribed” about the dangers of benzos. It took Hardman two years to taper off Klonopin, with major disturbing side effects. “People are given these medications for normal life experiences and don’t realize what can happen,” she says.
Additionally, Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University Medical Center, said complications such as dependency and addiction are fueling a hidden benzo epidemic similar to the opioid crisis and experts at the nonprofit Lown Institute of Brookline, Massachusetts are reporting that the withdrawal symptoms from benzos are even worse than opioids.[3]
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports 8,791 overdose deaths involving benzos in 2015, an 800% increase from 1,135 benzo deaths in 1999. Adults filling benzo prescriptions have been on a steady upswing since the late ‘90s, 13.5 million in 2013.[4]
“CCHR has been issuing warnings on the dangers of these psychiatric drugs for decades,” said Diane Stein, President of the CCHR chapter in Florida. “Now we are seeing the start of a benzo epidemic to match the opioid epidemic.”
Anyone wanting more information on the dangers of psychiatric drugs is encouraged to contact CCHR Florida at 727-442-8820 or visit the center located at 109 N. Fort Harrison Avenue in downtown.
[1] HeartBreaker: Another Celebrity Lost to Benzo-Opioid Mix—Tom Petty’s Death Ruled Accidental Overdose, CCHR International, January 25, 2018
[2] Dangers of rising benzo prescriptions raise alarms of next drug crisis, by Avichai Scher and Ali Galante, NBC News, July 27, 2018
[3] As dangerous as opioids – Benzo overprescription becoming a crisis, Lown Institute,
[4] Our Other Prescription Drug Problem, The New England Journal of Medicine, Anna Lembke, M.D., Jennifer Papac, M.D., and Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., February 22, 2018,

1 Comment

  1. Pamela

    I am passionate about revealing the truth regarding dangerous and fraudulent pharmaceuticals, especially psychiatric drugs. Twenty years ago I was poisoned by a toxic bottle of Paxil that had been fraudulently manufactured in an unregulated Mexican factory, which for years was producing bottles of prescription meds that were the wrong dosage, the wrong pills entirely or were toxic blends of several highly dangerous chemicals. This went on for years until one woman had the courage to report the factory conditions to the men in charge at GSK. They ignored her complaint because they already knew of these conditions. Glaxo Smith Kline knew of the dangerous and even fatal consequences that could come of taking pills that came from this Mexican facility. So, instead of taking the ethical path to resolve this catastrophic failure, they threatened the employee who blew the whistle, forcing her to inevitably leave her high ranking position and seek protection with the federal government. An investigation was launched at the Cidra plant, but it would be another 5 years before GSK would pull out of Mexico and relocate their production facility in the states without so much as a slap on the wrist.
    The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion dollar cover for the world’s best criminal minds. It is an entity that thrives on misery and suffering by victimizing the trusting and vulnerable population of consumers who have been brainwashed to believe that medical professionals care about health and the welfare of the patient. To scrutinize the role of the government in regulating any part of this industry is a farce. If it were not for the Governments predictable habit of turning a blind eye to repeated violations, fraudulent manufacturing and marketing, and gross negligence by Big Pharma, these drugs would never rise to become the mass weapons of genocide that they are becoming. Expectations for a concerned and paternal government department to intervene in the production of pharmaceuticals would be better directed at your neighbor or a stranger on the street. The government is in too deep reaping the benefits of 13.5 million citizens dependent on and addicted to pharmaceuticals, specifically psychiatric meds.
    This nation won it’s independence because some stubborn, free thinking individuals believed they deserved better and were willing to die in pursuit of happiness.
    I am stuck here, with the previous statement. There is something very dark and premonitory in that sentence for me, maybe for all those who have had a battle with any type of addiction… it’s always about the pursuit of happiness, trying to satisfy that deep, soul yearning emptiness. But, rather than take up arms and congregate at the town square or in your kinfolk’s barn to organize a revolution, you fight for the pursuit of happiness alone. Through smoke and mirrors, navigating heroically, the prize is a 30, 60, 90 day supply of happiness in a bottle, or a baggie or a needle. It is all the same pursuit. When we are done waiting for someone else to intervene on our behalf we may begin to live the life we deserve.
    Take matters to a grass roots level and spread information casually at a soccer or football game, while in line at the grocery, sit a while longer at the nail salon or on the golf course, or stacking books at your local library, driving a carload of Boy Scouts to a campout, serving donuts after Sunday mass….. I could go on and on about where to find opportunities to talk about the dangers of psychiatric drugs because all of the above mentioned are from personal experience. The point is- do not wait for the government or an advocacy group (no offense CCHR), or a supreme court ruling, to inform your community about the real harm and fatal consequences that result from psychiatric meds. Research for “adverse effects of…(enter psych med here)”.
    I apologize for the long winded rant, and I have veered too left of center to reel it in.
    If you detect there may be a problem developing with your own use of meds or with someone else, Do Not WAIT to see how things progress before you intervene. Your time is now! If you have the slightest bit of humanity left in you, then act on it. Approach someone the way you would want to be approached.
    Educate yourselves. Educate each other. In the manner of the “Me, Too” movement, conversations can lead to awareness and healing.


Leave a Reply


Contact CCHR Florida

109 N. Fort Harrison Ave.
Clearwater, Florida 33755
Tel: 1-800-782-2878