Archive for the ‘benzodiazepines’ Category

Self-Induced Brainwashing

September 29, 2011

I read a fair bit about propaganda, frequently talk about it and have occasionally written on the subject. I have always avoided using the term “brainwashing” and “mind control”. I tend to typically associate these terms with Maoist use of deprivation and psychological bombardment to break an individual’s will, followed by indoctrination. Alternatively, “brainwashing” using psycho-active drugs was practiced by the KGB and tested by the CIA during the Cold War. This is where I am reconsidering using the term brainwashing, but not by a state apparatus. Rather, is self-induced brainwashing occurring in the United States?
In Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, the author described a dystopia where “soma” was used as a psycho-active drug that, along with relentless propaganda, helped facilitate conformity. Given the magnitude at which psycho-active drugs are prescribed in American society, I cannot help but wonder if we now have our “soma”, too. Earlier this year, using statistics from 2005-2008, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that about 30% of women over the age of 45 were on either anti-depressants or anxiolytics and about 15% of men; see their report “Health, United States, 2010”. (I added their numbers together in the HHS report, assuming that few were simultaneously taking both. Even if I have erred and am a few percent out, the numbers are still breathtaking.) Given all that has happened since 2008, I can only imagine that usage of such psycho-active drugs is even more common.
The numbers for the anxiolytics, overwhelmingly benzodiazepines such as clonazepam and alprazalam, got my attention. Roughly 10% of the population over 65 are on such drugs. That is potentially a lot of benzodiazepines being swallowed by a demographic that will be way more likely to spend time in front of the television, and being propagandized.
When the KGB was abusing psychiatry on dissidents, a drug they were using during brainwashing was temazepam. A sedating, hypnotic benzodiazepine that facilitated compliance and even vegetation, now prescribed under the brand name Restoril here in the United States. Given that the heavily prescribed clonazepam (Klonopin) and alprazolam (Xanax) are so similar, are chemically dependent individuals complicit in their own self-induced KGB-style brainwashing? Does use of these drugs make individuals more susceptible to propaganda? “We report, you decide.” But what if you have rendered yourself incapable of judgment?

Benzodiazepines and the Conrad Murray Trial

September 28, 2011

The trial of the physician charged with the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson, Dr Conrad Murray, has just started. The whole tragic story of Michael Jackson’s chemical dependency, his addictions, will undoubtedly be aired by the defendant’s lawyers. Expect wall-to-wall television coverage. But out of this tragedy there may just be one silver lining, potential dangers of prescription drugs will be aired nightly. Much of the trial will undoubtedly focus on propofol, but on the day Michael Jackson died he also took multiple doses of the benzodiazepines diazepam (Valium), midazolam and lorazepam (Ativan) as sedatives.  Other such valium analogs that are widely used as prescription drugs are the benzodiazepines clonazapam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax) and temazepam (Restoril) . Benzodiazepines are some of the most widely prescribed anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety drugs, in the United States. I do not doubt that they have legitimate uses. But I also do not doubt that they are grossly over-prescribed. They are highly addictive, can have debilitating side effects and be extremely dangerous as part of a cocktail, be it with other drugs or alcohol. Raising public awareness of their potential danger can only be for the public good, and spare us additional victims. Ironically, expect the ads for psycho-active drugs to keep airing during commercial breaks.