Ever since the Rolling Stones came out with the song “Mother’s Little Helper,” more and more people have become aware of the use of minor tranquilizers to ease anxiety and promote sleep. Valium, the anti-anxiety drug referred to in Mick Jagger’s famous tune, has plenty of sister drugs including Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin. However, medical professionals continue to hotly debate whether the minor tranquilizers or benzodiazepines are safe for long-term use.
Even the most law-abiding patients can become inadvertently addicted to minor tranquilizers and need professional help to safely taper down from the drugs. Withdrawal from benzos after long-term use can be painful and in some cases fatal. Anyone who takes a daily dose of a tranquilizer such as Xanax or Valium should not suddenly stop the medication without professional assistance.
The fact that benzodiazepines can cause seizures and psychological problems once the drug is taken away means they are not safe for long-term use. Also, people who regularly take tranquilizers experience more problems with depression and physical coordination than those who take the drugs occasionally or not at all. Some patients lose part or even all of their hearing after years of taking minor tranquilizers such as Ativan or Klonopin. Mixing benzos with alcohol or narcotic painkillers can lead to accidental fatal overdoses, so people who regularly drink or take other sedating medications should avoid drugs such as Xanax.
Generally, doctors recommend that patients restrict their use of any potentially addictive drug to just a few weeks. The same principle applies to narcotic painkillers and amphetamine-like appetite suppressants. However, the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with minor tranquilizers are much more serious than with any other drug except alcohol.