Jul 11, 2018
This week on MIA Radio, we present a special
episode of the podcast to join in the many events being held for
World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day, July 11, 2018.
In part 1, we chat with W-BAD
Lead Operations Volunteer and Virginia Representative Nicole
Lamberson who talks about the events being held for W-BAD. We hear
from psychiatrist Dr Josef Witt-Doerring, who talks about a recent
paper he co-authored entitled “Online Communities for Drug
Withdrawal: What Can We Learn?”. We also hear from therapist
and campaigner Chris Paige who discusses his own experiences taking
and withdrawing from benzodiazepines. Finally, in part 2 of the
interview, we get to chat with Robert Whitaker, science journalist
and author of the books Mad in America and Anatomy of
First, I am very fortunate to
have had the chance to talk with Nicole Lamberson. Nicole is Lead
Operations Volunteer and Virginia Representative for W-BAD and she
has kindly taken time out of her busy preparations to talk about
how she became involved with W-BAD, some of the events and
campaigns being held around the world and how people can get
Nicole has an immense passion for
benzodiazepine awareness and its victims and hopes that her efforts
ultimately spare many others from taking this painful, senseless,
and totally preventable iatrogenic “journey”.
- How Nicole first became involved
- How discovering personal
testimonies encouraged her to reach out to find out more about an
awareness day held on the birthday of Dr Heather Ashton - July
- What it feels like to be part of
the benzodiazepine community.
- How there is is still no medical
consensus about the effects of both taking and withdrawing from
- The W-BAD T-shirt campaign,
which was organised in partnership with the Benzodiazepine
Information Coalition and As Prescribed, an in-production
documentary by Holly Hardman.
- Pamphlet distributions happening
in Auckland, Paris, Boston and Torrington.
- That Wayne Douglas, W-BAD
founder is on the Dr Peter Breggin hour
on July 11 at 4pm New York
- That people can visit W-BAD events to find out
- That on social media, people can
follow events using @WorldBenzoDay and the hashtag
- That people can participate in
many ways and that one of the most important ways to participate is
to submit reports of adverse effects and withdrawal reactions to
the appropriate regulator, links to which can be found on the
- How important it is to share
stories and personal experiences.
- That W-BAD is for anybody, not
just those who are damaged by the drugs but also for families and
friends and those recovered too.
[IN]VISIBLE T-shirt campaign
How to participate in W-BAD
As Prescribed by Holly Hardman (documentary
film in production)
International Task Force on
Dr Heather Ashton
The 2017 W-BAD podcast
featuring Professor Malcolm Lader, Jocelyn Pedersen and Barry
Next, we chat with psychiatrist
Dr Josef Witt-Doerring. Josef trained in Queensland, Australia
before becoming a psychiatric resident at Baylor College of
Medicine, Houston, Texas. He co-authored a paper published in
Psychiatric Times entitled “Online Communities for Drug
Withdrawal: What Can We Learn?” which received praise for
openly addressing the issues of dependence and withdrawal and
identifying the support activity that goes on in forums like Benzo
Buddies and Surviving Antidepressants.
- What led Dr Witt-Doerring to
become a psychiatric trainee after attending medical school in
- How reading Anatomy of an
Epidemic led to an awareness of some of the consequences of
psychiatric drug use from a critical perspective.
- What led to his research into
online support forums for those who are seeking support for
psychiatric drug withdrawal.
- That Josef was surprised at the
amount of support activity in online forums like Benzo Buddies and
- How the paper that Josef
co-authored on learning from online communities found a great deal
of support both amongst colleagues and patient advocacy
- How he feels that there is a
general lack of awareness of dependence and withdrawal issues
because the messages can be drowned out by more strident
communications in marketing or promotional material.
- That the idea of ‘treatment
resistant’ conditions is probably much more on a general doctors
mind than adverse reactions or protracted withdrawal
- How Josef’s experiences have
influenced his approach to prescribing central nervous system
- That he would like to think that
if a doctor and patient can talk frankly and openly about the pros
and cons of treatment, then that is likely to lead to a better
relationship and a better outcome.
- That there is a dearth of
support services for people struggling with the drugs, particularly
at the end of treatment.
- How academic detailing
programmes could help raise awareness and disseminate information
that would lead to doctors being more confident about
- How the language of addiction
and dependence can sometimes be a barrier to recognition
of drug withdrawal
- That it may be better to look
through a neurological injury lens rather than an addiction lens
both in terms of understanding experiences but also to enable
better treatment and support options.
- That the community of those
affected should continue to share their stories and to raise
petitions with professional organisations, such as the boards that
licence psychiatrists and OBGYN’s.
- How, because of the huge
variation in patient experience, it would be very difficult to
mandate short-term prescribing.
Online Communities for Drug Withdrawal: What Can We
Malcolm Lader: Anxiety or depression during withdrawal of hypnotic
Our next guest is Chris Paige.
Chris has a bit of an 'inside' perspective to add to the
conversation for World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day in that he is a
licensed therapist of over 20 years who was iatrogenically injured
by a prescribed benzodiazepine. Chris has practised in a variety of
settings including hospitals, schools, and foster homes and has
taught at the undergraduate and graduate level.
He has presented papers at
national and international conferences, appeared on Dateline NBC
for his work with children of divorce and had his own national
magazine column called 'On The Couch with Chris Paige'.
Chris is on the board the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition, a
non-profit organization that advocates for greater
understanding of the potentially
devastating effects of commonly prescribed benzodiazepines as well
as prevention of patient injury through medical recognition,
informed consent, and education. Chris currently resides and
practices in Florida.
- How Chris first came to be
prescribed a benzodiazepine in 2000.
- His recollections of being
prescribed Klonopin (Clonazepam) for anxiety, taking between 1 and
2 milligrams per day.
- How, after three years
use, he started to notice tremors
and memory loss.
- That a neurologist explained
that his symptoms may be medication related and advised a taper but
gave no specific instructions.
- How Chris came off the Klonopin
fairly rapidly but didn’t find it too difficult at the
- How, some years later, he was
given an antibiotic for a prostate infection but rapidly developed
psychiatric symptoms including anxiety, agitation and
- That this led Chris to consult a
doctor for some Klonopin tablets to manage this and that he took a
total of 16 milligrams over the next 10 weeks.
- That he understands now that the
antibiotic and the Klonopin compete at the same receptor in the
brain, leading immediately to a tolerance to the drug.
- That because of this tolerance
he became more sleepless, more agitated and more anxious and
working was becoming increasingly difficult.
- How he came to be in a five-day
detox programme in Vermont, where they took him off one and a
quarter milligrams of Klonopin in just five days.
- How Chris realised that the
detox approach was not right and wanted to leave.
- How the detox programme decided
to replace the Klonopin with four different psychiatric drugs, two
of which he has now ceased with two still to taper.
- That he felt that his brain and
nervous system were severely shocked by making such rapid
- How this led to Chris being
admitted to psychiatric hospital which he describes as “possibly
one of the most humiliating experiences he has ever
- How Chris felt when experiencing
akathisia which was a relentless compulsion to move and gave him a
feeling as if his whole body was being electrocuted and that he had
been lit on fire.
- That he initially felt supported
by friends and family but that quickly eroded when he didn't get
better or accept harmful and dangerous treatment
- That this led to the
misunderstanding of his injury and it being mislabeled as an
- That ultimately the only places
he found validation and support were online support
- The losses that Chris endured
during his struggles including his health, his psychotherapy
practice and even his reputation.
- That Chris’s message is that
there is hope for the future and the importance of reconnecting
with the simple things in life.
- The lack of acknowledgement of
the impact of trauma on a person’s life.
Chris's profile at BIC
In part 2 of this podcast, we
will hear from science journalist and author Robert