Purpose of the VBSG:
The purpose of the Vancouver Benzodiazepine Support Group (VBSG) is to provide general information, help and assistance to all those people who are either:
a) Still taking Benzodiazepine (Benzo) on a regular basis but would now like to get off the drug. Or,
b) Have recently stopped taking Benzo and are now dealing with uncomfortable Benzo withdrawal symptoms.
Regardless of the initial reasons why you took Benzo, the overwhelming advice offered by all previous Benzo users, is that you stop taking the drug ASAP thereby avoiding all further possible harmful side effects on the body and brain.
However, if one were to simply stop taking the drug instantly, it is almost guaranteed that you would experience any number of overbearing ‘withdrawal’ symptoms that would simply be un-acceptable and even life threatening.
The preferred solution is that one must WITHDRAW SLOWLY, thereby reducing the amount of Benzo taken week by week until you can finally cope without any drug at all. Once you become totally free of the drug, the brain is supposed to slowly heal all by itself. However, it is very evident that even if you become drug free, withdrawal symptoms may continue for a very long time afterwards, even several years or more. It is during this challenging withdrawal phase that people require the most support and guidance.
Important Note: During any attempted withdrawal process, you must be under the care and guidance of your GP or other qualified drug addiction specialist.
Vancouver Area Local Support Group:
There is a lot to be gained by conferring with people who have already been down the difficult path to withdrawal.
They can provided ‘factual’ and ‘realistic’ information that you will NOT be able to get from any other source.
At the current time, all persons interested in attending a local Benzo support meeting can check out the schedule of upcoming meetings
currently being organized by the 'Coming Off Benzodiazepines & Sleeping Medications Support Group' on the "Meetup.com" web site by clicking here.
Professional Medical Advice in Vancouver:
At the time of writing, VBSG is unaware of any formal and authorised help regarding Benzo withdrawal within the B.C. medical system.
To our knowledge there is only one qualified doctor available in the Vancouver area who understands the implication of taking Benzo and who
understands and supports a Benzo withdrawal program. See Dr.J.Wright below
If you know of any other local doctors who have an interest in helping Benzo withdrawal patients, please email us their contact info by clicking here.
1) Dr. James M. Wright:
Dr. James M. Wright, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPC
Director – Therapeutics Initiative Professor
University of British Columbia - Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Note: A doctor's referral is need before an appointment can be made with Dr. Wright.
Otherwise, call 604-822-7134 for an appointment for Thursdays only.
For further information about Dr. Wright, visit the UBC web site by clicking here.
2) Vancouver Coastal Health:
To find a suitable health service in your area try, visiting the VCH web site by clicking
To find a drug addiction specialist in your area try visiting the 'Vancouver Coastal Health' Stepping Stones service by
For more general information about Benzodizapines presented by the Vancouver eMentalHealth group
3) Vancouver Coastal Health - Access and Assessment Centre (AAC):
For help in locating hospital services in the vancouver area call AAC at: 604-675-3700 - available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Or visit their web site for more information by clicking here.
4) College of Physicians and Surgeons in British Columbia:
To locate a specialist in your area try visiting the 'College of Physicians and Surgeons in British Columbia' by
List of Benzodiazepine based drugs:
Examples include: Diazepam, Lorazepam, Chlordiazepoxide, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Nitrazepam, Loprazolam, Lormetazepam, Clobazam and Clonazepam.
For more information about Benzo based drugs you can refer to the Ashton 'Benzodiazepine Equivalence Table' by clicking here.
For a detailed list of the different types of Benzodiazepines click
Other Useful Links:
Here are some links to several informative Benzo web sites:
Wikipedia - Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome click here.
Wikipedia - Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome (Signs_and_symptoms) click here.
2) Medical Research:
Professor C Heather Ashton, DM, FRCP
For the best and most comprehensive information on benzodiazepine withdrawal you are encouraged to read:
Benzodiazepines: How they Work & How to Withdraw (The Ashton Manual)
Professor Malcolm H Lader of the Institute of Psychiatry has published more than 100 papers on the subject of benzodiazepines see:
Also, listen to him speaking on the British BBC Radio 4 program that highlights the massive Benzo 'Prescribed Addiction' problem in the UK 'Face the Facts' July 27 2011.
3)Psychiatric Medication Awareness Group (PMAG):
A small group of concerned British Columbians based in Victoria B.C. click here.
4) Withdrawal Information and Support:
General information for those people who want to end benzodiazepine addiction and recover from withdrawal syndromes.
Prof. Heather Ashton:
a) Withdrawal information about patients who have taken a Benzo for much longer periods, say three to five years, is much harder to get.
The studies by Prof.Ashton offer some of the best information and advice. Click here.
b) To read Prof.Ashton's general overview of the massive misuse of Benzo in the UK click
c) This documentary tells the hidden story of how benzodiazepines can both main and kill. The serious crippling physical side effects of these drugs can last for years
after the medication is stopped, possibly permanently. Documentary contains interviews from both Prof.Ashton and Prof.Lader. Click
Peter Hayes-Davies - Recovering From Benzodiazepines:
To read a fantastic and personal account that is full of valuable information on every aspect of Benzo withdrawal including the comment:
"Benzo withdrawal is brain damage. Years of using this drug as prescribed by our doctors can only lead to a state of impairment
in the Central Nervous System (CNS) equivalent to that of having a stroke. The only difference is, where the brain damage caused by
a stroke goes recognized (by medical authorities) and receives constant care/therapy and reassurance in order to heal, that of benzo withdrawal is
NOT recognized and goes unsupported and even denied." click
Dr. Jennifer Leigh:
To read one of the best explanations that clearly and accurately describes how Benzo directly affects the brain and also the
difficulties experienced during Benzo withdrawal click
a) Jennifer herself struggled for many years through Benzo withdrawal and, as such, has learnt the hard way just how difficult withdrawal can be.
For example Jennifer points out that:
- Benzo withdrawal can take many years and
- Benzos actually damage the brain BEFORE withdrawal even begins
To visit Jennifer’s ‘What your doctors won’t tell you about benzo withdrawal’ web page click
b) Jennifer also talks other withdrawal issues and general coping skills such as:
"Respect your central nervous system at all costs. This is so important, I will repeat it: Respect your central nervous system at all costs.”
"Avoid doctors and professionals who are not benzo-wise. This coping suggestion is perhaps the most important, for to ignore it could cost you your life.”
"I urge you to educate yourself about the damage these drugs can cause, and the safest ways to recover."
"The best and only 'cure' for benzodiazepine withdrawal is time. Lots and lots of it. You will recover."
To read more about these and other issues outlined by Jennifer click
c) To download Jennifer's FREE guide "The Top 3 Coping Skills I Used to Survive Benzo Withdrawal" click
5) Public blogging web sites:
6) Community based information sites:
Here is a link to a fantastic 30 minute BBC radio show called "Face The Facts" in which they do an in-depth study into the
problem of ‘Benzo miss-prescription’ in the UK 2011. Click here.
7) Health Canada:
You can report adverse drug reactions from benzodiazepines directly to Health Canada by clicking here.
8) Worldwide Call To Action:
Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (W-BAD):
If you are interested in taking part in organized partitions against the current missuse of Benzo medications, you could start by visiting the
W-BAD web site by clicking here.
Or, to hear the collective voices of the long-suffering benzodiazepine-injured community and learn from their experiences,
you could visit the W-BAD Facebook page by clicking here.
Benzo And The Brain:
Research indicates that the effect of Benzo is to enhance the natural effect of GABA in the brain.
GABA is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in the brain and GABA’s natural function is to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds.
Apparently Benzo helps GABA to reduce neural activity even further which in turn, help to calm us down.
This research also seem to suggest that with the onset of 'tolerance', the brain no longer has the required levels of GABA necessary to switch the brain
into normal relaxation and sleep mode.
For more precise information on how Benzo and GABA interact in the brain check out these links:
1) Anxiety Neurotransmitters GABA Receptors click here.
2) Wikipedia click here.
3) Denver Naturopathic Clinic click here.
Why British Columbia Needs A Comprehensive Benzodiazepine Strategy:
For all those patients who were prescribed Benzo (for whatever reason) and are now only to well aware as to the drastic consequences, it quickly becomes obvious
that B.C Medical Health Care service lacks both the interest, knowledge and ability to provide any direct help and assistance.
This 'flaw' with the BCMA has been accurately detailed by the Psychiatric Medication Awareness Group (PMAG) based in Victoria B.C.
You can read a detailed account of the PMAG recommendations why B.C. needs a comprehensive Benzo strategy by clicking
For an incredible example of services that can be be organized and offered, you can visit the website of the 'Bristol & District Tranquilliser Project'
in the UK, a voluntary organization set up in 1985 to help people who are experiencing involuntary addiction to prescribed medications such as Benzos.
Use of this site and the respective resources are subject to acceptance of our conditions of use and the following disclaimer:
VBSG does not provide individual advice or respond to individual requests for assistance with discontinuation of psychiatric medications or other related issues.
We strongly recommend that people consult a physician who is informed about the risks of psychiatric drugs and drug withdrawal.
Those who cannot find a physician to assist them are advised to contact the nearest provincial or state mental health & addictions service — or the local Health department — and request a referral to a physician or counsellor who is very familiar with slow methods of tapering off prescription drugs (such as the Ashton protocol).
Doing so raises awareness in the health care system about the urgent need for appropriate assistance and support for prescription drug issues.
If you require further information or would like to ask questions, please feel free to email us by clicking here..
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