BENZO'S" AND ENDING DEPENDENCY
By: Dr. Terry
Understanding this terrible dependency,
protracted withdrawal, and successful freedom from the use of
tranquilizers is best understood if approached from several
First, how a dependency develops. Every
thought, every feeling, every action we as humans experience
requires the interaction of various neurotransmitter systems
within our brains. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which
interact with receptors in our brains to produce these
thoughts, feelings and actions. In the case of tranquilizer
drugs there are four neurotransmitters which are important to
This is neither a complete list of neurotransmitters nor of
their functions. However, it can serve as a foundation for
understanding what has happened to you and why it is so
difficult to "just stop" the use of tranquilizers.
The most important neurotransmitter in this
issue is GABA. It keeps things on an even keel, maintains
calm, allows rational thoughts and feelings and keeps you in
balance. Picture, now, a large doughnut with a tiny hole in
the center of the doughnut. This is how a GABA receptor
complex looks through a microscope. Receptors for GABA are
arranged near the center of the doughnut in a circle around
the tiny hole. When GABA binds (hooks onto) these specific
receptors it "tightens" the doughnut and enlarges the hole.
This allows chloride to enter the cell through the hole. It is
this chloride which slows down firings, slows down thoughts
and allows calm feelings.
In a ring around the hole but out in the center of the
doughnut are receptors which attract and attach tranquilizers.
When these drugs attach to the receptors they ASSIST GABA in
opening the hole and letting chloride in, slowing things
Further out, toward the outer edge of the
doughnut, are receptors which attach barbiturates, such as
phenobarbital and seconal. The alcohol molecule from beer,
wine or liquor also attaches at these same receptors, which is
one reason to NEVER drink alcohol and take tranquilizers.
What we are concerned with in this writing are
the GABA receptors and the next row of receptors utilized by
benzodiazepines. When benzo's are used to assist GABA there is
less need for large amounts of GABA to be present and,
consequently, the brain reduces the available GABA. The brain
is not wasteful, it will not make what it does not appear to
need. Brain chemistry has NO value system. Brain chemistry
does not know right from wrong or good from bad. It only knows
chemistry. However, our thought processes are based upon
available brain chemistry. And thus, in the final analysis,
poor brain chemistry results in poor value systems.
Over a period of a few weeks using benzo’s
your GABA is reduced to the point that you MUST use a drug to
activate secondary sites, and assist the GABA in opening the
chloride channels. As more and more GABA is depleted you must
use more benzo's and so on. This is dependency. You have
become dependent on a drug to produce a function of life. If
you try to stop the use of the benzo you have no way to open
the chloride channels and slow down the firing of adrenaline
throughout your body. Everything races, everything is a
threat, You are now in a constant state of flight or fight. No
GABA, no calm and no sleep Neurotrarismitter Function In
Dcficiencies Recult In GABA Maintaining calm Anxiety, panic,
racing mind, fast heart rate, etc Enkephalin Positive self
concept, internal Low self esteem, feelings of inadequacy calm
Dopamine Feelings of Pleasure Lack of pleasure in life
Norepinepherine Energy, excitement, panic Lack of energy,
dression because your brain won't turn off. Under these
circumstances thought becomes negative and threatening with
constant anxiety leading to panic.
Scientists working at NeuroGenesis in the
1980's discovered that stress dramatically reduces GABA.
Stress also reduces Enkephalin (see chart) and Dopamine. In
fact, in just 30 minutes time laboratory animals placed under
stress experienced a 50% loss of GABA and Enkephalin. If these
lab animals had sought a physician at the time they would have
been given a benzodiazepine to "relieve the stress". As we
have described, however, this drug would worsen the problem of
GABA availability. Now GABA is not only threatened by stress
(trauma) but by a drug which uses secondary receptors and
further reduces available GABA The animals would have become
addicted to (dependent upon) benzo’s. When the benzo would
have been stopped the animals would have become "berserk" with
activity and flight or fight would have become their life
until they died of a heart attack or stroke. Tapering off of
the drug is very necessary. That is, it is important to slowly
reduce the use of benzo so as not to overstimulate the
sympathetic nervous system (adrenal system) and cause
potential life threatening events. It is thus obvious that
tapering off should be monitored by your prescribing
physician. However, tapering does not do enough for the
repair of the damaged GABA system. This is why the scientists
at NeuroGenesis became determined to develop a supplement
which would help build GABA and the supporting chemistries of
Enkephalin and Dopamine. amino acidstm does this. At
this time we recommend that in the beginning you augment amino
acids with additional l-glutamine to assist in the immediate
production of GABA. This additional lglutamine should be
necessary for only 2-3 weeks. One 5OO mg l-glutamine capsule
with each two amino acids capsules should be sufficient. The
GABA system also requires the presence of sufficient chloride
in the blood stream in order to efficiently reduce anxiety.
Salt (sodium chloride) is the obvious source of chloride
molecules. If you are concerned about salt and blood pressure,
we suggest that you use potassium chloride. Most grocery
stores carry this as a salt substitute. The answer to this
problem is not simply chemical however. You cannot take a pill
and have stress go away. It changes your perception, changes
the way that you feel but does not address the underlying
cause which is/are the problem/s of life which lead to the
initial reduction of your natural chemistry. It is true,
however, that in order to win the war against benzo's you must
make peace with your biochemistry. amino acids will assist
Now the second front of the attack on this
dependency. Each person suffering from this problem must learn
and utilize daily a problem solving technique to deal with the
"stressors" in their lives. There are three main stressors in
life today and they are (1) money problems, (2) job problems
and (3) relationship problems. The trauma of any or all of
these issues will continue to deplete GABA and the supporting
calming chemistry enkephalin. A good way to deal with many
problems is to solve each problem separately.
A useful problem solving technique follows:
1. What is the problem?
2. Exactly what is causing the
3. What are three alternative solutions for the
problem and the possible consequences of each?
one alternative and try it for a period of time (about a
5. If it works, keep on doing it. If it doesn't
work choose one of the other alternatives
1. What is the problem? The problem is that there are
too many bills for the money that is available.
what is causing the problem Too many credit card bills, not
enough salary for all the bills.
3. Three alternatives:
a Put away the
credit cards. Contact creditors and make arrangements for
payment. Consequence: Not going further in debt; developing a
plan to pay the bills. Reduced stress.
b. Get a second job.
Consequence: more money to pay on bills.
c. Do nothing
different. Consequence: More stress, more panic, more debt,
4. Choose one:
You will he unable to get off tranquilizers
and be comfortable if all you attempt is to taper and take
pills. You must take charge of your life one issue at a time.
If you do not, it will only get worse. Structure and
discipline are your allies.
Facts are friendly. Do not avoid information.
Get it, deal with it, conquer the problem, and anxiety goes
Third Front: When and what you eat! It
is common for persons using benzo's to have little or no
appetite. When in some stage or phase of withdrawal and
adrenaline is pumping and anxiety is high you have no
appetite. (Survival says do not stop to eat when threatened -
run or fight).
You must begin to eat small meals several
times a day. You must provide food for repair of damaged
systems. This is no time to "diet". Eat small portions of
quality food several times during the day. Avoid caffeine,
chocolate, cola drinks (diet or regular) and refined sugar.
These substances will add to adrenaline or quickly boost blood
sugar which will produce anxiety. Eat cheese and fruit before
bed, cottage cheese is best. Use common sense, take care of
yourself and you will recover just fine. Many of us have done
so with complete success. ‘
Continue the use of amino acids daily, up to
six per day. If you use more than six you just waste it. Most
of us continue to use amino acids daily for years because it
helps keep us in balance. It is interesting to note that a
drug becomes useless over a period of time for one of three
reasons: 1) it becomes toxic, 2) the body becomes used to it
so it no longer works, or 3) an alergy to it develops. None of
these occur with amino acid adjuncts to therapy, such as amino
acids, as they are in fact just concentrated, highly
Conclusion: You must win this War on all three
fronts: repairing GABA, dealing with the problems, and eating
well. There is no other way to be really successful: Taper and
take your supplement. (amino acids has the building blocks for
GABA, Enkephalin, Dopamine.) Problem solve your issues. Eat in
a healthy manner. You can do it, just do it. Ask yourself if
you would like a normal life, with normal issues and normal
solutions. If so, then JUST DO IT. You will also find that
helping your friends with problem solving solutions will help
you with yours. Remember, practice makes perfect.