Xanax — the new mother’s little helper

This article is copied from my site, YesFive. If you were kind enough to read it there, don’t bother reading it here. It’s an important topic, but it’s not good enough to read twice. — Karen

Mother’s little helper? Obviously, as Ms. Houston’s daughter can attest, not always. Sometimes it is mother’s little destructor. In the sixties, valium, one of the first benzodiazepine’s was a breakthrough drug. It was used to treat anxiety, seizures, alcohol withdrawal and more. Brought to light by The Rolling Stones (see quote above), it became very popular among mothers, especially those who were staying home to raise their children. It clearly “helped” because from 1969 to 1982, it was the top selling pharmaceutical in the United States. Little by little, likely in response to the anti-drug campaign, it was replaced by Chardonnay. Now, it is back — not just as valium but in the form of other benzodiazepine’s, most notably, Xanax. “Just pop a Xanax”, is becoming as popular as, “I need a drink.”
Who am I to judge? My house is very fragile, with all these glass walls. I was given a muscle relaxant for my TMJ disorder which, as a bonus, has a Xanax-like effect. To be truthful, it felt good — it was this good feeling that scared me. I took it only a handful of times, at night, when another adult was present. It took the edge off, much like a couple of glasses of wine, but without the buzz or the hangover. I was slightly more drowsy but completely coherent. Life just bothered me less. By the way it did nothing for my TMJ pain, but I didn’t care enough to care.

1. Xanax (alprazolam) is the most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States.

2. Xanax has addictive potential. However, unlike other drugs where a tolerance develops, only rarely does the dose need to be increased to get the same, desired effect.

3. Common side effects include drowsiness and lethargy, decreased libido, and dizziness. Less common benign side effects include constipation, dry mouth, rash, nausea, confusion and a whole laundry list. There are also serious, but rare, side effects like liver problems and seizures.

4. Deaths from Xanax do occur. In the vast majority of these deaths, toxicology reports revealed a combination of several drugs and alcohol. Xanax alone is responsible for only about 1% of the deaths where Xanax is a factor. (Did that make sense because my mother’s little helper in a glass may be kicking in?)

5. When should you take Xanax? 1 – when your anxiety disorder is severe and crippling to your life. 2 – when it is prescribed by a doctor who is not just trying to get you out the door. 3 –  when you have no history of addiction. 4 – when you are willing to abstain from alcohol and other recreational drugs. 5- when you understand and accept that, after a period of extended use, the withdrawal from the drug will not be pleasant.

I can understand why the superstar needed help. She had been through multiple rehabilitations, survived an abusive marriage, was in and out of the limelight and had a talent larger than life to live up to. I wouldn’t wish that kind of fame — and infamy — on anyone. Toxicology will tell. For now, this is what I know. Prescription drugs, when not taken as prescribed, are as dangerous as as a dirty needle in a back alley.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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