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on August 2, 2012
I've been suffering from Benzodiazapine dependancy for over a year now. I had one episode of acute anxiety and was prescribed Ativan by my primary physician. Not knowing much about benzodiazapines, I did not question the prescripition or the dosage. I took the medication everytime I thought I was feeling anxiety. Unfortunately, I was not informed by my PCP that the drug could have negative consequences the longer I took it. Instead, he kept prescribing it. I went from taking 2mg a day to 4mg a day because I kept experiencing chest pain, nervousness, agitation, numbness, palpitations, and other symtoms. I thought there was something wrong with me, until I did a little research on Ativan and discovered that it can cause dependancy, which in turn causes significant withdrawal when not dosing. My doctor felt I could taper off myself. He was wrong. He switched me to Xanax, but did not give me an equivalent dose. I ended up in the emergency room. Had to go back on Ativan. He then told me to see a psychiatrist. The psychietrist prescribed another benzodiazapine medication to take on top of the Ativan. Although I felt better, he offered no help on getting off the drugs. I, therefore, stopped seeing him. Fortunately, I found Dr. Shipko's book on Xanax withdrawal. Although my problem was not with Xanax, I was taking a similar a class of drugs, and therefore, found his book very helpful. It made me feel that I was not alone, and that the problem with benzodiazapine dependancy was widespread and not properly addressed. His book not only offers a comprehensive view of Xanax, including what it is, why its prescribed, and the unfortunate effects of dependancy and withdrawal, but also how to properly taper off the drug (always under supervision). I've been tapering slowly, under supervision, using his methods and am feeling better and better as time goes by. I highly recommencd Dr. Shipiko's book not only for those suffering from depenancy, but to those physicians that prescribe Xanax (and benzodiazpines in general)so that they can gain some insight on whether it is appropriate to prescribe benzodiazapines without knowing that they can be more of a problem than a solution for a patient.
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on September 28, 2012
This short book may appear to be about a risky drug, xanax, which was prescribed forty seven million times in America in 2011. But in the end the story is much bigger and more interesting than that, raising questions about whether the "health care" that Americans appear to want so much is really more of a walk into a valley of shadows. It is also the story of a good doctor who is said to run a small practice from an office in a Pasadena Victorian-style house, and who is in that and other ways decidedly not a part of the dark "health care industry."

As a young doc author Stuart Shipko combined his practice as a pychiatrist treating patients affected by psychosomatic symptoms common in what we used to call "the age of anxiety". In the 1960s a class of apparent miracle drugs, the benzodiazopines, was developed to treat these disorders. These were promoted in the 1980s with almost religious fervor -- they did in fact, at least for a short time, provide the kind of comfort that had once been the province of religion-- to doctors and the public. Shipko was caught up in this new biochemical revolution; he even conducted and published innovative research on the genuine efficacy of Xanax, perhaps the most potent of the benzodiazopines, as a short term and sometime effective cure for a newly recognized, or perhaps newly promoted, subtype of anxiety. It appeared to be good science, but it turned out to be good half science.

Shipko was not content to follow the course of many docs, who rely on seminars by big Pharma for the latest on drugs. This would have led him to ease off on the prescriptions for benzos (patents expired) and start to use the "safer" (and profitably patent-protected) antidepressants. Shipko instead began to read up on British research that was suggesting progressive ineffectiveness over time and truly alarming withdrawal effects from both of these classes of drugs. The result was his abandoning his previous practices and focussing on helping people go through the tricky process of recovering from problems related to prescribed drugs, problems which could be worse than the discomforts the drugs were supposed to treat.

This little five dollar ebook is a must read for anyone thinking about or using psychotropic drugs, which may for many people in the end deliver in the long run much more pain than relief. The experience it describes brought Shipko to the point of wondering whether there may not be deep natural laws that in the end assure that human happiness is unlikely to be improved by mood enhancing drugs, something long suggested by Buddhism, which takes a very different approach to managing life's inevitable discomforts. It also provides a sharp warning to those Americans who, like the writer, once counted on government regulation, notably the FDA, to protect society from serious long term effects of medical treatments that effect the central nervous system. The breakdown of the drug safety system and the growing need to depend on higher standards from the UK are alarming trends that would appear to accompany the defenselessness of American culture against the power of the corporataucracy. This is a story that has yet to be fully told, but Shipkos book provides an honest look at one doctor's experience, and a sharp warning to anyone who has ever thought of taking a single xanax or valium tablet. For those who have already made the mistake, it provides practical and good-hearted advice on recovery.
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on March 29, 2016
I didn't think much of this book. The Doctor has no idea what getting off this horrible drug is really like. Stating that it is anywhere similar to discontinuing SSRI's is like comparing tripping on the sidewalk and falling, to being in a near fatal car accident. I was prescribed this drug back in 1995 at a very low dose. I quit cold turkey. It was unpleasant but doable. Now here I am so many years later and my psychiatrist has me on 8 mg of this poison. As far as him helping me get off, that's a joke. He knows he has an addict now who pays him quite handsomely for my "fix". This drug does nothing for my anxiety anymore. In fact I am more anxious than I ever have been in my life. I lost my Xanax one time traveling and this is what it was like. First of all constant terrible anxiety. I would be sitting still and my muscles would jerk for no reason. I was so dizzy I could hardly walk. At night when I tried to sleep I had visual and auditory hallucinations. I would hear people mumbling things or singing. I saw giant green worms crawling up my bathroom wall. If I did manage to fall asleep I would be awakened to the sound of a gunshot going off in my head. I would startle so much I felt like I was going to fly off the bed. I had a constant ringing in my ears that sounded like crickets chirping. I have taken numerous SSRI's and getting off them was nothing like this. I am still on Xanax because the thought of getting off it gives me PTSD. This book actually gave me no hope that I will ever get off them. Does the Doctor know that getting off Xanax is worse than getting off heroin? I rue the day that a Doctor gave me a script for this pill from hell. It has truly ruined my life and I am only 54 years old.
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on October 22, 2014
I am a physician, specializing in addiction medicine. I admire a colleague who admits when he has been wrong, and admits that he is both embarrassed and enlightened at the same time. Dr. Shipko does that, when recalling his former enthusiasm for benzodiazepines, followed by his advice for getting off of them. I will listen to him again.
His patient population is different from mine; his patients want to be off of the medicines, whereas my patients are often unwilling to be off of them.
I found his book honest, frank, and useful, as well as informative.
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on April 23, 2016
Good information. Read this book along with the Ashton Manual, which is on line. Xanax is the devil's pill but it got me through 30+ years of a stressful job with a chronic panic disorder. Now I must pay him back. Remember everyone will have a different experience. Just don't try to go too fast.
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on February 18, 2013
Helpful info based on authors own private practice. Study number small but results encouraging. Agree 100% with Dr. Shipko's opinion that prescriptive drugs are not the answer to psychiatric diagnoses.
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on January 6, 2014
I appreciate this book,especially for the sound and sober advice which is helping me get through a difficult time. As I write this, I am in the throes of my very own taper from Restoril. I never thought I'd get this far. This book is anxiety reducing in itself. Dr Shipko cites the internet information from the UK and updates that to my vast relief. The prospect that I might have a long future of dire symptoms was terrifying. I wish I could somehow contribute to public information about these very bad drugs called benzodiazepines. I think they should be outlawed. No one can prepare you for the long slow drain that happens. Antidepressants are also discussed here. I can only hope that the world wakes up and does something to end the American obsession with magic pills. I had serious neurological problems and was treated for M S! Not one Dr. ever even hinted that the meds I was on might have been the root of my problems. If you are on a benzodiazepine, go for it. Get off and don't look back.
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on March 14, 2015
My sister wants to get off of the Xanax her doctor prescribed her but has had a really hard time of it. I found this e-book to be very helpful for laypeople like me who want to get off or want to help someone get off. It offers an alternative to the Ashton method, which is not appropriate for everyone. I like the way Dr. Shipko explains his reasoning for the protocol he uses. He seems thoughtful and trustworthy.
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on February 5, 2013
i really enjoyed reading this book it is a good insight i am a past anxiety user of Xanax and now off
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on March 29, 2015
Shipko drastically over estimates the amounts of cuts that are typically possible. He also drastically glosses over the withdrawal sx.
Typical doc who's never been dependent on it...
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