Hypnotics Causing Death

A recent British Medical Journal article explores the connection between hypnotic drugs and excessive death. “An estimated 6%–10% of US adults took a hypnotic drug for poor sleep in 2010. This study extends previous reports associating hypnotics with excess mortality.”

This particular study was quite extensive and well-done (over 33,000 people followed for an average of two and a half years), with dramatic conclusions. Great care was taken in this study to eliminate arbitrary factors such as pre-existing conditions or other risk factors.

First, though, what is a “hypnotic” drug? The word comes from a Greek word for “to put to sleep” and means “inducing or tending to induce sleep.” The common hypnotic drugs examined in this study were zolpidem (Ambien), temazepam (Restoril), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata), and other benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sedative antihistamines.

Temazepam is a benzodiazepine; zolpidem, eszopiclone and zaleplon are non-benzodiazepines that apparently operate similarly to benzodiazepines in the body. All of these drugs appear in the CCHR booklet on psychiatric drug side effects.

This class of drugs should be familiar to CCHR supporters, as they are minor tranquilizers commonly prescribed as an anti-anxiety psychiatric drug. They are majorly addictive and have many nasty side effects.

The main conclusion of this study can be paraphrased thusly: Receiving hypnotic prescriptions was associated with a greater than threefold increased hazard of death, even when prescribed for less than 18 pills per year.

The authors go on to say that, “The meagre benefits of hypnotics, as critically reviewed by groups without financial interest, would not justify substantial risks.”

This study supports and extends the findings in the CCHR booklet “The Side Effects of Common Psychiatric Drugs“, available for free download here.

From a psychiatric fraud and abuse point of view, the continued prescribing of these anti-anxiety drugs by psychiatrists and doctors, often disguised as “sleep” drugs, is harmful and unethical, to say the least. Alert your local, state and federal officials to this abuse.

It could be dangerous to immediately cease taking psychiatric drugs because of potential significant withdrawal side effects. No one should stop taking any psychiatric drug without the advice and assistance of a competent medical doctor. Report any adverse psychiatric drug effects to the FDA’s MedWatch program at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/.

Go here for information on alternatives to psychiatric drugs.

[Study citation: Kripke DF, Langer RD, Kline LE. Hypnotics’ association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000850.]

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