Image: Mick Jagger, singer of "Mother's Little Helper", in pills
"The revelation about the mass of prescription drugs that were pumped around Michael Jackson’s body by his enabling doctor reminded me of a brief flirtation with the world of tranquillisers when I was living in New York. It was soon after 9/11, and having witnessed the terrorist attacks, I was jittery about a flight to LA. A friend suggested Xanax, one of the family of so-called benzodiazepine drugs that includes Valium, so off I went to my dishy doctor. Xanax was duly prescribed with a bedside manner (“Any questions or concerns?”). I discovered that the relaxing haze it induced was rather essential on all flights, anxiety or no anxiety. Fortunately, I was on a repeat prescription. No questions asked. As long as I had the $80 or thereabouts (insurance paid some, but by no means all, of the bill), the pills were mine.
Back in the UK, it was a different story. Contemplating the jet lag of an upcoming trip to Malaysia, I went to my GP to get sleeping pills. Once I’d convinced him I wasn’t an addict (he barely looked up from his pad during this “conversation”), I left with a prescription for four pills. Four! I felt as I imagine my toddler feels when I won’t allow her a second helping of ice cream."
For information on safe withdrawal from benzodiazepines, antidepressants and other psychoactive prescription drugs, look at
Dr. Ashton's Benzo Manual http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/
Dr. Healy's SSRI information - PDF
and other links in our right-hand column.