Van Winkle’s discusses how addictive benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Klonopin are being prescribed for sleep and pushing more Americans into dependency, and why no one’s raising the alarm.
“When doctors prescribe benzos for nightly sleep, tolerance develops quickly,” says Dr. Stewart Shipko, a psychiatrist in Pasadena and the author of Xanax Withdrawal. “Routine sleep [regulation] is the worse possible use of benzos. That first night, it works great. People think, ‘Miracle drug!’ — a full night’s sleep with little or no hangover. Already by the end of the first week, they’re no longer getting that quality. So the dose begins to rise, say, from .5 mg, which is easily stopped, to 2 mg, which is not.”