Suffering of Moran

Cult leader uses woman’s misery to go on lie-filled doctor-bashing rant

When withdrawal is the hardest part

John Zielin realized his daughter was in trouble when she called him unexpectedly, saying, “You’ve got to come and get me. Something’s wrong.”

Alison Page was catering a Waltham wedding in the summer of 2012 when she began feeling ill.

“At sunset, I just got really dizzy,” said Page, 29. “I go outside, and I’m sitting down, and everything’s spinning. I felt like a wild animal that was being preyed upon. It was petrifying.”

Zielin, 66, arrived to find Page in a parking lot, her eyes filled with fear and confusion. In the car on the way to their Andover home, she experienced her first panic attack. “I’ve seen people like that, but they usually have a long history of it,” said Zielin, a retired social worker. “This stuff is showing up out of nowhere.”

The family later learned that Page was experiencing withdrawal between doses of Ativan, a drug often prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. After taking a dose that night, Page felt fine — for the moment. But her struggle to recover continues more than two years later

While rampant abuse of heroin and prescription opiates dominates public attention, dependency on benzodiazepines — a group of tranquilizers that includes drugs such as Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax — remains less widely acknowledged or understood.

Doctors say benzodiazepines are effective for short-term stress, as in the days following the death of a loved one or another emotionally difficult event. But problems can arise when use continues for more than a few weeks.

The federal Food and Drug Administration requires warning labels that describe dependency risks — the Ativan label lists 35 reported withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, and seizures.

But doctors and patients say physicians often prescribe benzodiazepines with no discussion of the dangers and the drugs’ declining effectiveness over time.

“People get used to prescribing these drugs and they forget what they’re dealing with,” said John Kelly, associate director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Representatives for the pharmaceutical companies Roche, maker of Klonopin, and Pfizer, maker of Xanax, issued statements saying that physicians prescribing the drugs should study the safety information provided in the drugs’ labels and discuss the benefits and risks with their patients. A spokeswoman for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Ativan, did not respond to requests for comment.

Kelly said patients can feel a false sense of security when taking any drugs prescribed by their doctors. “With benzos and stimulants and opiates, because they’re prescribed, people do have this perception that they’re safe, or much safer than illicit drugs you’d obtain on the street,” he said.

Kelly said many abuse benzodiazepines in combination with substances like opiates, cocaine, and alcohol. But for Page and many others, dependency can develop under a doctor’s care.

Page was prescribed Ativan by a psychiatrist in 2009, she said, as she adjusted to working as a receptionist after graduating from Northeastern University. As a shy person, she found the front-and-center role a tough fit, she said.

Page moved on to work as a mental health counselor and entered nursing school, taking the drug periodically and sparingly, as her psychiatrist advised, she said, but her health began to decline.

“My anxiety was getting worse; I was getting dizzy spells; I was getting sick more often, and my capacity to deal with stress was less,” Page said. “I thought I had a worsening anxiety disorder.”

Over time, these symptoms worsened while new ones arose, and despite good grades, she had to leave nursing school, she said. When her psychiatrist suggested additional medications, her father said no.

Page said she was switched to another benzodiazepine and tapered off the drug over three weeks, she said, but afterward her withdrawal symptoms seemed to worsen.

“I didn’t sleep for two months,” she said. “I would be in fear states for maybe four, five, six hours a day. . . . It was almost like this primal feeling that you’re about to be attacked by a lion; you’re about to be killed.”

Calls to Page’s psychiatrist were referred to a spokeswoman for Steward Health Care System, owner of the hospital where he practices, who said she could not comment because of federal patient privacy laws. But the spokeswoman said that the company’s medical personnel “are careful when prescribing medications to patients.”

Dr. James Berry of the Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook, Maine, estimated that a third of those who are prescribed benzodiazepines experience dependency and painful withdrawal, but there is no sure way to predict who will have those reactions, though the dangers increase with prolonged use.

“Generally, withdrawal symptoms . . . are the opposite of what a drug does,” he said. “If a drug relieves anxiety, the drug causes anxiety” during withdrawal.

Berry recommends that those who have become dependent reduce their doses gradually over a six-month period before they cease using the medication, but some doctors advise patients to stop taking the drugs over just a few weeks, he said.

Even a six-month tapering process isn’t sufficient for some, according to Berry. For a small percentage, it can take years for withdrawal symptoms to recede.

Benzodiazepines have been used widely since the 1960s, and concerns about them are long established.

Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy convened a congressional hearing in 1979 to raise awareness, saying benzodiazepines like Valium and Librium had brought relief to many, but that, “For others, these drugs have produced a nightmare of dependence and addiction, both very difficult to treat and to recover from,” the Associated Press reported.

The risks, though, remain little discussed, some patients say. Page finally understood her symptoms when she found the online support group Benzo Buddies, she said.

Founded a decade ago, the group has about 16,000 members around the world. Cofounder Colin Moran said the online forum was created because there was almost no real-world support at the time.

In Britain, where Moran lives, benzodiazepines have been discussed in Parliament, and the British Medical Association is reviewing use and prescribing habits, but there has been little movement toward reducing use or increasing warnings, he said.

Moran and Berry both said doctors in the United States have been even slower to address concerns.

“We still hear from members [in the United States] that their doctors claim there is no potential for dependency or addiction with this class of drug,” Moran said in an e-mail. “Some doctors even sometimes ‘cold turkey’ their patients off large doses of benzodiazepines, even after protracted use. This is extremely dangerous.”

Zielin said Benzo Buddies saved his daughter’s life. “The importance of having a supportive network around people going through this is just critical,” he said. “I don’t know how people can go through this alone.”

Medford resident Karen Psaledakis was prescribed Ativan to treat panic attacks after her father’s 2006 death. Her psychiatrist offered “zero” warnings, she said.

“I never received one wary comment or anything that would suggest I should look into it more,” she said.

Psaledakis, 44, said she took the drug as directed, but within three months began experiencing muscle and nerve pain, gastrointestinal problems, and other physical issues.

After an unsuccessful stay in a holistic treatment center that tried to help her taper off the drug too quickly, and two stints in a psychiatric hospital, Psaledakis was able to stop taking the drug in early 2012, with support from Benzo Buddies, she said.

Psaledakis’s physical symptoms disappeared last fall, but she said she still experiences depression and states of intense fear that she believes are withdrawal symptoms.

“I have to make an effort to think about the things that have gotten better, but I know that they have,” she said. “Some things have gotten worse, but that is just sort of the nature of this beast.”

For Page, recovery has been “like a roller coaster ride,” she said, with symptoms disappearing and recurring, usually less intense with each bout. She thinks total healing could take two or three years more.

“It’s just back and forth, back and forth, but overall the trajectory is toward healing,” she said.

FransBevy09/08/14 04:14 AM
Lithium is not a benzodiazepine. It is an element used to prevent mania in bipolar disorder, which is completely different.

Casey111109/08/14 06:47 AM
It was a typo. They meant Librium instead of Lithium.

vintagewear09/08/14 07:34 AM
Many older people on ativan. An elderly neighbor was on it foryears and her new doctor would not renew her RX. She had terrible withdrawal and kept neighbors up at night calling us in a panic. My mother in law took it whenever she was stressed. I think the oversight is a bit better now. Still these are a dangerous class of drugs

zelda4309/08/14 07:47 AM
The drug should be banned. Zoloft, a ssri class drug for depression and anxiety might have served her better. Why use a drug with so many issues.

Casey111109/08/14 10:15 AM
SSRI drugs can cause similar withdrawal reactions. It’s not just a benzodiazepine problem, it is a psychiatric drug problem in general. Benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous and addictive, though.

LauraDelano09/08/14 09:09 AM
I am so grateful for the important and brave activism of Alison Page and Karen Psaledakis, who’ve spoken out so articulately about the grave harm caused by so-called “anti-anxiety treatment”.

If you’re out there and have a diagnosis of “major depression” or “anxiety disorder” and you take a benzo, this is a must-read. I look back now and see that the ever-increasing anxiety I experienced throughout my years as a psychiatric patient was not, in fact, my “treatment-resistant mental illness getting progressively worse”… it was largely due to the impact of the various psychiatric labels I’d internalized and all the powerful psychoactive drugs I was being prescribed– including 7+ years of benzos. Indeed, these were put upon me as my only possible solution.

Had I not begun to question the story I’d been told by psychiatry for fourteen years, I would be dead today, convinced my “mentally ill” life was not worth living. And while finding freedom from so-called “psychiatric treatment” has been far from easy, boy, does it feel good to know that there was never anything “wrong with” me and that the labels and the pills I was seeking answers from were only leading me further to hopelessness, pain, and despair.

And if you’re in the throes of psych drug withdrawal, hang in there… You are far from alone, and there is light at the end of the brutally painful tunnel of psychiatric liberation, where your authentic self awaits you.

Laura Delano

meanmom09/08/14 11:09 AM
Is Mirtazapine (Remerol) in this same class of drugs?

gandalf43309/08/14 07:51 PM
No, “Remeron” is an anti-depressant. Usually given at night because it can also assist with sleep. It does not usually cause any dependence or addiction.

Casey111109/08/14 11:25 AM
Remeron is an anti-depressant, but can also cause withdrawal reactions in some individuals. You can google “remeron side effects”

madera09/08/14 11:37 AM
As with any drug that is taken for a long period of time there are side effects while you are taking it and withdrawal when you quit. The tapering off is important here and there should be therapy to address the anxiety that is going to return as the medicine is no longer used. The medicine does not cure the anxiety. You need treatment for that. This is not addressed in the column.

WhiteMtnsBoston09/08/14 12:47 PM
As someone who has dealt with generalized anxiety disorder for most of my adult like, medications such as ativan and klonopin have been life changing for me, for the better! Of course, education and knowledge about these medications is essential.

While I understand these medications don’t work for everyone and can have difficult side-effects,
for myself they have been terrific, and simply wanted to provide an alternative viewpoint, as I felt the article was somewhat one-sided.

21st Century09/08/14 01:14 PM
Like WhiteMtsBoston, I am also “someone who has dealt with generalized anxiety disorder for most of my adult life.” I had severe and crippling panic attacks in my early twenties, and the overall treatment and understanding of my condition was very poor. I suffered a lot. I’m 62 now, and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, have been life-changing for the better me. I’m grateful that I have a prescription for Xanax.

I live a full and productive life, have a 4 children in steady marriage and I have been continuously employed for the last 26 years. In that time, I haven’t been called in sick. I too felt that the article was one sided. While all drugs have some risk, and benzodiazepines have more than most classes of drugs, they still serve a very useful role for many people.

Casey111109/08/14 01:24 PM
I agree benzos can be very helpful for many people. And in general, that is how the medical community views these drugs, as safe and helpful.

But when things go wrong, people suffer badly with no warning or help from the medical community. This group of people is then left with zero medical support and zero validation. That is why this article is so important.

I don’t think it’s meant to imply that benzos are always harmful, but that they CAN be harmful to some, and people should have that knowledge.

justsoyoullknow09/08/14 08:19 PM
I can’t tell from this article exactly how long Ms. Page took the offending drug. It says she started in 2009, and then took it for “some time”. How much time? What dose? How slowly did she dial it down during withdrawal?

Padraighin09/09/14 07:16 AM
I took exactly ONE (prescribed) Ativan this past summer, and will never do so again. It knocked me for a loop–unable to move or talk for eight straight hours, plus nausea when I came up again. No more of that for me, thanks! I’d rather be anxious than out cold. That’s some scary stuff…

drbobbe09/09/14 08:50 AM
This is an excellent and courageous article. And it is the tip of the iceberg regarding psychiatric drugs especially the SSRI’s, Prozac and friends. Psychiatric pharmaceuticals are handed out like candy with the false promise that they are efficacious, non-habit forming, non addictive, no drug tolerance. And they are none of the above.
For a full picture see “Do No Harm: The Destructive History of Pharmaceutical Psychiatry and its Bedfellows—Electroshock, Insulin Shock, and Lobotomies”,

whensitend09/11/14 06:23 AM
A relative of mine has been on these for years RX says 3 times a day and a strong dose and two years ago the doctor began to prescribe a Ritalin type drug for ADD along with it and she is so messed up now nobody can be around her because she is crazy, her family cannot reach her. Shame, shame on these doctors for over prescribing medications, while families loose loved ones because of their stupidity, greed or both.

Kooks add “itchy feet” to the 90,000,000 other benzo withdrawal symptoms

Skin issues.
« on: September 13, 2014, 03:32:53 am »


I have not been on for a while. The DR/DP has faded and I am doing slightly better trying to function in the world. I have been going into town everyday hanging out downtown. But, I think that iam pushing myself too hard and it could backfire. In any case tonight the tinnitus is back with a vengeance and pain in the right side of my head above my ear, I don’t know if it’s because of the tinnitus and my ear hurts or my head. Also, I don’t know if my feet itching like crazy in the morning when I wake up is a symptom of withdrawal or something else, for the last few days my feet have been itching like crazy.

Re: Skin issues.
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2014, 05:52:39 am »


me too, its the tops of my feet though, and ankles…. and forearms

Re: Skin issues.
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2014, 12:39:17 pm »


Hi Chris,

Glad to hear that overall you are feeling better. Tinnitus comes and goes with me but I have noticed that I am much more aware of this symptom if I’m very tired or stressed. Skin rash and itching is quite a common withdrawal symptom, it could well be that the itching feet is withdrawal related


Benzo Buddies members become disabled by years-long micro-tapers

« on: September 09, 2014, 01:26:28 pm »


Just read another success story that turned out not to be a success as the poster went back into acute withdrawal almost 4 years out.

How can this possibly happen?

I get it that some people take a long time to heal but once going for a long period of time in a healed state, how can withdrawal come back exactly???

I am starting to think that when people are healed for a good chunk of time that it is not withdrawal that has come back but just acute anxiety which is essentially the same thing.

I am starting to think that many of us are merely prone to anxiety and for whatever reason, when this is all over, any life stressors can potentially trigger bad anxiety again, I mean, we would only need a few anxiety symptoms to think “oh God, not again” and then an escalation of symptoms thereafter and we call it withdrawal.

I am sure at some stage this is not withdrawal so much but acute anxiety…

I have read other success stories also that were premature and the posters have since had recurring symptoms…

I am starting to wonder how many of us have are very easily predisposed to acute anxiety after withdrawal, what then? Do we just battle on for years and years hoping to be less anxious one day?

Are we all just terribly anxious people after going through all of this?

There is no logic in going into withdrawal 4 years out, it just makes no sense, I think at that point it has to be life stressors that cause anxiety on some level, we feel it and start to worry and then it gets worse and then before we know it we have acute anxiety again which pretty much feels the same as withdrawal.

I am NOT saying it doesn’t exist, what I am saying is that I think some of us are left with a very fragile nervous system after withdrawal and possibly for some years… what’s worse is I think if we did not have a bad anxiety problem PRIOR to withdrawal, many of us can develop phobias and anxieties for having gone through this ordeal…

Unless we truly get a grip on anxiety, we will always be under the impression that we are still dealing with waves.

I have said this before and I will say it again, search on any anxiety website, the SYMPTOMS of acute anxiety are identical to benzo withdrawal, both mental and physical… but it seems to me that not too many on this site can grasp that concept, we can rant and rave all we want and say “it’s not anxiety, it is withdrawal” but come on, 4 years after being well for well over a year?

That just doesn’t seem right to me, I think many of us acquire anxiety as a result of going through withdrawal and it probably takes a very long time for some of us to truly forget this experience… withdrawal has probably made some of us very prone to anxiety or having a weaker CNS in general to life’s stressful events.

Life IS stressful.


Can we honestly ever expect to be completely over this when it’s over or does this leave us vulnerable to stress for years to come even long after the fact?

A lot of people reinstate on benzo’s even years later, I have often wondered why and now I am starting to understand why anyone would do such a thing.

Maybe once benzo afflicted, some of us won’t be able to live in this stressful life med free… maybe our CNS just doesn’t hold up to the way that it should if we are unlucky.

I guess it all depends on how anxious we were prior to these meds.

It just often makes me wonder if a benzo free existence is really something that is possible for some, I mean, life isn’t going to be much fun fighting anxiety for years… I would hate to go through all of this and come out the other side with some anxiety disorder that only benzo’s would fix…

Is an anxiety free state really attainable or are we always going to be blaming our anxiety on waves for years to come and if so, what kind of a life is that?

I can’t even get out of bed.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 07:42:47 pm »


I think what many of us fail to recognize is that some of us WILL have anxiety years later and will probably always blame it on withdrawal. I am sure there are many people on this site that have high anxiety as part of their make up anyway…

I guess this does eventually get better but it would seem to me that any major life stressors can potentially result in some anxiety and the feelings that come with that which then can turn into acute as we will be more inclined to have a knee jerk reaction and think it is withdrawal and before we know it, BOOM we are in a “wave” yet at this point it is more than likely to be acute anxiety rather than the drug… maybe some withdrawal can come back but after years, I am starting to think what many are left with is in fact a very low threshold to stress and anxiety and that is what causes these setbacks.

Nobody ever promised an anxiety and stress free life simply because we have gone through this ordeal…

I often wonder if it is healthy to keep reading here as if some people are going to come back years later and say it is acute withdrawal years and years out, that just makes me feel there is no end to this and it makes me feel like staying on the drug forever…

I think one of the big problems here is that most of us DO have anxiety and that is the problem, we can blame it all we want on withdrawal years out but the chances are that anxiety is the likely culprit or is at least a very large factor in the re-emergence of symptoms.

It’s probably not healthy for anyone here to keep reading the negative stuff… as surely that only serves to make us even more worried even when we get well again? Maybe none of us do ourselves any favours reading this stuff all the time… how are we supposed to move and and become less anxious if we fill our heads with this all the time or when ever we feel some anxiety?

In fact, when we feel anxiety after healing, benzobuddies should be the last place to visit as that alone is bound to trigger even more anxieties from the withdrawal period.

If we keep running back to here, how the heck are we supposed to ever move on from this?

At some point we will need to step out of the loop and find other ways to cope, to defuse anxiety… I would actually go as far to say that yes, maybe some is withdrawal yet in time, with practice it should disappear completely and anxiety should return to normal levels but if we keep coming back here, do we not merely condition our minds to it being withdrawal and nothing else?

Isn’t there a time when this is just as much an anxiety problem as a result of this experience? When do we break that cycle? Can we break that cycle? Did we have bad anxiety before going on benzo’s?

Or do we blame any life upset or stressful event on withdrawal and withdrawal alone whilst disregarding any notion that it could just be anxiety?

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 07:45:23 pm »


I know we’re all different, but I’m much less anxious now than I was pre-benzo and on benzos. I now do more self-talk (‘this is not a big deal’, ‘compared to benzo w/d, this is a piece of cake’, ‘relax, put this in perspective’ etc) and that helps a lot.

Going through benzo withdrawal was a huge physical, mental and emotional trauma for me. I’m so grateful to be benzo free and feeling good that when things happen that would have brought on anxiety in the past, I am much better able to deal with those things without anxiety now.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 02:56:52 pm »


I believe it. People know what their pre existing states were like. When you are pulled into the darkness again you know. Maybe it’s the difference between life’s little anxieties or even ordinary chemical make up problems vs the overwhelming thing that can happen in withdrawal. I also get how waves come along and take you back when you are well and don’t want to go.

I just totally get it and I believe it and it does seem unbelievable something like this can happen and for so long but then when you think about it it doesn’t.

If there is a silver lining it’s that those people were feeling good before they started doing bad and that is the improvement.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2014, 03:32:00 pm »


you slow tapered i was c/t. im waiting and waiting for ‘normal’.
this am im back to square one. rocking boat, dizziness, etc. legs are weak. got jolted out of bed by noise….planes going over, garbage truck, someone hammering, etc.
i just wish there was some peace and quiet going thru this.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 03:40:12 pm »


I don’t understand why this focus on anxiety. It is only one of many benzo w/d sx. Many benzo sx are not also anxiety sx. Many got on benzos for reasons that had nothing to do with anxiety. I would believe anybody who has gone through this horrible process would know the difference if it returned.

What about the fact so many of us can’t get out of bed most of the time?

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 03:49:52 pm »


Quote from: [Buddie] on September 10, 2014, 03:40:12 pm
I don’t understand why this focus on anxiety. It is only one of many benzo w/d sx. Many benzo sx are not also anxiety sx. Many got on benzos for reasons that had nothing to do with anxiety. I would believe anybody who has gone through this horrible process would know the difference if it returned.

Because anxiety is what causes the symptoms.

DP/DR, burning skin, cog fog, dizziness, fatigue etc etc are all acute anxiety symptoms, go to any anxiety website, the list of symptoms is identical to withdrawal…

People can say “it’s withdrawal” and yes, it is but benzo withdrawal is anxiety for the most part… albeit chemically induced.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2014, 04:26:45 pm »


I had cog fog with depression. I did not have anxiety at all. I had more like the lack of anxiety or even brain activity. I was never depressed before this I started taking the drug. I have no idea what needs to reset but my reoccurant problem has been in the depression category and not in the anxiety category. I am starting to get my anxiety back but I see that as a good thing because that’s how I am naturally.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2014, 05:30:12 pm »


I think it’s a mixture of things, for some people anxiety is the main trigger for sxs, for some others other kinds of sxs make them anxious exacerbating the situation.

I was anxious prior to benzos and believed for many years the anxiety would come back if I stopped the benzos. The reality is that the benzos kept me in this circle of anxiety and didn’t let me face the real issue, which was work on my anxiety issues.

While on benzos, well, the therapeutic doses of benzos, I don’t believe it’s possible to address the anxiety problem properly. So, many people go to do CBT, change lifestyle and so on and the problem continues.

From what I have seen and experienced myself is that as we come off, and this includes reducing the doses by tapering, we have the opportunity to face the anxiety and start working on it more successfully, of course some will find it more difficult than others but it’s the only way to solve the problem in the long run and hopefully for good.

Re: Discouraging
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2014, 05:45:09 pm »


Quote from: [Buddie] on September 10, 2014, 03:40:12 pm
Quote from: [Buddie] on September 10, 2014, 03:49:52 pm
I don’t understand why this focus on anxiety. It is only one of many benzo w/d sx. Many benzo sx are not also anxiety sx. Many got on benzos for reasons that had nothing to do with anxiety. I would believe anybody who has gone through this horrible process would know the difference if it returned.

Because anxiety is what causes the symptoms.

DP/DR, burning skin, cog fog, dizziness, fatigue etc etc are all acute anxiety symptoms, go to any anxiety website, the list of symptoms is identical to withdrawal…

People can say “it’s withdrawal” and yes, it is but benzo withdrawal is anxiety for the most part… albeit chemically induced.

Maybe so. But those symptoms are not only symptoms of anxiety, but of other things as well. I don’t think it is necessarily anxiety, though it certainly can be.

Benzo withdrawal causes sinus infections or is Benzo Buddies really a hypochondriac’s idea of heaven?

Going through hell
« on: September 07, 2014, 05:57:36 am »


5 months out and have a raging sinus infection. Used have some sinus issues but hardly no infections. The interesting part while on diazepam those 6 or so years I had no sinus infections at all. Just scared now that i will get allot more sinus infections. Feel free to comment.


Re: Going through hell
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 07:04:33 am »



There is a product called Alkalol that you may find interesting. It’s an all natural nasal rinse and had been around for over 100 years. It’s available at most local drug stores. They have a website address is you google the name Alkalol, you’ll find it. I use it to stave off colds and rinse to help with sore throats. I don’t have any major sinus issues, though this does help relieve sinus pressure for me.

Re: Going through hell
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2014, 02:41:37 am »


Those symptoms are common. I had an increase of sinus stuff. I would suggest getting a netti pot and doing a daily flush. You may want to check it out with your primary care person.

Ashton cult tells people not to go to hospitals, doctors