Use of Anti-Anxiety Medications Dropping Among Veterans
It’s good news, say many researchers, regarding the finding that fewer veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are turning to anti-anxiety drugs. They hope the research means that more veterans may be addressing root-level problems, such as depression related to PTSD, and may be seeing more success with psychotherapy treatments instead of anti-anxiety drugs.
Commonly called Xanax, Klonopin or Valium, these drugs help bring on sleep for patients with insomnia and manage anxiety attacks, but are not recommended for veterans with PTSD, according to Veterans Affairs guidelines. Anti-anxiety drugs can be very difficult to stop using, say experts, and can be linked with addiction. Articles highlighting research on veterans’ drug use trends say that more veterans are following recommendations that they avoid drugs like benzodiazepines to manage the anxiety and stress related to PTSD.
A study of nearly 500,000 veterans showed that fewer are using the drugs to manage their PTSD symptoms, a drop of around six percent from 1999 to 2009. The number of patients who took the drugs on a daily basis dropped around 14 percent.
Many veterans who have PTSD may also have co-occurring addictions to alcohol or other substances, making the use of anti-anxiety medications even more risky. Other experts believe anti-anxiety medications may make certain types of PTSD treatments less effective.
As alternatives to anti-anxiety medications, experts suggest psychotherapy methods which have been shown effective for symptoms including flashbacks and avoidance behaviors. Antidepressant medications have also proven helpful.