Thursday, September 15, 2011

No More Xanax

I'm posting this because Roy fell asleep at the wheel and missed the Xanax article on the front page of yesterday's  New York Times.  In "Abuse of Xanax Leads a Clinic to Halt Supply,"  Abby Goodnough writes about a clinic where they've stopped prescribing Xanax because to many people are abusing it.  Goodnough writes:

“It is such a drain on resources,” said Ms. Mink, whose employer, Seven Counties Services, serves some 30,000 patients in Louisville and the surrounding region. “You’re funneling a great deal of your energy into pacifying, educating, bumping heads with people over Xanax.”
Because of the clamor for the drug, and concern over the striking number of overdoses involving Xanax here and across the country, Seven Counties took an unusual step — its doctors stopped writing new prescriptions for Xanax and its generic version, alprazolam, in April and plan to wean patients off it completely by year’s end.

If you want to know how the Shrink Rappers feel about Xanax, do read Roy's post on Why Docs Don't like Xanax (Some of Us).  It's been our all-time most popular post.  

So I was a little (not a lot) surprised that this was "news."  I've worked in four public clinics-- I've never seen a prescription written for Xanax, and for the most part, the clinics where I've worked have had a sort of non-stated ban on prescribing controlled substances.  It's not that benzodiepines and stimulants are never helpful, but in the clinics, the issues concerning abuse, and the drain on the system gets to be very hard, plus we worry that the harm these medicines can do will be worse than the problems they 'cure.'   It's very rare that I've written for controlled substances, and I've never written for Xanax in a clinic, or seen a chart from another patient where Xanax was prescribed. I'd be shocked by the article, but during the two weeks I was in Louisiana after Katrina, I did see many patients who had been on high doses of long-standing Xanax that were prescribed by docs at community clinics, so I know it's done.  But you know, ClinkShrink doesn't like benzos at all, ever (per The Benzo Wars, if you'd like to hear us shriek at each other), and the rest of us Shrink Rappers don't like Xanax in particular.

Time to wake up, Roy.