Melissa Bond is author of an upcoming memoir about her unintentional addiction to the Ativan her doctor prescribed for insomnia. Melissa was prescribed Ativan for pathological insomnia she experienced after the birth of her second child. Her doctor assured her it was safe and within 6 months had tripled her dose to 6 milligrams, all to be taken nightly. Within a year, her ribs stuck out like railroad ties and she couldn’t walk a straight line. Soon she couldn’t read or even write. She realized the depth of her physical dependency the night she fell holding her daughter. That was her point of no return. She knew she had to get off the Ativan or she would very likely die before her children were in kindergarten.

Daughter of addicts (her mother went into rehab when she was 17,  Melissa spent the past four years completing a memoir about her experience. The book,also speaks to the broader topic of our culture’s addiction narrative. During her year-long withdrawal, ABC World Wide with Diane Sawyer interviewed her and her goal is to clear up the misinformation about this drug and considers it the work of a lifetime.

Melissa Bond described herself as never having any physiological or psychological dependencies on anything “… besides perhaps rock climbing, yoga and writing large volumes of poetry.”  She developed pregnancy-related insomnia and went to an MD who specialized in hormonal imbalances, where she confirmed her insomnia involved an endocrine problem. She didn’t know at the time that her doctor had a “strong proclivity for prescribing benzodiaepines.”  You can read about her experience in the article she did for Mad In America: Killer Brain Candy.

Melissa followed medical advice; and was told by a doctor who she trusted and respected that he knew a man who had used benzos for nineteen years and didn’t have a problem. “This drug, he told me, is phenomenal. You’ll sleep. And when you don’t need them anymore it may or may not be slightly difficult to get off but you’ll be fine.” That wasn’t what happened.

The advice she gives to the drug addicts and alcoholics applies here as well. Whenever a medical person recommends that you take a potentially addictive drug for any reason, ALWAYS ALWAYS get a second opinion from someone with knowledge about addiction. Do research on people who have used the medication being prescribed to you. Mad in AmericaRxISK and Psychiatric Drug Facts with Dr. Peter Breggin are good places to start. And as you will see on these sites, hellish withdrawal problems aren’t confined to just the drugs classified as “addictive.”