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I Can't Sleep

12-08-2010 09:54 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Point of Return

Los Angeles, CA December 2010. I can't sleep - those three words began a nightmare that lasted a decade.

I had many reasons for my insomnia - nearly three-dozen surgeries on my legs and spine, seizures, and extreme life stressors. It was after popping my first sleeping pill that my world imploded.

Klonopin was prescribed early on, then Restoril was added as my sleep declined. Both medications are benzodiazepines (benzos for short), one of the most widely prescribed drugs today, highly addictive and for many, horrifying to stop.

A New Report by Britain's National Newspaper The Independent states, "the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Britain agreed in 1982 that there should be large-scale studies to examine the long-term impact of benzodiazepines after research by a leading psychiatrist showed brain shrinkage in some patients similar to the effects of long-term alcohol abuse." Rather than investigate the effects of benzodiazepines, the MRC appears to have marked the documents "closed until 2014". It is estimated there are approximately 1.5 million involuntary benzo addicts in the UK, a country with a population 1/5 that of the United States. Benzos are prescribed as freely in the U.S., which could mean there are nearly 8 million innocent addicts here. To date no studies on the long term effects have been done in the United States, and the warnings that exist do not adequately address the danger.

The U.S. Government estimates 12 million people use illicit drugs on a regular basis. This includes heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, crack, cocaine, hallucinogens and others. Yet benzos are only one class of psychoactive medications that are frequently prescribed.

I reached tolerance on Klonopin and Restoril, where my body became dependent and it took higher doses to induce sleep. Invariably they stopped working and more pills were added under the care of a psychiatrist.

Benzos increase pain, so as mine soared and my depression deepened (also a side effect of benzos), other pills were added. At the end I was on a cocktail that included Ambien (Zolpidem), Klonopin (Clonazepam), Restoril (Temazepam), Effexor (Venlafaxine), Sinequan (Doxepin), painkillers and muscle relaxers. This was considered reasonable treatment and I complied for ten years. I withdrew from life and became one of the quiet souls who lived in silent misery.

In 2003 I wanted my life back. I finally saw what I had become - a shell of a woman who bore no resemblance to who I once was. I went cold turkey in a treatment center and the true definition of terror filled my days for months. Visit

Today I have no pain, insomnia, seizures, anxiety or depression. I look upon this drug plague with sadness and anger as I've watched too many lose their lives to pills. I fear the list will continue to grow before the tide turns.

Many have criticized Michael Jackson, but I know too well the horror he faced from an addiction to Xanax. I understand why Heath Ledger layered on pills in the hope of sleeping. And I have the utmost respect for Eminem for speaking out about his addiction to sleeping pills. We all need to speak out.

Hollywood gives dramatic examples of pill addiction, but most are like I was, quietly suffocating without any idea how to escape. This is what drove me to begin a non-profit to help others find their way back. In the first few years we helped people in 62 countries. This is a global issue that is quietly killing our society. We deserve more.

POINT OF RETURN, INC. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public benefit organization that was established to help individuals who seek their freedom from a dependence to Sleeping Pills, Anti-Anxiety Medication and Antidepressants. The team behind POINT OF RETURN encompasses an essential altruistic perspective that places others before self. In fact, our organization was formed to solve a problem no one else could.

Alesandra Rain
Author, Co-founder Point of Return
2630 Townsgate Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361

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