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Benzodiazepines: increasingly under indictment

Already linked to the development of Alzheimer's, benzodiazepines like Valium and Ativan have now been linked to the development of pneumonia in people who already have Alzheimer's. The mechanism proposed is aspiration of food or liquids, leading to foreign matter in the lungs that causes infection. When you're foggy, chewing and swallowing are less often error-free.

Previous research has illuminated a number of other safety issues with this class of medication, from possible dependence and the need for greater doses, to cognition and balance issues.

The takeaway? Benzos are still often overprescribed in young and old. Understand what you're taking and why you need the dose you're on, and if the proof isn't there, you might try tapering down under medical supervision. 

Very frequently other drugs and treatments work as well or better than benzos, e.g. massage/NSAIDs/heat for musculoskeletal pain, low-dose anti-seizure drugs for neuropathic pain, Tai Chi for sleep and balance, etc.

Mixing and matching takes some trial and error, but the alternative can be staying for life on drugs that often do more harm than good.

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