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Is BIND Real?

As many of you may or may not be aware, your coach has been a controversial figure in the benzo community for about a decade now. This has happened for two reasons.

Let me begin by saying I was once deep in the old guard of the Benzo community. I followed all of the familiar groups, advocates, coaches, etc. I was told all the familiar things, that I had brain damage and all that could help me was time. That I needed to avoid other meds, such as SSRIs like they were the plague! I was told I needed to lay and pray for recovery essentially. I was told to avoid therapy, exposure, most food, movement, stimulation, etc., and the list goes on.

I tried all of this. Do you know what happened? I got sicker and sicker until I finally decided to end my life.

What saved me was psychoeducation. Once I read some scholarly research on mental illness and what can cause or exacerbate it, a lightbulb went off in my mind. I realized everything I had been doing while feeling completely intuitive was actually making me worse!

Long story short, I began experimenting and implementing new strategies, ultimately saving my life. After healing, I returned to the Benzo community to find more of the same thing; things had grown exponentially by then. It was more of the same terrible disabling advice, but only now was it treated as the gospels. It was as if there were some Benzo Bibles from which everyone was reading.

The very first video I ever made about Benzos was a video telling people there's hope and that they will make a full recovery. Many people appreciated the video, and it launched my work in a big way. So, I continued to make videos on recovery, and things grew from there.

However, I tell you all of this to provide some background and context because not everyone met me with open arms. In fact, I immediately began receiving terrible comments in my videos telling me I was wrong, that I didn't truly go through withdrawal, and that I was lying to people. I then began to receive the most scathing, terrible personal messages from people, some of them quite literally telling me I was hurting people and should go end my life. It was rather unbelievable. Most people highlighted certain coaches as "the true heroes."

Still, I believed in my work and its potential so much that I just kept on producing videos and working to better develop and refine my program. Eventually, people really did start to come around. Many, many people began implementing my techniques and approach, and they reported massive changes in their recovery.

You see, despite their efforts, they couldn't get rid of me because many of you validated my efforts too much. Much time has passed since those days, but minds in the Benzo community still largely remain fixed on the old ideas, which I can understand and appreciate.

Then came BIND... whatever the hell it is.

The problem with BIND is that no one seems to agree on what it is. I've been told by the top so-called benzo experts that BIND means "Benzo-Induced Neurological Dysfunction."

When I asked these people what that meant, I received many different explanations. Some said, "Well, it means Benzo withdrawal symptoms." To which I replied, "Why not just use the words we have for that? Why invent another word? It seems Benzo withdrawal is enough." To which they replied, "No. It's confusing."

Others disagreed and said, "No. BIND is NOT just benzo withdrawal. It means when you come off benzos and still have withdrawal symptoms months or years later." To which I reply, "But we have the already established term Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome." To which they replied, "No. It's confusing."

Okay. Got it.

Still, others said, "No. No! BIND is NOT merely benzo withdrawal or protracted withdrawal. BIND describes weird neurological issues related to benzo use or withdrawal." I replied, "Do you mean paradoxical reactions or side effects?" They replied, "No. It's different."

However, I was never told clearly how BIND differed from paradoxical reactions or side effects of the medication.

I then asked, "Could some of what you call BIND be other things such as profound anxiety, trauma, somatic symptoms, nocebo effect, psychogenic effects, reemergence of pre-existing conditions or manifestations of new more severe illnesses as a result of benzo withdrawal, which is a breeding ground for these things?"

To which they reply, "No. It's different."

Of course, no further context or elaboration was shared outside one person who said, "Year later, after benzos, I still sometimes have a light tingling-like nerve thing in my face."

This was the closest I could find to something I could wrap my head around. Still, the scientist in me couldn't help but wonder if this wasn't just another feature of anxiety and somatic symptoms. I ask this because it's a known phenomenon with people with profound anxiety who never took Benzos. As scientists, we must consider all explanations.

So, I ask you all again: what is BIND? And is it even real?

Finally, the collective impression from responses I've seen in the benzo communities has been this. BIND is essentially an umbrella term to describe the crazy withdrawal and recovery experience so many of us have from taking or coming off benzos, and the inclusion of the term is to help reduce the stigma that terms like "dependence" or "protracted withdrawal" carry. I've had people argue that their doctors, friends, and families do not understand Benzo withdrawal. Having a term like BIND sounds more official and helps legitimize their suffering in a way that would make it hard for others to look at them as merely prescription pill drug addicts.

Again. I'm completely sensitive to this, as I also experienced this. A lot of people around me didn't understand my situation and just assumed I was addicted to my benzo. They didn't grasp the difference between dependence and addiction. They also didn't seem interested in learning the difference, which I think highlights the bigger problem here. But that's for another blog.

My problem with BIND isn't just that no one can seem to define it, but that I believe it muddies the water more than it helps clear it. Doctors do not embrace the term because it doesn't come from their textbooks. Friends and family still remain clueless, and to some of them, we probably look even more bizarre. More importantly, the term BIND has a scary and potentially dangerous connotation.

My friend, D.E. Foster, who informed me that he actually created the term BIND, agreed with me on this when he was on my podcast. You can go back and watch that podcast if you'd like to hear the full 3-hour conversation on BIND. I like D.E. Foster and find his work and efforts inspiring, but we didn't seem to quite agree on BIND.

That said, Foster made the most sense to me in his definition and use of the term, and one thing he especially hammered on my podcast was that people shouldn't embrace fear-driven false narratives.

He essentially said that BIND should not be the boogieman! BIND doesn't mean you have permanent brain damage. BIND doesn't mean you can be off Benzos and healed for or five years and then suddenly wake up one day with brain damage again! He was very clear about this and, on my podcast, warned his listeners not to go down this road with others. Foster acknowledged that many people had taken his term and were using it out of context.

On BIND, Foster said, "It's not benzo withdrawal, or protracted withdrawal, or paradoxical reactions, or side effects of the drug, or sensitization issues, or neurological dysregulation, nor is it nocebo or somatic symptoms... BIND is when you have strange neurological symptoms that cannot be otherwise explained by the previously mentioned."

I appreciated him sharing that. But it did beg my original question.... then what exactly is BIND!

And how do we differentiate it from any of the previously mentioned?

Of course, largely, there is no way for us to differentiate. And that's the problem I have with BIND. It's too vague and confusing, and more importantly, it's being used by the majority of the Benzo community out of context to highlight some Benzo boogieman. Most people have the idea that BIND means that you can be fully healed for years and then one day wake up and be benzo injured again. Or that eating a certain food years later can bring benzo withdrawal back.

My friends, this is absolutely not true. I understand all the stories you've heard before, but from a clinical perspective, I can only tell you that there's more to those stories. In all of my years working with countless people in withdrawal, I'm not sure I've seen clear signs of BIND. I have seen unbelievable withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal, nasty and strange side effects of the meds. I've personally had a paradoxical reaction to Benzo, by which taking the drug actually induced panic, etc. I've seen the most profound cases of nocebo and somatic symptoms, pain disorder, benzo-induced PTSD, etc., but I'm not sure I've seen BIND.

I personally think there's an enormous lack of understanding and misunderstanding regarding what benzo withdrawal truly is and how it impairs us. I think that this lack of insight disarms us, and the misinformation in the benzo community convinces us that we have this mysterious brain damage that can just come and go, and that, my friends, is utterly terrifying!

How in the hell can we heal from trauma and show our limbic system we are safe from the bear if, at the same time, we hold the belief that we truly aren't safe?

That the bear can show up at any time!

Imagine escaping the forest after being stuck for two or three years running from a maniac grizzly bear that repeatedly nearly killed you. You finally escape the woods, make it back to your car, drive 2000 miles away from the forest, and make it home. You go inside, take a shower, nurse your wounds, heal, and then one night, four years later, you're lying in bed, and you roll over to see the bear next to you.

This is what BIND means for many people, and it's utterly destructive!

While I appreciate my friend Foster's work on the topic, my opinion is that the term BIND seems to do more damage than good. And that's a shame. I'll be keeping an eye out to see if things change, as I hope they do, but first, we all need to agree on a definition.

The last thing I will say is that many people reached out to me regarding Dr. Christy Huff's recent passing. So many of you were triggered and terrified for reasons I highlighted in this blog. Many of you are speculating on whether or not she harmed herself. Some have even begun spreading lies. As of the time of writing this blog, her family wants privacy and has not shared anything on her cause of death.

That said, we do know that she struggled with her healing for some time but did seem to recover. However, there were other factors, as there always are, and from what I understand from people closer to her, she was still struggling with some mental health issues. It was reported that she tried to medicate her anxiety using a beta blocker, and she had issues with that. I cannot verify any of this, and the last thing I want to do is speak about things I'm wrong about. This is the news in the community.

All I can tell you is this... benzos didn't kill her. BIND didn't kill her. And it would be a stain on her memory for so many of you to allow yourselves to be triggered in this way and suffer because of it. It would be the absolute last thing she'd want for you all.

The problem with Huff's story, as I understand it, was that she utterly embraced the old guard of benzo damage. She didn't seem to embrace holistic healing or those ideas. I know because I contacted her about the topic, and she wanted nothing to do with me or my work. It was my impression that she believed she had benzo-induced brain damage, and that was that. Perhaps those closer to her may be able to shed more light on this and forgive me if I am wrong here, but that's the impression I got from digesting her work, and I'd argue it is the impression most people following her work got as well.

Please understand I don't subscribe to this. I'm not a cardiologist like Huff. I'm a clinical psychologist. For the past two decades, I've studied psychology, biology, and mental illness. And I can tell you all, sincerely, there's more to the picture. We can all agree to disagree if need be, as my views on BIND have led me to be once again criticized and attacked in the Benzo community.

I will say this if you look at history, anyone who has tried to bring something new to establishment has been met in a similar way. In Plato's words, "No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth." My advice to you all is this: Please, just open your minds to the idea that perhaps you don't have permanent neurological dysfunction or damage and that you WILL make a full recovery. I promise you that the bear will not turn up one day randomly, and if you were to experience a flare-up of old familiar symptoms, perhaps there's more going on here, which can be explained better through other science than Benzo Boogieman.

It's about conquering our fears and fostering a rational approach to recovery. Yes. Benzos are the most dangerous and nasty drug on the planet. Yes, it's possible to be seriously injured by them, but that's true with many drugs. There are antibiotics that can harm people in this way.

But for 99.9% of us, this will not be the case!

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