"Girls" creator-star Lena Dunham, attempting to shine a light on the lesser-known addiction dangers of prescription anxiety medications, says she is six months sober after becoming dependent on them.
"My particular passion was Klonopin," Dunham, 32, said Monday on the podcast "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard," referring to a brand name for the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam, one of the class called benzodiazepines, or benzos. "The benzo thing is crazy because . . . it is the most normalized — especially in our [entertainment] industry. Everyone's got a [expletive] pill in their purse, a thing in their bag. 'I want to make sure I have it with me because I'm going to this event.' "
In her case, she said, "I remember my mom saying to me — and this is not me blaming her — . . . when my anxiety was really bad as a kid, she'd say, 'We're going to get you on medication because there's no reason to ever suffer.' And she's right. You don't need to be a hero about things. But I really took that to heart. And when I was having crazy anxiety and having to show up for things that I didn't feel equipped to show up for, I was like, 'There's no reason for me to ever suffer.' "
Taking Klonopin, she said, made her "feel like the person I was supposed to be," adding, "It was like suddenly I felt like a part of me that I knew was there was, like, freed up to do her thing. . . . And I didn't have any trouble getting a doctor to tell me, 'No you've got serious anxiety issues, you should be taking this." She said, "If I look back, there was a solid three years where I was, to put it lightly, misusing benzos, even though it was all quote-unquote doctor-prescribed. . . . I can recognize now the way that my own manipulation played a part." A doctor eventually weaned her off the medication, she said.
"The reason I talk about this," she said, "is . . . [that] nobody I know who is prescribed these medications is told, 'By the way, when you try and get off this, it's going to be, like, the most hellacious acid trip you've ever had where you're [expletive] clutching the walls and your hair is blowing off your head and you can't believe you found yourself in this situation. . . . I still feel like my brain is recalibrating itself…."