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Why was Jordan Peterson placed in a medically induced coma? What we know about benzodiazepines and treatment – National Post

Posted: February 15, 2020 at 2:56 am

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In the wake of news that Jordan Peterson spent eight days in an induced coma in Russia to overcome a physical dependency on a benzodiazepine drug, questions have been raised about the nature of this commonly prescribed drug, its symptoms and the best way to treat withdrawal. In a video and transcript provided to the National Post, the psychologists daughter, Mikhaila, said that her father was initially prescribed a low dose of a benzodiazepine a few years ago for anxiety, but he only developed a physical dependence on the drug after his dose was increased last April following his wifes terminal cancer diagnosis. She said Jordan was misdiagnosed at several hospitals in North America and nearly died several times before his family made the decision to fly him to Russia for emergency treatment. Mikhailas account has raised questions about the difference between physical dependence and psychological addiction, side effects associated with benzodiazepines, and potential treatments. Heres everything you need to know about the drugs.

What are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety or as sleeping aids. They include diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam and clonazepam. They are commonly referred to as benzos or tranquillizers, and well-known brand names include Valium, Ativan and Xanax.

Are they dangerous?

While benzodiazepines can effectively treat anxiety and insomnia, it is not recommended that they are taken long-term as a physical dependency can develop in just two weeks. Once they become physically dependent upon them, anytime that you try and stop them, youre going to have a rebound of the prior symptoms, said David Crockford, a psychiatry professor at the University of Calgary. When you try and taper them or stop them, people will notice a worsening of their prior anxiety that will come on. While the recommendation is that theyre used only in the short term, a lot of people end up on them for longer because of their effectiveness.

Is there a difference between drug addiction and physical dependency?

While colloquially the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference, though its not a clear line. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences. This includes failure to meet work and social obligations and risky behaviour to seek out more drugs. Physical dependence is when your body adapts to a drug, develops tolerance and experiences physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when trying to come of the drug. Physical dependence can develop even when someone is taking a drug exactly as prescribed, which is the situation Mikhaila described.

What is a paradoxical reaction?

Mikhaila said her father experienced a rare but not unheard of paradoxical reaction, meaning the benzos did the opposite of what theyre supposed to do. A 2004 review published in the journal Pharmacotherapy found that paradoxical reactions to benzodiazepines prescribed for sleep problems occur in less than one per cent of patients. Mikhaila did not specify what kind of paradoxical reaction her father experienced, but if she was referring to increased anxiety, the effect may actually have been caused by growing tolerance to the drugs, Crockford said. As you develop physical tolerance, you require either a higher dose to get the same effect of what you saw before, or essentially people just start getting a breakthrough of all their anxiety symptoms, he said. Thats essentially what tolerance means.

What is akathisia?

Mikhaila said her fathers worst symptom was akathisia an incredible, irresistible restlessness, and an inability to sit still. Crockford said this movement disorder is commonly a side effect of antipsychotic drugs and he didnt know of any benzodiazepine cases. Its also hard to differentiate from anxiety, so its possible Jordans symptoms were a result of growing tolerance to the drug.

What are common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal?

Symptoms include disturbed sleep, agitation, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour, altered mental status and seizures. (Mikhaila said her father is taking anti-seizure medication.)

What are common treatments for a physical dependency?

Generally, the recommended approach is a gradual detoxification from the benzodiazepines, done on an outpatient basis, Crockford said. The Ashton Manual, a well-known tapering technique, recommends reducing the dose by five to 10 per cent every two to four weeks, which means it could take as long as a year to come off the drug. Every time theres a taper, there will be more experience of anxiety and withdrawal symptoms from it, Crockford said.

What about a medically induced coma?

Mikhaila said her father was flown to Russia and placed in a medically induced coma because doctors there have the guts to medically detox someone from benzodiazepines. Crockford said a medically induced coma has been tested for rapid detox from opioids, but it had much higher mortality rates so the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine recommended against it. He is not aware of any cases of it being used for rapid detoxification from benzodiazepines. Likely, it would have the same potential risk, he said. Most people would not recommend a detox through a general anesthetic.

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Why was Jordan Peterson placed in a medically induced coma? What we know about benzodiazepines and treatment - National Post

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Meet the Petersons: the controversial family plagued by ill health –

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Jordan Peterson is unwell.

But for fans and followers of the clinical psychologist and crusader against political correctness, the good news is he is getting better.

This week, his daughter Mikhaila posted a bulletin on her website, announcing that after years of suffering absolute hell from his physical addiction to the anti-anxiety benzodiazepine, Clonazepam, Peterson had been admitted to a clinic in Russia for an emergency detox treatment, which had involved him being placed in an induced coma for eight days.

Peterson, she said, was now on the mend and smiling again for the first time in months. She did not say where in Russia he was, and added that there would be no further bulletins on his condition until Peterson was able to speak for himself.

The revelation is the latest twist in the extraordinary rise of Peterson from obscure Canadian academic to what the *New York Times* described as the most influential public intellectual in the Western world.

Peterson first rose to international prominence in 2018 with the publication of his book 12 Rules For Life, and an appearance on Channel 4 News in which he eviscerated his interviewer Cathy Newman in a discussion about gender and the rise of identity politics and has now accrued more than 19m views on YouTube.

He quickly became the most visible, outspoken, and certainly the most divisive figure in the culture wars between Left and Right, challenging the orthodoxies of political correctness and the culture of victimhood he maintains is sweeping across university campuses in America, Canada and Britain. In March 2019, an offer of a Visiting Fellowship by Cambridge University was rescinded following a backlash from students and some members of faculty.

As his book soared to the top of the best-seller lists around the world, Peterson gave up his clinical practice and embarked on a frenetic round of lecture tours, media appearances and speaking engagements. But last year these engagements tailed off in November he was obliged to cancel a talk he was due to give at Londons Hammersmith Apollo as speculation about his health mounted.

Petersons health, and in particular his struggle with the chronic depression he has suffered since the age of 13, has long been a theme in his talks. When I met him at his home in Toronto in 2018 he described the feeling as like freezing to death on an endless stark plain knowing that the reason that you got there is because you did everything wrong. As part of his attempt to control it, he had adopted a diet consisting solely of meat and greens he was barbequing steak for breakfast when I arrived. Its hell on your social life, I can tell you, he told me with a laugh.

He adopted the diet following the example of Mikhaila, 28, who has become a prominent figure on social media herself, not only in her capacity as her fathers assistant and right hand (Peterson also has a son Julian, 27) but because of her own story about her struggles with debilitating illness.

She has her own website, which lists the long catalogue of ailments that have blighted her life. At the age of seven she was diagnosed with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; at eight she was injecting herself with immunosuppressants twice a week; by the age of 12 she was diagnosed with severe depression and bi-polar type 2; at 14 she was diagnosed with idiopathic hypsomnia; at 17 she had her hip and ankle joints replaced; by the time she was 22 she was sleeping 18 hours a day, chronically depressed and experiencing rashes and blistering.

After years of experimenting with eliminating certain foods, she now promotes the wonders of what she calls the Lion Diet, which consists solely of ruminant meat (beef and lamb), salt and water, and which she claims had put her multiple disorders into remission, leaving her completely asymptomatic, medication free and thriving.

It took me years to believe this myself, as it went against all accepted medical teachings, she says on her website a fact confirmed by numerous health professionals, among them Jack Gilbert, the faculty director at the University of Chicagos Microbiome Center, who in an interview with The Atlanticmagazine described the Lion Diet as a terribly, terribly bad idea, adding, if she does not die of colon cancer or some other severe cardiometabolic disease, the life I cant imagine.

Peterson, however, told the American radio host, Joe Rogan that Mikhaila was glowing. So much so that he embarked on the diet himself to apparently extraordinary effect. His lifelong depression, anxiety, gastric reflux (and associated snoring), inability to wake up in the mornings, psoriasis, gingivitis, floaters in his right eye, numbness on the sides of his legs, problems with mood regulation all of it, he told Rogan, had gone.

But in April last year, the familys history of ill-health took another tragic turn when Petersons wife, Tammy was diagnosed with what was believed to be terminal cancer. The couple had been childhood sweethearts, growing up on the same street in the small prairie town of Fairview in Northern Alberta, and have been married for 31 years.

Devastated by the diagnosis, Peterson was prescribed antidepressants and Clonazepam. But in September, in a family bulletin on her Youtube channel, Mikhaila announced that following surgery for the removal of a kidney, and with Tammy making a miraculous recovery, Peterson had tried unsuccessfully to wean himself off Clonazepam, and been admitted to a rehabilitation centre in New York. The family, she went on, felt it important to make the announcement before some tabloid finds out and publishes Jordan Peterson Self Help Guru Is On Meth or something.

The treatment was evidently unsuccessful. In her posting this week, Mikhaila told how several failed attempts in American hospitals, including tapering and microtapering treatments, had left Peterson suicidal, with a condition called akathisia, where the patient constantly feels on the border of panic and is unable to sit still. The family had been forced in extreme desperation to seek treatment in Russia, where doctors have the guts to medically detox someone from benzodiazepines.

It seems somehow fitting that Peterson should have sought treatment in Russia a country that, one way and another, has exercised a powerful sway over his life and his philosophy. Dostoevskys Crime and Punishmentand The Demonsfigure in a list of books he published as influential in his intellectual development.

The rise of the Soviet Union was equally formative. When I met him, we talked, with Peterson in the full lotus position on an armchair, in a sitting room hung with monumental Soviet propaganda paintings a young man clasping the works of Lenin like a prayer book, and Soviet soldiers in the midst of a battle. Upstairs in his office, a painting of young revolutionaries about to be shot by a White Russian hung on a wall alongside a portrait of Yuri Gagarin. A battered cap, worn by a prisoner in a Soviet gulag was framed above his desk, beside a beaten copper crucifix from a Russian Orthodox church.

Peterson began collecting Soviet-era art in the Nineties, buying paintings on eBay, mostly from junk dealers in Ukraine. He told me they served to remind him of the iniquities of totalitarianism, and the evil of art being subordinated to propaganda. He particularly relished the irony of having bought them for a song on eBay, The most capitalist platform thats ever been invented!

Its kind of weird having Lenin around the house, Mikhaila told me. When Dad first started buying them, Mom would say, Not another one!. He now has more than 300.

It was Petersons fierce opposition to what he described as post-modernist Neo-Marxists and the creeping orthodoxies of political correctness that first made him a figure of public controversy in 2017, when he protested against a ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission that refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity in a workplace or a school, would probably be considered discrimination.

Peterson argued that his objections were on the grounds on free speech, and nothing to do with discrimination, and that at no time in British Common Law history has the legal code mandated what we must say, as opposed to simply what we must not say. He added that he would use the gender-neutral pronoun of a particular person, if they asked him.

Accusations of being transphobic and promulgating hate speech have followed him ever since. Indeed, it is hard to think of a more polarising figure in the culture wars as the cruel, gleeful postings by some on social media at the news of his illness have once again demonstrated.

In her bulletin this week, Mikhaila said that her fathers sense of humour is back... But he still has a long way to go to recover fully. It appears that were going to get through this by the skin of our teeth.

As a clinician you learn that its a rare person who isnt tragic right under the surface, Peterson told me when we met. But that doesnt mean you get to be a victim. You pick up your goddamn suffering and put one foot in front of the other. Its the way up, and also its the antidote to the way down.


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Letters to the Editor, Feb. 15 – Toronto Sun

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Way back when I was a Toronto Police officer, I was off-duty trying to buy two tickets to a Canada Cup hockey game that was being played at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. All the scalpers took one look at me and my brush cut and refused to deal with me fearing that I was working undercover. I spotted Christie Blatchford in the crowd and explained my dilemma. I had never met her before. She laughed and said stay right here and leave it with me. Five minutes later she returned with two tickets. When I asked her how much I owed her, she waved her hand and said, Enjoy the game. Class, pure class.

Tom Newell

Niagara Falls

(There are so many great stories about Blatch. She was a once in a generation person)


I hope Jordan Peterson is recovering and will soon be back to enlighten our minds with his vast knowledge. I dont read comments because it makes me mad to hear ignorant peoples opinions. Peterson is a human being, his knowledge doesnt make him a piece of stone. He experienced traumatic events and will come out of it. I send him my love, my admiration and am waiting for him to get to the top. Get well, get strong. Maybe it would be good to experience ibogaine. I wish you the best.

Simone Da Fonseca

Spokane, Wash.

(It was really appalling how the left reacted to him)


Re Feds climate change plan could pose significant new risk to economy, says Superintendent (Sun Media, Feb. 12): Your article and the headline about remarks on climate risk made last week by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) may have left the wrong impression with readers. The headline suggests that the Superintendent was commenting specifically on Canadas climate change plan. In this instance, the reference to governments was used in a generic context. The following is what he said about transition risks associated with climate change: Transition risk arises from efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rather than from the changing climate itself. These risks will result principally from the policies that governments have (or will) put in place to reduce emissions. It is also possible that transition risks will arise from changes in investor or consumer sentiment. In the speech, the Superintendent noted that OSFIs role is to prepare for severe yet plausible economic scenarios. The impact of climate change on the economy remains uncertain, but OSFI is planning for the severe yet plausible. As the Superintendent stated, As the prudential financial regulator, its long been our business to make sure that financial institutions are always prepared to continue functioning through a range of severe yet plausible economic scenarios. So we have already done considerable analysis about how a major economic disruption could impact the financial system.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

(That is helpful to know because we all want that information)

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Letters to the Editor, Feb. 15 - Toronto Sun

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The holdovers: assistants Randy Jordan and Nate Kaczor were retained by Ron Rivera for a reason – The Athletic

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Anyone attending a Washington practice knows exactly where special teams coach Nate Kaczor is. Its impossible to miss the energy he exudes, and so much harder not to hear him during special teams periods. And he has found a way to blend intensity, scheme, simplicity and not taking himself too seriously, all while being respected by his players and peers alike.

He shares those traits with Washingtons running backs coach Randy Jordan, about whom one could say many of the same things. In 2018, when Washington played the New York Giants in the Meadowlands, Adrian Peterson broke off a late-game, 64-yard for a touchdown to give the team a 20-6 lead with 3:06 remaining. As the future Hall of Famer sprinted down the sideline, just escaping the grasp of a would-be tackler at the very end, cameras caught Jordan, the teams longest-tenured coach, running down the sidelineas well, celebrating the score with his player.

Players say what sticks out the most is...

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The holdovers: assistants Randy Jordan and Nate Kaczor were retained by Ron Rivera for a reason - The Athletic

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In the ghoulish world of online snark, toasting to metastasis is a virtue – The Globe and Mail

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U.S. radio host Rush Limbaugh, seen here on Feb. 04, 2020, is famous for being a radio shock jock.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Christopher Hitchens was dying when he went on tour in 2010 to promote his memoir, Hitch-22, which chronicled his life as a polemicist, an author and a pugnacious critic of religion. He had recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer when, on one of his stops, a talk-radio host asked him what he thought of people suddenly praying for him, a self-described anti-theist.

Well look, I mean, I think that prayer and holy water, and things like that are all fine. They dont do any good, but they dont necessarily do any harm, Mr. Hitchens said. Its touching to be thought of in that way. It makes up for those who tell me that Ive got my just desserts.

Those who ascribed to the just desserts hypothesis pointed to the divine as explanation for Mr. Hitchenss cancer: Gods revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme Him, according to one religious writer. Mr. Hitchens countered that if God was indeed meting out cancers as a form of retributive justice, infants with leukemia must have committed some dreadful sins.

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Mr. Hitchens was not one to be wounded by gloating over his misfortune, nor, I suspect, are many other prominent polemicists for whom strangers might delight in a terminal diagnosis. To achieve a level of success or fame such that strangers would even bother to form an opinion about you probably means that one has already endured a good degree of enmity. Ghouls toasting to metastasis is only a slight escalation.

U.S. radio host Rush Limbaugh, recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and author Jordan Peterson, currently undergoing treatment for clonazepam dependence, have become two new sources for this particular brand of cultural schadenfreude.

Mr. Limbaugh is famous for being a radio shock jock, whose highlight reel includes calling birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke a slut and prostitute, and playing a song called Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon, for his many listeners. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last week, ostensibly because President Donald Trump finds him charming.

Mr. Peterson became famous after he publicly opposed a bill he argued would oblige him to call transgender people by their preferred pronouns. His subsequent book, called 12 Rules for Life, sold millions of copies worldwide. Mr. Peterson developed a dependence on the anti-anxiety medication in the wake of his wifes cancer diagnosis.

As in Mr. Hitchenss case, the perceived karma of both mens diagnoses have provided distinct joy for their online critics. [Mr. Limbaugh] used those lungs to spew hate so this is payback, wrote one. Jordan Peterson, oracle to gullible young men, preacher of macho toughness, and hectoring bully to snowflakes He deserves as much sympathy as he showed others, wrote another (notably, a university professor).

Dead philosophers would have plenty to say about these crude expressions of pleasure. Nineteenth-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer viewed schadenfreude (the act of deriving pleasure from someone elses misfortune) as an aberration: an infallible sign of a thoroughly bad heart, he declared. To feel envy is human, but to indulge in such malicious joy is fiendish and diabolical.

Friedrich Nietzsche, on the other hand, saw schadenfreude as a universal human trait one rooted in feelings of profound inferiority. And Aristotle attempted to draw a distinction between a malicious type of joy derived from another persons misfortune, and the pleasure one experiences in witnessing deserved hardship or punishment.

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Though they might disagree on its precise nature, few theorists have characterized schadenfreude as a virtuous human trait. It may be useful in terms of catharsis, perhaps, or in satisfying a yearning for justice (or the perception thereof). But it doesnt rank high or at all among righteous human emotions of forgiveness, compassion, or the extension of unreciprocated kindness and empathy (is there a German word for that?).

Thats what makes the ecosystem of online commentary and social media so peculiar: normally exalted attributes of restraint and compassion which take far more effort than succumbing to visceral emotion are scoffed at as weak and conciliatory, and the celebration of misery is actually rewarded. Its where tweets hoping Mr. Limbaughs morphine is withheld and describing Mr. Petersons situation as one of the funniest things to ever happen are liked and shared tens of thousands of times, as if they werent inherently sadistic and cruel.

The effect is a perversion of what it means to rise above. Charity is for losers. Empathy for the spineless. The faithful openly delight in the suffering of the blasphemous, and social-justice advocates proudly boast their inhumanity. In this bizarre arena, schadenfreude is suddenly a virtue.

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In the ghoulish world of online snark, toasting to metastasis is a virtue - The Globe and Mail

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Jordan Peterson Almost Died In Induced Coma During Withdrawal From Anxiety Drug, Daughter Says – The Daily Wire

Posted: February 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

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The eminent psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has been suffering from a severe addiction to benzodiazepine tranquilizers and the life-threatening cancer that his wife is currently battling, almost died recently in an induced coma, according to his daughter Mikhaila, who stated that the last year for her father has been an absolute hell.

Mikhaila Peterson also revealed her father, whose book Twelve Rules For Life became a gigantic bestseller, is being treated at a clinic in Russia; she claimed that he had repeatedly been misdiagnosed at hospitals in the United States and Canada.

In a script for a video released by The National Post, Mikhaila Peterson wrote:

The last year has been absolute hell for the Petersons. Dad was put on a low dose of a benzodiazepine a few years ago for anxiety following an extremely severe autoimmune reaction to food. He took the medication as prescribed. We werent aware that he was developing a physical dependence on the drug until last April when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and the dose of the medication increased. It became apparent that he was experiencing a paradoxical reaction to the medication, meaning the benzos did the opposite of what theyre supposed to do. These reactions are rare but are not unheard of.

The worst symptom for dad was akathisia. Akathisia is an absolutely god-awful condition where the person feels an incredible, irresistible restlessness, and an inability to sit still. It was so severe he was suicidal. For the last six months hes been in horrible, unbearable discomfort from this drug, made worse when trying to remove it because of the physical dependence. We took him to several hospitals in North America where he experienced multiple cases of misdiagnosis, and the addition of more medications to cover the response he was experiencing from the benzodiazepines. He nearly died several times.

The National Post reported that in Moscow last month, Peterson was diagnosed with pneumonia; doctors induced a coma for eight days. Mikhaila Peterson said her fathers withdrawal was horrific, adding that her father has suffered neurological damage and cannot type or walk without help, but is on the mend. She said, Hes smiling again for the first time in months.

Mikhaila Peterson added, This was not a case of psychological addiction. Benzodiazepine physical dependence due to the brain changes that can occur in a matter of weeks can destroy lives. It can be made even worse by paradoxical reactions that are difficult to diagnose. The medication almost killed my dad. Hes a psychologist and even he wasnt aware of how bad these medications are for some people. Physical dependence can occur in a matter of a few weeks of daily use to biologically susceptible individuals. Dad will recover fully but it will take time and he still has a ways to go.

Peterson was reported to have taken the medication clonazepam, which is a benzodiazepine that binds to GABA receptors in the brain, making the neurons less active and excitable.Psychologist Jonathan N. Stea wrote in Psychology Today:

If benzodiazepines are used repeatedly and temporarily to avoid or cope with uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, and memories, their use could lead to the development or worsening of psychiatricsymptoms, such as anxiety. They are not first-line treatments for anxiety disorders, and clinical guidelines recommend that their use be restricted to the short term, due to the high potential for both dependency and addiction, as well as other side effects, including severe withdrawal symptoms, sedation, cognitive impairment, and the potential for death.

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Jordan Peterson Almost Died In Induced Coma During Withdrawal From Anxiety Drug, Daughter Says - The Daily Wire

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Boys district basketball: Nicholas Mason, Jordan Peterson lead Medical Lake to district tourney win – Sports and Weather Right Now

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UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 11, 2020

Nicholas Mason scored 16 points, Jordan Petersen added 13 and third-seeded Medical Lake (16-5) eliminated visiting sixth-seeded Lakeside 57-52 in a District 7 1A first-round game Tuesday.

The Cardinals (16-5), ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, take on second-seeded Deer Park in a semifinal Friday.

Javon Williams led Lakeside (7-14) with 18 points.

Newport 69, Colville 53: Ben Krogh scored 33 points and the host Grizzlies (14-7) eliminated the Indians (8-13) in a first-round game.

Michael Owen added 14 points for Newport, which faces top-seeded Freeman in a semifinal Friday.

Rhett Foulkes led Colville with 13 points.

Odessa 104, Republic 23: Ryan Moffet scored 32 points with eight assists and the top-seeded Tigers (21-0) defeated visiting fourth-seeded Republic (4-14) in a first-round game.

Moffet is 10 points from tying the state scoring record of 3,100, set last year by Brock Ravet of Kittitas.

Odessa faces Cusick in a semifinal Saturday at Medical Lake High. Daeton Deife scored 19 points and Jett Nelson added 18 for Odessa. David Jensen led Republic with seven points.

Cusick 75, Wellpinit 61: Celias Holmes and Colton Seymour scored 18 points apiece and the second-seeded Panthers (16-4) beat visiting third-seeded Wellpinit (11-8) in a first-round game.

Cusicks Brandon LeVasseur scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Kobe Stearns had 20 points for Wellpinit, which faces Republic in a loser-out game Saturday.

Selkirk 65, Valley Christian 46: Ryan Zimmerman scored 26 points and the top-seeded Rangers (14-7) defeated the visiting fourth-seeded Panthers (7-11) in a first-round game in Ione.

Selkirk faces Almira/Coulee-Hartline in a semifinal Saturday.

Adam Bruno led Valley Christian with 18 points.

Almira/Coulee-Hartline 77, Inchelium 37: Chase Gerard scored 16 points and the second-seeded Warriors (13-7) defeated the third-seeded Hornets (9-11) in a first-round game in Coulee City.

Inchelium faces Valley Christian in a loser-out game Saturday.

Lonnie Simpson led Inchelium with nine points.

Feb. 11, 2020, 9:24 p.m.

Feb. 11, 2020, 10:10 p.m.

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Barbara Kay: Jordan Peterson and the deadly overprescription of benzos – National Post

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In a 2018 CBC interview, Wendy Mesley asked Jordan Peterson, then at the zenith of his celebrity, what he thought lay ahead for him. Peterson responded with his typical gloomy realism: I dont know whats next, really. The overwhelming likelihood, as far as Im concerned, and its been this way since September of 2016, is that this will go terribly wrong. Its too much, eh? Its been too much for a long time. Im surfing a hundred-foot wave and generally what happens if you do that is you drown.

Peterson surely meant the words metaphorically, suggesting that the publics interest in him would wane as rapidly as it had escalated. But in retrospect, the words too much and drown acquire an ominous prescience.

In a recent YouTube video, Petersons daughter, Mikhaila, summarized her familys past year of absolute hell. In dealing with anxiety, Jordan Peterson developed an addiction to a benzodiazepine (commonly known as benzos, this category of drugs includes Ativan, Serax, Klonopin, Xanax and Valium, amongst others), which led to numerous unbearable side effects, notably akathisia, an irresistible restlessness thats so maddening, it led to suicidal ideation.

It is unfortunate that it often takes the publicity surrounding a famous persons tragedy to jump-start a national discussion, but if ever there was a moment to shine a light on the scandal of decades of overprescription of benzos, this is it.

Janet Currie, a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbias School of Nursing, is a Canadian researcher and educator with long-time concerns over the safety and use of psychiatric drugs. She has no ties to any pharmaceutical companies, so her research is entirely independent. Before consulting her personally, I read Curries paper for the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Womens Health, titled Manufacturing Addiction: The over-prescription of benzodiapezines and sleeping pills to women in Canada, which contains many sobering facts and statistics. Although published in 2003, Currie said the paper requires no material updates.

The first benzos were called tranquillizers and were marketed in the 1960s as a safe and effective alternative to barbiturates. But after only one year of availability, the first report in the medical literature describing their addictive nature was published, according to Curries report.

There is an elephant in the mental-health room that seems curiously invisible.

Currie notes that it is estimated that up to 15 per cent of adults may be using benzos; of them, up to 65 per cent are women. The majority of people who take these drugs at recommended dosages will become dependent on them, and of them, most will experience difficulties withdrawing from the drugs. Canadian and international studies indicate that 20 to 50 per cent of all women over 60 may be prescribed benzos or sleeping pills and that long-term use increases with age. A strong link has been established between falls in elderly women and drugs, of which 90 per cent are benzodiapezines, according to the report. In 2000, one in three status Aboriginal women over 40 in Western Canada were prescribed benzodiazepines.

I put a number of questions to Currie in an email exchange. Was Petersons story an outlier? Not really, she said, there are many stories like it. Most people do not know that benzos should be prescribed for a maximum of a few weeks. What Peterson experienced was a prescribing cascade, in which the withdrawal symptoms are not associated with the benzos, so more drugs are prescribed with even more deleterious effects.

Petersons desperation trip to Russia is understandable, Currie told me, because there is a serious lack of physicians (in Canada) who are willing to do tapers and no accessible community-based resources where people can get help. Tapering, the process of slowly weaning a person off a drug, can take months or years. By the way, Currie added, benzos are also sold on the street and widely used by heroin addicts and alcoholics.

Have there been lawsuits, I asked, and if so, what were the results? Currie responded that its difficult to go up against a big drug company, though some have tried. She cited the case of Joan Gadsby, a municipal official in B.C., who, following her young sons death from brain cancer, was prescribed benzos that led to addiction and multiple harrowing side effects. She sued her doctor, but lost the case and all her retirement savings. After interviewing thousands of stakeholders, however, Gadsby became an expert on the subject. Currie recommends her book, Addiction by Prescription.

The most significant attempt at legal redress was a years-long U.K. class-action lawsuit that was undertaken through Britains Legal Aid Funding Plan and involved 14,000 patients and 1,800 lawyers. It failed because legal aid couldnt handle the costs.

Canadians talk a lot about the need to address mental health issues openly and non-judgmentally. Thats good. But here is an elephant in the mental-health room that seems curiously invisible. Perhaps when Jordan Peterson is fully recovered and godspeed to him he will help to lead that discussion.

More information on benzos and other psychiatric drugs can be found at

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Barbara Kay: Jordan Peterson and the deadly overprescription of benzos - National Post

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EXCLUSIVE: Update on the health of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson – The Post Millennial

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Dr. Jordan B. Petersons personal troubles are celebrated by his detractors. After his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, opened up about the difficulties her father faced during this past year, a torrent of ill-wishes were released to social media.

A data scientist, engineer and social justice activist had this to say: do I think he deserves sympathy despite him not extending it to others? Also no.

Do I think Jordan Peterson deserves a pass on his bigotry because he's suffering? No.

But do I think he deserves dignity despite his situation being a product of views that he profits from? No.

But do I think he deserves sympathy despite him not extending it to others? Also no. Pronoun Enforcer (@EmilyGorcenski) February 8, 2020

Petersons legacy is evident in just how many people have been helped by his work. His message is simple, to take charge of yourself and your life, to avoid being controlled by aimless desire, and if you dont know where to start, begin by cleaning your room.

A professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa also prefers to show no sympathy. Heres hoping he doesnt teach ethics.

#KARMA Jordan Peterson, oracle to gullible young men, preacher of macho toughness, and hectoring bully to snowflakes, is addicted to strong drugs and his brain riddled with neurological damage.

He deserves as much sympathy as he showed others. Amir Attaran (@profamirattaran) February 8, 2020

Petersons message is one that so many who hear it can relate to, and hes travelled the world speaking to sold-out audiences. His views are rooted in western ideas, stem from our most ancient myths and legends, and embrace the Christian hero story of self-sacrifice as the ultimate strength.

A writer for the Toronto Guardian had this to say.

But wait a second, I thought an all meat diet and toxic masculinity was the key to a happy life

This man is a complete fraud. While I wish no ill will on anyone, Jordan Peterson will always be an idiot's genius. #cdnmedia Neil Before Zod (@WaytowichNeil) February 8, 2020

Some guy with the Twitter username im nice who fancies himself a comedian had this to say:

jordan petersons method for living the perfect life works great unless anything bad ever happens to you at which point you develop the worst benzo habit of all time and end up being kidnapped by your daughter and experimented on in a russian prison im nice (@Lowenaffchen) February 8, 2020

Peterson has been vilified by detractors in media and the public at large about as much as he has been praised. The reasons behind this are that people dont like to hear that relativism is not the best way to live life. People who are mired in our contemporary driving philosophy of meaninglessness, that no one way to live is better than any other, that no one choice is a better or worse choice than another, dont want to listen to someone who says that the hard work of life is worth doing.

I'd like to come out as a big fan of @jordanbpeterson. Not only has he helped and inspired countless young men, but he inspired me to start writing after an 11-year hiatus. He re-tweeted and shared my articles on social media and even sent me an email of support. I owe him a lot. Kathrine Jebsen Moore (@JebsenMoore) February 9, 2020

Yet a podcaster, community organizer, and author from Quebec City wishes eternal damnation on Jordan Peterson.

I hope for years of hell in perpetua for Jordan Peterson. Nora Loreto (@NoLore) February 8, 2020

Peterson says that the idea that we should accept ourselves as we are is misguided, because at our core, were all probably monsters. He brings up the genocides and massacres of the 20th century as proof, invoking the memoirs of concentration camp guards to show that any of us are capable of the most horrific of human actions. None of us are safe from our own worst, or best, impulses. He holds us all accountable to ourselves, to each other, and to the people we love. He speaks about marriage as a relationship that must be nurtured and tended, not abandoned. Peterson recommends that you dont let your kids turn into unlikeable children.

Not everyone wished him harm, and some pushed back.

Through podcasts, books, speaking engagements, interviews, and YouTube videos, he talks about how essential it is that we each take on our own heros journey. He brings up the legend of King Arthurs knights, recommending that we must seek our journey in the dark placemeaning we must face our fears, not so that we can overcome them, but so that we can know that we are afraid and act bravely in the face of those fears. One very real place where this approach can be made is in the face of addiction. There is perhaps nothing more difficult than kicking an addiction that has you in its teeth.

You are shockingly petty and pathetic. Gloating over a man's struggle to overcome physical dependency to medication that was prescribed to him to cope with his wife's terminal cancer diagnosis is absolutely disgraceful.

On addiction and physical dependence, Peterson can speak from experience. That he has this understanding makes his message that much stronger. How trite it is to hear from a teetotaller who has never touched a drop that we should give up the hard stuff. Where it has more power is coming from someone who has been there before us, whether theyve beaten the addiction or not.

Those who criticise Peterson the most, have always been those who need his advice the most

It's easy to throw stones.

It's easy to nitpick.

It's easy to kick a man when he is down.


It's hard to have a positive impact on millions of people.

Be good buckos ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) February 8, 2020

The calls for Petersons head on a spike came from the contemporary left, which is a movement that mirrors the heavy-handed vitriol that we used to see with the late 20th century right. This moralistic grandstanding on a foundation based entirely on narcissistic pleasure principles is eating itself. An ideology that purports to care for others only cares for those who adhere to the ideology. There is a growing intolerance for disagreement.

When I read some of the responses to Jordan Petersons illness, Im reminded why the Left has become so commonly associated with a lack of compassion, tolerance and basic human empathy.

We on the Left need to get our own house in order. These people are seriously fucking it up.

Petersons struggle to overcome benzodiazepines is so incredibly humanizing and real. It shows us that, in many ways, he is right. We are all capable of losing control, even those among us who are so great at guiding us how not to. Petersons all too human struggle can give the rest of us strength to know that we are not alone in ours. The identitarian, intolerant left could do well to face its demons, just as Peterson is facing his.

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AGAR: The awful responses to Rush Limbaugh and Jordan Peterson – Toronto Sun

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Kick em when theyre down, is a nasty way to live and it says more about the one doing the kicking than the kicked.

Consider reaction to the travails of controversial figures Rush Limbaugh and Jordan Peterson.

American talk show host Rush Limbaugh has always been a lightning rod. Controversy is his game. Perhaps you are familiar with him and hate everything he stands for.

No doubt you can find many examples of when Rush went over the line. I can, and I am a fan. Go ahead and argue his positions and criticize his mistakes.

But immediately upon his announcement that he has advanced lung cancer, supposedly reasonable and caring people cheered the disease.

Emmy nominated writer Arash Amel tweeted, F Limbaugh. Hope he dies. Enough of this we go high s.

He is right; he didnt go high. Amel went as low as he thinks Rush is.

Justin Lecea, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to run for Congress wrote, I will hold a party to celebrate when Rush Limbaugh begins exploring the past tense. God speed to hell you hypocritical f.

It is absolutely fair to argue strenuously against anything any commentator says, even to hate their ideas. Wishing for cancer to win displays darkness in the soul, doesnt it?

Travis Sarandos, who teaches English at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, tweeted that he hopes Rush Limbaugh dies a painful death from cancer.

Meanwhile clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson author of the international bestseller 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos announced dependence on an anti-anxiety drug he had been prescribed after his wifes cancer diagnosis.

While we increasingly worry about the prescribing of addicting drugs, that caring view was not one some felt for Peterson.

Professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa Amir Attaran tweeted, Jordan Peterson, oracle to gullible young men, preacher of macho toughness, and hectoring bully to snowflakes, is addicted to strong drugs and his brain is riddled with neurological damage. #KARMA.

See? Peterson deserved it. This from a man employed to teach.

Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Johnathan N. Stea said, But irrespective of your views on Peterson, it is a gross disservice to everyone to perpetuate harmful myths about people who seek mental health and addiction-related treatment. The fact that the hostility directed towards Peterson has manifested as this type of stigma is a clear indictment against our cultural milieu.

Nora Loreto who describes herself as Canadas least obnoxious writer, wrote, I hope for years of hell in perpetua for Jordan Peterson.

(I am not sure perpetua is a word. Perpetua was an early Christian martyr.)

Dont get me wrong. A quick search on Google is likely to find examples of people on the right visiting the same sort of hatred on left-leaning figures when they were down. This isnt a one-sided argument; it is just the current one.

Twitter is a cesspool minute by minute, but when hatred toward a suffering person spews from educators, politicians and the media, we are in a bad place.

We only truly believe in free speech if we defend that of those with whom we most disagree.

We truly have compassion when we have sympathy for a fellow human beings suffering, even when that person is one whose views we find abhorrent.

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AGAR: The awful responses to Rush Limbaugh and Jordan Peterson - Toronto Sun

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