Hey there, ExProud,
Thought I might as well jump in and give you another perspective on these types of anti-anxiety meds. I was first prescribed Xanax about 20 yrs ago and have been on one form or another of benzodiazepines since.
I've heard all the horror stories and asked more than one doctor to help me come off of them. That's when I realized the vast difference of opinion doctors can have concerning them! So who do you listen to, I thought? For the most part, they did help, but I was afraid of possible addiction or the rebound anxiety I'd read about. The thing is, I have what's referred to as 'treatment-resistent' depression, along with a major anxiety disorder. Soooo, apparently, the latest concensus in these situations is that the doctor can use them because they at least offer some relief. Now, I've had a doctor who wanted me to take them as you've been prescribed: up to 4mg/day as needed. BUT, my most recent psychiatrist has a different take, suggesting I take them regularly, at the same times every day.-- Her reasoning is that, first, you stay ahead or on top of the anxiety (because it takes a while for them to work), and you learn to think of them as any medication you take regularly for a purpose. This, she feels, also reduces the potential for impulsively taking too much (because one can panic when the anxiety comes on quickly and overwhelms you). I'm sure there's a certain amount of a placebo effect with this methodology, but 'whatever works' is my mantra. So far it's worked pretty well for me.
...Still, it is worrisome when you know other doctors you respect who believe these are the worst kind of drug! I don't think there's any "actual" truth; it's more about the individual doctor's perspective. For example, a GP who feels this way about Ativan at the same time prescribed me Oxycodone for my fibro!! (I went through Hell once I developed a physiological dependence and had to go cold turkey to get off them! AND they're now off the market in Canada!) Like I said -- perspective.
The first thing is that you respect and trust your prescribing physician and that they're someone you can talk freely to about any concerns. The next is that only you know yourself and your body best, how long you've been sick and the importance of achieving/maintaining a decent level of functionality & quality of life. But, I admit, my worst fear is finding myself in a situation where a doctor refuses to prescribe them -- stories of the withdrawal terrify me!! There really needs to be some regulated consistency in prescribing policy...
...Until then, self-educate and stay aware, but remember that sometimes you just have to live a day at a time as best you can.
Fibromyalgia, CFS, possible MCS, Chronic Depression/Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD ... But they're all connected & I'm working on them all - I will prevail!