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Benzodiazepine Addiction

What Are Benzodiazepines? 

Benzodiazepines are effective medications used to treat a range of psychological and neurological conditions, such as insomnia, seizures, panic attacks, Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and more. These man-made medications fall under the class of psychoactive drugs.

The reason behind the preference for benzodiazepines as a prescription medicine for the above ailments is its effectiveness in enhancing the effect of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), the neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain when it goes into overdrive. 

Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Ativan, Librium, and Versed are some of the common brand names of benzodiazepines in the market. Each category has a different strength, speed of absorption by the body, and benzodiazepines use. Different forms target specific purposes; the physicians prescribe the appropriate benzodiazepines suitable for the patients’ situations.

Based on their effects, 15 FDA approved drugs are classified as:

Long-acting

  • Diazepam and Chlordiazepoxide 

Short-acting

  • Lorazepam and Alprazolam 

Ultra-short acting

  • Triazolam and Midazolam 

Benzodiazepines Intoxication

Benzodiazepine’s mechanism of action produces a tranquil effect, which might cause the user to become dependent on the drug. 

However, in the U.S, the intentional abuse of benzodiazepine drugs is relatively uncommon. Still, caution must be exercised while using the medication. Especially for long-time users and patients with a history of abuse, the risk of seeking the drug to experience a “high” is greater. 

Going by the statistics, we can say that the abuse of these drugs alone is very rare as people tend to mix two or more drugs to enhance the euphoria feeling. At the same time, combining benzodiazepines and alcohol or other drugs, especially certain opioid pain relievers, can lead to devastating results. 

Abusing benzodiazepines without a prescription or in a higher dose than originally intended, may cause severe benzodiazepines overdose, which can also result in a coma or death. 

Benzodiazepines Addiction Symptoms

The tranquilizing ability of the drug has caused the world to deem it safe for use. However, given the high success rate of the drug, it is no wonder that it carries a higher risk of addiction. As prescription sedatives, benzodiazepines cause a calming effect in the user, which means, when abused for longer periods, the drugs can cause related side effects.

Benzodiazepines Side Effects: 

  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Poor judgment or confusion
  • Slow heartbeat or difficulty breathing
  • Mood changes and risk-taking behaviors

In the long run, they face a higher risk of the development of dementia, which causes loss of memory and motor skills. Unable to control benzodiazepines addiction issues, they may also resort to begging their friends or family for pills or indulge in doctor shopping to get their drugs.

 

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/
  • https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/04/well-known-mechanism-underlies-benzodiazepines-addictive-properties
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20305598

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