Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment, Effects & SympToms

Benzodiazepine is a powerful barbiturate and one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. Its sedative properties are used to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, insomnia, and muscle relaxation.

Introduction to Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines or “Benzos” for short, are best known as sedative prescription medications Valium and Xanax. This drug is a tranquilizer, prescribed to help with a variety of ailments such as anxiety, insomnia, or seizures. It can also function as a muscle relaxant or an anesthetic. Benzos are classified by the intended duration of their effects: ultra-short acting, short-acting, and long-acting. They can also vary in terms of potency and how quickly they take effect.

In addition to their prescribed use, there are several well-known illicit forms for benzos. Roofies (also known as the date-rape drug) is a benzodiazepine.

How Do They Work?

Benzos act as a sedative by increasing the levels of GABA neurotransmitters – the prime message-carriers of the central nervous system. These neurotransmitters then attach to receptors in the brain, blocking them, and preventing neurons from becoming stimulated. The result is an intense calming effect.

Benzodiazepines Side Effects

Oftentimes, the long-term side effects of benzo abuse are the same ones that would necessitate this drug being prescribed in the first place. However, it is the short-term side effects that are the most drastic, dangerous, but easiest to identify. 

Short-Term Side Effects

  • Blurred vision
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness and lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Although not particularly addictive, the side effects of benzo abuse can still be quite serious. As with many other types of substance abuse, withdrawal effects typically occur if use ends abruptly. In the case of benzo, symptoms can take 3 days to several weeks to appear. 

The Best Treatment for Benzodiazepines Addiction

On its own, a benzos overdose is rarely fatal, However, when paired with other medications or mood-altering substances (such as alcohol), they can quickly become lethal. Benzos abuse is closely related to opioid overdoses, as the two medications are often co-prescribed.

Because the symptoms can be subtle, identifying a benzo addiction can sometimes be tricky. If you or a loved one suspect that they have an addiction, our medically supported detox is the best way to also address the potential mental health side effects that have occurred.

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