The Danger of Benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepines are a class of pharmaceutical drugs.
These substances often come in the form of a
pill or tablet, suitable for oral consumption.
Every year, doctors write out more than 50 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines. In fact, 11 to 15 percent of people in the US have benzodiazepines in their medicine cabinet, according to the American Psychiatric Association. But what many people don’t know is that these prescription medications have a deadly side to them.
Benzodiazepines are a class of pharmaceutical drugs that are commonly prescribed for the treatment of various mental health conditions and ailments. Also known as benzos, these drugs can be used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, muscle spasms, and epileptic seizures.
Benzodiazepines can even help people deal with withdrawal symptoms from other central nervous system depressants. This means it can be helpful for those who are addicted to alcohol and opioids. However, benzodiazepines also have a high potential to cause addiction, which is why they are only prescribed for a short period of time.
Benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning they are regulated by the US government. These substances often come in the form of a pill or tablet, suitable for oral consumption.
Some brands of benzos, such as Valium, may be administered intravenously in the form of a clear, odorless liquid. When prescribed by a doctor, benzodiazepines are legal. Because of their addictive potential, a black market exists for these drugs as well. On the street, benzodiazepines are sometimes referred to as downers, bars, sticks, French fries, ladders, or simply benzos.
Common examples of benzodiazepines include: Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, and Halcion.
Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse
Despite the fact that these drugs can be used for medical purposes—and are even legal under federal regulations—benzodiazepines are dangerous and addictive. They bind with special neurons called GABA receptors in a process that slows down overactive brain function, relieving severe mental stress.
Not only does the person feel more relaxed after taking benzos, they also experience a euphoric “high”. This is followed by a prolonged period of sedation. Any use of benzodiazepines outside of a doctor’s recommendation constitutes abuse. Some users crush and snort their tablets or pills to amplify its potency and enjoy the effects faster. This act increases the likelihood of overdose.
If a person overdoses on benzodiazepines, they may suffer from a seizure or a coma. It can also slow down breathing and heart rate, or stop them completely, leading to death.
Because of their high potency, benzodiazepines can change the brain’s neurochemistry. Over time, the drugs build up in the user’s body. Users can develop drug dependence as a result.
Benzodiazepines are very popular. This is partly due to the fact that they are prescription drugs. This means more people are exposed to them and are at risk of abusing the drug. Even under a physician’s care and with prescribed doses, a person can still develop addiction, which is why these drugs should only be taken for the short term.
It is also important to keep in mind that mixing benzodiazepines with other prescription and illicit drugs greatly increases the odds of fatal overdose. Studies show that nearly 95 percent of hospital admissions for benzodiazepine overdose claimed abuse of at least one other substance, including alcohol. Those who attempt to take benzos in conjunction with opiate drugs to escalate the high are in danger of drug overdose.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Because benzodiazepines are prescribed as medications, loved ones may be unaware of the potential risks that they carry. Signs of addiction should not be overlooked, even with prescription medications.
A person who is addicted or dependent on benzodiazepines may exhibit the following symptoms: weakness, drowsiness, moodiness, blurred vision, passing out, blacking out, and poor judgment. Some people try to visit different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions of the same drug. This is called doctor shopping.
An addicted individual will compulsively seek out the drug, even when they are already experiencing its adverse health effects. They will prioritize it over everything else. They may lose interest in their old hobbies or start neglecting their responsibilities.
Others try to quit often, but fail every time either because of withdrawal symptoms or intense cravings. Drugs can cloud a person’s judgment and cause them to engage in risky behaviors. They will not be able to make good decisions.
All of these effects can overwhelm a person, which may discourage them from seeking help, thinking that it is impossible to recover—even though this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When a person who has been abusing benzodiazepines for a significant period of time suddenly quits taking it, they may encounter some serious withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be dangerous or even fatal in some cases.
Benzodiazepine abuse has a high risk of causing seizures, coma, and even death. Respiratory failure is possible, especially when the drugs are combined with alcohol, opioids, and other depressants. To avoid these withdrawal effects, proper medical detox is necessary.
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.