Everyone is probably familiar with the term “benzos,” which is short for benzodiazepines, but few people truly understand the dangers these drugs present. For instance, would you go to a doctor and get a prescription for anxiety if you knew beforehand that it would eventually cause you to develop Dementia or Alzheimer’s? Probably not. But, far too many people turn to these drugs daily for common issues such as insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, or alcohol withdrawal. In the short term, benzos seem to offer relief, but after long-term use, the individual learns the hard way that taking the drug was not the easy way out after all.
What Exactly is a Benzo?
Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs used for their calming effect. They can be classified as sedatives, hypnotics, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsants, and muscle relaxants. Benzos are generally well-tolerated for short-term use; however, tolerance and dependence can develop with long-term use. It has yet to be determined whether benzos are safe to use during pregnancy.
Another way to identify benzos is by their popular names. Unfortunately, many of these have become a way of dealing with life. Some of the most commonly known brand names include the following:
Taking benzos to get a good night’s sleep could be a short-lived solution, because over time these drugs can begin to have the opposite effect, causing the user to “up” their dosage or try something stronger. When this cycle begins, it is time to seek professional help.
More Reasons to Avoid Benzos, Especially for the Elderly
If you have ever taken a benzodiazepine, you might recall feeling fuzzy-headed and woozy the next day. Experts claim that this feeling goes away when you stop taking the drug, but new evidence suggests that these drugs could be responsible for the increasing number of falls and accidents experienced by elderly people. This is attributed to the fact that an older person’s metabolism is much slower, causing the effects of the drug to last longer.
Studies Find a Link Between Benzos and Dementia/Alzheimers
Worldwide, dementia affects approximately 36 million people. Recent studies have determined that a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s increases by 50% when benzodiazepines were used for more than three months. This in itself is a good reason to avoid benzos.
Anyone who has elderly parents should find out exactly what drugs they are on and how long they have been taking them. If benzodiazepines are being used, talk with their physician and find out about alternatives. Don’t take too long because taking benzodiazepines for three to six months increases the risk for Alzheimer’s by 32%.
All drugs have side effects, and each person reacts differently, so it is important to know the facts about any drugs before taking them. With each new drug that hits the market, it sometimes takes years to fully comprehend or recognize the dangers. Now that Dementia and Alzheimer’s have been revealed as additional side effects of prescription drugs, the fight against substance abuse just became much more important!