Benzodiazepines (“Benzos”) are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. Benzodiazepines are classified as a sedative drug, meaning that it calms patients, eases agitation and permits sleep. Common brand names of Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Librium, Serax, and much more. When misused, Benzodiazepines can be dangerous to an individual’s physical and mental health.

What are Benzodiazepines Used For?

Benzodiazepines have many different uses for different types of situations. They are most commonly prescribed for anxiety, sleeping problems, panic disorders, seizures and seizure-related disorders, and muscle spasms. They can also be given to calm a patient before surgery. Benzodiazepines may also aid in easing the symptoms of opiate or alcohol withdrawal in individuals. Other conditions that Benzodiazepines may be prescribed for include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Migraines
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Tinnitus

How do Benzodiazepines Work?

Benzodiazepines work by acting on the central nervous system, specifically the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor. This receptor is in charge of reducing the activity of the nerves in the brain. Benzodiazepines aid in this process by entering the GABA channels to help reduce any excitation in the brain, producing a soothing effect. Some Benzodiazepines are stronger than others, and some may work for a more extended amount of time than others.

Different Benzodiazepines may be more effective in different situations. For example, the Benzodiazepine Ativan may be most beneficial for helping with sleeping problems in one person, but it may be most useful for relieving anxiety in another person. The combination of the potency of the drug, how long it lasts, and the reason for Benzodiazepine use all determine how effective the drug is an individual in their particular situation.

Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

Like many drugs, benzodiazepines can produce side effects on an individual. Common side effects of the drug include sedation, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, and unsteadiness. More severe side effects may include slurred speech, confusion, irritability, headaches, or loss of orientation.

Can You Become Addicted to Benzodiazepines?

Your body may become dependent on Benzodiazepines, or you may develop an addiction. There is a difference between dependence and addiction; when you develop a dependency on Benzodiazepines, that means that your body cannot function properly without it. If you do not consume the drug for a period, your body will produce many unwanted withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, sweating, shaking, or vomiting.

If you have developed an addiction to Benzodiazepines, it not only affects your body, but it changes your daily life, too. Addiction may involve your entire life revolving around the drug, neglecting personal responsibilities and hobbies, or having relationship problems. Addiction consumes every part of your life, not just your body’s physical dependence on the drug.

How Can You Avoid Benzodiazepines Addiction?

To avoid Benzodiazepine dependence and addiction, make sure you are staying within your limits on what was initially prescribed for you. Ask your doctor before changing how frequently you consume the drug or if you do not want to take the medication anymore. If you feel that the drug is no longer needed, you should “wean” off of the drug instead of stopping it cold turkey. Quitting consumption of a drug abruptly is the most common way to experience withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor for the best methods of weaning off Benzodiazepines for you.

Is Benzodiazepine Overdose Common?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there was a 4.3-fold incline in the total number of Benzodiazepine overdose deaths from the year 2002 to 2015. Benzodiazepine overdose can produce symptoms anywhere with extreme dizziness, blurred vision, trouble breathing, and tremors to uncoordinated muscle movements, stupor, coma, and even death. It’s important to get help right away if you feel that you or a loved one is suffering from Benzodiazepine overdose.

Recovery from Benzodiazepines Addiction

Addiction is not something you can handle independently. If you suspect that you are forming an addiction to Benzodiazepines, it is essential to get professional help right away. Some effective ways to achieve long-term sobriety from Benzodiazepine addiction include:

Group therapy: by talking about your addiction with other people who may have experienced the same things as you, you will gain judgment-free insight to learning what the best options for you are. Becoming a part of a community of supportive people will help you achieve sobriety by holding you accountable for your actions.

Counseling: individual counseling and family counseling are great ways to determine the cause of your addiction and come up with the best course of action to solve it. Did your body form a dependence on the drug, or have you been taking extra to numb the pain of an unrelated situation? Counseling will help you be honest with yourself and the people around you.