Benzodiazepine addiction has grown as the use of these drugs has largely replaced the more dangerous barbiturates. Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers, designed, and developed to treat a variety of conditions and with a range of both toxicity and sedative potential. They are sold under various names, by prescription, to treat anxiety, insomnia, and a host of other similar medical conditions. Taken in therapeutic doses, and even when adhering to the prescribed dose, these drugs can cause addiction. Used as an illegal recreational drug almost guarantees addiction after a short while.
What Is A Benzo
Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed in place of barbiturates because it is almost impossible to lethally overdose with them, while a lethal overdose of barbiturates is very easy and dangerous. However, benzodiazepines are nevertheless addictive and although lethal overdose is not a risk, benzodiazepine addiction most certainly is.
Various benzodiazepines (for example, valium or Xanax) can be administered to treat insomnia, anxiety, tension, and similar conditions. These drugs act on the central nervous system as a sedative and help the patient to calm down and relax. The tranquilizing effect of benzodiazepines can be quite helpful for recovering alcoholics. The drugs decrease the intensity of alcohol detox symptoms, making the process of recovery more tolerable for the patients.
Other benzodiazepines can be prescribed for epilepsy, as they act as anticonvulsants, helping muscles to relax. They also affect kidneys, not allowing them to excrete certain medications too fast, thus helping the medications to stay longer in the body and extending their effect. Benzodiazepines are also used in dentistry and surgery, because they help to prepare patients for various operations, relieving their anxiety and blocking unpleasant sensations from memory.
Of course, benzodiazepines are not just used for medical purposes – they are bought and sold illegally, mostly by teenagers as they are cheap. The youngster’s mix benzodiazepines with alcohol. In such cases, benzodiazepine addiction develops many times faster, and withdrawal symptoms can be far more severe.
Any drug dependence starts with tolerance, and benzodiazepine addiction is no different. The sedative effects of benzodiazepines are the first to go — usual doses cease to produce the desired effect within a month of daily use. The patient then has to increase the dose to keep the initial effects, and psychological benzodiazepine addiction starts to develop. If an individual does not stop taking benzodiazepines psychological addiction will be followed by the physical one. After a month or so of regular benzodiazepine intake, the addiction is full-blown.
Benzo Addiction Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms become much more severe. They include panic attacks, confusion, insomnia, sweating, tremors and spasms, headaches, involuntary cough, and light oversensitivity. These symptoms may be more or less pronounced, depending on the addict and his unique benzodiazepine experience. The heaviest withdrawal symptoms appear within a week after stopping benzodiazepine intake, but they can continue (even though in a less intense form) for several months and occasionally return.
An overdose of benzodiazepines is unlikely to cause death, but it will speed up benzodiazepine addiction development. Those who deliberately take these drugs in overdoses to feel euphoria usually mix them with alcohol or other drugs, such as barbiturates. Such “cocktails” might lead to coma and even death.
Benzodiazepine addiction can affect people of all ages, as these tranquilizers are very common and very often prescribed. Another danger of benzodiazepines is the speed at which tolerance and addiction develop. Doctors may prescribe them for a short period of time, but if a patient happens to become dependent on benzodiazepines during that period, he may continue asking for them and can even simulate some disorders to continue getting the drug, even though the actual condition for taking benzodiazepines is long gone. No matter how many warnings they receive, people fail to realize the dangers of prescribed drugs. Patients think that if a medication is prescribed legitimately, they can take it for longer or in higher doses than needed and that it is safe.
As people age, they often become prone to depression and anxiety because of various disorders and solitude, and eventually, doctors can prescribe one or another kind of benzodiazepine to help them. Elderly people are more sensitive to benzodiazepines, and cannot metabolize the drugs as fast as younger ones, so the tranquilizers stay in their bodies for longer. Moreover, benzodiazepines are contraindicated with certain other medications and this can result in severe consequences.
Benzo Addiction Recovery
Benzodiazepines should not be stopped abruptly. The withdrawal symptoms are very difficult to get through and addicts will need proper support as well as a weaning off period and possibly detox and rehab to really get clean.
The danger of dependence on prescription drugs should not be underestimated – it is more common than addiction to street drugs, and reaches every age, culture, social strata, and profession.