Benzodiazepines are a drug commonly used to treat anxiety and sleeping problems. They belong to a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics. Benzodiazepines work on a particular type of receptor in the central nervous system, known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). These drugs attach to the GABA receptors and increase the levels to slow down nerve stimulation. This reduced stimulation has a depressive effect on the brain, which in turn produces a drowsy and calming effect. GABA also reduces brain activity in the areas of the brain responsible for rational thought, memory, emotions, sleep, and also breathing. Some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, and Valium. These are also the most commonly abused and most likely to cause dependence and addiction issues. An educational guide on benzodiazepines put out by the Veterans Affairs Administration says that:
Benzodiazepines are widely used in the treatment of anxiety, sleep, depression (as adjuvant therapy), and muscle relaxants. In the United States, approximately 5.6% of the adult population uses a benzodiazepine. Although it is recommended that treatment with benzodiazepines be limited to short-term use, the prevalence of long-term use remains widespread. (Veterans Affairs Administration)
Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed on a short-term basis. There are a lot of risks and adverse effects associated with long-term use, so they are not safe to take for an extended period. One of the biggest and most concerning effects of long-term benzodiazepine use is dependence and addiction. Benzodiazepines are incredibly difficult and dangerous to detox from. There are also many other long-term effects of benzo use. Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed on a short-term basis because they are CNS depressants that act on your GABA receptors, slowing you down and decreasing motivation, energy, and vitality in your daily life.
The Effects of Chronic Benzodiazepine Use
Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed and taken for a few weeks, however, long-term use is a problem in this country. One of the main effects of long-term benzo use is dependence and addiction which require a specialized medical approach to overcome safely. Chronic benzodiazepine use can also cause a lack of motivation and chronic fatigue or constant tiredness. Other adverse effects (effects seen after acute administration) associated with long-term use include neurotoxicity, impaired cognitive abilities, memory problems, and mood swings.
Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use Is Not Healthy
Some other effects of long-term benzodiazepine use can also include disinhibition, impaired memory, and concentration, sleep disturbances, worsened anxiety disorders, suicidal ideations, delusions, hallucinations, depression, a generalized cognitive impairment which includes sustained attention, psychomotor, visuomotor, visual-conceptual, and verbal learning and memory abilities. On top of all that, when you’re ready to stop using benzos, it should not be done on your own because of painful drug detox symptoms.
What Happens When I Want to Stop Using Benzos?
Once a person has become physically dependent or addicted to benzodiazepines, withdrawal symptoms will happen if the medication is abruptly stopped. The withdrawal symptoms from long-term benzodiazepine use can be debilitating. Some of these symptoms can include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory impairment
- Emotional clouding
- Flu-like symptoms
- Grand mal seizures
Withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine misuse can also be quite dangerous. One of the potential withdrawal symptoms is grand mal seizures. It is important to either slowly taper this medication under a doctor’s supervision or enter a medically supervised drug detox program that we offer at Evoke Wellness.
Rehab Programs for Benzodiazepine Dependency
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction issue, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness assists men, women, and families throughout the country that are struggling with substance abuse and are searching for addiction treatment. We can help you get on the road to long-lasting recovery, and that includes recovery from benzodiazepine misuse, dependence, or full-blown addiction. You don’t have to suffer any longer, reach out to learn more about our benzodiazepine addiction treatment programs.