Benzodiazepines were designed to be used in anesthetics, sedatives and hypnotics as an alternative to barbiturates. They are a minor tranquilizer and, if they are prescribed, this is only for short term use. This is because benzos are highly addictive and it is not uncommon for people to have to attend a detox.
What Is A Benzodiazepine?
Benzodiazepine is a psychoactive drug that gets to work on depressing the body’s central nervous system. A benzodiazepine impacts perception, mood patterns and overall behavior. They are often prescribed to people who suffer from muscle cramps, sleep disorders and anxiety disorders. They can also be used with people who suffer from seizures, as it helps to suppress them. The medication should only be taken for short periods of time. When prescribed, they are available in pills and tablets. Unfortunately, those who abuse benzos often inject them in a similar fashion to heroin. Indeed, it is a common drug used by people who also have a heroin addiction and is becoming more common in those who abuse cocaine. Some of the brand names for benzos include Valium, Librium, Xanax, Ativan and Rohypnol. Rohypnol is known in some circles as the date rape drug.
Some information on benzos includes:
- They do not treat causes of an illness but only address symptoms.
- They are often fully ineffective.
- They have a lot of negative side effects.
- They can cause very painful withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous.
- They are highly addictive and frequently get abused, because they create a dependence.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
If someone uses a benzo for a long period of time, they may develop a dependence or either an addiction. Even those who do not abuse the drug, meaning they simply follow the prescription, can develop significant issues. Some of these signs include hostility, irritability, breathing problems, amnesia, diarrhea, nausea, nightmares and slurred speech.
People who take Benzo for extended periods of time can develop physical dependence to the drug. If they then need to stop, they must go through proper medical detox. Stopping cold turkey is incredibly painful and dangerous and will almost always lead to relapse. The alternative, slowly weaning off the drug over a period of six months to a year, is highly complicated, not in the least because it often means having to take other drugs, each with different side effects. Furthermore, weaning off is often unsuccessful as people start to turn to other prescription and street drugs instead. Because taking benzos makes them feel good, they are more inclined to take more of the drug whenever they go through difficulties, thereby restarting the entire process.
We know that many emergency room visits are due to people taking benzos. This is because the drug impairs a person’s ability to make proper judgment and it also affects their overall coordination, in a way that is quite similar to alcohol. Because of this impaired judgment, people who take benzos often turn to alcohol to keep the buzz going, which can be fatal. Furthermore, people who are trying to come off other narcotics such as heroin or cocaine also often turn to benzos and these combinations can be particularly dangerous too.
Someone who is prescribed benzodiazepine will immediately see that the label says they should not quit taking the drug by themselves. It also warns of the possible withdrawal effects when they stop taking their medication. Unfortunately, it is a very dangerous drug that most doctors are highly reluctant to prescribe. However, it remains heavily abused and poses a significant problem in our society.
It is very important that you know what to expect from your period of withdrawal. You can expect to experience:
- Psychological issues: anxiety, agoraphobia, depression, feeling as if you lost touch with reality, hallucinations (auditory or visual), nightmares, panic attacks, obsessive and negative thoughts, suicidal thoughts.
- Physical issues: aches, dizziness, headaches, sensitivity (to touch, light or noise), memory issues, insomnia, low blood pressure, numbness, palpitations, seizures, tremors.
- Gastrointestinal issues: constipation, diarrhea.