The Addictive Effects of Benzodiazepines

The Addictive Effects of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are prescription drugs that include common medications such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium). To most recreational users, these drugs are just a way get a high so they can relax or sedate themselves. However, there is much more to know about benzos, including information about possible abuse, dependence and addiction.

Benzodiazepine Dependence and its Consequences

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse say work by slowing down the brain activity. In other words, these drugs act as tranquilizers or sedatives, so they are valuable in medicine, because they can be used to treat sleep or anxiety disorders. But this same characteristic of acting directly in the central nervous system also makes benzodiazepines highly addictive.

First, recreational users will develop tolerance, which means that, even though, at first, a small dosage was enough to achieve the desired effects, the body and brain will adapt to this foreign substance. In effect, users will need higher doses simply to trigger the same effects. As drug abuse continues, the body becomes dependent upon the substance, so it needs a constant dosage of the drug in order to function normally. Addiction is then diagnosed when negative consequences begin to appear due to the constant abuse of the drug, but the user ignores these consequences to continue getting high. However, some patients might actually need long-term benzo doses as part of their treatment. These patients might develop controlled benzodiazepine dependence, but this problem is not categorized as benzodiazepine addiction.

Another aspect that makes benzos so addictive is withdrawal symptoms, which appear when someone with a benzodiazepine dependence goes long enough without using a drug. This problem occurs because the body has adapted to a constant supply of the drug, so it must now modify its patterns once again. This process can be highly uncomfortable, so addicts often prefer to continue using the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepine addiction can also come with effects that counter their intended therapeutic purpose. For example, although benzos are intended to help people with anxiety disorders, negative effects of abusing the medication often increase someone’s anxiety. The following negative effects can occur from benzodiazepine abuse:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Returning problems of insomnia
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Physical weakness
  • Seizures

It is also important to be aware of possible side effects of benzodiazepine abuse. As with most psychoactive drugs, the following side effects from benzos can be problematic if users consume the drugs without medical supervision:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Breathing problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of coordination
  • Coma

If you use these drugs and experience these symptoms, then seek help immediately.

Benzos could also be life-threatening when combined with other addictive substances. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or opioid painkillers increases the chances of a possibly fatal overdose. Furthermore, visits to the emergency department are often related to this dangerous combination of drugs. When people use these drugs at the same time, they increase the sedative effects of each drug, which could trigger a respiratory failure, i.e. death.

How Benzodiazepine Addiction Affects Users

As explained before, addiction is diagnosed when users ignore the negative consequences of drug abuse but continue using drugs. This problem is often seen first in family life. It is common to hear about broken relationships and isolation after someone becomes addicted to drugs. These problems are also some of the first signs of addiction. Negative effects can also be seen in school and work performance, and the user might even resort to illegal activities to keep their supply of drugs.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states that recovery is a family affair. Benzo users might find it difficult to accept help or even to recognize that they have a problem with drugs, so it is family members who initiate the recovery for a loved one. You can help a loved one get clean by contacting addiction counselors or a trusted therapist. One of the objectives of working as a family is to understand and be ready to help, because when the whole family is aware of the addictive effects of benzodiazepines, all the members are better prepared to help when necessary.

Trusted Help for Addiction Recovery

It is understandable to feel stressed out and lost when it comes to finding addiction help for a loved one, but having the desire to help is already a huge step. Give us a call on our toll-free, 24 hour helpline and an admissions coordinator will help you develop a recovery plan. Our staff has information regarding where to find medically supervised detox, intervention services, a national network of rehab facilities, family counseling, transportation to and from rehab, Dual Diagnosis treatment and other similar programs. Do not hesitate to ask about using health insurance to cover addiction treatment, because you might be able to find better values for rehab. Call now for instant, professional support.