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What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos,” are a group of medications that are prescribed to treat anxiety, PTSD, insomnia and other sleep disorders, panic disorders, OCD, and other mental health issues, as well as seizures and muscle spasms. Benzodiazepines produce a state of sedation, and are considered depressants. They work by raising GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and thereby creating a sense of calm in the brain. 

Benzodiazepines include:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin) 
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanex)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Chlordiazeporide (Librium)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Halazepam (Paxipam)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Prazepam (Centrax)
  • Quazepam (Doral)

What Are the Risks of Benzodiazepine Use?

While benzodiazepines can may be medically indicated, they come with several risks. First of all, they are highly addictive, and it is not only possible but common to develop a dependency and/or addiction to them even when taken as prescribed. When used in conjunction with opioids, benzodiazepines significantly increase the risk of drug overdose and other drug related emergencies. Though there is increasing evidence of the dangers of mixing benzodiazepines and opioids, they are nevertheless frequently prescribed together. 

Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, meaning that when taken regularly, one is likely to build a tolerance and need a higher and higher amount of the drug to achieve the same effect. They also cause severe withdrawal symptoms upon stopping or decreasing use. Benzodiazepines are one of the only types of drugs that can cause death upon withdrawal, and therefore it is of the highest importance that medical detox is sought to safely remove the drug from the body. 

Benzodiazepines also come with several side effects, including amnesia, hostility, irritability, nightmares, drowsiness, impaired functioning and coordination, respiratory depression, impaired reflexes, and in some cases, coma or death. It is possible to overdose on benzodiazepines. 

Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction

  • Continuous use of benzodiazepines despite negative consequences
  • “Doctor Shopping”- making several appointments with different doctors in order to procure more benzodiazepines 
  • Weakness 
  • Poor judgement
  • Depression
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of motivation and interest in activities/people not associated with use
  • Inability to stop or decrease using benzodiazepines 
  • Feelings of shame or secrecy surrounding benzodiazepine use 
  • Strained or lost relationships due to use, yet the user continues use anyway
  • Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs
  • Using benzodiazepines in situations where it is physically hazardous, such as driving

If you or a loved one may be suffering from benzodiazepine addiction, abuse, or dependency, call Flatirons Recovery to discuss detox and holistic treatment options to begin the recovery journey. 

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