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What’s the Buzz?: Benzodiazepines and the Body

Pills - Benzodiazepines

So, what’s the buzz on benzodiazepines, one of the most commonly prescribed types of sedatives in the United States? Benzodiazepines, or benzos, work by influencing specific brain receptors, desensitizing them to make them less aware of stimuli. The intended outcome is a calming effect on the body. Drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, and Halcion are benzos.

What Are Benzos Prescibed To Treat

Why would someone take a drug to calm down? For many reasons. A doctor may write a benzodiazepine script for patients with any of the following ailments:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Tense muscles
  • Panic Disorders
  • Seizures

In many cases, benzos work rapidly to counteract the negative effects caused by these ailments. Over the course of their history, many have seen benzos as a wonder-cure because of their fast-acting results.

What’s the Harm

In the 1960s, when Valium hit the market, doctors didn’t think twice about prescribing the drug to people with psychosis, depression, dementia, and insomnia. The medical profession in America generally saw benzos as a healthy, non-addictive substance that did much more good than harm.

Even today, anyone with a prescription can purchase these drugs in pharmacies. And, up until recently, it has been fairly easy to obtain a prescription for benzos.

So what’s the harm? While benzos work well in the short term to relieve stress and occasional sleep disorders, they are highly addictive and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, lethal overdoses, and decrease in brain function.

Let’s take a closer look.

  • Benzos are highly addictive. Basically, benzos have an addictive structure. Someone who uses benzos will build a tolerance to them, requiring more and more of the drug to feel the same effect. Benzos express themselves to our brain cells in a way that is habit-forming for these cells. Soon, the brain needs benzos to function normally.
  • Benzos come with severe withdrawal symptoms. While benzos usually yield quick, long-sought results for the patient who uses them as prescribed, they are very easy to overdo. Someone who has abused benzos to help with anxiety or insomnia often finds that these ailments return full-force or worse. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, panic, insomnia, irritability, tremors, loss of concentration, and disorientation. Commonly, if the amount of benzos taken prior to stopping is high enough and the stopping abrupt enough, a person can experience hallucinations, psychosis, and seizures.
  • Benzos can lead to lethal overdose. Normally, overdoses and deaths that involve benzos often involve other substances. Combining other drugs with benzos can be fatal. Overdosing on a drug like Xanax alone is still possible, but less likely. However, because benzos act like a depressant for the body, they can suppress breathing when taken in amounts higher than professionally recommended.
  • Benzos can decrease brain function. Sadly, many elderly people easily receive benzo prescriptions. The drug may cause them to lose memory function or become disoriented, foggy, or physically uncoordinated. Often, fatal falls or accidents among elderly people involve benzos. The drug is also reported to cause the elderly to slur their speech and forget everyday, essential information.

We Are Here To Help

If you or a loved one is struggling to stop using benzodiazepines, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. We offer a full continuum of care to treat benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal: Detoxification, Residential Treatment, and Continuing Care. Because benzos can cause such severe withdrawal symptoms, medically supervised detox is important. Our doctors and nurses work around the clock to ensure your comfort and stability during the detox process.

Just detoxing from benzos isn’t enough. Residential treatment can help our clients understand the source of their addiction through education, individual therapy, and group therapy. We also offer nutritional and physical programs to help our clients build their optimal health, and our relapse prevention programs ensure that clients have the tools they need to succeed after leaving treatment.

If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol or drug treatment, contact our addiction rehab center in Texas anytime at (877) 977-3268. We are here to help.

Sources

  • psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/saving-normal/201607/yes-benzos-are-bad-you
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