Benzodiazepines (or benzos) are a class of drugs used to treat anxiety and panic as well as other conditions like seizures and sleeplessness. They work by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain to decrease nerve activity. They impact the GABA neurotransmitter, which is considered a calming transmitter that slows down the brain.
Benzos enhance the soothing effect of this neurotransmitter by giving the neuron a negative charge, which blocks nervousness and anxiety. Benzodiazepines are one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States and have been widely prescribed for over five decades.
WHAT DO BENZODIAZEPINES TREAT?
Benzodiazepines are used to treat several medical conditions, including:
Anxiety: This includes simple anxiety as well as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Seizures: Benzodiazepines can help deal with seizures typically caused by conditions like epilepsy or multiple sclerosis.
Insomnia: Benzos are prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep issues.
Drug & Alcohol Detox: Benzos are used to detox people from alcohol and other drugs.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BENZOS
There are a few common side effects associated with benzodiazepines The most common side effects are drowsiness, sleepiness, shallow breathing, and blackouts. Most importantly, chronic use will almost always lead to dependency or addiction. This is the biggest concern as these drugs cannot be stop abruptly. Anyone trying to stop should do so under a doctor’s supervision at an inpatient detox.
All benzos work the same way, but they vary in strength and duration of action. Common brands of benzodiazepine medications include:
THE DANGER OF BENZOS
When taken as directed, benzos can be a useful and safe form of treatment for many people. However, when individuals start taking more than prescribed and are seeking a euphoric high, that’s when dependency and addiction enter the picture. The danger of sedatives includes recall and reasoning impairment, dependence, attention deficits, drowsiness, facial tics, confusion, and more.
The consequences of these medications can cause people to fall and injure themselves, or even overdose by itself or in combination with other drugs. Here are some eye-opening statistics from the National Institute of Health:
- In 2019, 16% of overdose deaths relating to opioids also involved benzos.
- Nearly 10,000 Americans died of a benzo-related overdose in 2019.
- 35% of people who take benzos for more than a month will become dependent.
- 95% of hospital admissions for benzodiazepines reported other substance abuse.
- Over 20 million Americans ages 12 and older have abused a benzo.
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About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Website Design and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida. His sober date is June 10, 2013.