What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, also called “benzos,” are prescription depressants used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Common benzos include clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), and diazepam (Valium.) Research shows that between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67%, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. Today, benzodiazepines are one of the most prescribed categories of medications, and also one of the most frequently abused. 

Benzodiazepine Abuse Side Effects 

Taking benzodiazepine for non-medical reasons, and without a prescription, is considered abuse of the drug. It is also possible for an individual to misuse their prescribed benzodiazepine by taking larger quantities, or more frequently than directed by their medical providers. 

Benzo abuse side effects may include: 

  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood changes
  • Slowed thinking 
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo 
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgement
  • Heart palpitations

Abusing benzodiazepine regularly can quickly lead to physical dependence and addiction. It is important to be aware of the signs of addiction to benzodiazepine because going through unsupervised withdrawal from benzodiazepine can be life-threatening. 

Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction Symptoms

When an individual is abusing or addicted to benzodiazepine, common symptoms that may appear include: 

  • Inability to complete daily commitments and responsibilities due to benzodiazepine use 
  • Benzodiazepine use continues despite danger, negative consequences, or threats to health 
  • Withdrawal symptoms appear when benzodiazepine use is stopped or decreased 
  • Intense cravings and urges to use benzodiazepine
  • Desire to stop using benzodiazepine, but unable to do so
  • Increased tolerance to benzodiazepine, requiring larger doses for effect
  • Great amounts of time and energy spent seeking, using, and recovering from benzodiazepine use 

Dangers of Benzodiazepines Withdrawal 

Withdrawals from any drug are generally uncomfortable, but abrupt withdrawal from benzodiazepine can result in potentially fatal seizures. One research study on benzodiazepines states, “Since the first report of benzodiazepine withdrawal seizure in 1961, many case reports have followed. Withdrawal seizures have occurred with short, medium, and long half-life benzodiazepine if discontinued abruptly.

Withdrawal seizures usually occur in patients who have been taking these medications for long periods of time and at high doses. Seizures have also been reported with less than 15 days of use and at therapeutic dosage. Almost all the withdrawal seizures reported were grand mal seizures. The severity of seizures range from a single episode to coma and death. Benzodiazepine dose tapering can be done faster in a hospital setting in high-dose abusers, but must be done more slowly in the outpatient setting in therapeutic dosage users.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or withdrawal from benzodiazepine, it is imperative to seek medical help and professional support to ensure a safe detox and entrance to recovery.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Thousands of individuals have reclaimed their lives from the grips of benzo abuse and addiction. If you are considering seeking addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, rest assured that help is widely available and recovery is possible. If you have questions or concerns, call us today. We at Rehab Carolinas are experienced in substance abuse and addiction and are here to help.