Dangers of Benzodiazepine Abuse
- Parent Category: Rehab
- Category: Prescription Drug Rehab
- Written by Paul Onart
Benzodiazepines are prescribed for people who are overly anxious and who can’t control their own anxiety. But there is a big market for benzodiazepines among those who are in the habit of abusing drugs for recreational purposes. Either way they are used, they are an addictive drug. Prescribing information on this class of drug indicates clearly that they should be used for the short-term and that they have abuse and addiction potential. Still, some doctors prescribe them for long-term use.
Doctors prescribe these drugs for panic attacks, anxiety, sleep problems and muscle spasms. They are also used in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal to prevent seizures.
As a person uses these drugs, they develop a tolerance. This means that the usual dosage will not result in the same effect. The body adjusts to the old dosage and so needs a new, higher dosage. This is true whether the drug is used properly or abused recreationally.
There are a few dozen different drugs in this class, with fifteen types of benzos being sold in the US.
When Abusing Benzodiazepines
The benzodiazepine user will look sleepy, groggy, and slow-moving. He may be hostile and irritable. Dreams may be disturbing. He (or she) might not respond to a surprising or dangerous situation in the expected manner.
Benzodiazepines affect one’s memory. The user could perform acts that he can’t remember afterwards. There have been reports of people driving, cooking, talking on the phone or even having sex with no memory of the action later, when they were taking one of these drugs.
It’s common for people to mix these drugs with others. In Texas, a combination of Valium (a benzodiazepine), Soma (a sleep aid) and hydrocodone became popular, so much so that it was named the “Houston cocktail.”
But combining drugs can result in death. Benzodiazepines have a sedating effect on the central nervous system. When combined with other drugs that have a similar effect, such as opiates or alcohol, the body could shut down completely.
One study involved the testing of people who had been taking this drug for an average of nine years. The study found that the drug interfered with the user’s ability to learn and process thoughts, and that withdrawal from the drug did not allow those abilities to recover. The longer a person took the drug, the more they were affected.
When Using Benzodiazepines Can be Particularly Dangerous
This drug has been associated with difficulties in driving, for example, the ability to stay in the proper lane. This effect even carried over to the next day, impairing driving to the same level as a person who was legally drunk.
There are dangers to a baby that result from taking this drug while pregnant. There is a higher incidence of birth defects in the mouth and the newborn may manifest withdrawal symptoms. The baby may be seen to lack muscle tone at birth and may not develop normally thereafter.
Thus it is wise to avoid benzodiazepine use when driving or operating complex machinery, or when one is or may become pregnant.
Stopping Use of Benzos
When a person wants to get off these drugs, it is a more complicated procedure than just stopping or cutting down gradually. If the drug is withdrawn suddenly, a person’s brain may go through chemical changes that trigger seizures or severe mental upsets.
Withdrawal itself is accompanied by a long list of disturbances, strange and upsetting perceptions and other problems. Many people must withdraw from a benzodiazepine under close medical supervision, as is done in a medical detox facility.
A person is likely to experience difficulty walking, a tingling, itching or burning of the skin, tension, restlessness and sleep problems. It’s possible that there may be more serious mental disturbances such as paranoia, a loss of the sense of personal identity, the feeling that one’s thoughts belong to someone else, depression and sometimes even psychosis. The longer the drug was used and the higher the dosage, the more likely the withdrawal symptoms will be serious.
Recovering from Benzodiazepine Addiction
Once a person is ready for rehab, whether they have withdrawn under medical supervision or it was not required, the Narconon Arrowhead drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is the best place to complete recovery. This is a long-term, residential drug rehab, providing the perfect place to focus on rebuilding for a stronger, sober future.
The Narconon program directs attention to alleviating the guilt, cravings and depression that drive so many people back into substance abuse. After all, when drugs or alcohol are being consumed, these crushing problems are not being felt any longer. Sobriety requires that a person be able to resolve these problems.
In the three to five months of the Narconon Arrowhead program, each person goes through counseling, classes or practical work to rid themselves of these problems. In addition, the life skills training teaches each person how to maintain personal integrity and overcome obstacles in life so these problems don’t have to weigh them down in the future.
Cravings get a special treatment in the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program, one phase of the overall recovery treatment. Here, old, stored drug toxins are flushed out of the body using a combination of exercise, nutritional supplements and sauna. When the toxins go, most people say their cravings go with them.
Learn more about this innovative drug recovery program that enables seven out of ten graduates to find lasting sobriety. Call 1-800-468-6933 today.