Benzodiazepine Addiction | Benzodiazepines In Ohio

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 4, 2022

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS). Benzodiazepines, sometimes referred to as “benzos,” belong to a class of drugs known as sedatives.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this prescription drug is part of the schedule IV drug class, meaning that benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse and addiction. In fact, most people who develop an addiction initially received a benzodiazepine prescription.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat those with alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms, panic attacks, and anxiety disorders like panic disorder. 

Although the use of benzodiazepines in this manner can be helpful when taken as prescribed, those who partake in benzodiazepine abuse may develop a benzo addiction that can cause a number of serious and life-threatening symptoms,

Effects Of Benzodiazepine Abuse

One of the serious side effects of taking benzodiazepines is the possibility of developing physical dependence. Long-term benzodiazepine use can also lead to psychological dependence, which can lead to a person taking higher doses than prescribed or abusing the drug.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one of the main side effects of benzodiazepine use is sedation.

Because of this appealing effect, some choose to abuse the drug, which can lead to addiction. Some of the examples of benzodiazepine prescription drugs that are commonly abused include:

Other benzodiazepines include:

Short-Term Side Effects

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When a person takes benzodiazepines for an extended period, certain receptors in the brain change structure and function.

In fact, benzodiazepines increase dopamine in the brain. Those with a benzodiazepine addiction may seek out this side effect to experience feelings of euphoria.

Some of the short-term side effects of benzodiazepines include:

  • drowsiness
  • memory problems
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • sleepiness

Long-Term Side Effects

Those who participate in long-term use of benzodiazepines have an increased risk of developing dependence and addiction. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), some of the side effects a person may experience with long-term use include:

  • increased sedation, drowsiness, and other common effects
  • mood swings
  • cognitive impairment
  • withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped abruptly
  • benzodiazepine overdose

Warning Signs Of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Those participating in benzodiazepine abuse who develop an addiction may exhibit a number of warning signs. 

Warnings signs of prescription drug addiction can include:

  • appetite or sleep changes
  • sudden weight changes
  • poor physical hygiene or appearance
  • suspicious or secretive behaviors
  • poor performance at work or school
  • neglecting responsibilities at home
  • prioritizing benzodiazepine use over daily responsibilities
  • continuing to use benzos despite harmful consequences

Taking high doses of benzodiazepines can increase the effects of the drug and cause one to experience heavy sedation, which can also lead to a number of accidents such as falls, drownings, or motor vehicle accidents.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is a sign of addiction that can be serious, especially if a person tries to quit the medication “cold turkey.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some of the symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • seizures
  • tremors
  • heart problems
  • headaches
  • sweating

Benzo withdrawal may require medical supervision.

Polydrug Use & Overdose

Combining other medications with benzodiazepines can be a sign of addiction that can lead to serious health consequences, especially if benzos are mixed with opioids, legal or illicit. 

Mixing benzodiazepines with CNS depressants such as alcohol can increase sedation, leading to possible complications such as respiratory depression and overdose.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment In Ohio

If you or a loved one are seeking to undergo addiction treatment, it’s important to know some of the treatment options.

Detox Program

The detoxification process is one of the first steps in managing drug addiction. Detox programs allow your body to rid itself of unwanted toxins caused by continued drug abuse under medical support and supervision from healthcare professionals.

Detox is a short-term process that may also include medications to alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms, nursing care, and other tools to prepare you for addiction treatment.

Evidence-Based Therapy

Various cognitive behavioral therapies can be beneficial for those suffering from addiction. Group therapy may also be part of a treatment plan, which is incorporated throughout the treatment day in both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs.

To find out if our inpatient treatment center is right for you or a family member, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Australian Prescriber — Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration — Benzodiazepines
  3. The Mental Health Clinician — Benzodiazepine Use, Misuse, and Abuse
  4. National Alliance on Mental Illness — Benzodiazepine-Associated Risks
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Commonly Abused Drugs
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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