Benzodiazepine Abuse Health Risks

Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety and insomnia. You may know them as Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, and Librium, but they are also called “benzos” for short. These drugs can be highly effective at quelling the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders and, in some cases, sleep disturbances, but they do carry some hidden dangers.

It may seem like taking a doctor-prescribed medication is safe, but no drug is totally without risks. If you suspect that you are, or a loved one is, addicted to benzodiazepines, it’s important that you seek the guidance of a qualified health professional. Here at Alta Mira Recovery, we have a great team of licensed clinicians who are experienced in treating drug addiction and helping users find ways to cope and manage with addiction post-treatment. It’s never too late to get help.

If you don’t believe that benzodiazepines can be dangerous, let’s take a look at some of the health risks associated with them:

  • Tolerance. Tolerance for benzodiazepines can develop quickly and positively correlate to the dosage and frequency of use. Thus, the higher your dosage, the more likely you are to develop a tolerance for the drug. This can result in taking increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect or using a benzodiazepine with another drug such as alcohol or marijuana. This rapid onset of tolerance can occur in benzos with either a short- or long- half-life, meaning that even if the drug leaves your system quickly, you can still grow a tolerance for it.
  • Dependence and addiction. After taking a benzodiazepine, your brain reacts almost instantaneously to the drug. Eventually, you can become reliant on the drug to obtain its calming effect or feel as if you need it to cope with daily life. This reliance on the drug is a key factor in addiction. Again, this also relates to how often and how much of the drug you use each time but it still can happen. As you may have seen with other addictive drugs, a person can neglect personal responsibilities and become preoccupied with obtaining and taking the drug.
  • Memory loss. Benzodiazepines depress the brain’s central nervous system (CNS), but they also act as a sedative and amnesiac. What this means is that short-term memory can be impaired during use and after. Studies have shown that higher doses can impact memory at greater speeds and depths. It is also speculated that benzos can further the onset of dementia in persons aged 65 or over, according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida.
  • Emotional and cognitive ability. Based on findings reported by Livestrong, benzo use can negatively impact cognitive abilities like memory, processing, verbal learning, and visuospatial learning. Unfortunately, these same studies have shown that even after long-term use is discontinued, these cognitive abilities rarely return back to normal levels.

Need Help for Benzodiazepine Addiction?

If you’ve tried to quit using benzodiazepines and can’t seem to stop, it’s possible that you are suffering from addiction. Other key indicators might be a preoccupation with taking the drug, feeling as if you need the drug to cope with life, or neglecting your responsibilities or relationships due to drug use. Help is available. Just give us a quick call and we will get you on the line with a knowledgeable representative who can help you find a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. Addiction is an illness that takes control of your whole life and there is no shame in admitting you need help.