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What are benzodiazepines?

What are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines or benzos, as they are called on the street, are most commonly used for their tranquilizing and anti-anxiety effects, as well as are their help with seizures and epileptics. In the United States, benzodiazepines are classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that benzodiazepines are legal for medical reasons.

The first benzodiazepine ever was Librium which was discovered accidentally by Leo Sternbach in 1955. The most common forms of benzodiazepines are known by their brand names as Xanax and Valium. Other benzodiazepines include Ativan, Klonopin, Alprazolam, and Temazepam. Benzodiazepines are quick acting prescription pills that can relieve symptoms in a short amount of time and induce a state of relaxation for someone who needs their fast acting effects. Benzodiazepines are most commonly used in the treatment of:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for the treatment of anxiety in relation to a panic disorder or any other anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines can be very dangerous and even lethal when taken recreationally or not in according to doctor’s orders along with a prescription. Benzodiazepines should never be taken with alcohol. Benzodiazepines can also be highly addictive depending on the amount taken and for how long. In fact the withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be fatal during a worst case scenario.

Chronic benzodiazepine use whether prescribed or recreational can lead to the following symptoms that were the reason the person got a prescription to them in the first place:

•             Anxiety

•             Insomnia

•             Anorexia

•             Headaches

•             Weakness

Benzodiazepine recreational use is becoming more and more common because of the euphoric and toxic effects that they produce and also their widespread availability. Doctors are fairly quick to prescribe benzodiazepines in cases of even mild anxiety.  Benzodiazepine drug abuse can be highly dangerous because of the development of a tolerance and the repression of breathing function when they are used in high doses or mixed with other drugs. A person who begins to build a tolerance to benzodiazepines and then becomes addicted will start to experience some serious adverse effects from the drug and when they try to quit using benzodiazepines, will then begin to experience some serious withdrawal symptoms.

So what are the signs someone is using benzodiazepines not as prescribed?

There are multiple signs of benzodiazepine drug abuse.

Benzodiazepine drug abuse has begun when a user feels like they won’t make it without the use of the drug. The dependency may and can have developed to an extent that if this individual fails to take it, they experience serious restlessness and other discomforts. This is similar to the experience of users who have abuse problems with alcohol. Benzodiazepine abuse can be very dangerous, especially if the person has used the drug for a very long time. They may become short-tempered, anxious, unable to think properly and in extreme cases, experience seizure and a loss of coordination. Lack of sleep is another sign of someone who has not been using benzodiazepines correctly. An addicted benzodiazepine user can sometimes go for many hours without sleeping. The individual may seem mentally disturbed in some instances, and this can be mistaken for other conditions such schizophrenia.

Benzodiazepine users may experience symptoms such as dry mouth and dizziness. They may complain of feelings of:

  • weakness,
  • of blurry vision,
  • muscle pains,
  • General feeling of being unwell.

Some people who use benzodiazepines recreationally may begin to feel helpless and overwhelmed by these symptoms, and perhaps even contemplate suicide. Anyone experiencing severe signs of using benzodiazepines such as these is advised to seek medical attention or to contact a rehabilitation center where they can receive professional help to overcome their dependence.


If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

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