Benzodiazepines, also called benzos, are psychoactive drugs that are used to treat a wide variety of conditions like anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, panic disorders, seizures, and some are even used to treat alcohol withdrawal (such as Valium). This type of drug works by making the brain less sensitive to stimulation, which creates a calming effect on both the mind and the body. Benzodiazepines have a very high risk of dependency, abuse, and addiction.
Benzodiazepines are most effective when used therapeutically and when used short term, however, even in short term, the risk for dependency can be significantly high. Benzodiazepines are generally only prescribed for as-needed use for no longer than 2 weeks. This is because a person’s body very quickly develops a tolerance to this substance, which significantly reduces the effectiveness in long-term use and significantly raises the likelihood of abuse.
The effects commonly chased when benzos are abused are the calming effects that it produces. This is due to how the medication works on the body. This drug works on the Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain by binding to these neurotransmitters and causing feelings of sedation and relaxation.
Long Term Negative Effects of Benzo Abuse
Even if a person takes benzodiazepines as prescribed, many different side effects can arise. These side effects only worsen when abused and used long term. Side effects include:
- Poor coordination and slowed reactions
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Impaired memory and cognition
- Slurred speech
- Respiratory depression
- Nausea and vomiting
While the above effects are short term and will go away as the drug wears off, taking benzodiazepines long term can cause chronic problems such as memory impairment, trouble thinking, poor judgment, and muscle weakness.
The use of benzodiazepines can interfere with a person’s memory and cognition when they are used for an extended period and regularly. Benzodiazepine obstructs visuospatial abilities, processing speed, and verbal learning abilities. Visuospatial refers to how an individual processes, sees, replicate, and understands where one object is about other things. A verbal skill refers to learning skills that are related to speech and language. Processing speed is the process in which simple tasks can be completed automatically after you learn them. Memory is affected also due to cognitive decline. Some studies show that people who took benzos from anywhere from 1 to 34 years show signs of lower cognitive aptitude.
The most common long-term effect of side effects of benzodiazepine abuse us dependence and more often than not, addiction. While developing a dependence on this drug does not mean you are addicted, the likelihood of becoming addicted is very high and is the most life-threatening long-term side effect of them all.
Rehab Program for Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you or someone you love has a problem with benzodiazepine addiction and is ready to get sober the best way to start is by participating in a medically assisted detox. After prolonged use of benzodiazepines, the brain is rewired and does not quite know how to function when it does not get a dose of benzos after long-term use. This is when withdrawal symptoms begin. These symptoms can include muscle pain, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, intense drug craving, seizures, and even coma. A medically assisted detox is always recommended for your safety.
Once detox is completed, we encourage you to stay and participate in one of many different treatment programs hear at Recreate Life Counseling. Benzodiazepine treatment requires a multi-layered approach for maximum success. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to avoid relapse and overdose in the real world. Let us help you turn your life around.