What are benzodiazepines?
One of the categories of psychoactive drugs that is commonly classified as tranquilizers are known as benzodiazepines. They are referred to as “benzos” and are primarily prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks. Unfortunately, they have become extremely popular with recreational prescription drug users and are readily accessible on the streets. Where behavioral and psychological disorders are concerned, benzodiazepines are one of the most widely prescribed medications on the market today.
The DEA considers benzodiazepines as one of the many illegally trafficked prescription drugs being sold on the streets today. Benzodiazepine addiction or dependency is also seen as a serious public health threat by numerous health officials and medical professionals. Every year, there are hundreds of ER visits that are associated with benzodiazepine abuse and overdose. What has resulted is that numerous addiction treatment and recovery centers now offer rehab programs to deal with benzodiazepine abuse, addiction, and dependency.
Unfortunately, many individuals attempt to overcome their dependency on benzodiazepines by going cold turkey or if they do choose to get professional help, they enter one of the more traditional addiction treatment and recovery facilities. Neither choice is a good idea. In the case of going cold turkey, the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms that the person experiences could be extremely severe while the traditional facility takes a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment and recovery as if every individual was the same.
Examples of benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat a number of behavioral and psychological disorders besides the ones mentioned above. The most common ones that they are prescribed to treat include:
- anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder
- alcohol withdrawal
- panic attacks
One of the primary reasons that benzodiazepines became so popular was the fact that they were so much more effective and safer than barbiturates which were commonly prescribed for all types of maladies. Additionally, if an individual overdoses on benzodiazepines, it is safer (so to speak) than if they experience a barbiturate overdose. When a person overdoses on benzodiazepines, the symptoms include cardiac or respiratory arrest, coma, drowsiness, hypotension, respiratory depression, and slurred speech.
There are numerous benzodiazepines available on the market today. Most of them are classified as anti-convulsants, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and muscle relaxants. Some function with a combination of characteristics while others do not. The more recognizable ones are:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Tolerance build-up, dependency, and withdrawal
The primary problems with the chronic recreational use of benzodiazepines is the tolerance build-up which typically leads to dependency with these different medications. Once an individual has been using benzodiazepines for 4 to 6 months, there is little evidence of the drug being effective. When an individual abruptly discontinues using benzodiazepines even after only three or four weeks, they will experience one of two types of symptoms – benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms or rebound symptoms.
Rebound symptoms refers to the reoccurrence of the symptoms that the individual was originally being treated for, but they will be worse than what they were initially. On the other hand, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are the new symptoms that will occur should the individual abruptly stop taking the drug. Additionally, these withdrawal symptoms are the primary sign that indicates there is a physical dependency on the drug that they are currently taking.
The list of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms is a mile long and the only time that they may become life-threatening or severe is if the use of the drug is abruptly stopped or if the reduction in the dosage occurs too rapidly. Protracted withdrawal may occur in some individuals and they could suffer with anxiety issues, insomnia, irritability, and sensory disturbances. The more severe symptoms resemble serious medical or psychiatric conditions that include certain manias, schizophrenia, and seizure disorders.
There are less frequent and more frequent benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms that the individual might encounter. The more frequent ones include agitation, fearfulness, gastric problems, insomnia, muscle spasms, and tremors. The list of less frequent withdrawal symptoms is considerably longer and includes the following:
- delirium tremens
- hypersensitivity to stimuli
- suicidal behavior
The individual may also encounter benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms when the person are gradually being weaned of the medication. However, they may persist for months despite the fact that they will not be as severe as the other symptoms.
One of the most effective ways of managing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms involves transferring the benzodiazepine dependent individual to an equivalent dosage regimen of Valium (Diazepam). This is due to the fact that the half-life of this drug is the longest of all the benzodiazepines and can be prescribed in a lower potency tablet. Another benefit is that it can be prescribed in liquid form as well as tablet form.
Regardless, the withdrawal from long-term benzodiazepine use is going to be beneficial no matter what type of individual is being dealt with. In general, this leads to an improved state of mental and physical well-being, especially where elderly individuals are concerned. For more information regarding benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, contact Blue Water Detox today and speak with one of our caring staff members by calling the toll-free phone number listed above. They will be happy to answer your questions.