Benzodiazepines treat a variety of mental health and medical conditions. But the question remains, are benzos dangerous? Taken as prescribed, benzos are relatively safe, but even when not abused they can cause tolerance to build This can lead to harmful consequences. Understanding the risks of benzodiazepine use is essentiual in deciding whether one’s continued use is a good idea.
What Are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines are a Central Nervous System depressant medication. This means that they can slow brain activity. Benzos are used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions such as seizures. Suppressing the CNS causes changes in breathing, causes drowsiness, and affects the GABA activity in the brain. This chemical is vital to brain activity.
These effects that benzos have on the functionality of the brain could be viewed as an answer that benzos are dangerous. Causing slowed or slurred speech, lightheadedness, dizziness and confusion, daily functions can be hindered by benzo use.
Some examples of benzodiazepine medications include drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. All of these are legally obtainable through prescriptions written by a doctor, however they are also illicitly purchased on the streets.
Are Benzos Addictive?
Benzodiazepines are sedative medications, they essentially tranquilize the brain into a calmer state. This is why it is used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. The heightened GABA production caused by benzos helps to block chemical signals and prevent certain nervous impulses through the body. The increase in GABA production can also help to alleviate anxious feelings, control racing thoughts and make the user feel more at ease, and almost in a blissful state of being.
These feelings of relief can cause individuals taking benzos to feel as though the only way to achieve this state of mind is by taking the drug. Not only causing a mental craving for the medication, benzos also allow for a physical dependency.
Having to rely on the medication for normal functionality, as well as the potential to need more and more of it, can be a dangerous combination.
Are Benzos Dangerous?
With long term use, benzodiazepine use can build tolerance. This means that the brain requires more and more of the drug in order to function properly. The dependency on the drug can lead to using excess amounts of benzodiazepines resulting in overdose. So if you ask “Are benzos dangerous?” the short answer is yes, they can be. Like many medications, benzos are dangerous when misused or abused.
Is it Dangerous to Detox From Benzos?
When it comes to stopping any substance abruptly, symptoms of withdrawal tend to occur. Benzodiazepine detox has its own risks involved with stopping this medication. Doing so under medical supervision is the wisest approach, as physical and psychological side effects can crop up after stopping use. A “tapering” approach, wherein one lowers the dosage with each use, is the best option for total cessation of use.
If stopped “cold turkey,” the side effects of withdrawal can be harmful. Below are some of the effects of withdrawal caused by this medication.
- Panic attacks
- Muscle pains
- Heart palpitations
These symptoms can be uncomfortable and harmful. The symptoms are felt long term, depending on length and amount of use. Mainly, benzo detox occurs in three phases: early withdrawal, acute withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal. Early withdrawal begins within a few hours and lasts a few days. Acute withdrawal, where a majority of symptoms are experienced, begins a few days after stopping use of the medication and lasts for up to several months. To conclude, protracted withdrawal can last several months after last use.
Finding Help for Benzo Addiction
Benzo addiction can lead to long term side effects. Not only can the chemical changes occur in the brain, but they can also be fatal if left unaddressed. For example, overdose from benzodiazepines is a risk associated with the drug, sometimes leading to coma and death. Furthermore, slowed breathing and heart rate can deprive the brain of oxygen; this is called Hypoxia. This can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Seeking professional help to assist with the physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms associated with benzo withdrawal is suggested to anyone who is considering ending the use of this medication.
Benzo Detox in Southern California
If you or a loved one are struggling with benzodiazepines and looking to end the use of this drug, there is help. At Ocean Hills, we provide proper medical supervision as well as help addressing any mental health concerns that may arise after stopping the drug. You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out today and let us help you begin your journey to recovery from benzo addiction.