Benzodiazepine otherwise known as benzos are psychoactive drugs that are used to treat a vast range of medical and psychological conditions. As the name suggests, Benzodiazepine is a structural combination of a benzene and a diazepine ring.
While benzos versatile nature allows it to be used as a medication for different conditions, it's safety as a medication is controversial. They suppress the neurotransmitters, causing them to produce a relaxing and sedating effect. However high doses can result in a short term memory loss and an addiction that can be hard to quit. Similarly, aggression, paranoia, and panic are some of the many adverse effects benzos carry with themselves.
All effects aside, the major issue of concern rising amongst the people is the highly addictive nature of these drugs. And the effects of benzo withdrawal.
Use of Benzodiazepine as medicines
Benzodiazepine was first marketed in 1963 as valium. It wasn't until 12 years later that these drugs were globally prescribed. Falling in the family of low potent tranquilizers, the sedating effect of benzos can be used to treat;
• Insomnia, paranoia, and panic.
It can also be used as;
Benzodiazepine addiction and its effects
Benzodiazepines affect the activity of neurotransmitters such as GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) in such a way that it instills a sedating effect onto the body. In low doses, benzos are a highly effective medication that can be used to treat a specific medical condition. But high dosage, prolonged use or abuse can easily pass benzos as a highly addictive drug. Moreover, benzos are believed to stimulate the brain into releasing more dopamine. More dopamine means more happiness. So when the user stops taking benzos, the dopamine released is not at par with the dopamine released by the brain under the influence of benzos. Forcing the user to crave and take in more benzos, hence developing an addiction that can be hard to quit. Since with increased consumption of the drug, tolerance also increases. It gradually drives the user to take a higher dosage every time to attain the desired soothing effect.
The adverse effects of Benzodiazepine addiction include;
• Short term memory loss.
• Difficulty in speaking.
• Mood swings.
• Mental health (prone to suicidal thoughts)
• Poor body coordination.
• Paranoia and confusion.
Effects of Benzodiazepine withdrawal
It is without a doubt that Benzodiazepine addiction can prove lethal in the long run. In between 2004 and 2011, hospitals saw a nearly 150% spike in the ER visits regarding Benzodiazepines. Much more scary is the fact that millions of people across the globe abuse benzos each year. While quitting the use of benzos as a drug may seem like a logical decision, users must be aware of the harsh benzo withdrawal
effects depending upon the duration of benzo abuse. Their highly addictive nature hooks the body on it in such a way that it cannot optimally function without it. Quitting can put your body in a state of withdrawal with effects ranging be mild or severe depending upon the period of abuse.
The withdrawal effects of a Benzodiazepine may include;
• Poor focus.
• Poor concentration.
• Insomnia or difficulty sleeping.
• Fluctuating heartbeat.
• Increased blood pressure.
• Stiffened muscles.
• Excessive sweating and headaches.
• Severe anxiety.
It is recommended not to quit cold turkey as the sudden halt can starve your body of dopamine ultimately causing a relapse. Users then may be faced with a much severe case of anxiety or the condition that the benzos were prescribed to solve in the first place. It is highly recommended to opt for a program that understands the severity of benzo withdrawal effects and treats them accordingly.