Benzos, or benzodiazepines, are artificial medications affecting the central nervous system by making the brain less sensitive to outside stimulation. They are used to treat many different conditions like anxiety disorders, panic disorders, seizures, insomnia and are even used to treat alcohol withdrawal. Benzos work by affecting a specific receptor in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid- A, or GABA – A, receptors. Benzos will attach to these receptors and produce a calming effect on the brain and the body. Most commonly prescribed benzos include Xanax, Librium, Tranxene, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, and Restoril.
Are They Safe For Long-Term Use?
Benzos should only be prescribed for short-term use because they all have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Yet, it mostly depends on the strength, dosage, and what it is being used for. As an example, benzos like Ativan or Xanax are stronger and also act faster on the body. These are best for short-term use and used as needed. Ativan and Xanax would be best for anxiety and panic-related attacks or episodes.
More About Problems After Long Period Benzo Use
If an anxiety attack were to occur, you would take your medication as needed to stop the panic or anxiety attack. Benzodiazepines such as Valium, however, are much weaker and do not have as quick of a reaction. They are helpful for insomnia and can be used more regularly to prevent insomnia. However, they still should not be taken for very long periods of time. When benzo is taken for a long period, even as prescribed, this can lead to benzo dependency, abuse, and addiction. Abuse and addiction to benzos are much more common than you might think. According to NIH
BZD misuse and abuse is a growing problem. Approximately 2.3% to 18% of Americans have misused sedatives or tranquilizers for nonmedical use in their lifetime.14-16 Nearly 10% of these individuals met the criteria for abuse or dependence.14 In 2010, there were an estimated 186 000 new BZD abusers.17 Emergency departments (EDs) have seen a sharp 139% increase in BZD-related visits.
Other Effects of Benzodiazepine Long-Term Use
Not only can long-term benzo use lead to abuse and addiction, like previously mentioned, long-term abuse can also lead to the painful experience of withdrawal. This occurs after someone who uses benzos regularly for an extended period suddenly stops or does not take a large enough dose. Another serious and life-altering side effect to long-term use is its cognitive effects. It has been described as causing impairment in many aspects such as speed of processing, verbal learning, visuospatial ability, and memory. It can even lead to chronic cognitive impairment.
Overcome Benzodiazepine Use Disorder at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset
Long-term use of benzos leads to some pretty serious consequences to both the mind and the body. So whether you are dependent, abusing, or completely addicted to benzos, your first step in living your life without benzos is with medical detox. This step helps you detox the benzos out of your system and makes the withdrawal process as painless as possible. Getting yourself better does not just stop at detox. The next step is getting involved in drug abuse and addiction treatment. Detox heals the body, but treatment helps heal the mind. Addiction does not just go away because the drugs are out of your system. Finding a treatment program can help you avoid turning back to benzo in the future and help you understand what led you to them in the first place.