Benzodiazepines are a drug that belongs to a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics. They work on a particular receptor type in the central nervous system, known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). These drugs attach to the GABA receptors and increase their levels to slow down nerve stimulation. This reduces stimulation and has a depressive effect on the brain, causing a drowsy and calming effect. However, GABA also reduces brain activity responsible for rational thought, memory, emotions, sleep, and breathing. There are a lot of risks and adverse effects associated with long-term benzodiazepine use, so they are not safe to take for an extended period and should only be prescribed on a short-term basis.
More About Benzodiazepines
All benzodiazepines are highly addictive. However, with the addiction epidemic that the United States faces, many doctors will only prescribe benzodiazepines now for rare or under certain special circumstances. Even though research does show that it is relatively rare for adults who use benzodiazepines, even if they are misusing them, to develop a benzodiazepine use disorder. The FDA has approved benzodiazepines to treat insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, seizure disorders such as epilepsy, and panic disorder. In addition, they are commonly used for tic disorders, bipolar disorder, and other sleep disorders and manage alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are also used to prepare patients for various medical procedures.
Common Reasons Why Benzodiazepines Are Prescribed
The most common reason benzodiazepines are prescribed is to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Benzodiazepines come in many forms, and all have different potencies, absorption rates, and uses. Some of the most common benzodiazepines and their uses include:
- Diazepam (Valium) – used for panic attacks, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal
- Alprazolam (Xanax) – used for panic and anxiety disorders
- Clonazepam (Klonopin) – used for panic and seizure disorders
- Lorazepam (Ativan) – used for anxiety, seizures, and postoperatively in anesthesia
- Temazepam (Restoril) – used for insomnia
- Flurazepam (Dalmane) – used for insomnia
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) – used for anxiety and alcohol withdrawal
Most Common Reason Why Benzodiazepines Are Used?
The most common reason people use benzodiazepines is to help relieve them or relieve tension. The second most common reason reported is to get high. The National Institute of Health’s Journal of substance abuse treatment surveyed 438 patients about benzodiazepine use. These patients were being admitted to treatment for opioid dependency. This survey reports that:
Forty percent of persons surveyed used a BZD in the month prior to admission, and 25% of these met criteria for BZD dependence (DSM IV). BZD users averaged 32.0 years of age, 63.6% were male, 85.2% used heroin, and reported, on average, 13.3 (± 11.2) days of BZD use during the past month. Alprazolam (Xanax) was the most commonly used BZD (52%), and buying it on the street the most common source (48%). The most commonly reported reason for BZD use was ‘to manage anxiety’ (42.6%), followed by ‘to get or enhance a high’ (27.7%), ‘to help with sleep’ (11.4%), and ‘to decrease opioid withdrawal’ (10.2%). The most common reason for BZD use was significantly associated (p < .001) with most likely source of BZDs, with persons who got their BZDs from a prescriber (23%) more likely to report BZD anxiety as their primary reason for use, while persons who bought BZDs on “the street” (48%) had the highest likelihood of reporting using BZD to get or enhance a high. Participants using BZDs most commonly for anxiety did not endorse lower anxiety than those using BZDs for other reasons. (NIH)
176 of the 438 patients surveyed reported using benzodiazepines in the past 30 days and had positive drug screens for benzos. Mixing benzodiazepines with any other medication, especially opioids, is extremely dangerous. This mixture puts a person at risk of overdose and overdose death.
Start Treatment For Benzodiazepine Addiction at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset
Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment to cater to each patient’s individual needs. Our solution-focused treatment provides men, women, and families integrated and comprehensive care geared towards leading you on the road to long-lasting recovery. At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, our primary goal is to make your treatment experience as comfortable as possible. If you have issues with benzodiazepines or any substances, let us help you. Our specialists and professionals are highly qualified and supportive and will help you start today’s recovery journey. Recovery today for a better tomorrow.