Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that is used for a variety of reasons, and they have been prescribed for many decades now as a means to provide relief from discomfort. They were first introduced in the 1950’s as a means for providing a safer alternative to barbiturates.
Benzodiazepines Have Been Prescribed For
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Insomnia and other Sleep Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Impulse Control Disorders
- And Detoxification from Recreational Drugs and Alcohol
The above list indicates that Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed, and they are. Millions of prescriptions of provided to men and women each here. In fact, the following outlines the amount of prescriptions provided for various forms of Benzodiazepines in 2011:
Xanax (alprazolam) = 49 million prescriptions filled
Ativan (lorazepam) = 27.6 million prescriptions filled
Klonopin or Rivotril (clonazepam) = 26.9 million prescriptions filled
Valium (diazepam) = 15 million prescriptions filled
Restoril (temazepam) = 8.5 million prescriptions filled
The Trap of Addiction
It’s actually quite easy to fall into the trap of an addiction, especially one to Benzodiazepines. Some people become dependent on tranquilizers inadvertently. If they have been taking them for more than a few months, it’s easy to develop an addiction.
This is even true if they’ve followed all of their doctor’s order and did not abuse the prescription provided. However, if they stop taking them suddenly, there’s a good chance they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms.
Furthermore, some of the side effects of taking Benzodiazepines include confusion, irregular heartbeat, memory loss, depression, euphoria, vertigo, and nausea. In fact, in 2010, the emergency room visits related to the use of Benzodiazepines, whether from side effects or from withdrawal symptoms, include:
Xanax (alprazolam) = 124,902
Ativan (lorazepam) = 36,675
Klonopin or Rivotril (clonazepam) = 62,811
Valium (diazepam) = 26,860
High Risk of Addiction From Benzodiazepines
However, there is a strong potential of addiction with the use of Benzodiazepines, and this has been known since the 1980’s. Benzodiazepines have a relatively high dependence rating of 1.89 on a 3-point scale. Furthermore, 95% of US hospital admissions for Benzodiazepines also reported abusing other substances. In 2010, there were 6,507 deaths due to Benzodiazepine overdose in the United States. According to DualDiagnosis.org, approximately 20.4 million Americans ages 12 and older have misused Benzodiazepines.
For those who are taking these drugs without a prescription, there is a high risk for health hazards. When someone gets a hold of and uses prescription drugs in a way other than how they are prescribed, it is considered abuse. Symptoms of Benzodiazepine overdose and/or abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions and seizures
- Severe drowsiness or even coma
- Shakiness or staggering
- Slow heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe weakness
There is a significant risk of seizure, strokes, heart attacks, or hallucinations if the withdrawal from tranquilizers happens suddenly. The irony of tranquilizers is that they’re prescribed for anxiety and sleep. But the longer you take them the more they increase your anxiety and disturb your sleep.
In fact, whether you’re addicted to Benzodiazepines or another substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or tranquilizers, it’s always best to rely upon mental health professionals to facilitate the start of your recovery. Attempting to do it alone can be damaging to your body and even unsuccessful. Having a supportive team, however, ensures your sobriety. Furthermore, a team of people at the start of your recovery can also facilitate creating a plan for preventing relapse in the future. Addiction is a difficult experience to heal from. Getting unhooked, no matter what you’re addicted to, is going to require a community of friends, family, and professional support.
(2015) The Hidden Dangers of Benzodiazepines. Dual Diagnosis.Org. Retrieved on February 24, 2015 from: http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/benzodiazepine-addiction/
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