What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines (Benzos) are a type of medication known as tranquilizers. Familiar names include Valium and Xanax, some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use quickly turns into abuse.

Doctors may prescribe a benzodiazepine for the following legitimate medical conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Seizure control
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Inducing amnesia for uncomfortable procedures
  • Given before an anesthetic (such as before surgery)

Benzodiazepines act on the central nervous system, produce sedation and muscle relaxation, and lower anxiety levels. The Center for Substance Abuse Research says that the sedative properties in benzodiazepines increase their risk for addiction.

Although more than 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been produced, only about 15 are currently FDA-approved in the United States. They are typically taken in the form of a pill, however benzodiazepines can be injected. They are usually classified by the length in which their effects last.

  • Ultra-short acting – Midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion)
  • Short-acting – Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Long-acting – Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium)

Quick Facts on Benzodiazepine Addiction

  • Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed prescription drug in the US.
  • It is estimated that over 60% of users suffer withdrawal symptoms and side effects.
  • Some common street names include rowies, the date rate drug, sleeping pills and the club drug.
  • Benzodiazepines are often used as date rape drugs because they inhibit user’s ability to resist sexual assault.
  • When taken in combination with other drugs, benzodiazepines can be deadly.

Signs/Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse

At normal or regular doses, benzodiazepines relieve anxiety and insomnia and are usually well tolerated. Sometimes, people taking benzodiazepines may feel drowsy or dizzy. This side effects tend to be more pronounced with increased doses. The signs and symptoms of acute toxicity or overdose may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

Signs of chronic drug abuse can be very nonspecific and include changes in appearance and behavior that affect relationships and work performance. Warning signs in children include abrupt changes in mood or deterioration of school performance. Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can lead to the following symptoms that mimic many of the indications for using them in the first place:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Weakness

Desert Mountain Health’s Benzodiazepine Treatment

Benzodiazepines should never be stopped abruptly. Benzodiazepines are one of two drug classifications that can have serious, if not deadly, consequences when not detoxed medically. Medical detox is the first step, and a very important one, towards successful, long term recovery from Benzos.

Once detoxed from Benzodiazepines, therapeutic methods of treatment combined with medical services and wellness practices have the highest rate of success. Most Benzo users will experience a high level of anxiety once they are off the drugs because benzodiazepines suppress anxiety. Our team of highly trained doctors and therapists will evaluate and create a treatment plan for every client to give them the best plan for treatment.

Treatment at Desert Mountain Health Includes: