The Definition of Benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepine medications are psychoactive drugs that directly affect the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABAA receptor. Benzodiapine medications produce sedative, sleep inducing, muscle relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. Benzodiapines are used in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, muscles spasms and alcohol withdrawal. Each benzodiapine medication are categorized by short-, intermediate- or long-acting; each used in treatment of different medical conditions. These medications are safe for short term use. However there are many adverse effects to using benzodiazepine medications long term such as tolerance, dependency and withdrawal syndrome.
- decreased alertness and concentration
- lack of coordination
- decreased libido
- erection problems
- suppressed breathing
- changes in appetite
- blurred vision
Medical Use of Benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepine medications are commonly used in the medical treatment of alcohol dependence, seizures, anxiety, panic, agitation and insomnia. Typically these drug medications are administered orally they can also be given intravenously, intramuscularly or rectally. Benzodiazepine medications are safe to use on a short term basis. When used over a long period of time the patient is at risk of developing a tolerance, dependency and withdrawal syndrome. Misuse and long term use of benzodiapine medications can worsen cognitive deficits, depression and anxiety for the patient.
Commonly Treated Medical Conditions
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorders
- Alcohol Withdrawal
Other Medical Uses for Benzodiazepines
- Muscle Relaxant
- Pre-op relaxant
- Acute Panic
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
Recreational Use of Benzodiazepine
Benzodiapine are one of the most commonly abuse prescription medications. Recreational use of benzodiazepine medications is high for its ability to relax the user and produce euphoric effects. Tolerance to benzodiazepine medications can occur rapidly when misusing the medication. A physical and psychological dependency can quickly develop along with withdrawal syndrome when the medication is abruptly stopped.
Addiction to Benzodiazepine
Addiction to Benzodiazepine medications is very common amongst those who misuse, abuse or use the medication long term. When addicted to a benzodiazepine medication the user will have a high tolerance, requiring large doses of the medication to acheive the desired effects. When physically and psychologically addicted to benzodiazepine medications the mind and body craves the medication. When not using the medication they will be thinking of when they will next use. Their regular obligations and interest are no longer important and using more benzodiazepine medications. When abruptly stopping the use of the medication they will begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal that can range in severity depending on the severity of the addiction itself.
Common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- gastric problems
- muscle spasms
Less common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- hypersensitivity to stimuli
- suicidal behavior
- delirium tremens
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
Treatment for an addiction to benzodiazepine starts with dosage reduction. The patient is gradually weaned off the benzodiazepine medication while going through the medical detoxification process. They are cleansed of the chemicals and toxins related to chronic abuse of the medication. They will physically withdrawal from benzodiazepine in a medical setting with Doctors and chemical dependency specialists offering 24-7 supportive care. Therapy and counseling will then be the next step in treatment to aid the patient in healing themselves of the psychological addiction to benzodiazepine. They will get to the cause of their addiction and work through it as well as other mental and emotional aspects to their addiction. The patient will learn the tools needed to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.