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Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are tranquilizers – a class of medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures and muscle tension. They’re also used to help people relax before surgery and other medical procedures.
This class of medications is one of the most commonly prescribed in the United States. Because they’re so common, and because they’re habit-forming for many patients, they’ve become some of the most widely abused prescription drugs. Physicians avoid prescribing them for more than one month because of the high risk of users developing physical dependence on them.
Although the abuse of benzodiazepines alone does not usually lead to serious immediate medical problems, people who abuse them often take them along with other drugs, especially alcohol, making the risk of serious harm or overdose more likely. Long-term use of benzodiazepines is linked to serious medical issues such as brain damage, kidney damage, and the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you, a friend or family member are misusing benzodiazepines, it’s important to get help.
There are several different types of benzodiazepines. Because these medicines are prescribed so often, they are also widely available for abuse. Common street names for benzos include:
There are many types of benzodiazepines. Some of the most common are:
Although the abuse of benzodiazepines alone does not usually lead to serious immediate medical problems, people who abuse them often take them along with other drugs, especially alcohol. This is very dangerous, as the combined depressant effects of benzos and alcohol poses a high overdose risk.
Medical professionals often prescribe benzos because they produce relaxation, sedation and a feeling of calm. But they can have negative effects as well. Short-term effects of benzodiazepines include:
The use of benzodiazepines involves serious risks for the user’s long-term health. Firstly, they post a high addiction risk. A recent study found that 44 percent of long-term benzodiazepine users become physically dependent. Also, once someone decides to stop using benzodiazepines, the withdrawal symptoms can be serious and even life-threatening. They may include:
Because these symptoms are frequent among people who stop using benzos, users should not attempt to quit cold-turkey or on their own. It’s important that they gradually reduce their use of the drug under medical supervision.
Teens and young adults often self-medicate with benzos because they provide temporary relief from anxiety and stress. Also, the fact that they’re prescribed by a doctor gives the impression that they’re safe – though this is certainly not the case.
Where do teens and young adults get benzodiazepines? Often, these drugs are obtained from their parents’ or caregivers’ medicine cabinets. They can also purchase them from illicit websites such as fake pharmacies. Many times, they simply get these drugs from peers.
If you’re concerned that your teen or young adult is using benzodiazepines, you should watch for the following signs of abuse.
If you suspect that your teen or young adult is misusing benzos, keep these points in mind:
Because of the mental and physical severity of benzo addiction, it’s important to seek addiction treatment as soon as possible if you’re concerned about your teen or young adult. Sandstone Care has a medical detox program along with a full continuum of care in Colorado and Maryland. We are available seven days a week to explain your options and answer any questions you may have at 888-850-1890.