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What are the Negative Effects of Benzos?

negative effects of benzos

What Do Benzodiazepines Do?

Benzodiazepines (sometimes called “benzos”) are a type of psychoactive prescription medication that are given to help treat anxiety disorders, sleep issues and insomnia, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also prescribed as muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, and to treat nausea, depression, and the withdrawal symptoms for alcohol detox purposes.

They work by depressing the central nervous system by enhancing the effects of the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter. These drugs are often abused, because they produce a sensation of relaxation and a “quieting” calming effect on the mind and body. It is always a good idea to discuss the negative effects of benzos, along with their benefits, when being prescribed these medications because of their potential to create a physical dependency which can result in addiction.

If you are taking benzodiazepines and have noticed yourself developing a tolerance (needing to take them more often than they have been prescribed), cravings, or withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. You may need to taper off your usage (do not try to quit cold turkey), or you may require additional therapy and help to stop using these medications.

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Examples of Benzodiazepines

Common examples of benzodiazepine medications that are prescribed to treat mental health issues and insomnia include:

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Midazolam (Versed)

Buying benzodiazepines off the street from drug dealers is never advised, as often these pills are counterfeit drugs that contain a variety of other substances, pressed into a lookalike version of Xanax or Valium. These counterfeit pills are unregulated, and they are produced with the sole purpose of making money. Many contain fentanyl, and, as they say, one pill can kill if you end up with a high dose of this potent opioid. You can never be certain that what you are taking is what you think it is when it is purchased from a drug trafficker.

Times When Benzos Are Prescribed

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a wide scope of reasons. They reduce distress, induce calm, and help relieve certain types of physical or emotional pain on a short-term basis. Benzos are not a cure, they are an aid to help you through a particularly difficult period of time and are most effective when used alongside other treatments like therapy, physical health care, and lifestyle changes. Most are effective (and safe) when used as a one-time dose rather than an everyday medication, as a tolerance can quickly develop if used regularly for more than a few weeks. It is not a good idea to use benzodiazepines if you have a substance use disorder or health issues like heart or lung problems, liver or kidney disease, or muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis).

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for issues like:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Alcohol detox withdrawal symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Depression or grief
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Sedation or muscle relaxation
  • Seizure disorders or acute seizures
  • Inducing amnesia during medical procedures

You should exercise caution when taking other medications, as benzodiazepines can react or change the drug effects. Never drink alcohol while using benzos, and avoid using other drugs, as serious complications, brain damage, and even death can occur. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions before mixing prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

7 Negative Effects of Benzos

There are several negative effects of benzos that can arise from short-term and long-term use. Some of the risks include:

  1. Dangerous or uncomfortable side effects – common side effects that can arise while taking benzodiazepines include slurred speech, drowsiness, nausea, cognitive impairment, memory loss, and respiratory depression. Users may feel confused, have blurred vision, experience memory issues, and begin to develop cravings for benzos.
  2. They physically alter brain structures – benzos make changes to the structures in the brain that regulate neurotransmitters, which can make long-term stress and anxiety management much more difficult to the user, long-term.
  3. They cause users to develop a tolerance – the effects of the drugs lower very quickly in regular users, making their effects less noticeable. This causes users to take more of the medication than prescribed, leading to physical dependence with dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can cause a psychological dependence.
  4. They are addictive – benzos cause a rapid psychological dependence along with a physical dependence, making them highly addictive, even when they have been prescribed by a doctor. Quitting benzos often requires therapy and other treatments in a rehab program.
  5. There is a serious risk of overdose – because these medications lead to respiratory depression, if you take too many or mix them with other depressant substances like alcohol or opioids, they can cause you to relax so much that you simply stop breathing, which can lead to serious brain damage and death.
  6. Withdrawal symptoms are serious – quitting benzos after developing a physical dependence is not easy and can be dangerous to the user’s health if not overseen by medical professionals. Common withdrawal symptoms include headaches, nausea, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, muscle stiffness and spasms, difficulty breathing, dizziness, tremors, paranoia, tension and anxiety, psychosis, hallucinations, and seizures. Quitting often necessitates a medication-assisted treatment plan with a slow tapering-off of these addictive drugs.
  7. They are overprescribed – unfortunately, the effects of benzodiazepine drugs are not as well known as those of other prescription medications, making them under-regulated and over-prescribed. Doctors often feel pressure to provide “quick fix” help to people suffering from anxiety, sleep issues, or other ailments over longer-term therapies and antidepressants. They also do not have the time to speak in depth with patients about their lives and their conditions, or to educate patients on the risks of taking benzos. It can also be more difficult for patients to receive therapy and mental health help, leading to a dependence on medication to relieve symptoms.

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Help Break the Chains of Negative Effects of Benzos

If you have been experiencing the negative effects of benzos or are having a hard time quitting, please contact Magnolia today. We are a detox and rehabilitation center located in Los Angeles, California, offering safe, accessible, and individualized treatment programs that can help you taper off your benzo use slowly and safely as you take back control over your life.

We have medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs along with our medical detox, so that you can slowly and safely stop using benzodiazepines without suffering. Our medical team will take care of you during this difficult time, providing cutting-edge medical care, prescription medications, and a positive, non-judgmental healing environment.

Our pain management services, and our dual diagnosis programs will help you deal with any underlying physical or mental health issues, helping you find new ways to treat your conditions without turning back to benzos after rehab. Through evidence-based group and individual therapies and holistic healing, you will work to reframe your perspective, regain connections to loved ones for additional support, rebuild your physical strength, and heal your mind, body, and spirit through counseling, art and music therapy, spiritual practices, exercise programs, and much more. We offer aftercare planning services and a strong alumni group to keep you connected to a strong sober support group for as long as you need it. 

Please call Magnolia Recovery at (818) 431-2224 to find out more. We man the phones 24 hours a day and are happy to discuss insurance, recovery, and benzo treatments at any time, day or night.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.