Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, one of the most widely prescribed medications in the US, are a class of psychoactive drugs used to reduce anxiety and insomnia by relaxing muscles and inducing sleep.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat a range of psychological and neurological disorders including insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, seizes, alcohol withdrawal and panic attacks. Neurotransmitters in the brain are responsible for communicating between brain cells. When a person feels overly anxious, the brain becomes excited. Tranquilizing transmitters send messages slowing down activity in the brain and reducing symptoms of anxiety.

Which Drugs are Benzodiazepines?

There are over 25 different types benzodiazepines with some of the most popular benzos listed below:

Usually safe and effective for short-term usage, long term use of these drugs can create adverse effects. With the possibility of dependence, overdosing and the dangers of mixing medicates with alcohol or other substances, the risks could be fatal.

“Benzodiazepines were associated with greatest number of early deaths among all prescription medications tested.”

Sources: Drug Abuse, Weich, S., et al (2014)

The Effects of Taking Benzodiazepines

Addiction to benzodiazepines has been all too common even to drugs prescribed for medical reasons. Such dependency can begin after using the drugs for one month even at the prescribed dosage. Benzodiazepines work as a sedative by slowing down the body’s functions. They increase the effect of a brain chemical called GABA (Gamma-AminoButyric Acid) which reduces brain activity in certain areas of the brain.

These areas of the brain are responsible for rational thought, memory, emotions and essential functions e.g. breathing. The main effects of benzodiazepines are sedation, reduced anxiety and muscle relaxation. Being very effective in the short term, as the brain adjusts to their effect so they may stop working if taken for more than several months. The body may become dependent on the drug, requiring higher dosages to achieve the same effect.

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The sedative effect of these drugs, and their addiction – forming chemical properties, makes them open to misuse. When the dosage is cut down, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is dangerous and needs medical supervision. If you or a loved one are looking for help with benzodiazepine addiction, our halfway house in San Diego provides you with a structured and stable environment for a road to a long lasting recovery. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of staff today, by calling us on 858.766.1922.