Benzodiazepines are sedatives that are used for a variety of medical symptoms as they have a variety of effects. Colloquially referred to as “benzos”, they are often used for their anti-anxiety, sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxant qualities. Doctors often prescribe them for anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Benzodiazepines act on the GABA receptors, the same part of the brain that alcohol affects. Physical dependence has been reported with as little as one month of use. Benzos cause dependency and addiction faster than any other substance. Chronic benzodiazepine use can cause depression, nausea, sleep difficulties, and anxiety attacks. Ataxia, intoxication, coma, respiratory depression, and death are symptoms of an overdose. When benzos are mixed with other sedatives such as opioids or alcohol, the risk of fatal overdose increases significantly.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal and Detox
Upon cessation of benzo use, many users feel intense withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are considered the only substances that can cause death as a direct result of withdrawal. Common milder symptoms include anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, fatigue and depression. More dangerous symptoms of chronic benzo use may be violence, delusions, mania, or respiratory depression.
Detox from benzodiazepines without medical attention is extremely dangerous. Although not every addict faces life-threatening circumstances, precautions should be taken. A benzodiazepine detox facility can provide the suggested medical care for a withdrawing addict. Doctors may decrease the dose gradually and prescribe long acting benzos such as diazepam to ease withdrawal symptoms. Rapid cessation of benzodiazepine intake causes severe withdrawal symptoms, and tapering helps curb them.