There has been much discussion in recent years regarding the dangers of prescription medications, especially opioids. And while the fears and subsequent warnings regarding opioids are well warranted, there are other, perhaps nearly as dangerous prescription drugs demanding attention.
One class of these drugs, Benzodiazepines, or benzos as they are commonly called, is now the second most abused class of prescription medications in the country. Making matters worse is the great increase of benzo prescriptions in recent years, and with these prescriptions, the resulting overdoses.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are typically used to treat patients suffering from anxiety issues, insomnia, or seizure disorders. These addictive prescription anxiety meds have a depressant effect: sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant. The effectiveness of the chemical GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for slowing brain activity, is increased in the brain, setting off a chain of events in the central nervous system that results in feelings of relaxation for the user.
Here are some common benzos:
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- clobazam (Onfi)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- clorazepate (Tranxene)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- temazepam (Restoril)
- triazolam (Halcion)
Risk of Addiction
Benzos are highly effective at addressing the issues for which they are prescribed. However, these powerful medications have proven to be highly addictive for many users.
Extended use will often cause an individual’s body to become less sensitive to the effects of GABA. The user compensates by increasing intake of the drugs and will often feel agitated or ill if the drugs are not taken.
Risk of Overdose
Addictive prescription anxiety meds are most dangerous when mixed with other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. Because the benzo high tends to be relatively low in intensity, they are often used by addicts when they are either coming off of cocaine or to enhance the effects of alcohol or other depressant medications. This is a dangerous behavior that can have deadly consequences for the user.
Psychology Today recently reported that since 2010, over 6,500 drug overdoses in America were attributed to the use of Benzodiazepines. And in 2010 alone nearly 125,000 people were taken to local emergency rooms for problems caused by Xanax alone.
To further highlight the dangers of mixing benzos with alcohol or other drugs, the lives of Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and Whitney Houston were all lost due to this practice.
The rising rates of both addiction and overdoses associated with Benzodiazepines in the United States have reached alarming proportions. This matter is a serious health crisis in America and warrants more attention. However, withdrawal from these medications can be extremely dangerous and should be done under the care of a professional.
If you or someone you know has an addiction to Benzodiazepine, an acute detox in a safe environment is the first step to getting the much-needed help. At SoCal Detox, an Orange County detox in California, we are prepared to safely monitor you through the detoxification of this highly addictive substance and then guide you to the next steps that will work for you in finding lasting recovery.