While they are beneficial for the treatment of various mental health and medical conditions, benzodiazepines come with their own set of concerns. Are benzos dangerous? That is a question asked by many Americans who are prescribed these medications, as well as those who buy them illegally on the street. Even when taken as prescribed, these drugs can build a tolerance and dependency in the person taking them. This can make the task of stopping the medication difficult. It is important to understand the risks of these medications when taking them, and making the decision to stop.
What are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are considered to depress the Central Nervous System of the human body, slowing brain activity, affecting breathing, and causing drowsiness in the user. These medications also affect the brain’s GABA activity by increasing it. Benzos are used for the treatment of seizure disorders as well as anxiety, sleep disorders and other medical and mental health disorders.
The fact that these medications affect vital bodily functions can be viewed as reasoning that benzos are dangerous, whether abused or taken as prescribed. Along with the drowsiness and slowed breathing, benzos can also cause slurred speech, confusion, lightheadedness, and can affect memory and movement.
Benzos are a Schedule IV drug, and a controlled substance. Some examples of benzodiazepines are drugs like Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin. All of these medications are legally obtained through prescriptions, and illegally available on the streets.
Are Benzos Dangerous?
The short answer is yes, benzos are dangerous. With long term use and misuse these drugs build a tolerance and users require more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. It also means that for normal brain and body functionality, users would need higher doses of the medication. When taking these higher doses, it can lead to overdose. These overdoses are potentially fatal.
Are Benzos Addictive?
Because they build tolerance and dependence in those who use them, benzos are considered to be addictive. Generally, tolerance and dependence on drugs leads to addiction. Continued use and misuse of these drugs can lead to potentially dangerous benzo withdrawal symptoms if the drug use is stopped abruptly. Because of the addictive qualities, benzodiazepines are widely abused and misused. This can be an answer to the question “Are benzos dangerous?”
Benzodiazepines suppress the CNS and increase GABA activity, slowing brain activity and essentially this tranquilizes the brain. This helps to decrease the nervous responses to stimuli that leads to anxiety and even seizures. The slowing of brain activity helps to decrease anxiety, racing thoughts, and allows for a calmer mind state to be achieved. For people who struggle with anxiety, this is almost a dream come true, and a miracle.
The effects these medications have on the brain can cause users to crave that peaceful feeling resulting in overtaking the medication and feeling as though more medication will make them feel better. While this is not the case, misusing the drug like this leads to addiction. Benzos are dangerous because they give a false sense of security to those who take them for these mental health concerns.
Is it Dangerous to Detox From Benzos?
Ending abuse and misuse of any substance leads to uncomfortable and possibly dangerous symptoms of withdrawal. However, when it comes to detoxing from benzodiazepines, it can definitely be more dangerous than other substances. The physical dependence of this medication causes the body to undergo some potentially serious and life threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Taking higher doses, and stopping all of a sudden can heighten the probability of these symptoms. Benzodiazepine detox is most effectively with the “tapering off” approach. This means doses are lowered, and side effects are monitored to prevent symptoms such as:
- Muscle pains
- Muscle spasms
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
It is never recommended to detox from this medication without medical supervision. Withdrawal is an uncomfortable process, and alleviating these symptoms can be beneficial to the success of recovering from addiction, preventing more severe symptoms.
Finding Help for Benzo Addiction
Because the symptoms of withdrawal can be experienced day and night, it is best to seek inpatient detoxification for benzo withdrawal. This allows for medical professionals to monitor the symptoms of withdrawal at all hours, and helps to prevent the more serious symptoms like seizures. Withdrawal from benzos is dangerous and uncomfortable. It is unpredictable, and trying to detox at home, without medical staff available at any time, can be harmful.
The “cold turkey” approach is not recommended for these drugs. Benzos are dangerous to detox from and can lead to long term or fatal effects if attempted to stop without professional medical help. Such medical help may involve the use of medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms; this is called Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
Detox From Benzos in South Florida
Seeking help for benzo addiction is an important step to beginning a life without the addiction these drugs cause. Here at Ambrosia, we provide a safe and comfortable environment for those trying to overcome addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, contact us today.