While benzodiazepines are useful drugs that are often used to treat those with anxiety disorders, they are also often abused and used as street drugs.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines belong to the class of drugs known as sedatives or tranquilizers. They are most commonly used to help relieve anxiety and panic in those who suffer from anxiety disorders, or to stop panic attacks as they happen. They’re also often used to sedate patients before medical procedures, and to help people sleep when they suffer from insomnia. Another potential use of prescription benzodiazepines is seizure control and muscle relaxation. When used responsibly, benzodiazepines are a useful tool in any medical professional’s arsenal.

Street Names for Benzodiazepines

Due to their sedative nature, benzodiazepines are often referred to as “downers” on the street. Other common street names include benzos, tranqs or tranks, candy, or simply “sleeping pills.” Specific varieties or brands of benzodiazepine come with their own slang terms, such as “big V” for Valium and “roofies” for Rohypnol.

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Who Uses Benzodiazepines?

Due to their versatility, benzodiazepines are used by nearly every age group, ethnic group, and gender. For those suffering from anxiety disorders or other mental conditions that cause panic attacks, benzodiazepines provide calming relief to counterbalance fears. Individuals who are going into surgery are often prescribed these medications for their sedative effects, as they help relax patients before medical procedures. Insomniacs get great use from benzodiazepines since their tranquilizing abilities induce sleep. Epileptics are prescribed benzodiazepines to help prevent and control seizures. Benzodiazepines are also excellent for those who suffer from debilitating musculoskeletal disorders like muscular dystrophy, as they help to relax the muscles and prevent or ease cramping and seizing of tendons and ligaments. These medications are even used in some cases to treat alcohol withdrawal for those in recovery.

Outside of these legitimate uses, many people abuse benzodiazepines to get “high.” A benzo high puts the user into an extremely relaxed and sometimes euphoric state.

Commonly Prescribed Benzodiazepines

The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium. Less prescribed but still abused are brands like Restoril, Halcion, and Librium.

What Are the Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse?

While this class of medication is safe when taken under the supervision of a medical professional, unprescribed use and overuse are dangerous. Some signs that a person may be abusing benzodiazepines includes:

  • Irritability, agitation, and mood changes
  • Amnesia, i.e. forgetting what they did during spans of times
  • Low blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating, or cold chills
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Increasing absences from work or school
  • Hallucinations

Are There Risks Associated with Benzodiazepine Use?

One of the most common side effects of benzodiazepine abuse is change in memory. Short term memory is the most affected, with many users reporting that they don’t remember what they did while on the drug. This can be dangerous for a number of reasons. In addition to problems with memory and concentration, extended use of benzodiazepines without oversight by a medical professional can cause both musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal issues in the user.

As with any medication with recreational effects, addiction and dependence are a risk. Addiction can lead to overdose, long-term physical problems, and mental health disorders like depression, including suicidal thoughts.

Getting Help With Benzodiazepine Addiction

Trained addiction specialists can help those suffering from benzodiazepine addiction. A drug abuse treatment or rehabilitation center is recommended, where the addict can receive medical intervention and psychological support. A regimen of group and individual therapies will be assessed and provided, ensuring that they both get sober, and remain sober long term. Contact us today to learn more.

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