DETOX / RESIDENTIAL INPATIENT / AFTERCARE
Benzodiazepine Addiction: Effects and Symptoms
Benzodiazepine is a medicinal drug that belongs to the class of psychoactive drugs. They are generally used for the treatment of many kinds of psychological and mental conditions. The various types of benzodiazepine are used for a variety of medicines such as tranquilizers, sedatives, anxiolytics, and even muscle relaxants.
Benzodiazepine mainly works on parts of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and slows down the high-speed sensory information transfer that goes on in our brains. Though it is extremely useful for many medical emergencies and treatment, the possible misuse of such effects is also extremely apparent.
Why is it used?
Benzodiazepine based medicines are generally prescribed by doctors to treat the following types of conditions:
- Insomnia: Benzodiazepine is prescribed by doctors in a minor controlled dosage to treat severe sleep-related issues. The long term use of the drug is not prescribed due to the ease with which it can lead to psychological dependence on the drug to acquire any amount of sleep.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Such cases are generally due to the excessive activity or excited state of the nerves in the human brain; hence benzodiazepine helps with causing mild depression within the nerves of the Central Nervous System to help the patient calm down. Again as seen previously, the dosage is kept within a minimal amount to prevent causing mental damage or addiction.
- Seizures: Those afflicted with epileptic seizures often have to go through uncontrolled twitching and jerking of limbs and muscles all over the body. In such situations, the prescribed dosage of benzodiazepine can be helpful, as it can act as a muscle relaxant and powerful anticonvulsant to prevent prolonged episodes of such seizures.
- Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment: In various rehabilitation centers, the use of benzodiazepine helps in dealing with more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. With controlled use of the drug, recovery from alcohol withdrawal becomes much easier. However, the use of the drug is only till the worst of the symptoms subside, and the minor withdrawal symptoms are encouraged to be dealt with psychological reinforcement, encouragement, and willpower.
Despite the calming effects of benzodiazepine, they are profoundly addictive, and an individual who abuses them faces a large variety of adverse effects. Many kinds of physical, psychological, and behavioral issues and changes are seen in those who are addicted to benzodiazepine consumption. As seen often in many medical clinic crisis divisions, various benzodiazepine-based medicines are purposefully or incidentally taken in overdose to get the euphoric state or commonly known as ‘getting high.’
The misuse of benzodiazepine
The misuse of benzodiazepine can be somewhat attributed to its worldwide availability in the form of various cheap medicines that can be compounded into a concentrated dose of benzodiazepine with a little medical knowledge. Benzodiazepine abuse is occasionally seen to have caused death and serious physical afflictions or even diseases. Though the use of benzodiazepine is extremely popular among addicts alongside alcoholic drinks to increase its effects, it is highly frowned upon by medical professionals as it severely endangers one’s life and can even cause permanent mental issues in severe cases.
The abuse of benzodiazepine can result in various physical, psychological, and behavioral changes that are easily identifiable.
The physical changes include:
- The feeling of constant weakness in limbs and the need to feel relaxed in muscles
- Blurred vision and the inability to focus on changes around oneself
- Constant exhaustion, lack of stamina and increased drowsiness
The psychological and behavioral changes observed easily are:
- Poor judgment capabilities and the acceptance to easily follow other’s decisions without thinking for oneself
- Constant pestering of doctors for fake prescriptions
- Stealing, borrowing or requesting for the drug from friends, neighbors, and relatives
- Illogical mood changes for the most inconsequential stuff
- Adverse and ill-advised behavior when in the influence of benzodiazepine, such as wanting to drive a vehicle while not having proper control of one’s senses
- Wanting to combine the effects of benzodiazepine with other intoxicating substances such as alcohol to increase or compound the effects provided by both
The human body naturally builds up immunity to the effects of various intoxicating substances overtime in the situation where one constantly abuses the use of such substances for extended periods. Once the body has built up an immunity to such substances, the requirement for reaching that familiar level of intoxication and euphoria requires one to consume even more of that substance in higher amounts compared to previous instances. This sends one into an eternal cycle of being physically and psychologically, dependent on the said intoxicating substance.
Once a person is addicted to an intoxicating substance such as benzodiazepine, withdrawal from its use, when wanting to quit the consumption of the intoxicating substance, is extremely harsh. The dependence on the drug generally starts from around of month of constant use and dependency on its effects for relaxation from various mental and physical stress.
The withdrawal symptoms
It is generally not recommended for those addicted to substances such as benzodiazepine to try and quit abruptly. Taking such actions can send a severe shock to the proper functioning routines of one’s body and create physical and mental imbalances. The proper way to deal with addiction to benzodiazepine is to slowly chip off on its use with proper medical help and counseling.
The withdrawal symptoms for the use of benzodiazepine, including minor and major symptoms, are as follows:
Minor Symptoms –
- Sleeping Issues: Often, those who were reliant on the drugs to relax the hyperactive or anxiety-filled mind, find unable to clear their heads and fall asleep even under severe physiological stress and exhaustion when going through withdrawal from the drug.
- Feelings of Depression: Many people abuse intoxicating substances such as benzodiazepine to escape coping with stressful situations of their real lives. The lack of the drug leaves them vulnerable to their self deprecating about their life, and these thoughts and feelings lead the person to depression and make them crave more of the drug to simply escaping having to go through such thoughts.
- Sweating: this is a commonly seen withdrawal symptom for most intoxicating substances. It is generally caused by the hyperactive tendency of the body to remind a person to consume the drug he has got addicted to. This is due to the inadvertent conditioning of the body that leaves it unable to function without the drug properly. This can be slowly treated with physical therapy and long term behavioral conditioning to train the subconscious mind.
Major Symptoms –
- Tremors: Tremors are the uncontrolled spasms caused in the limbs of an addicted person when going through severe withdrawal. Generally, such tremors occur in the hands of the person and leave them unable to grip or apply strength to the object.
- Muscle cramps: Having got addicted and conditioned to the feeling of relaxation in muscles caused by the use of the drug, severe withdrawal symptoms act inversely and can cause muscles to get stuck on a position and refuse to move as one desires properly.
- Life-Threatening Seizures: The worst of the symptoms are inarguably the ones that impact in inner organs of the body. The most severe of seizures caused by the drug withdrawal may lead to the collapse of the lungs, leaving the person unable to breathe or sending the Central Nervous System into shock during the seizure from drug withdrawal.