Benzodiazepines are the most often prescribed treatment for anxiety or seizures. Like many drugs benzodiazepines are addictive. The American Addiction Centers wants everyone to know that these are hurting you more than they are helping.
These dangerously addictive prescription drugs include Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Ambien along with others can do more harm to the patient than what they realize.
Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to the benzos. The desired effect of slowing down the brain and thought processes, and the calming effect is not as effective. The patient then needs a higher dosage to obtain the same effect. There is a feeling of dependency, and the patient will start to crave the drug more and more.
There is another effect of benzodiazepines. When taken, the brain feels a rush of dopamine. Dopamine is associated with happiness and rewards. Naturally, the brain functions in a way that makes you want to feel the effect again and again. This is how addiction begins.
The benzos cannot be stopped immediately, the patient needs to wean off the dosage. If not followed by a physician, the withdrawal symptoms can be so intense that death happens.
Rather, American Addiction Center physicians want you to have a clear and detailed conversation with the physician prescribing the medication. The benzodiazepine should not be given to a patient as the first option. A discussion about the side effects, the possibility of dependency that leads to cravings and addiction, and also the possibilities of short term treatment if benzos are prescribed.
Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, who is the CMO at American Addiction Centers, reiterates that although it is not intentional by the patient, it may only take a few short months or even less for a patient to become addicted.
The use of benzos is known to cause cognitive issues in patients and is also associated with dementia. There are also some pretty undesirable side effects associated with benzodiazepine use.
Dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and even depression can be a result. Benzos are generally taken to assist with anxiety, but Weinstein cautions that one of the major withdrawal symptoms is anxiety. Other symptoms of using too much of the drug include mood changes, vision becomes blurry, slowed coordination and poor judgment. Chronic misuse can cause issues of insomnia, all the way to coma or death.
There are other types of treatment available to patients, Therapy, relaxation techniques, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have a far less chance of causing addiction in patients.
To aid a patient in detoxing from benzodiazepines, American Centers suggests a slow tapering off of the medication, followed by counseling to learn new ways to cope with anxiety or other issues. After this, aftercare is recommended so as to continue a positive and healthy lifestyle without the need for highly addictive medications like benzodiazepines.
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