What Is Benzodiazepine Abuse?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Recovery from benzodiazepine abuse may require entry into a rehabilitation program.
Recovery from benzodiazepine abuse may require entry into a rehabilitation program.

Benzodiazepine abuse is use of members of this class of sedating drugs in cases where it is not medically indicated. This can include recreational use by people who use the drugs for a high as well as long-term use against medical advice. Misusing these medications can be potentially dangerous, especially in combination with other drugs, including recreational substances. Treatments are available to help patients who feel their drug use is out of control or experience symptoms with withdrawal when they attempt to stop because of worries about benzodiazepine abuse.

These medications were introduced in the 1950s to treat issues like anxiety, panic, and stress. A number of benzodiazepines are available worldwide, some by prescription only. Medical providers may recommend them in hospital environments for sedation during medical procedures, and outside the hospital for patients with temporary anxiety and stress. They act on the central nervous system with an effect that is often sedating, and can cause dizziness, fatigue, and blurred vision.

For some patients, benzodiazepine use can result in a high, especially if the dose is large. Some may use the drugs for recreational purposes. It is more common to see benzodiazepine abuse as a secondary issue; the patient may abuse another medication or recreational substance as a primary high.

For instance, someone might take opioids and benzodiazepines. Combining medications can be hazardous, especially if they are both central nervous system depressants, because the patient could experience serious complications like difficulty breathing or coma. When patients don’t receive specific medical advice on how to safely use drugs for medical reasons, they may overdose or be unaware of the risks involved.

Sources of benzodiazepines can include prescriptions, medication from friends, or black market drugs, as well as over the counter purchases in some regions. Patients abusing benzodiazepines may exhibit symptoms like frequent fatigue, confusion, and difficulty completing tasks. The drugs can make it hard for them to engage in daily activities and they may become more isolated from friends and family. Very high doses can result in an overdose, where the patient may fall unconscious, vomit, or exhibit a significantly altered level of consciousness as a result of benzodiazepine abuse.

Taking these medications for an extended period of time can create dependence. If the patient stops benzodiazepines abruptly, withdrawal symptoms like seizures can develop. Patients taking benzodiazepines for a long time may need to taper off them carefully to avoid these symptoms. It’s important for people discussing concerns about benzodiazepine abuse with a doctor to be honest about their use habits, because this can dictate the course of treatment. This may also determine whether the patient needs inpatient care for the early stages of treatment.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Recovery from benzodiazepine abuse may require entry into a rehabilitation program.
      By: Monkey Business
      Recovery from benzodiazepine abuse may require entry into a rehabilitation program.