While illegal drugs are the primary focus of the war on drugs, legal prescription drugs shouldn’t be overlooked since they pose just as great a threat to society with regards to addiction and overdose. An example of one such drug is benzodiazepines – colloquially known as “benzos” – which are primarily used to treat patients diagnosed with anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Between the years of 1996 and 2013, there was an increase of 140 percent in benzodiazepines prescriptions and a 67 percent increase in prescriptions filled, making benzodiazepines one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a class of depressants that target the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A). There two types of benzodiazepine receptors in the body: one which elicits a sedative effect, and the other, an anti-anxiety effect. When in contact with the central nervous system, it has the effect of providing sedation and muscle relaxation. There are over 15 types of benzodiazepine medications on the market. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are Valium and Xanax.
Signs of a Benzodiazepine Dependence
Abuse of benzodiazepines leads to an increased tolerance and physical dependence on the drug. Signs of abuse include difficulty breathing, slurred speech, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. Its harmful effects are magnified when combined with another drug such as alcohol.
Alternative Anxiety Treatment
Drugs, including legal drugs, should be a last resort as a solution to your behavioral health problems. While they may be deemed safe, they pose a potential threat for abuse and overdose. Explore options such as psychotherapy that have been proven to have similar benefits as benzodiazepines without the added risks.Back to Blog