Understanding Benzodiazepines and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Benzodiazepine addiction is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It’s important to understand not only what benzodiazepines are, but also how to combat benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines (“benzos”) are drugs that work on the area of the brain that regulates our sense of relaxation and “sedation” (where we get the term “sedative”).
Medically, this area of the brain has receptors for a chemical called Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (“GABA”). Triggering these receptors causes us to feel relaxation and reduces our anxiety levels. This feeling is most pronounced as we drift off to sleep.
Our brains normally produce small amounts of GABA during the day. Benzos cause much more GABA to be available in our brains, which can cause intense feelings of relaxation.
What Are Names Of Common Benzos?
Some of the more commonly prescribed benzos include:
- Ativan® (Lorazepam)
- Halcion® (Triazolam)
- Klonopin® (Clonazepam)
- Librium® (Chlordiazepoxide)
- Restoril® (Temazepam)
- Serax® (Oxazepam)
- Valium® (Lorazepam)
- Xanax® (Alprazolam)
What Causes Benzo Addiction?
Abusing benzos floods the GABA receptors and causes intense feelings of relaxation. In response to the extra GABA, the body shuts down its natural GABA production. After a short time on benzos, a benzo user is left with no way to feel natural relaxation or sedation other than by taking the prescription drug.
Withdrawal symptoms set it shortly after benzos are stopped.
Why Is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Dangerous?
Withdrawal from most drugs can be uncomfortable, but most detoxes are not physically dangerous for relatively healthy people.
Detoxification from benzos can be life threatening. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can cause seizures, which can be deadly. No one should detox from benzos without first talking to a professional.
There are many other benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Blurred vision
- Chest pains/tachycardia
- Depression (possibly severe)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Double vision
- Electric shock sensations
- Flu-like symptoms
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Hearing impairment/tinnitus
- Hot/cold spells
- Increased sensitivity to touch/sound
- Impaired memory/concentration
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Mood swings
- Muscle spasms/ cramps
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Restless leg syndrome
- Visual disturbances