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Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepines happen to be one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the United States.

Some of the most widely known benzodiazepines that are used in today’s society are Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. Though benzodiazepines can be very helpful, when used appropriately, they do have a high propensity for addiction. If an individual abuses benzodiazepines (by taking them more frequently than prescribed, taking them in addition to other substance or alcohol, taking an improper dose, or ingesting them in a different way than prescribed…etc.) one’s symptoms will grow exponentially and risk of long and short term side effects will increase.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many possible signs and symptoms that can be displayed by individuals who may have a benzodiazepine addiction. These can include, but are not limited to the following: mood changes, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, physical weakness, difficulty breathing, headaches, irritability, memory problems, and drastic changes in one’s body weight. An individual may exhibit any combination of the above symptoms. It is important to note that each person is different and may have a slightly unique response to the abuse of benzodiazepines.

Short Term Effects

The short term side effects that an individual who abuses benzodiazepines may experience will vary depending on the dosage abused, if the person had been mixing benzodiazepines with other drugs or alcohol, and the length of time a person had been abusing the drug. Some of the short term effects can even be experienced by an individual who takes benzodiazepines appropriately, as prescribed by his or her medical professional. The effects experienced by an individual abusing the substance, in most cases, will however increase one’s risk of adverse effects.  The short term side effects that are associated with the use and abuse of benzodiazepines are as follows: slurred speech, double vision, impaired coordination, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, vomiting, mood swings, confusion, seizures, muscle weakness, jaundice, severe itching, and in woman a change or complications with one’s menstrual cycle. The short term effects can last as long as an individual has benzodiazepines in his or her system and can even last months or up to years beyond ones substance abuse ceases and detox completed.

Long Term Effects

In addition to all of the short term health problems that are possible with the abuse of benzodiazepines, there is a possibility of several mental health complications that can occur.

These can include any combination of the following: cognitive dysfunction, irritability, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and physical injuries due to intoxication. Many social consequences can result from one’s benzodiazepine addiction. These can include isolation from one’s family and friends, financial struggles, legal challenges (getting arrested, assault, DUIs…etc.). Furthermore, there have been new studies that have come out connecting long term benzodiazepine abuse to an increased risk of the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The long term effects can last anywhere from months post one’s substance abuse and the successful completion of detox, to an indefinite length of time. The severity of the long term side effects will depend on the same factors that are associated with the short term side effects. Every individual’s body and mind will respond differently to the damage that can occur from abusing benzodiazepines as well as an individual’s recovery process.


There are many treatment options available for a person who is addicted to benzodiazepines. The first step is for an individual to undergo detox. This stage can last anywhere from three days to several weeks, and in some cases months. Though the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are most commonly not life threatening, going through detox in a medically supervised setting is recommended. This is due to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms can cause extreme physical discomfort and going through the process under the care of a medical professional will allow for the individual to have access to twenty-four-hour care throughout the duration of his or her withdrawal symptoms. Following one’s successful completion of detox, he or she should seek a subsequent treatment program.

Substance abuse and addiction of any kind is a serious disease. It is imperative for a person struggling with substance abuse or addiction to find help immediately. 

The harm that can be done to one’s body every time he or she abuses a substance can be exponentially damaging. If a person should find him or herself in need of substance abuse treatment, he or she should not hesitate to acquire it. For further information on substance abuse and addiction treatment options, a person should feel free to reach out to a local hospital, clinic, or substance abuse facility.

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