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Long-Term Benzodiazepine Side Effects: What You Need to Know

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that are primarily prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and some seizure conditions, but benzodiazepine side effects can be serious. Although they are effective medications and generally safe when used as directed, these drugs can be habit-forming and, over time, become downright addictive. Benzodiazepine addiction can occur with long-term use of the drug or if the drug is abused. Many people abuse benzodiazepines, or benzos as they’re called, because they induce pleasurable feelings of calm. 

Resurgence Behavioral Health offers treatment for Benzo’s abuse. Benzos are among the most widely abused prescription drugs after opioids. While benzodiazepine side effects may be mild, they can also be severe and result in overdose, especially when taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol. 

Doctors instruct patients to use benzodiazepines as directed on their prescription as even the slightest deviation can increase the risk for benzo addiction. The risk of benzo use is a concern for the medical community because clinicians are aware of the addictive potential of these medications. For this reason, many clinicians will only prescribe the drugs on a short-term basis. However, benzos are sold as street drugs too or obtained by doctor shopping. 

If you have developed what may be a benzo addiction, Resurgence can help. We offer a complete lineup of professional addiction treatments delivered by licensed and experienced addiction specialists. Our clinicians offer empathetic care on an inpatient and outpatient basis. 

Understanding Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that are prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and some seizure conditions. Benzos are addictive, but what does this mean? Many medications prescribed by physicians can be addictive. Over time, patients can develop a tolerance for the dose of the medication they’ve been prescribed. In order to achieve the same symptom relief, patients need to take more of the medication. Then, again, they can develop a tolerance to that increased dose. By increasing the dose, patients become at risk for developing a dependence and then an addiction to the drug. 

Benzos include medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium. These drugs have a serious risk of abuse because they induce feelings of calm and relaxation. Many people who do not have a medical need for these medications use them to enjoy their effects. It’s also important to remember that stopping the use of these drugs abruptly can trigger withdrawal symptoms. 

Benzos work by targeting neurotransmitters and calming them. People who use the drugs experience a sedation effect, which can calm feelings of anxiety. For this reason, they are very effective in treating anxiety. However, there are safer non-addictive drugs such as some antidepressants that are prescribed as a long-term treatment for anxiety. The longer a person remains on benzodiazepines, the greater the risk of dependence. 

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Immediate and Common Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

What are some common immediate side effects of benzos? First, people who take the drug can expect to feel drowsy. Some people feel less alert when taking benzos. These medications can cause impaired coordination, which can increase the risk of tripping and falling or suffering from other accidents. Side effects of benzodiazepines can also include problems with memory and cognitive function. People report feeling ‘fuzzy’ and not being able to process information as well as when not taking the medications. For some people, benzos do the opposite of what they’re meant to do; they may actually trigger feelings of anxiety nervousness or insomnia. 

If you experience adverse benzodiazepine side effects, it’s important to discuss them with your medical provider. These may be other medications that are better suited for you. Also, it’s important to remember that mixing benzos with other drugs or alcohol is unsafe and can trigger a health emergency. 

Delving Deeper: Long-Term Effects of Benzo Use

side effects benzodiazepine

The long-term effects of benzo use can be serious as well. Using these medications for a long period of time may cause impaired cognitive function. Other long-term effects can involve reduced attention span. These side effects may or may not dissipate if the individual stops using the drug. Drug abuse may cause temporary or permanent health problems. If a person develops an addiction to benzos, their mental health is likely to deteriorate unless they stop using the drugs. The best way to stop using benzos for good is to obtain high-quality addiction treatment at an accredited rehab center like Resurgence. 
The Long-Term Effects of Benzodiazepine Consumption

Patients who take benzos should be on guard for other long-term effects. A long-term effect of benzo use is the increased risk of tolerance and dependence. Once a person becomes dependent on the drug, they can quickly progress to full-blown addiction. Benzo addiction involves physical, mental, and behavioral dependence. It can be difficult to stop using the drugs once a dependence is formed. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, making quitting the drug use challenging. 

People who take benzos for a long period of time are more likely to experience mood problems such as depression. People may exhibit mood swings and even suffer adverse reactions such as an increase in feelings of anxiety. Some people develop sleep problems as a result of their benzo use.

The longer someone uses benzodiazepines, the more likely they are to experience at least one side effect. If you are using these drugs, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider about the risks of long-term benzo use. There are other medications that may be safer as well as effective. 

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Addressing Benzodiazepine Dependence and Rehabilitation

If you are using benzos and struggling to stop, you should visit Resurgence. These medications may be used safely in the short term, but the risk of dependence goes up the longer you use benzodiazepines. There are other prescription drugs that may be able to treat your condition without causing those unfortunate side effects listed above. 

Resurgence features a full lineup of addiction treatment programs that include clinically supervised detox, medication-assisted treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment. People who have been prescribed benzos for anxiety and then develop an addiction to them are candidates for dual diagnosis treatment. Resurgence offers dual diagnosis treatment. We focus on evidence-based programs that are known to be safe and effective for the treatment of addiction and dual diagnosis. 

Being Informed and Making Safe Choices about Benzodiazepine Side Effects 

It’s true that benzodiazepines can provide relief from anxiety, sleep disorders, and some seizure conditions. However, many people do develop a dependence on these medications and may abuse them. Benzo abuse is not only common among people prescribed the drug but also people who use the drugs recreationally. 

Prescription drug addiction involving benzos is serious. Any form of substance addiction is chronic and, frequently, progressive. Without treatment, most people are unlikely to manage their addiction effectively. Over time, drug addiction will erode mental and physical health. Don’t put off treatment. Get in touch with Resurgence to learn more about our inpatient and outpatient treatment plans and therapies. There are alternatives to benzos. There is also treatment for benzo addiction. Contact Resurgence at 855-458-0050 to get your recovery on track. We can help you put your addiction behind you. With individualized treatment, you can achieve long-term addiction recovery. 

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Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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