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What Are Benzodiazepines?

by Nick

Benzodiazepine medications help many patients find relief from their conditions, but they also have addictive properties. This class of drugs can be dangerous when the patient doesn’t follow their doctor’s directions. Learn more about benzodiazepines and how to get safe treatment from them.

What Types of Benzodiazepines Exist?

The medical field categorizes benzodiazepines by the length of their effects. Benzodiazepines that fall under these categories include:

  • Ultra-short acting: Halcion, Versed
  • Short-acting: Ativan, Xanax
  • Long-acting: Valium, Librium

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines as pills and may use the syrup or injectable forms in a clinical setting.

Why Do Doctors Prescribe Benzodiazepines?

A doctor may prescribe a benzodiazepine to a patient for a variety of reasons. Benzodiazepines alter the chemicals in your brain to reduce nerve activity, making it effective in the treatment of:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Seizures
  • Sleep problems
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Premenstrual syndrome

In some cases, a medical professional will use a benzodiazepine medication to sedate a patient during surgery.

What Side Effects Do Benzodiazepines Have?

Like any medication, benzodiazepines can cause side effects during treatment. Common adverse effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth

Some benzodiazepine side effects can cause harm if they’re left unaddressed. You should get assistance from a doctor if you experience:

  • Seizures
  • Breathing problems
  • Slow or increased heart rate
  • Severe low blood pressure
  • Jaundice
  • Fainting

Patients who take benzodiazepines should also look out for signs of dependence and addiction.

Can Someone Get Addicted to Benzodiazepines?

People who use or misuse benzodiazepines have a risk of developing an addiction to them. These drugs can cause symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches and seizures. Since many of these issues resemble those treated with benzodiazepines, some patients feel that they need more of the medicine. A person with a benzodiazepine addiction can feel withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the medicine.

The Risks of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Substance use disorders involving benzodiazepines can cause danger on their own or when combined with the use of other drugs. When someone overdoses on a benzodiazepine medicine, they can stop breathing or fall into a coma. Benzodiazepines can become especially dangerous when they’re combined with other substances, as they can increase the effects of alcohol, opioids and antidepressants to dangerous or lethal levels.

How Can I Get Safe Benzodiazepine Treatment?

If your doctor prescribes you benzodiazepines, you can receive symptom relief while minimizing your risk of addiction. When you take your medication, remember to take it exactly as your physician directed. Let your doctor know if you take any other medications so that they can determine any possible interactions. You can also contact your doctor’s office or pharmacy if any questions about your treatment arise.

Get Help and Treatment From Health Care Resource Centers

At HCRC, we help patients with opioid use disorder reclaim their lives. If you have problems with using benzodiazepines and opioids together, we can help. We welcome you to message our team online or call us at 866-758-7769 to learn more about opioid use disorder and our clinics.

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