Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers including Ativan, Valium, Klonopin and Xanax. Typically they are prescribed to treat panic and anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, these medications have a high risk for abuse and dependence. When taken at high doses benzodiazepines induce an profound sense of euphoria, relaxation and ease, but at these high “recreational” levels, or levels of abuse benzos also have a strong intoxicating sedating effect that causes extreme drowsiness, confusion and lack of coordination. More serious side effects include difficulty breathing and even the potential for coma.
Taking Benzodiazepines for a period longer than just a couple of months can lead to physical dependence and therefore someone addicted to them will have to go through physical withdrawal as their body purges the remaining traces of the drug and returns to homeostasis. Withdrawal from benzos is markedly severe, involving life threatening aspects such as crippling seizures and suicidal ideations brought on by the return of intense anxiety and depression the medications are designed to treat. Sometimes lingering withdrawal symptoms can last for months, even years. Abruptly stopping will amplify such symptoms.
Patients getting off benzos are usually tapered off, gradually reducing the dose until the initial withdrawal is complete. Post-withdrawal, relapsing on benzos poses another serious threat. In the repeated withdrawal from the substance the symptoms associated with the withdrawal process will become worse and more pronounced. Again, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be life threatening, which is why it’s of the utmost importance this is done under medical supervision. The more times an individual goes through benzo withdrawal, each sequential attempt will be more and more taxing on the body.
Xanax and Klonopin are the most commonly abused benzos. Oftentimes somebody may not realize they are becoming dependent on an addictive drug as they are under the impression that medicine prescribed by a physician will always be safe. If you suffer from anxiety or a panic disorder, it’s wise to be informed about the complications that can arise from taking benzodiazepines, even if taken as prescribed, before introducing them into your life.