Benzodiazepines are a class of medication commonly prescribed in the US and in several other countries. There are more than 15 different forms of benzodiazepines and they are indicated in the treatment and relief of anxiety, insomnia and some other conditions. These medications cause complications when they are taken in high dosages and for a long period of time.
Because of their sedative characteristics, benzodiazepines have a very high potential for abuse. The worst risks and side-effects occur when they are taken concurrently with opiates or alcohol. The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide, diazepam and lorazepam that are marketed under the brand names Xanax, Librium, Valium and Ativan.
A benzodiazepine known as flunitrazepam that is marketed and sold under the brand name Rohypnol has nowadays been nicknamed the date rape drug. The drug is added to drinks and used to facilitate various sexual assaults. It has the effect of causing an inability to resist sexual aggression.
Benzodiazepines are in most cases taken orally though they are also available in powdered form. They are thus mostly available as capsules and tablets. Others like Ativan are sublingual and they are taken by placing them under the tongue where they become diffused. Another benzodiazepine by the name Midazolam is administered intravenously.
The Effect of Benzodiazepines on the Body – These medications have a direct effect upon the brain and they affect the GABA neurotransmitters. GABA means Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid. It inhibits the activity of the motor neurons and its presence may slow down or totally stop the activity of the neurons. Benzodiazepines enhance GABA activity and they thus slow down the nerve impulses throughout the entire body.
The central nervous system of the human body has two main benzodiazepine receptors, that which has effect of suppressing anxiety and that which causes a sedating effect on the body.
Even though most benzodiazepines trigger or cause the same physical effects, their absorption time after intake and the dosages may vary. The medications are broadly categorized into long acting and short acting benzodiazepines.
The short acting benzodiazepines are cleared from the blood stream easily and quickly after administration while the long acting benzodiazepines take a longer time to clear. They can even accumulate in the blood stream and cause long term side-effects.
The benzodiazepine abuse signs vary from individual to individual but they, in most cases, include the following:
- Cravings for increasing dosages of benzodiazepine
- Addiction to benzodiazepine medications
- Experience of withdrawal symptoms of the patient does not take unusually high dosages of the drug
Benzodiazepine Abuse Withdrawal Symptoms