List of Benzodiazepines: Types, Side Effects, Addiction & Withdrawal

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List of Benzodiazepines: Types, Side Effects, Addiction & Withdrawal

Benzodiazepines are medications that are made by man. They can cause side effects ranging from mild to more severe depressive effects on the brain’s nerves, the central nervous system. They can also cause mild to severe drowsiness or sedation. There are many diseases, disorders, and conditions that are often treated with various types of benzodiazepines. Anxiety and seizures are two of the most common disorders that are treated with this type of medication. The reason these drugs work on these types of disorders is because the user has excessive nerve activity in their brain.

 The benzodiazepines enhance GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid effects throughout the brain. GABA is a type of neurotransmitter. It allows the brain’s nerves to transfer messages from one to the other. This chemical is also something that lowers the nerve’s activity throughout the brain as well.

Benzodiazepine Uses

As mentioned above, you know that seizures and anxiety are two of the reasons why various types of benzodiazepines are used. However, adult women and men are also prescribed this type of medication for other reasons as well. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Nervousness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Panic disorders (when the antidepressants don’t work)
  • Alcohol withdrawals
  • Sleeplessness
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Status epilepticus (life-threatening brain disorder)

These are some of the other reasons why benzodiazepines are prescribed. If you have any of these conditions, you might be prescribed this type of drugs. However, it is important for you to know there is a risk of addiction when taking this type of medication. There are some other uses for the various types of benzodiazepines as well.

Benzodiazepine Other Uses

As just mentioned you will find there are some other uses for the prescription of benzodiazepines as well. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Surgery sedation
  • Generalized anxiety disorder treatment
  • Social anxiety disorder (when the antidepressants haven’t worked)

These are some of the other reasons why benzodiazepines may be prescribed. These types of drugs can be habit-forming. Many people have become addicted to them. The longer you are using them, the higher your tolerance might become. This means that a lower dose may not be effective for you. Most people who abuse these types of drugs, do so for the high they get and for the additional effects they get from it as well.

Benzodiazepine Side Effects

Besides the risk of addiction and abuse, there are some other benzodiazepine side effects that should be known about as well. Some of the most commonly noted side effects for these types of drugs include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Sedation feeling
  • Confused state of mind
  • Balance issues
  • Memory issues
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered libido
  • Dry mouth
  • And more…

In addition to these commonly known side effects, there are some more serious side effects as well.

Benzodiazepine Serious Side Effects

As just mentioned, there are some serious side effects known in regards to benzodiazepine use. Some of these effects include the following:

  • Abuse and dependence
  • Depression of the respiratory system
  • Jaundice
  • Symptoms of withdrawal
  • Seizures
  • Reduced heart rate for some
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Fainting
  • Severely reduced blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate for some
  • Akathisia

These are some of the serious side effects that should be known. If you ever take benzodiazepines and experience these effects, you should seek medical attention right away.

Benzodiazepines, Alcohol Consumption, and Other Interactions

It is highly advisable never to consume alcohol while under the influence of benzodiazepines. Doing so is extremely dangerous. If someone consumes alcohol while taking benzodiazepine, the effects are going to come on quicker. It is never safe to take drugs that have the same effects as alcohol does. This is because the combination creates more depression on the respiratory system and the brain. Respiratory depression leads to less oxygen going to the body. This means you could experience breathing issues. In some cases, it has led to death. There are certain drugs, which interact with benzodiazepines, that will raise the sedation side effects or increase respiratory depression risks. These medications include the following:

  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Acetaminophen
  • Intermezzo
  • Zolpidem
  • Eszopiclone
  • Zaleplon
  • Phenobarbital
  • And other medications and drugs

If you are taking any of these medications, let your doctor know. You should not be taking benzodiazepines while on any of these medications. There are far too many interactions that could take place, including death.

Addiction to Benzodiazepines

Millions of people around the world take benzodiazepines. These medications can be habit forming and people do get addicted to benzodiazepines. Even those who take this medication as prescribed by their doctor can become addicted to them. If you have a previous history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or addiction, you have a higher risk of developing a benzodiazepine addiction, if you take them.

 In addition, the longer you are taking benzodiazepines, the more likely you are to build a higher tolerance to them. If this happens, you may need an increased dose to have the same effects from the medication that you were getting before. The higher the dose you take with benzodiazepines, the more likely you are to become addicted to them. The benzodiazepines are effective to treat many different health conditions. Insomnia and anxiety are two of these conditions. However, if you do get a prescription for them, be cautious due to the addictive nature of them.

 Benzos and downers are two of the street names for this medication. Many drug addicts will use benzodiazepines to get a high. Just like opioid drugs, the benzodiazepines can lead to a severe addiction. Many adolescents, adults, and even senior citizens abuse these medications. Some will snort or crush them to get a quicker high.

Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse

If you do abuse benzodiazepines, there are range of negative side effects you might experience. Some of these side effects include the following:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Possibly disturbing dreams
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Amnesia

If you have been abusing these medications, you can get benzodiazepine addiction treatment. There are many treatment programs available to help you get past your addictive lifestyle. While an addiction can’t be cured, you can live a recovering lifestyle.

Signs of a Benzodiazepine Addiction

As mentioned before, people can become addicted to benzodiazepines. It can be helpful to know about the signs of this type of addiction. If you suspect or find you are addicted to benzodiazepines, you can get treatment right away. Some of the signs of a benzodiazepine addiction include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Uncontrollable movements (usually in the legs)
  • Muscle and bone pains

Millions of people continue to suffer from a benzodiazepine addiction. It can be tough to overcome this type of addiction. The addiction does alter the brain’s chemistry. Due to that specific fact, it is tough to get your brain back to normal. In some cases, the damage is reversible, but in other cases it may not be. It is not recommended to quit cold turkey. This can be dangerous. Just like with alcohol withdrawal, some symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can be dangerous. If you have an addiction, talk to your doctor, another health care provider, or an addiction rehab center right away. You can get help to manage the withdrawal symptoms, detox process, and recovery process as well. The professionals can help to make you more comfortable during the withdrawal or detox process. They can also put you on a tapering plan to get you off from the medication.

Signs of Benzodiazepine Overdose

For many who have been abusing or become addicted to benzodiazepines, they should also know the signs of a benzodiazepine overdose. Others should know about these signs as well, in case, they ever see someone who is overdosing. Misusing this drug could easily lead to an overdose. Some of the signs of a benzodiazepine overdose include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Clammy skin
  • Weak or even rapid pulse
  • Breathing issues (generally shallow breathing)
  • Coma
  • Or even death

These are some of the signs of a benzodiazepine overdose. If you recognize these in yourself or someone else, it is important to seek immediate medical care. After recovering from an overdose, getting an addiction rehab help should be the next step. This can prevent you from ever having an overdose in the future and to get you on track for a recovering lifestyle as well.

Withdrawal Symptoms for Dependence on Benzodiazepines

If you have become dependent upon benzodiazepines, it is likely that you will experience some withdrawal symptoms when trying to go off this medication. If you stop abruptly, this could worsen or cause more severe symptoms of withdrawal. Some of the symptoms you might experience include the following:

  • Sleep issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Irritability
  • Becoming easily frustrated
  • Increased tension
  • Increased anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Dry heaving
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hand tremors
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Perceptual changes
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle pains
  • Muscle spasms

These are some of the symptoms of withdrawal you might experience if you stop taking benzodiazepines. While some of these can be more severe than the others, the number one thing to remember is that you can get help to get through the withdrawal process. The severity of these symptoms may vary based on the length of your addiction, how much you were using, how often you were using, and some other factors. Remember, withdrawals can be fatal, so be sure to get proper medical supervision while detoxing.

Drug Enforcement Administration Scheduled Drugs

Benzodiazepines are on the DEA or Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of scheduled drugs. These are on the Schedule IV list of drugs. That means they don’t have quite as high of a risk for dependence than some other drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Ritalin, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and codeine. However, there is still a risk of dependence and addiction. It is always good to know what category of medications you are taking and what the risks are for taking those medications. If you want to stop taking benzodiazepines to avoid an addiction, you can get help to get off the drugs starting today.

Benzodiazepines Types

There are many types of benzodiazepines that everyone should be aware of. Learning more about the different types of these medications can benefit you. This way you know about the symptoms, side effects, and other important information regarding each one as well. While many are alike, there are some things you should know about each one specifically.

  • Alprazolam– Alprazolam or Xanax is one type of benzodiazepine. Most people who are going to overcome an addiction to alprazolam may need highly intensive medical supervision and rehab. Withdrawals from this drug can lead to seizures. Abuse of this drug can cause impaired motor skills, slurred speech, irrational behaviors, mood swings, and memory loss. Many people underestimate the risk for alprazolam addiction. If you have become addicted to this drug, treatment center programs are available to help you overcome it.
  • Clobazam– If you are going to be prescribed clobazam, you should know about the most common side effects. These may include dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination, and restlessness. Some of the longer term side effects may include tremors, anxiety, increased heart rate, and not feel well. You may feel sleepy while taking this medication. Some people have had suicidal ideations while taking clobazam. If you have these thoughts, be sure to ask for help from someone right away.
  • Clonazepam – There is a potential for abusing clonazepam. There are thousands of people who abuse this drug every single day. Hundreds of different drugs can interact negatively with this medication. If you are taking tramadol, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, or other similar medications, you could experience negative interactions. The combination of these drugs with clonazepam could lead to breathing issues, sleepiness, dizziness, and other side effects. While you should avoid these combinations, if you happen to take them and have negative side effects, seek medical help or call your doctor immediately.
  • Clorazepate – Clorazepate is one of the medications that will change the structure and functioning of the brain. If you get pregnant, you should not take this medication because it can lead to birth defects. You shouldn’t quit taking this medication suddenly or you could experience severe and very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. If you experience depressed thinking while taking clorazepate, you should talk to your doctor right away. They can help you get on a different medication or they may adjust the dose as well.
  • Chlordiazepoxide – Chlordiazepoxide is often prescribed to treat alcohol withdrawals and anxiety. Some of the side effects you could experience include headaches, blurry vision, constipation, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, and more. If these side effects are more severe, you may want to talk to your doctor right away. You could experience more severe side effects as well. Some of these might include tremors, trouble walking, slurred speech, mood changes, facial twitching, sleep issues, and urination issues. You may also have an allergic reaction to this medication. If you do, seek medical care right away.
  • Diazepam – Diazepam, also known as valium, is another type of benzodiazepine. Some of the street names for diazepam include tranks, downers, and candy. Just half an hour after you take this medication, you will start feeling the effects. Rapid dose reduction can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. It is recommended to get medical supervision before you taper off this medication.
  • Estazolam – Estazolam has some precautions you should be aware of. If you have kidney or liver issues, there must be extreme care taken if you are prescribed this medication. If you have a prior history of respiratory depression, substance use disorder, or depression care should be taken before using this medication as well. There are many risks with these health issues when taking estazolam. Estazolam should not be taken when pregnant because it can have severe dangers to the fetus. You also shouldn’t be taking this medication while taking other respiratory or nervous system depressants.  Some of the side effects you might experience with this medication include coordination issues, dizziness, slow movements, and sleepiness. You may also experience memory loss, depression, confusion, or anxiety. Some of the more rare effects you may encounter include delusions, confused thinking, irritability, aggression, seizures, and hallucinations. See a doctor immediately if you encounter these more rare side effects.
  • Lorazepam – Lorazepam does have a risk for addiction. If you have a substance use disorder issue already, you should not be taking this medication. In addition, it should not be taken with some other drugs. There are interactions which could prove to be fatal. In time of use, the tolerance will increase with this medication. When continuing to use this medication, after developing a higher tolerance, the risk of addiction increases substantially. If you have already developed an addiction to this medication, you can get into a detox program. In this program, you will get medical supervision to help you taper off this drug safely.
  • Oxazepam – Oxazepam should only be used short-term. Some of the reasons why this medication may be prescribed include to treat irritability, agitation, tension, alcohol withdrawal, or anxiety related conditions. While this medication is less sedating than some other benzodiazepines, there is still a risk of addiction with it.
  • Temazepam –Some of the side effects often associated with temazepam include drowsiness, headache, fatigue, depression, anxiety, dry mouth, euphoria, confusion, muscle weakness, and vertigo. Some people have nightmares while taking this medication as well. This medication can affect your central nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and your musculoskeletal system. There is a risk for dependence and addiction with this temazepam too.
  • Triazolam – Triazolam is often used for treating insomnia. Doctors who treat patients with this medication should only be prescribing it for a couple weeks maximum. You may experience dizziness or coordination issues while taking this medication. You could also experience anxiety, aggression, agitation, behavior changes, or memory loss. If you are experiencing any side effects, let the prescribing doctor know immediately. They will let you know whether it is safe for you to continue taking this medication. If you have developed an addiction to it, they can help you get into a program to overcome that addiction.

Benzodiazepine Formulations

There are different formulations for benzodiazepines. Some of the formulations you should be aware of include the following:

  • Clorazepate and alprazolam – extended release
  • Lorazepam, diazepam, clobazam, and alprazolam – oral liquid
  • Clonazepam and alprazolam – oral
  • Temazepam, oxazepam, and chlordiazepoxide – capsule
  • Diazepam – rectal gel
  • Some types of benzodiazepines – injection

These are the formulations for the kinds of benzodiazepines. There is a risk for abuse and addiction for all these formulations. If you have been abusing any formulation, you can enroll into an addiction treatment center to get the help you need. You can get clean with a detox program and work through a rehab program as well.

Reasons for Prescribing Benzodiazepines

Some of the reasons for doctors prescribing benzodiazepines were mentioned above. However, it is good to know there are some other ways to treat these issues if you already struggle with substance use disorder. Some of the reasons for benzodiazepine prescriptions include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Panic attacks

If you suffer from any of these disorders or conditions, you can talk to your doctor about alternative treatments. While benzodiazepines may be a short-term solution for some people, you don’t have to put yourself at risk for an addiction.

 Benzodiazepines are habit-forming. Millions of people have gotten addicted to these medications. Even when having a prescription for this medication, you still have a risk of developing an addiction to it. There are many drug interactions that everyone should know about. At the lowest dose, some people have become addicted to benzodiazepines. There are also side effects ranging from mild to severe. When trying to get off from this medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as well. Caution should be taken for anyone who uses benzodiazepines.

 Have you become addicted to benzodiazepines? If so, you can enroll into an addiction treatment program. You can get the help that is needed to overcome that addiction. This drug can be dangerous, especially for those who already struggle with substance use disorder or addiction. Keep in mind there are alternatives to using this medication. Talk to your doctor about them today. If you need rehab center help, make the call today.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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