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Long-Term Benzo Use

Long-Term Benzo Use

Drugs have various effects on the body. These effects are often determined by short term use and long term use, and both can be extremely deadly. If a person survives without a bad reaction or overdose, and has been able to withstand the effects of short term use, they will usually return to normal, quite sometime after quitting.  However, those with a long-term use habit find themselves facing a very different reality than what may have been expected. One drug with extremely harmful long term use is benzodiazepines.

 What are Benzos?

Benzos or benzodiazepines are synthetic drugs that are a part of the depressant family. This means they depress the CNS and other related functions.  These types of drugs are often prescribed by doctors to treat a wide range of issues that are caused by over or excessive stimulation of the CNS. Benzos work in conjunction with one specific neurotransmitter known as GABA to increase its effectiveness and reduce the amount of messages sent within the brain and CNS. People who suffer from anxiety, panic, muscle spasms, seizures and some who need to be sedated, will be prescribed benzos. Depending on the benzodiazepine, one dose can be short, medium, or long acting.

Benzo Use Side Effects

When someone is taking benzodiazepines there can be certain side effects. Side effects of benzodiazepines include:

  • Faintness
  • Sleepiness
  • Disorientation
  • Memory deficiencies
  • Changes in appetite
  • Issues with bowels
  • Increase in weight
  • Less production of spit
  • Reduction in sexual desire
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Issues with equilibrium
  • Queasiness
  • Heaving

The side effects don’t stop there however, and can include these extremely detrimental ones as well:

  • Low respiratory rate
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Seizures
  • Suicide
  • Bardycardia
  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness

As with other depressants, the likelihood for addiction is high. Users can develop a tolerance to benzos, and would continuously need higher doses to achieve the same feeling they received from their initial high. This tolerance can eventually lead to dependence. Dependence does not always lead to addiction but it certainly can.

Long Term Use

Long term use of benzodiazepines results in different things. As with many drugs, the longer that they are used the worse of an effect they have on the mind, body, and physiological processes. It may also be harder to recognize long term benzo use as the symptoms mimic other issues and sometimes mimic the exact thing the benzodiazepine was intended to treat. Common chronic abuse symptoms are:

  • Apprehension
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Feebleness
  • Addiction

Long term benzo use can cause addiction.  Signs of addiction are:

  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Queasiness
  • Restless leg
  • Pain in bones
  • Pain in muscles

Benzodiazepines Brain Damage

Benzodiazepines can cause significant brain damage. Benzos actually change brain chemistry in the user by affecting GABA, as mentioned above. This has the effect of reduction in production of GABA as well, as the brain thinks that as much is not needed (as it works in conjunction with benzos). The body thinks that it’s doing its job of inhibiting the excessive messages to and within the brain. After time as benzos take over, the GABA production is not stimulated and brain chemistry has changed.

In the past, Lader, a benzo expert, stated that he believed the evidence was showing shrunken and damaged brains in benzo users and Isaac Marks, a specialist in anxiety, stated that some adverse effects wouldn’t be seen until long after benzodiazepine trials ended.

Benzos can also affect cognition and memory when used continuously over time. According to articles published within The Journal of Clinical Psychology, it has been believed that Benzos affect visuospatial ability, which is that the way a person views, processes, repeats and comprehends an objects relation to things around it. It also mentions that Benzos affect verbal learning ability, and processing speed, which is how quickly or slowly an easy task is done right after learning it.  The good news is that this damage, or much of the damage can be corrected after Benzo use ceases for a certain amount of time.

Additionally, a psychiatrist named Br. Peter Breggin, claimed of all the benzodiazepines, Xanax is the worst, however all benzos cause terrible side effects. He stated that the drugs alter how a person judges things, causes issues with memory and also with self-control. After some time, a person on benzos will have there is no mental capability without realizing that this has even happened them.

Withdrawal and Quitting

Short term and long term users can quit using Benzos, though it will be harder for chronic users. Those who want to quit should seek professional help as withdrawal can be particularly uncomfortable.  Depending on the dates and amounts used, it will determine how difficult the withdrawal period will be. There are some specific symptoms of withdrawal which are:

  • Issues with focusing
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation
  • Increased apprehension and stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Trembling in the hand
  • Dry heaving and vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Stiffness or pain in muscles
  • Changes in acuity

While there are many drugs that can cause addiction, Benzodiazepines are one of the most easily addictive and hardest to quit. Using benzodiazepines only in their prescribed manner and for a short period of time (as recommended) is the best chance of escaping addiction. There are also many natural ways to try to treat certain causes before turning to benzos. If the addiction has already taken hold, seek help before it is too late. Becoming a slave to benzos and losing mental capacities is a sure way to lose your life!

Additional References: CCHRMedicineNet

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