A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Benzodiazepines

Published On: November 2, 20233.5 min read705 wordsCategories: Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription drug most commonly used to treat conditions such as anxiety disorders, insomnia and seizures. It produces a calming, relaxing (sometimes even sleepy) effect on the individual. They are sometimes considered “minor tranquilizers.”

There are various disorders and conditions that benzodiazepines can be used to help manage or treat, but the risks that come with prolonged use have led medical professionals to be much more cautious with prescribing this substance.

In addition to the potential for abuse and psychological or physical dependence, knowing how this drug works and the risks and side effects are important for your safety.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through exactly what benzodiazepines are, what they’re used for, and the dangers that can come from abusing this substance.

What are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a type of psychoactive drug that works as a depressant (this means the drug acts like a sedative, as opposed to raising your energy). By reducing the activity in your nervous system, this substance produces a sedative-like effect in the individual, enabling them to feel more relaxed and at ease. This drug is typically consumed in a pill or tablet form.

Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for individuals struggling with anxiety disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms or stiffness, and seizures, as well as sometimes to help manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. 

Types of benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines typically fall within three categories — immediate, short-acting and long-acting benzodiazepines — and there are multiple forms of this prescription available, depending on the person’s needs. Many forms are interchangeable, but certain pharmacological properties or client profiles make certain versions more ideal than others.

The most common types of benzodiazepines are diazepam (brand name, Valim), alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and lorazepam (Ativan). How quickly they start working, how long the effects remain active in a person’s body and the exact type that’s prescribed will depend on each patient’s unique circumstances.

Because benzodiazepines have such a high potential for abuse and dependence (in all forms), they should only be taken under the recommendation and supervision of a healthcare provider.

What schedule are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are considered to be a Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act. 

Schedule I is recognized as the category of drug that has the highest potential for abuse, but the other four categories carry risks as well that shouldn’t be easily dismissed. All medications that fall within one of these five schedules have been categorized as such due to their potential for abuse and addiction and should be consumed with caution (even when prescribed).

Long-term effects of benzodiazepines

All drugs have the potential to cause unpleasant side effects in the user, which is why professional medical supervision is essential. Benzodiazepines are no different.

For individuals who are taking benzodiazepines continuously (or longer than a few months), stopping consumption suddenly can produce severe effects or withdrawal symptoms.

Short-term side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, confusion, irritability, dizziness, and some individuals experience feeling uncharacteristically weak or unsteady.

Some long-term effects of benzodiazepines include:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Memory impairment or amnesia
  • A feeling of depression
  • Sleep disturbances (such as vivid or disturbing dreams)
  • Hostility or aggression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating or chills

If you think you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, send our team a message today and we’ll walk you through your next steps.

Take the first step today

Knowing where to begin with healing your body (mind, and life) from substance abuse can be overwhelming, but it’s not a journey you’re expected to walk alone. We’re here to help.

Here at Freedom Detox, your safety and long-term recovery are our top priorities, which is why our team works closely with you from day one to keep you comfortable and maintain consistent progress with your healing. Recovery and long-term sobriety are possible for everyone.

It’s okay if you aren’t sure what kind of treatment you need or which type of addiction recovery program is right for you — that’s exactly what we’re here to help you figure out.

Please message us or call us to speak with an advisor today and learn more about your different recovery options.

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