Understanding Benzodiazepine Abuse

Benzodiazepines are among the most frequently prescribed medications in America. The most common benzodiazepines drugs prescribed by doctors include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Benzodiazepine drugs interact with the central nervous system, specifically with the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors located in the brain. These receptors are responsible for managing the activity of the brain’s nerve cells.

Benzos interact with GABA-activated chloride channels to allow a surge of chloride to enter the brain’s nerve cells. This makes the nerve cells negatively charged, changing how they operate.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Benzo Abuse

The initial physical reaction after using a benzodiazepine is generally positive. Negatively charged GABA-A receptors result in a surplus production of dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is responsible for the feelings of happiness and pleasure. This temporary high carries with it a long list of negative side-effects as well.

Short-Term Consequences

  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of concentration
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors

Long-Term Health Complications

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Cognitive deterioration
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Financial concerns
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Impaired memory
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Inability to feel or express emotions
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Loss of relationships