Recently there have been many news stories regarding the abuse of prescription drugs, in many cases benzodiazepines such as Librium, Xanax and Valium.
Benzodiazepines were first marketed in the 1960s. Touted as much safer depressants with far less addiction potential than barbiturates, today these drugs account for about one out of every five prescriptions for controlled substances.
Benzodiazepines are a class of central nervous system depressant drugs commonly prescribed for short-term treatment of anxiety or insomnia.
Proprietary names for drugs in this group include Valium, Xanax, Librium, and Halcion.
Unfortunately, prolonged use can lead to physical dependence even at doses recommended for medical treatment.
“If you are taking Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, or any other benzo, you run the risk of becoming physically and psychologically dependent on them,” comments Mary Rieser, Executive Director for Narconon Drug Rehab in Georgia. “Unfortunately, we see many people who have combined benzo abuse with other drugs, getting so dependent on them that, in many cases, medical withdrawal, under medical supervision, is required.
“The reason this is important is because withdrawing from benzo addiction without proper medical care can be deadly.”
Although benzodiazepines produce significantly less respiratory depression than barbiturates, it is now recognized that benzodiazepines share many of the undesirable side effects of the barbiturates.
A number of toxic central nervous system effects are seen with chronic high-dose benzodiazepine therapy, including headaches, irritability, confusion, memory impairment and depression. The risk of developing over-sedation, dizziness, and confusion increases substantially with higher doses of benzodiazepines.
Unlike barbiturates, large doses of benzodiazepines are rarely fatal unless combined with other drugs or alcohol.
Although primary abuse of benzodiazepines is well documented, abuse of these drugs usually occurs as part of a pattern of multiple drug abuse. For example, heroin or cocaine abusers will use benzodiazepines and other depressants to augment their “high” or alter the side effects associated with over-stimulation or narcotic withdrawal.
Short-acting benzodiazepines are generally used for patients with sleep-onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) without daytime anxiety.
Shorter-acting benzodiazepines used to manage insomnia include estazolam (ProSom®), flurazepam (Dalmane®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).
Midazolam (Versed®), a short-acting benzodiazepine, is utilized for sedation, anxiety, and amnesia in critical care settings and prior to anesthesia. It is available in the United States as an injectable preparation and as a syrup (primarily for pediatric patients).
Benzodiazepines with a longer duration of action are utilized to treat insomnia in patients with daytime anxiety. These benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax®), chlordiazepoxide (librium®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), halazepam (Paxipam®), lorzepam (Ativan®), oxazepam (Serax®), prazepam (Centrax®), and quazepam (Doral®). Clonazepam (Klonopin®), diazepam, and clorazepate are also used as anticonvulsants.
“Be aware that benzodiazepines are addictive, and abuse can be deadly. Get help with benzo addiction by calling us.”
For more information on drug addiction rehabilitation or drug education, call Narconon Drug Rehab Louisiana at (877) 905-5772