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Benzodiazepine Addiction

Woman suffering with head in handsA tolerance to certain benzodiazepines occurs most often in those who have used for 6 months or more. Physicians counteract the effects of tolerance by increasing dosage in small increments or by adding another benzodiazepine to the prescription. Users most often develop tolerance to the milder effects of the drug, such as sedation and impairment of motor coordination. A fair amount of cross-tolerance exists between benzodiazepines and other depressants such as alcohol and barbiturates, thus users may not feel the effects of these drugs as potently as they would otherwise.

When used alone, benzodiazepines are considered to carry an extremely low risk of acute toxicity. However, benzodiazepines often are used with other types of medications, including other drugs with abuse potential, thus these drugs can enhance the toxic effects of benzodiazepines. The latter interact synergistically with other central nervous system depressants, including other hypnotics, sedating antidepressants, neuroleptics, anticonvulsants, antihistamines and alcohol. Fatal overdoses in addicted patients often involve the combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol, with or without opiates.

The American Family Physician (AFP) reports that benzodiazepines can be addicting when used chronically. These agents are often taken in combination with other drugs of abuse by patients with addiction issues. The AFP recommends that caution must be used when prescribing benzodiazepines to patients with a current or remote history of substance abuse.
To ease the symptoms of withdrawal, physicians recommend that users gradually reduce the amount of medication ingested until the dose is low enough that the individual will not feel discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms are most severe when a high dose of either a short-acting or intermediate-acting benzodiazepine is abruptly discontinued.  It is highly advised one does not do a sudden withdrawal from benzodiazepines.
If you are looking for help with addiction and need help withdrawing from this medication and/or other medications or alcohol. Please contact us immediately. We can answer any questions you may have and direct you towards the correct treatment. (877) 340-3602.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a national public health surveillance system which collects information on drug abuse related visits to emergency departments (EDs) and drug abuse related deaths as reviewed by medical examiners and coroners.

DAWN findings with regard to Benzodiazepines include:
■ Alprazolam and clonazepam were the treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Examples of some benzodiazepines most frequently reported in drug common brands include Valium®, Xanax®, Librium®, abuse-related ED visits in 2002. However, a third of and Ativan®. total benzodiazepine mentions were reported only as “benzodiazepine,” with no specific drug name.
■ In 2002, over 100,000 drug abuse-related emergency
department (ED) visits involved benzodiazepines.
■ Most benzodiazepine-related ED visits (78%)
involved more than one drug.
■ Drug abuse-related ED visits involving benzodiazepines increased 41 percent from 1995 to 2002.
■ Alcohol was the substance most frequently reported
with benzodiazepines in drug abuse-related ED visits.

According to the APA report on benzodiazepines, 11 to 15 percent of the adult population has taken a benzodiazepine one or more times during the preceding year.
Definitions
APA: American Psychiatric Association
ED: Emergency Departments
Neuroleptics: antipsychotic drug
Polydrug: being or pertaining to several drugs used simultaneously, esp. narcotics or addictive drugs.
 


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