What Are Benzos Designed to Treat?

What Are Benzos Designed to Treat?

Benzos are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures

You may be unfamiliar with the term “benzodiazepines,” but you may know these drugs by other names, like Valium and Xanax.

Other common benzodiazepines include the following examples:

  • Restyl (alprazolam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Lexotan (bromazepam)
  • Paxor (camazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which means they slow down communication between the brain and body. This slowed communication happens as the drugs bind to a neurotransmitter called GABA, an inhibitory chemical. By binding to this chemical, benzos increases the effectiveness of GABA, which causes a calm feeling that slows reaction time. However, these drugs are dangerous, so California residents should exercise great caution when using these substances.

What Benzos Are Used For

Benzos are atypically prescribed for long-term use due to their risk of tolerance and addiction, but they nevertheless relieve troubling symptoms. In cases related to mental health, benzos are used in conjunction with therapy to deal make the drug unnecessary in the future.

According to a 2014 article from Medical News Today, common uses of benzos include the following examples:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that California residents shouldn’t use benzos for longer than a month or so to treat GAD, as other drugs are more effective for this condition
  • Insomnia – Situational insomnia is common for people who undergo stress or difficult situations, such as the death of a loved one or transitioning to a new job. However, because benzos can lead to dependence, doctors prescribe them for insomnia only on a short-term basis. If insomnia persists, your physician can recommend other medications and treatment methods that won’t lead to addiction.
  • Seizures – Some benzodiazepines prevent prolonged, convulsive, epileptic seizures. If you go to the hospital for a seizure, you will likely be given clonazepam, diazepam or lorazepam, but your California doctor will determine whether or not benzos should be prescribed further.
  • Alcohol withdrawal – The most common benzo prescribed for alcohol withdrawal is chlodiazepoxide, but sometimes diazepam is used. These drugs help alcoholics go through detox, because they weaken withdrawal symptoms. A 2005 study reported by United Press International finds that people given benzodiazepines were 84 percent less likely to have alcohol withdrawal-related seizures than those without the benzos. However, since benzos can cause dependence, they are only used for a short time in alcohol detox.
  • Panic attacks – Because benzos inhibit the CNS and calm the body quickly, they are popular choices for treating panic attacks. However, NICE does not recommend using benzos for long-term treatment of panic disorders. Other medications are more effective and carry less chance for addiction.

California residents and their physicians must discuss whether benzos are appropriate treatment options, so consider your own symptoms and medical and family history before you take such powerful drugs. Under no circumstances should you take benzos prescribed to someone else, nor should you take these drugs more often or in higher doses than prescribed. Such practices could result in serious side effects, including overdose.

Pros and Cons of Taking Benzos

Benzodiazepines have both benefits and drawbacks. Your physician will be aware of these and should explain them before prescribing one.

According to the University of Northern Iowa, the pros of benzos include the following boons:

  • Produce lower levels of depressant side effects
  • An antagonist (flumazenil, i.e., Romazicon) is available for possible overdoses
  • Less tolerance and dependence than some other CNS depressants
  • Less dangerous withdrawal symptoms than some other CNS depressants
  • Sleep is more normal than with some other depressants

On the other hand, drawbacks include the following issues:

  • Benzo dependence is possible, especially if taken longer than originally intended
  • Rebound insomnia and anxiety when someone stops taking the benzo
  • Some elderly people have strong responses to benzos
  • Some people experience unusual reactions
  • Memory problems
  • Birth defects, so they are not recommended for pregnant women
  • Impairment in driving

It is important for California residents to discuss any side effects and concerns with their doctors. If any of the drawbacks become problematic, then your physician can recommend another medication. However, if your she notices signs of tolerance and/or addiction, then she may recommend weaning off the medication to pursue other, non-pharmaceutical forms of treatment.

Help for California Benzo Addicts

If you are concerned that you or a California loved one struggles with an addiction to benzos, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time; our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss your concerns. Together, you can decide what steps you need to take, so don’t let a benzo addiction control your life. Call now for the answers you’re looking for.

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