What are Benzodiazepines?
Description of Benzodiazepine?
Benzodiazepine is a popular tranquilizer that is most typically administered to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, there are over fifteen different varieties of benzodiazepine prescription medications available in the US, which are used to treat a wide range of both physical and psychological conditions, including insomnia, seizures, panic attacks, nausea and vomiting. They can also be used for sedation or as a general anesthesia, and to assist with alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepine works by changing the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, a neurotransmitter chemical that allows nerves to communicate), so different doses and formulations of the drug act as muscle relaxants, anxiety relievers, hypnotics, anti-convulsants, or amnesiatics (causing mild memory loss). They are also very strong sedatives, which give benzodiazepines a very high potential for abuse, especially when combined with alcohol, opiates, or other depressants. There are currently 15 FDA-approved benzodiazepines approved for use in the U.S., though more than 2,000 different varieties have been produced worldwide. Most are classified by the duration of their effect.
What is the Scientific Name of Benzodiazepine?Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists (BzRAs)
What is the Chemical Formula of Benzodiazepine?C9H8N2(Molecular Formula)
What is the Origin of Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepine was discovered by that Polish-American chemist Leo Sternback in 1955, while working to develop tranquilizers for the Hoffman-LaRoche Company. In 1960, it was introduced under the product name Librium, primarily as a medication to relieve anxiety, followed by Valium in 1963. By the 1980s, after decades of continuing development of benzodiazepine drugs including products such as Ativan and Xanax, researchers became concerned about the risk of dependence. By then, benzodiazepines had become the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S., which made them easily available for abuse.
What is the Legal Status of Benzodiazepines in the US?
What are the common street names of Benzodiazepines?
- Dead Flower Powers
- Heavenly Blues
- School Bus
- Valley Girl (for Valium)
How are Benzodiazepines Used?
Benzodiazepines are usually ingested orally, as a capsule or tablet. Some forms of the drug, including Librium, Valium, and Ativan, can be administered intravenously, and Versed (midazolam) is only an intravenous medication only.
How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System?
The duration of the effect of benzodiazepines on the system depends on which variety of the drug is taken, and other factors such as the individual’s metabolism, size, age, health condition, and similar factors. While it’s possible to provide guidelines, it is nearly impossible to exactly predict detection windows for various testing methods. But in general, benzodiazepines can be detected in urine tests for one to six weeks, in blood tests for 6-48 hours, and in saliva tests for 1-10 days. Hair follicle tests might detect the drug for up to 90 days.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Short-Term Benzodiazepines Use?
What are the Short-Term Effects of Benzodiazepines Use on the Body?
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Altered Vision
- Dry Mouth
- Impaired Memory
- Impaired Motor Coordination
- Impaired Thinking
- Loss of Appetite
- Low Blood Pressure
- Respiratory Depression
- Slowed Reflexes
- Slurred Speech
What are the Short-Term Effects of Benzodiazepines Use on Behavior?
- Decreased Libido
- Decreased Alertness
- Erratic behavior
- Mood Swings
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Benzodiazepines Addiction?
What are the Long-Term Effects of Benzodiazepines Use on the Body?
- Impaired Judgment
- Impaired Memory
- Impaired Thinking
- Lack of Coordination
- Muscle Weakness
- Slurred Speech
What are the Long-Term Effects of Benzodiazepines Use on Behavior?
- Inability to Express Feelings
- Increased Anxiety
- Increased Depression
- Social Phobia
How to diagnose if you are Addicted to Benzodiazepines?
The World Health Organization requires at least three out of five criteria be met in order to make a diagnosis of benzodiazepine addiction. To qualify, each criteria must have been present for at least one month, or occurred repeatedly over the last 12 months. These criteria include:
- The individual begins to exhibit physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms associated with the drug’s use.
- The individual cannot control drug use, and takes more of the drug, more frequently than intended
- The individual keeps taking the drug, even though they are aware of the harmful effects.
- The individual chooses drug use over other social, recreational, work, or school activities.
- The individual exhibits a growing tolerance to the drug (the drug has diminishing effects, requiring a larger dose to achieve the same effect)
- The individual experiences symptoms of withdrawal when the drug is not taken.
According to surveys, about 40 percent of the people who are diagnosed with a benzodiazepine addiction were not aware of the dependency. Additionally 11% of people who think they are dependent are not. The best way to achieve a diagnose of dependency is to ask the individual specific questions rather than conceptual ones, such as “how many times a day do you think about taking this drug,” as opposed to, “do you think you are addicted?” Questionnaires such as the Benzodiazepine Dependence Self Report can be used to help assess and diagnose benzodiazepine dependence.
What are the Withdrawal Effects of Benzodiazepines?
- Sleep Disturbances
- Rebound Insomnia
- Elevated Anxiety
- Blurred Vision
- Panic Attacks
How is Benzodiazepines Addiction Treated?
When an overdose of benzodiazepine occurs, hospital treatment is required. If it has been two hours or less since the drugs were consumed, doctors can perform pump the stomach with large volumes of water (gastric lavage) in order to remove any of the drug that has not been absorbed yet into the bloodstream. Liquid charcoal can also prevent further absorption of the drug. Severe sedation can be countered with the administration of drugs like flumazenil, though these can pose serious side effects to benzodiazepine addicts.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines should take place gradually, with a tapered reduction of the individual’s dose in order to reduce the dangerous side-effects. Stopping use of the drug abruptly can have potentially life-threatening consequences. Those who have been taking larger doses of the drug typically can tolerate faster reductions than those who are habituated to smaller, daily doses. For those who started benzodiazepine use to treat conditions such as anxiety or insomnia, alternate therapies will need to be provided, and medications such as anti-depressants may ease the process of withdrawal. Beta-blockers might be administered to manage serious withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or convulsions.
For some benzodiazepine addicts, the gradual reduction of drug use and rehabilitation may be undertaken as outpatient treatment. However, residential or inpatient treatment may be advised for those who require steady support through their rehabilitation and recovery. Psychological treatment must address the underlying reasons for drug dependence, and assist the individual in developing alternative methods for dealing with anxiety and stress in everyday life. Holistic methods for treating anxiety and insomnia, such as the use of relaxation tapes, meditation, and the reduction of caffeine intake, should be explored, along with physical activities such as yoga, breathing exercises, and other exercise.
What is the Extent of Benzodiazepines Use?
In the United States, benzodiazepines are the number one pharmaceutical drug used for recreational purposes, though as a rule, benzodiazepines are not utilized as “party" or "good time" drugs, like cocaine, meth, or alcohol. Even through recent studies show that benzodiazepines do have minor euphoric effects, particularly for detoxified chronic alcoholics and sedative addicts, they do not have the same appeal for recreational drug use. Very few patients who enter drug treatment facilities claim benzodiazepine as their primary drug of abuse. Nevertheless, according to SAMHSA, benzodiazepine use accounts for nearly 35% of all emergency and urgent care visits related to drug use. Typically, these visits occur when benzodiazepines are mixed with other drugs, particularly alcohol.