Long-term benzodiazepine use can cause behavioral side effects with consequences that can last for months or even years. Prescription medications are being abused at higher rates across the United States so the problem is not simply going away. Learn about how benzodiazepines affect the brain and body and what to do if a loved one is affected by addiction.
Your Brain and Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepine medications work by increasing neuronal inhibition which can lead to a suppression of electrical impulses and activity in all regions of the brain and spinal cord. The largest number of benzodiazepine receptors in the brain are concentrated in the cerebral cortex. The frontal lobe of the brain is also known as the reasoning area. Behavioral Side Effects of Benzodiazepines on this region of the brain. When the frontal lobe function is suppressed, people experience reduced judgment, impaired cognitive and executive function and poor impulse control which can lead to impulsivity.
Behavioral disinhibitions are detectable in any individual who consumes alcohol or drugs which act as depressants of the central nervous system (CNS). Benzodiazepines, to that end, can damage the frontal lobe of the brain and lead to the disinhibition of the frontal cortex from self-regulation and control. Behavioral disinhibitions in people who use benzodiazepines on a long-term basis focus on the inability to control behavior and engage in acts without considering potential consequences.
Risks of Benzodiazepine Abuse
People who take benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, for a longer period than prescribed or necessary may experience several behavioral side effects. This may include the following:
- Destruction of property
- Acting inappropriately in public
- Temper tantrums
It is not possible to predict with certainty whether a person will experience behavioral side effects from medication but several groups of people have been identified as more susceptible to development of issues. Children, the elderly, individuals living in stressful environments and people with mental health concerns may be included in this list:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Brain injury
- Mental developmental delays
- Poor impulse control
- History of behavioral problems
An individual may experience withdrawal from benzos when the drug is no longer in the system. A person may stop taking it gradually or suddenly (not recommended) and the body is working to bring balance back following the change. Some symptoms of withdrawal can be severe including:
- Chronic cognitive impairments
- Lack of emotional responses
- Loss of control of behavior
- Personality shifts
- Suicidal ideation
- Verbal hostility and assault
Seeking Help for Benzo Addiction
Four avenues exist for an individual to seek help for addiction to benzodiazepines. The following can provide a path to recovery for those willing to take the first steps.
- Seek qualified professional and peer support. Talk with a doctor experienced in treatment benzo withdrawal. Seek a referral from pharmacies, hospitals or medical clinics.
- Talk it out. Speak with a trusted individual such as close friend, family member or therapist.
- Seek online inspiration. Find information about benzo withdrawal support online to feel less alone on the journey.
The journey to recovery is not easy but it is possible with the right tools, resources and support. Call Hired Power to find out how we can partner with you to help you create a plan of action to quit benzos for good.