Effects of long-term benzodiazepine use go beyond dependence. Long-term use of this class of drugs may result in altered cognitive function as well as both physical and mental health. When use the short-term, and when directed by a doctor, benzodiazepines are generally effective for therapeutic purposes. Long-term use carries with it several risks.
Not everyone who uses benzodiazepines for an extended period of time experiences these problems, but nearly everyone who quits the drug-cold turkey following prolonged use will experience several withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be deadly. For this reason, quitting cold-turkey is never a good idea.
Quitting Benzodiazepine Abuse
Even without quitting, long-term benzodiazepine use can lead to a range of cognitive and physical symptoms that can impair one’s ability to function socially or at work: emotional clouding, flu-like symptoms, nausea, headaches, dizziness, irritability, lethargy, insomnia; memory impairment, changes in personality, mood issues. These degree and severity at which these symptoms manifest varies. For some, they may not show up at all. For others, they may be so severe that the risk-benefit ratio of their benzodiazepine treatment is called into question, and may be stopped under the direction of the doctor.
If the doctor determines it’s time to quit the medication, he or she will have the patient wean off slowly, rather than stopping abruptly. If the patient follows along with the plan and stays compliant, the adverse symptoms from their prolonged use of the drug should mostly subside within three to six months of the start of the weaning process. Although symptoms of withdrawal are eased by the weaning strategy, physiological dependence is still there and will likely present difficulties or add to an uncomfortable state throughout these weeks or months. In many cases, the withdrawal is so mild that the patient doesn’t even realize that it is the cause of their irritability or general ill physical state.
Benzodiazepines and opiates (like OxyContin) have something in common: Because of their strong addictive nature and potential for abuse even when taken as prescribed, these treatments are controversial, with their validity constantly being challenged by proactive researchers and politicians. Before engaging in benzodiazepine treatment, patients should be aware of the risks and near-inevitable health-complications. Whether or not the potential benefits outweigh the near-certain risks depends on the individual’s condition, the analysis of their doctor, and, to a degree, their own judgement.
The most commonly abused brand is Xanax. If you or someone you know is abusing benzodiazepines—purchasing them illicity, or taking more than prescribed—treatment is probably required. To learn about how to go about this, click here. To speak one-on-one with one of our specialists here at Hired Power, feel free to give us a call: (800)-910-9299. Also, explore our website—there is plenty more info to be found.