How is dependence on benzodiazepines expressed?

The line between what we think of as mind-altering drugs and what we usually call “drugs” is blurry than it seems. In fact, technically mind-altering drugs are drugs, although culturally their use is not associated with what is morally incorrect.

However, there are cases in which the substances used in medicine can treat pathologies and become drugs also in the negative sense of the term, generating a process of dependence and degradation of health by their constant use. here we will see how a specific type of psychotropic anxiolytic, benzodiazepines, can cause dependence.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a set of psychotropic drugs commonly used for their anxiolytic and sedative effects. This means that they help reduce the intensity of nervous activity, which is useful, for example, in helping people with anxiety or insomnia. Thus, its use produces a feeling of relaxation which also results in a modification of observable behavior patterns.

There are many types of benzodiazepines with different mechanisms of action, but it is generally considered that its characteristic effect on the human body is given by its GABA agonist role; this means that it potentiates the influence of this neurotransmitter, which is known to be an inhibitor of neuronal activity. In summary, the use of benzodiazepines increases the chances that many neurons in certain parts of the brain tend to be less active than before.

On the other hand, benzodiazepines have been introduced to the drug market among other things to replace barbiturates, which have more side effects and have a higher addictive potential. However, as we will see, addiction to benzodiazepines is also a reality.

Features of benzodiazepine dependence

These are the phenomena that come from the hand of benzodiazepine addiction.

1. Tolerance

As with all drugs with addictive potential, the use of benzodiazepines can lead to tolerance to this substance, which means that over time, the person must consume more to get the same effects. This phenomenon causes many people to lose control over their taking this drug and start taking it in moderation, which in turn triggers the intensity of the addiction. Following a doctor’s instructions is essential to minimize the risk of this happening.

2. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome

Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome it is often given when stopping the use of this medicine or when the dose to be taken is reduced too suddenly.: Once again, the existence of this phenomenon shows how the indications of the healthcare professional must always be followed when using these drugs.

On the other hand, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is made up of a set of symptoms that cause discomfort and which, in the most extreme cases, can even lead to health risks or be fatal.

In general, this syndrome can be understood as a kind of “rebound effect”, which means that when the body gets used to the presence of benzodiazepines in the system, when you stop using the substance, it happens. an imbalance in which the biological and psychological processes associated with strong nerve activation have nothing to do with countermeasures: This results in insomnia, high levels of anxiety, irritability and, in severe cases, even seizures or a generalized collapse in the functioning of the body.

3. Use of benzodiazepines to compensate for the effects of other drugs

Scientific research on addictions shows that people who have developed substance use disorders are much more likely to become addicted to other substances than the average population. Which means the existence of a drug addiction favors the emergence of another.

In the case of benzodiazepine addiction, this is relevant, as it is known that many stimulant addicts use the former to try to counteract the effects of the latter; for example, when amphetamines have generated a state of discomfort due to high sensitivity to any stimulus. In this way, the two types of psychoactive substances strengthen the consolidation of the dependence of the other.

4. In extreme cases, greater propensity to violence

It might be counterintuitive to think that the consumption of substances that inhibit nerve activity, such as benzodiazepines, may lead to a greater predisposition to violent behavior. And yet, statistically, this happens: if each person is a world and the cases are to be analyzed individually, it is known that anyone who uses this class of substances is more likely to engage in aggressive-type behaviors.

What is the reason for this? The key is not to focus on the immediate effects of benzodiazepine use, but on the addiction itself that they generate. What matters is not the simple interaction between neurons and the molecules that make up the active ingredient in benzodiazepines, but how addiction, without the help of a proper professional, makes people more desperate and more desperate. inclined to make impulsive decisions. abstinence.

Being the priority to have drugs again, anything that gets in the way of use is seen as a problem, including many people. Therefore, much of the work done in therapy for addicts concerns the management of discomfort.

Are you looking for addiction treatment?

If you have an addiction problem, it is very important that you see a professional as soon as possible. In case you have developed an addiction to the use of a psychoactive substance or suffer from another type of non-drug addiction, such as pathological gambling, please contact us.

Fr CITA clinics we specialize in the treatment of addictions, offering both medical, psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care. In addition, we work both by conducting one-off therapy sessions, and a follow-up program in our residential module designed for income, fully equipped and located in a natural environment. On this page you can see our contact details.

Bibliographical references:

  • Atack JR (2003). “Anxioselective compounds acting on the benzodiazepine binding site of the GABA (A) receptor”. Current drug targets. CNS and neurological disorders 2 (4): 213-32.
  • Curtin, F .; Schulz, P. (2004). Clonazepam and lorazepam in acute mania: a Bayesian meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 78 (3): pp. 201-208.
  • Goodman and Gilman’s (1996). 17. Pharmacological basis of therapy. New York: Pergamon Press.
  • Shader, RI; Divoll, M., Harmatz, JS (1981). Benzodiazepines: a summary of pharmacokinetic properties. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
  • Treiman, DM (1989). Pharmacokinetics and clinical use of benzodiazepines in the treatment of epilepsy. Epilepsy. 30 (2): pages 4 to 10.

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