Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are meant to be used as a treatment for insomnia, some seizures, and anxiety. Unfortunately, they are also addictive substances that can have dangerous effects on the body.
You might know that tranquilizers are harmful when taken in the short term, but what happens if you take benzodiazepines long-term? The unnerving answers may surprise you. If you know someone who has taken benzodiazepines for a long time or has an addiction to them, contact The Bluffs at 850.374.5331 today.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
The very first benzo was formulated in 1955 and hit the market under the name Librium. In 1963, the well-known tranquilizer diazepam entered the arena, which is more commonly known as Valium. At first, benzodiazepines seemed like an excellent alternative to barbiturates. Benzos seemed to be much safer and not as addictive.
By the 1970s, benzos were some of the most commonly prescribed drugs, but it still wasn’t known at this time that they could induce dependence and affect the brain as they do.
According to an article in the Journal of The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the excitement surrounding benzos began to wane as the negative information started speaking for itself. By then, there was a huge problem at hand. Even today, the struggle to gain control over benzos continues.
Some commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
Benzos produce their effects by impacting a neurotransmitter in the brain known as GABA. This inhibitory neurotransmitter is responsible for decreasing certain neural activity, thereby producing calming effects. This includes decreased emotional stimulation, slowed breathing, and decreased overthinking. Benzos enhance the effect of GABA on the brain.
What Happens If You Take Benzodiazepines Long-Term?
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation states that there are numerous risks to long-term benzodiazepine use. Long-term is considered to be three to six months or more.
An Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
There is strong evidence to support the idea that there is a link between long-term benzo use and Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, studies have shown that people who have taken benzos long-term increase their risk of developing the disease by 84%. Higher doses of benzos also seem to correlate with the development of Alzheimer’s.
Cognitive Impairment and Decline
Damage to certain areas of the brain can be caused by long-term use of benzos, including the areas that control memory and motor coordination, and memory loss can occur.
In addition, long-term use of benzos is associated with overall general cognitive decline. With this decline can come poor concentration ability, needing increased time to complete simple, ordinary tasks, and slower thinking.
Physical Effects of Long-Term Benzo Abuse
The effects of long-term benzo abuse also impact the body in several ways.
Slowed or Stopped Heart
With long-term benzo use, the heart slows down, which means it isn’t getting the workout that it should. When the heart slows, blood clots are more likely to form, increasing a person’s risk of heart attacks and strokes. In severe cases, the heart can go into cardiac arrest and stop.
Respiratory Suppression and Hypoxia
A person’s respiration rate slows with long-term use of benzos, and when this happens, hypoxia can occur. Hypoxia is when there is a lack of blood and oxygen in tissues throughout the body. Tissue death can occur under hypoxic conditions.
The effects of long-term benzo abuse can strain the liver, which is the organ responsible for metabolizing drugs. The damage caused to the liver tissue can lead to liver failure, which is a grave condition.
Treatment for Benzo Addiction with The Bluffs
Additional long-term effects of benzo use can include seizures, coma, and death, but treatment is available. If you or a loved one needs help with benzo addiction, reach out to The Bluffs today at 850.374.5331.