How Do Benzos Affect Your Brain Chemistry?

How Do Benzos Affect Your Brain Chemistry?

Benzos have the potential for causing permanent damage to an individual’s brain

Concern about benzodiazepines, or benzos, dates back to the 1970s, when individuals who were prescribed the medication were typically done so to help treat their stress and anxiety. Common benzos or minor tranquilizers include Valium, Xanax, Librium and Klonopin. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of prescriptions multiplied drastically from 69 million to 83 million. A major reason for this spike in prescriptions is that Xanax was being marketed as more than just a panic disorder medication.[1]

Although more research is needed, numerous studies show that benzo problems have been more related to long-term effects opposed to short-term use, especially at higher doses. Although the medications can be useful to help treat anxiety, stress, mild anesthesia and muscle spasms, long-term use leads to brain damage, which could be permanent. The longer an individual uses the medication at higher doses, the probability of experiencing long-term, potentially life threatening side effects greatly increases.

Benzos and Brain Chemistry

The long-term effects of benzodiazepine use are similar to that of the long-term effects of alcohol abuse along with other sedative hypnotics and that they withdrawal symptoms are typically identical to one another. The benefits of these medications likely outweigh the risks of long-term use, and one should know the side effects of its use. Use of the medication for the treatment of anxiety has been linked to higher healthcare costs due to accidents and other adverse effects associated with long-term use of benzos. Included in the following are some of the common long-term side effects of benzos:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Memory issues

Although the benefits most likely outweigh the negative side effects of the medications, the adverse effects of benzos have been linked to anterograde amnesia along with confusion and sedation. This is more prominent with the elderly who also more prone to the side effects such as confusion, amnesia, hangover effects and falls. If the individual has abused a medication or even used the medication for an extended amount of time, she is placing herself at risk for harsh side effects.  Particularly if she chooses to stop taking the medication, she can suffer from seizures, which can cause permanent brain damage due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. Typically, once areas of the brain are damaged, being able to restore it to its original condition is not likely. However, treatment can likely stop any further damage from occurring.

After numerous studies and research conducted, it was found that benzodiazepine use was associated with an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This suspicion led to researchers finding a direct associated between benzos and Alzhiemer’s disease, along with other forms of dementia. It was suggested that long-term use of the drugs themselves should be considered a public health concern.[2]

Some other effects which are commonly paired with long-term benzodiazepine use include emotional clouding, flu-like symptoms, headaches, lethargy, memory impairment, personality issues, aggression and depression and social deterioration. Suddenly stopping the medication could cause one to experience intense withdrawal symptoms, which could be life threatening. While under a doctor’s supervision, clients typically slowly lower their dose until they no longer need the medication. While these side effects are dependent upon factors such as duration of use, amount used and previous health conditions, one may not experience negative effects while using the medication while another may develop a physical dependence on it and be unable to stop use despite experiencing negative consequences of its use. Physical dependence on the medication can occur within a few weeks to months of continuous use and cause one to experience even the slightest withdrawal side effects if they skip one dose. It is common for one individual to experience certain withdrawal symptoms and another to experience other symptoms. During the withdrawal stage, it may also become apparent that the individual now suffers from a mental health condition such as depression, bi-polar disorder or anxiety.

Benzo Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know and love is struggling with an addiction to Benzos or other drugs like oxycodone, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our highly trained and extremely professional counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your addiction questions while helping locate the best treatment facility available. All it takes is one call to get your life back on track, so call us today.

[1], Ph.D. Christopher Lane, Brain Damage from Benzodiazepines: The Troubling Facts, Risks, and History of Minor Tranquilizers, 10/29/2015, 11/18/2010.

[2], Charles Moore, Long-Term Use Of Benzodiazepine Drugs For Anxiety And Sleep Disorders Linked To Increased Alzheimer’s Risk, 10/30/2015, 09/12/2014.