What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines, or “benzos” as they are called, are what the American government refers to as Schedule IV drugs. This means that the government recognizes the useful medical properties these drugs have and the comparatively low addiction risk they present compared to other drugs. However, Schedule IV drugs are powerful enough to require a prescription from a doctor to be acquired and used, unlike acetaminophen in Tylenol or ibuprofen in Advil, which can be bought in stores by anyone.

While some doctors prescribe benzodiazepine medications straight away, other doctors feel more comfortable with a psychological evaluation first before a decision is made about administering it due to the psychoactive nature of the drug.  Benzodiazepine medications available in the U.S. are:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium  (diazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Versed (midazolam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Dalmane (flurazepam)
  • Tranxene (clorazepate)
  • Serax (oxazepam)
  • Doral (quazepam)

In late 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they would require labeling changes for benzodiazepines to include the risks of abuse, addiction, and detox.

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Dependency and Risks of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a range of issues including Anxiety, Insomnia, and even alcohol withdrawal.  However, Physical dependence can occur when benzodiazepines are taken steadily for only days or weeks.  Taking a benzodiazepine for weeks or months can produce withdrawal symptoms when a patient stops abruptly. Failing to taper correctly can result in acute withdrawal reactions, including seizures, which can be life-threatening.

Medically supervised withdrawal management, or detox,  for Benzodiazepines is very important especially when a patient has been using alcohol also.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Elevated Heartrate
  • Aches and pains
  • Panic attacks and Delirium
  • Hypersensitivity to stimuli like light and touch
  • Abnormal bodily sensations (skin-crawling, goosebumps)
  • Depression
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Memory loss (short term)
  • Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
recover from benzo addiction