Benzodiazepine or benzos for short, is the class of drug that works at the GABA receptors in your brain to produce a relaxing or sedative effect. We use benzodiazepines to treat short-term anxiety and sleep. Some doctors will use them as a muscle relaxer – Valium is pretty typical for this. They can also be used to stop a seizure. You may get valium or Ativan prior to a procedure like a colonoscopy.
The common benzodiazepines or benzos for short that we use for anxiety are Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax and Valium.
Benzodiazepines are habit forming and it’s easy to become addicted to them. Here’s why. Benzos cause a tolerance effect. This means if you take them regularly like daily or several times a week, overtime the effect can wear off and you;ll need to take more to get the same effect. So now instead of a half pill or one pill working, you notice you need two pills.
This is a medication tolerance effect. It can happen to anyone and is not the same as addiction. If this happens to you, it doesn’t mean you’ve been misusing the medication or have an addition. Addiction involves developing a psychological dependence on it where you need to take it.
Daily, long term use is associated with cognitive changes like not being as mentally sharp. It can create balance problems in some people where you just aren’t quite solid on your feet. This can be a big problem with elderly people by increasing their risk of falls.
In this video I discuss the details of what dependence looks like versus addiction. I also discuss how to avoid developing a dependence.
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