image of Benzodiazepines

In the 1960’s onwards, Benzodiazepines have been globally used as a prescribed medication. Benzodiazepine is a type of psychoactive drug that works directly in the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines and other similar psychoactive drugs are commonly known as minor tranquilizers. They work by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

These pharmaceutical drugs are only effective and safe when used for short time periods. Long-term use isn’t recommended since it can lead to tolerance, dependence and other adverse effects on the user. Benzodiazepines are also capable of overdosing a person and can lead to death when mixed with alcohol and other dangerous substances.

Medical Uses of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are medically used to cure different psychological and neurological conditions. These drugs contain chemicals which are responsible for enhancing the natural occurrence of the calming effect on the body, and keeps the brain more stable.

Some of these disorders include:

  • Insomnia
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Seizure
  • Panic Disorder
  1. Insomnia
    People diagnosed with insomnia have trouble sleeping. With the help of benzodiazepine, the time a person takes to fall asleep is shortened and sleeping time is prolonged. One of the downsides of these drugs is how long they’ll remain in the system of the user. Some people experience prolonged side effects that delay them from waking up.Triazolam has a shorter time reaction compared to diazepam. Shorter effectivity may imply that the drug has quicker clearance and lesser side effects on the body. Drugs like diazepam can be eliminated in the system within several days. Side effects may also be prolonged for older people and will probably lead to long-term consequences. A person suffering from insomnia is prescribed to use Benzodiazepines for a short period and typically takes them for about 2-4 weeks only. Patients also need to do a few changes regarding their sleeping habits.

    Activities such as drinking too much caffeine, excessive use of electronic devices including phone and TV, and drinking alcohol must be minimized or if possible, avoided. Performing exercise early in the morning can also help the patient to sleep easier during night time.

  2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    One of the most common problems seen in adulthood is anxiety. Severe anxieties that last for more than six months are considered unhealthy. They can somewhat affect a person’s normal functioning. People suffering from anxiety for an extended period are usually diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). 5% of adults reported from primary care settings suffer from GAD.Some of the common symptoms of GAD include excessive anxiety and worry for at least six months. This doesn’t include anxieties caused by any mental condition, medications or effects of using abuse substances. Sleep disturbances, fatigues, easily irritated, and difficulty in concentrating are also symptoms of GAD.

    Treating anxieties depends on the patient’s age and how fast their organs function. Patients can choose among medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation therapy. Lorazepam, alprazolam, and diazepam are some of the commonly used Benzodiazepines. Prescription of these pharmaceutical drugs for older people must be taken with extreme caution since they can lead to excessive confusion and sedation. Benzodiazepines are recommended for short-term use, which is approximately 2-6 weeks. Long-term use is highly discouraged.

  3. Alcohol Withdrawal
    For alcohol withdrawal, chlordiazepoxide and diazepam are the most commonly prescribed drugs. These types of drugs help in removing toxins from the body of a formerly alcohol dependent person.
  4. Seizure
    Several types of Benzodiazepines are also prescribed medications for curing acute or prolonged seizures. A disorder such as status epilepticus is referred to as a medical emergency condition, where a person is suffering from more than 30 minutes of continuous seizure.Some patients suffer from multiple seizures without recovering full consciousness. For longer term control, Clonazepam is usually the type of Benzodiazepines taken by patients who suffer from chronic seizure disorders. However, Benzodiazepines aren’t recommended for long-term use since it leads to tolerance in patients.
  5. Panic Disorder
    A person diagnosed with panic disorder suffers from a series of extreme fear which may be expected or unexpected. This problem is considered to be a specific type of anxiety. Symptoms include rapid heart rate that causes a trembling sensation. It also makes a patient avoid public places due to extreme fear of impending attacks or commonly known as agoraphobia.Some of the commonly used Benzodiazepines to treat panic attacks are clonazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam, and diazepam. These prescriptions are considered safe only when used as directed. If discontinued, symptoms like insomnia will likely recur.
  6. Benzodiazepine Abuse
    Since it’s a controlled drug, the possibility of misusing Benzodiazepines is possible. Many substance abusers use this medication to intoxicate their body. The issue of Benzodiazepine abuse is considered rampant and a serious public health concern.A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated that the number of people admitted to hospitals due to abusing Benzodiazepines is increasing. In the beginning of 2008, there were 22,400 users. This increased by approximately 60,200 during that same year.

The drug’s redistribution depends on both patient and the doctor. Prescribing the exact dosage of Benzodiazepines will prevent any future abuse of the substance.