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Benzodiazepine Abuse

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Benzodiazepine abuse is the misuse and abuse of a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and other conditions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), close to 8 percent of 12th graders report teen benzodiazepine abuse.

What Is Benzodiazepine Abuse?

Benzodiazepine abuse is the improper use of a class of sedative medications known as benzodiazepines, or benzos. These include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and quetiapine, an antipsychotic medication (Seroquel). These medications alone or in combination with other drugs can produce feelings of sedation and/or euphoria. Xanax addiction, Xanax abuse, and Klonopin abuse are all common manifestations of benzodiazepine abuse. NIDA reports that more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.

Side effects and symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse are drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, muscle weakness, slurred speech, lack of coordination, trouble concentrating, difficulty breathing, and even coma. Chronic abuse of these substances can produce many of the same symptoms that benzodiazepines are prescribed for, such as anxiety, insomnia, and headaches. Furthermore, long-term effects of benzodiazepine abuse may include musculoskeletal issues, impaired memory, gastrointestinal issues, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Recovery from benzodiazepine abuse involves outpatient or residential treatment, including clinical and experiential therapeutic modalities to address the underlying causes of substance abuse disorder. As with other addictions, learning coping skills and healthy self-care behaviors can assist teens in finding sustainable recovery from benzodiazepine abuse.

Sources: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse