Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse
In high-stress situations, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure can increase, causing increased levels of anxiety. Benzodiazepines work to reduce anxiety by repressing actions of the central nervous system to inhibit the physical and emotional impact of stress. Both mental and physical benzodiazepine side effects can result from the body slowing down.
Benzo side effects can be immediate and can even result when benzodiazepines have been used for a short duration of time. Benzodiazepines side effects are related to dosing, the particular benzodiazepine being used and a person’s length of use. There are short-term and long-term side effects resulting from benzodiazepine abuse and addiction.
Short Term Side Effects
Short term side effects of benzodiazepine abuse can include:
- Headaches and vision difficulties
- Dizziness and flawed motor coordination
- Confusion and impacted memory functions
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Slurred speech, physical weakness and impaired reaction time
- Irritability, forgetfulness and restlessness
- Anxiety, paranoia and mood difficulties
- Loss of libido and impotence
Long Term Side Effects
Long-term effects of benzodiazepine abuse can include:
- Tolerance — requiring increased amounts of benzodiazepines to achieve euphoria.
- Impaired relationships resulting from changes in personality and lower impulse control.
- Impaired mental faculties and brain damage, resulting in occupational and academic consequences such as unemployment, dropping out of school or reduced finances
- Potential death from overdose, polysubstance abuse or increased feelings of depression and suicidal attempts.
- Legal issues resulting from benzodiazepine abuse.
- Increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in the geriatric population.
Side Effects of Polysubstance Abuse
Benzodiazepine abuse very rarely results in death, but it can have dangerous or lethal effects when taken with alcohol or other substances. Combining benzodiazepines and alcohol to increase euphoria is very dangerous as it can put a person at risk for coma or overdose. This increased risk is due to the fact that both benzos and alcohol suppress the central nervous system. The combination of depressant effects can suppress the central nervous system to critical levels of unconsciousness. Benzodiazepine and opiate interactions are also dangerous, as both types of drugs suppress breathing and causes sedation and impairment to cognitive functioning. More than 30% of overdoses involve opioids and benzodiazepines.