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Benzodiazepines are prescription medications that have the ability to calm electrical activity within the brain. That makes these medications valuable weapons in the fight against anxiety. For people with anxiety, the medications soothe ongoing problems and make life better. For these people, the medications are vital. But for people who do not have anxiety disorders, these medications can do something different. The brain chemistry tinkers these medications cause in others can transform into an addiction in time.
Research in the journal Current Psychiatry suggests that benzodiazepine addictions tend to happen in people who also have other addictions. In fact, that report suggests that 80 percent of benzodiazepine addictions come in concert with other addictions, including addictions to painkillers.
This means people who abuse benzos often do not have a prescription for them. Instead, these people seek out or buy the drugs that bring them pleasure. This is a list of the types of benzodiazepines people often buy:
Diazepam (Valium): This is a fast-acting form of benzodiazepine that can rush into the brain quickly and bring about a huge change in sensation almost immediately. That makes the drug quite popular among people who hope to abuse it. They will not have to wait for a long time for the drug to kick in. Valium is also popular among people who abuse drugs simply because it is a brand name medication that people recognize on sight. They do not need to worry about substitutions when they can buy the drug in its original packaging. They will know what it is and how it works, and they will pay a lot for the medication. According to a British paper, addicted people in Europe will pay about $4 per pill for brand name Valium. That is a huge increase over what people pay in that region for a Valium prescription. When people want a reliable high, they go to Valium to get it.
This medication is also a fast-moving form of benzodiazepine, which means it overwhelms the body quickly. But some people who take this benzodiazepine do so because this medication seems to produce a mellow high. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and transformed, some people who take this drug feel calm and collected. They want that, and they can get it with this drug. Unfortunately, this drug is also much more powerful than most people realize. In a report produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorities say this medication is involved in more emergency department visits in concert with alcohol than any other benzodiazepine. It was responsible, in 2010, for more than 13,000 hospital visits involving this drug and alcohol. That means this drug is remarkably dangerous.
Lorazepam (Ativan): This medication is often used in hospitals and nursing homes to quell episodes of psychosis and/or violence. Ironically, people who take this drug on a recreational basis often feel transformed by violence and agitation as their hits take hold. It is the chemical change caused by the drug that is responsible for those emotions, and they can be difficult to ignore or overcome. And there are no antidotes for those feelings. They simply must fade away as the drug is metabolized by the body. Even with these risks, many people choose to abuse this drug, and when they do, an addiction can form.
Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol): This medication is not available in the United States, but it is widely available in other countries. That means people who live in the United States might be able to get the drug by placing an order with an overseas pharmacy. As international commerce grows easier to accomplish, more and more drugs flood the market. This benzodiazepine is one such imported drug, and it is incredibly dangerous. It can cause a deep sense of sedation in some users, but in others, it can cause a deep sense of joy and contentment. In a study in CNS Drugs, researchers report that this is the medication most European benzodiazepine abusers seek out. Of the 128,000 people who got benzodiazepines during the year of the study, the one medication with the highest abuse potential was Rohypnol. That means this is the medication most likely to cause permanent brain damage and permanent cravings.
Clonazepam (Klonopin): This medication can become potent in a user’s body in about an hour, and it can stay active within a person’s body for about 12 hours. That means clonazepam is not as fast or as powerful as other types of benzodiazepines, but it is still very dangerous. The drug comes in several different formats and strengths, which means users can tinker with the dosing to get a bigger high. Users with tolerance to a lower dose can also switch to a bigger dose to keep the high alive.
All benzodiazepines have the potential to spark drug abuse. These drugs change brain chemistry, and they can make compulsions come to life. If you are using these drugs, or someone you love is abusing these drugs, it is time to get help. Therapy can allow you to build a sober life, and that process could start just as soon as you reach out for help.