Benzodiazepine Addiction in Teens
Benzodiazepines are a category of psychiatric medications that work on specific neurotransmitters in the brain to produce a calming effect. They are used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, seizures and sleep disorders. When taken as prescribed and to treat specific conditions, these medications aren’t typically dangerous, but there is the potential for benzodiazepines addiction when they are abused. Adolescence is an emotionally challenging time, and teens may seek benzodiazepines from the medicine cabinets of parents or relatives in order to escape the stresses of everyday life.
Dangers and Side Effects of Benzodiazepines
Teenagers often perceive benzodiazepines or other prescription drugs as safer than street drugs, but these medications can be very dangerous, especially when mixed with other sedating drugs such as painkillers or alcohol. Medications in this category include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin and Ativan. Side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, dizziness and impaired coordination which can lead to a decreased ability to drive. Taken on a regular basis, these medications can become habit-forming or addictive. When benzodiazepines are taken in high doses, they can lead to confusion, blurred vision, slurred speech and difficulty breathing.
Overcoming Benzodiazepines Addiction
Teens who feel overwhelmed by challenges at home or school are at risk of experimenting with drugs that can alter their mood or perception. If benzodiazepines are easily available at home, teens may be tempted to experiment with these medications. Taking them regularly can cause physical and psychological dependence. Once dependence has developed, trying to stop can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty sleeping and feelings of depression.
If physical dependence on benzodiazepines has developed, it’s important not to try to stop cold turkey. Stopping abruptly can lead to seizures, muscle cramps and tremors. These medications should be tapered off gradually with the help of a medical professional, and it’s even more important to get professional help if other substances are also being abused at the same time. Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, either through inpatient rehab or outpatient counseling, is also available and helps promote long-term sobriety.
Medical News Today: Benzodiazepines: Uses, Side Effects and Risks
WebMD: Benzodiazepine Abuse
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