Benzodiazepines, also referred to as benzos, are a class of agents that work on the central nervous system, acting selectively on gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits or reduces the activity of nerve cells (neurons) within the brain. Benzodiazepines open GABA-activated chloride channels, and allow chloride ions to enter the neuron. This makes the neuron negatively charged and resistant to excitation.
All benzodiazepines work in a similar way, but there are differences in the way individual benzos act on the different GABA-A receptor sub-types. In addition, one benzo may be more potent than others or work for a longer length of time. Because of this, some work better than others in particular conditions.
When is a benzo prescribed and what does it treat?
A benzo may be used in the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, or sleep disorders. They may also be used as a muscle relaxant, during alcohol withdrawal, or before surgery to induce relaxation and amnesia (memory loss).
While benzodiazepines have been prescribed for decades to treat anxiety and seizure disorders, the possible threat of overusing them is real and with that comes dependency, overdose and the potentiality of death. Since 2010, there have been 6,507 U.S. drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines. That in 2010 alone, 124,902 Americans were rushed to the E.R. just because of Xanax? One year later, addiction to the same drug resulted in 39,408 confiscations by law authorities. 49 million prescriptions for Xanax were filled in the U.S. in 2011 alone.
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Different types of benzodiazepines
There are a multitude of different types of benzos, all have varying strengths, half-lifes, and uses in medical treatment. We have broken down the categories of each type of benzo and listed the more commonly prescribed name-brand medications that they are prescribed under:
- Diazepam Intensol
- Lorazepam Intensol
Getting help for benzo addiction
Benzos are highly additive, and can create both a physical and mental dependence in individuals who take them over an extended period of time, even if they are taking them as prescribed by a doctor. If you think you or someone you know may have a problem with benzodiazepines, please contact Rock Recovery Center today to speak with an addiction specialist and get your questions answered.