Do you pop a pill to calm the nerves before a stressful meeting? Maybe to help you sleep better? Or does it just ease off the day’s worries? The temporary relief that calming pills provide is alluring but the side-effects are dangerous. Feeling spaced out the next day, forgetting things and needing to take more and more of the medication to work are among the common indicators you have developed a problem. Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed medications and also one of the most addictive. Here are some of the side effects you may not know of:
- Aftermath: When taken in the evening, a listless, foggy feeling may persist the next day.
- Tolerance: The body quickly becomes less responsive to the drug and, over time, ever larger doses must be taken to obtain the same effect.
- Dependence: Mental and physical dependence (addiction) develops within a few weeks. Severe withdrawals arise when the drug is reduced.
- Complacency: Reliance on benzodiazepine inhibits the learning of healthier coping skills.
- Drug interactions: Negative interaction with many other drugs, like tranquilisers, antidepressants, antihistamines, pain relievers, alcohol, illicit drugs, herbal supplements, etc. – Note: Consult your doctor if you are using any other medication for advice about conflicting substances.
- Memory impairment: Forgetfulness, “blackouts”, loss of awareness, leading to unintentional shoplifting, mislaying items, forgetting names, getting lost, etc.
- Trauma retention: Prevents normal emotional recovery following a traumatic event. Mental distress is suppressed but remains unresolved when the drug is stopped.
- Paradoxical reactions: Sometimes causes behaviour that is contrary to tranquillity, such as irritability, anger and violence.
- Depression: Benzodiazepine is known to cause or aggravate depression after prolonged use.
- Emotional blunting: Restricted emotions – mentally detached or passionless. The person has almost no negative or positive feelings. Lacks empathy for others.
Unfortunately, the dangers get worse which is why it is so important to consider your reasons for taking this class of medication in the first place. More side effects include:
- Age tendency: Older people are more severely affected. It causes confusion, night wandering, amnesia, loss of balance and other dysfunctions.
- Pregnancy effects: Babies look sedated, with slack muscles and weak suckling. After about 14 days they have withdrawals (breathing problems, sleep dysfunctions, crying, tremors).
- Domestic and social disharmony: Breakdown of relationships due to impaired social behaviour.
- Employment loss: Due to poor productivity, errors, depression, absenteeism.
- Accident risk: Impaired physical and mental state leads to traffic, home, work accidents.
- Medical expenses: Ongoing doctors’ visits, medical prescriptions. Hospitalisation due to oversedation, other disorders, accidents.
- Other expenses: Costs of litigation due to accidents and other damaging events. Exorbitant prices paid for illegal purchases of the drug.
- Suicide risk: Benzodiazepines are known aggravators of depression, which is a major suicide catalyst.
- Oversedation: Accidental oversedation is common. Causes heavy sleep, dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness.
- Overdosing: High volume causes cardiac and / or respiratory arrest and rapid death.
- Discontinuance: Reduction should be gradual and under medical supervision. Psychotherapy required to remedy root causes.
Read our comprehensive article on benzodiazepines here. If you have a problem with Benzodiazepines, call one of our counsellors today. Recovery Direct is a luxury recovery centre based in Cape Town that works with resolving benzodiazepine-based addictions including urbanol addiction. Speak to one of our registered counsellors for more information on getting help with substance use disorders including the co-occurring conditions of anxiety and depression.