Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medications to treat anxiety disorders and sleep disorders. They work as a central nervous system depressant, making them effective drugs for treating anxiety and insomnia. However, benzos are extremely addictive and when used for a long period of time can cause damage to your brain.
Do Benzos Affect the Brain?
Yes, benzos can affect the brain and cause permanent brain damage in a variety of ways. Benzos can also cause short term side effects that can negatively impact an individual’s health.
How Benzos Damage the Brain
Benzodiazepines damage the brain due to their relationship with neurotransmitters, specifically the GABA neurotransmitter that helps us to feel calm and relaxed. The human brain is made up of neurotransmitters that are what help us to function throughout the day. Benzos interfere with these neurotransmitters, preventing them from communicating in the way they need for someone to function normally. This can cause both short term and long term side effects from the drug, with the long term effects being especially dangerous.
Short Term Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Use
Short term use of Benzodiazepines affect people in many ways. These symptoms can include:
- Feelings of confusion
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep disorders
- Memory loss
- Loss of motor control
Long Term Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Use
Long term benzodiazepine use can lead to:
- Physical dependence and addiction
- Increased risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Cognitive impairment
- Cognitive decline
- Increased risk of anxiety
- Increased risk of alcohol-related brain damage
Increased Risk of Alzheimer's & Dementia
Benzo use takes a severe toll on the brain. While we are still learning the exact ways it can cause permanent damage, some studies indicate that it can increase a person’s chances of developing dementia by up to 50% and possibly a similar chance (or greater) of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Increased Risk of Anxiety Disorders
Benzodiazepine users who continue to take benzos for an extended period of time are at risk of their brain no longer producing GABA. The result is individuals who feel extremely anxious, have panic attacks, develop panic disorders, experience paranoia, have mood swings, an elevated heart rate, difficulty sleeping, and even hallucinations.
Increased Risk of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage
When someone drinks an excessive amount of alcohol over time, it can permanently damage the brain’s neurotransmitters. This is known as Alcohol-Related Brain Damage. Benzos affect the brain in a similar way as alcohol and therefore, long term use can increase the risk of brain damage just like alcohol.
Symptoms can include permanent memory loss, difficulty with understanding information, difficulty completing tasks, and many others that can affect the quality of life.
Attempting to stop using benzodiazepines can result in mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Paranoia or confusion
- Excessive sweating, fever, and chills
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Detox is the first step for safely withdrawing from this drug. Benzo detox provides a managed detox process by medical professionals to help keep individuals safe and healthy. At Malibu Detox, our benzo detox center provides clients with 24-hour supervision and targeted treatment by medical and addiction specialists.
With our benzodiazepine recovery programs, each client receives:
- Medication-assisted treatment plan
- Residential treatment
- Aftercare services
Our treatment programs also include evidence-based therapies and holistic therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, equine-assisted therapy, experiential therapy, and art therapy.
Our team of medical professionals is here to provide expert support to each and every one of our clients who are struggling with benzodiazepine addiction.
Start Treatment Today at Malibu Detox
At Malibu Detox, our benzodiazepine treatments serve as a catalyst to help you overcome your addiction and reach the long-term sobriety you need. Contact us today at (424) 234-2027 to discuss your personalized addiction treatment plan. We accept most major and private insurance plans and will work with you to navigate your coverage to minimize out-of-pocket expenses. Our admissions staff looks forward to speaking with you.