Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
At normal or regular doses, benzodiazepines relieve anxiety and insomnia. They are usually well tolerated. Sometimes, people taking benzodiazepines may feel drowsy or dizzy. This side effect can be more pronounced with increased doses.
High doses of benzodiazepines can produce more serious side effects. Signs and symptoms of acute toxicity or overdose may include the following:
Signs of chronic drug abuse can be very nonspecific and include changes in appearance and behavior that affect relationships and work performance. Warning signs in children include abrupt changes in mood or deterioration of school performance. Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can lead to the following symptoms that mimic many of the indications for using them in the first place:
Despite their many helpful uses, benzodiazepines can lead to physical and psychological addiction. Dependency on benzodiazepines can result in withdrawal symptoms and even seizures when they are stopped abruptly. Dependence and withdrawal occur in only a very small percentage of people taking normal doses for short periods. The symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to distinguish from anxiety. Symptoms usually develop at
three to four days from last use, although they can appear earlier with shorter-acting varieties. In addition to withdrawal, some other signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction can include
The individual develops tolerance to the medication (for example, the same
dose having diminishing effects/needing increasing amounts of the drug to
achieve the desired effects).
Larger amounts of the drug are taken or the drug is taken for longer than
The individual experiences a persistent desire to take the drug or has made
unsuccessful attempts to decrease or control the substance use.
Significant amounts of time are spent either getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance.
The individual significantly reduces or stops participating in important social, recreational, work, or school activities as a result of using the substance.
The individual continues to use the substance despite being aware that he or she suffers from ongoing or recurring physical or psychological problems that are caused or worsened by the use of the drug.