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Symptoms and Signs of Benzodiazepine Abuse

Doctor's Notes on Benzodiazepine Abuse

Benzodiazepines are a type of medication known as anxiolytics or tranquilizers and they act on the central nervous system, producing sedation, muscle relaxation, and lower anxiety levels. Benzodiazepines are commonly abused for their sedative effects. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety and panic attacks, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, seizures, muscle relaxation, and may be given before surgery. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and temazepam (Restoril).

Side effects of high doses benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine overdose may include drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, poor judgment and decision making, slurred speech, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, and death from respiratory arrest (ceased breathing). Symptoms of chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can include anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, weakness, tremors, and memory problems.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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