Today Sedative-Hypnotics drugs (aka Tranquilizers or sleeping pills) are the most widely prescribed drugs all over the world. Sedative-Hypnotics divide into three classes which include Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, and miscellaneous agents. Among these classes, Benzodiazepines are the most widely used class of drugs as they are considered safe and effective. These are mainly used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.
More than 2,000 benzodiazepines have been produced, in which only 15 are currently FDA-approved. These commonly include alprazolam (Alp, Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), Bromazepam (Lexotan), Midazolam, etc.
The misuse of benzodiazepines is increasing day by day. Today majority of benzodiazepine consumers are obtaining it without any prescription, and this has given rise to concern for drug abuse. According to a study conducted in 2015-16, it’s been estimated that 17.1% of the benzodiazepine users misused them, and fewer than 2% had benzodiazepine use disorders. Through finding, it’s been evaluated that most abusers obtained it from family or relatives, and only 20% receiving them from their doctor.
This misuse is mainly due to the widespread availability. People who use these drugs without any prescription are putting themselves in potential harm, which includes drug overdosing, drug-drug interaction, and other undesirable effects.
Long term benzodiazepine use causes drug tolerance, which in case of drug misuse results in higher dose consumption. This drug over dosing can cause some serious unwanted effects, which includes drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, weakness, lack of co-ordination, blurry vision, breathing difficulty, and coma. Other long-term drug abuse symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, headache, and anorexia. These are exactly the conditions for which these drugs are taken.
Long-term use of benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence even under normal therapeutic doses. After being physically depended on the drug, if it’s consumption stops suddenly, it can lead to withdrawal effects, which includes insomnia, anxiety, depression, grand mal seizures, aches, delirium, nausea, and muscle spasms. In order to manage these symptoms, withdrawal from Benzodiazepines is done through gradual dose reduction, which in case of people who self-medicate, may not be possible. So, it’s best to always consult with your doctor before starting or quitting any medicine.