February 1, 2019

Dangers of Benzodiazepine for Chronic Pain

What are Benzodiazepines Prescribed For?

The drug class known as benzodiazepines are made up of prescription tranquilizers, also called sedatives or anxiolytics, according to DrugAbuse.com. They are prescribed for many conditions, such as anxiety disorder or panic disorder as well as insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, muscle relaxation and, more recently, chronic pain.

They are also known by their various brand names, such as:

  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Halcion
  • Niravam
  • Restoril
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Tranxene
  • Alprazolam

Benzodiazepines are one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States, particularly among older patients. The human brain contains many different neurotransmitters, responsible for communicating messages between brain cells. These neurotransmitters can have either tranquilizing or excitatory effects. In the case of anxiety, the brain becomes overactive with excitatory neurotransmitters. Tranquilizing transmitters, which can be triggered by use of Benzodiazepines, slow down activity in the brain and reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

As long as Benzodiazepines are in the system, the body is in a tranquilized state. Taking too much Benzodiazepine can result in many side effects.

Side Effects

Since Benzodiazepines are a sedative and work by calming your nervous system and impulses, the user an overwhelming feeling of relaxation. When abused, users can go into an extreme state of relaxation. More side effects of Benzodiazepines, according to Medical News Today, include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Impaired coordination, such as balance and movement
  • Vision problems
  • Grogginess
  • Feelings of depression
  • Headache

Benzodiazepines are rarely fatal when taken alone, however, they are fatal when mixed with other substances. In fact, it can be fatal, especially when mixed with barbiturates, opioids, alcohol, or tricyclic antidepressants. This is why it is so important to tell your doctor what other medications you may be taking, as not to accidentally overdose.

The Rise in Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine is being prescribed more and more by doctors for conditions such as chronic pain. While it is originally intended to aid in conditions such as anxiety and panic disorders, the relaxing effect that Benzodiazepines provide have been helpful for people suffering from chronic pain. However, it is not intended for long-term use because of its addictive nature. In fact, addiction treatment admissions involving benzodiazepines abuse nearly tripled from 1998 to 2008.

If you feel as if you may be addicted to Benzodiazepines, stopping cold turkey can result in tremors, muscle cramps, and life-threatening seizures. It is very important to seek medical help in order to taper off benzodiazepines slowly. In addition, mixing Benzodiazepines with alcohol can be fatal.

Rise in Continuing Prescriptions

Short-term use of these medications is generally safe and effective. There are many risks that come along with the long-term use of Benzodiazepines. In a study published in the BMJ, there was a mild link between ongoing use of benzodiazepines by people over 65 years of age and an increased risk of dementia. In addition, the long-term use of benzodiazepines can also result in dependence due to tolerance building. This can result in addiction, which could ultimately lead to overdose and even death.

However, continuing prescriptions have been on the rise. This means that doctors are more willing to prescribe Benzodiazepine pills for long-term use by their patients. This can be due in part to many reasons, according to NPR they include the minimal resources and training available to primary care doctors. In fact, the percentage of medical visits that led to a benzodiazepine prescription doubled from 2003 to 2015.

Since continuing prescriptions are happening more and more frequently, this means that the tolerance and physical dependency for Benzodiazepines has risen, which in turn leads to addiction.

Alternatives

If you are suffering from chronic pain, there are much safer alternatives to turn to instead of Benzodiazepine. This can include:

  • Holistic therapy, such as: acupuncture, yoga, meditation and herbal supplements
  • Chiropractic
  • Tens units
  • Cold and hot packs
  • Medication designed for pain management such as Advil, Tylenol or other types of acetaminophen

If you need more help for your chronic pain management, it is important to speak with your doctor about all of your options. Make sure you speak to your doctor about medications that run the risk of addiction, and be open and honest with your doctor about any possible dependency that you may be forming.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Benzodiazepines are not recommended for long-term use and run the strong risk of addiction. If you are suffering from chronic pain and need help managing it, make sure you spend time with your doctor to talk about all the options, rather than just sticking with Benzodiazepines. Often times, doctors receive financial incentives for prescribing certain medications. If you do happen to develop a dependency, make sure you receive medical help to taper off from Benzodiazepines. We are here to help make it as comfortable as possible.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and a 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and
healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com

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About Jaclyn Uloth

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