The Dangerous Truth About Anti-Anxiety Medication

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, also known as “Benzos” or anti-anxiety medication, are a class of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat a wide range of mental and physical conditions.

Patients may take the drugs to treat moderate to severe anxiety, panic attacks, epilepsy, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and even mild to extreme stress while taking other Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants.

Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for a short period because they have a high potential to cause addiction. There’s an insidious truth about anti-anxiety medication, and it can end up being brutal.

Why Is Anti-Anxiety Medication Prescribed?

A benzodiazepine is similar to a tranquilizer. Frequently, they provide relief within 30 minutes of taking them, which makes them helpful in treating severe anxiety. An episode of a panic attack can be managed with Xanax. This medication is, unfortunately, costly. In addition, excessive use of this medication may result in physical addiction.

The nervous system is slowed down by anti-anxiety medications, which is what fights anxiety. Taking high doses of them can make you sleepy and tired. When taking Ativan or Xanax, some people feel confused or uncoordinated. Typically, this will, in turn, affect their work or school the following day as well.

The most common anti-anxiety and benzodiazepine prescribed is Xanax (alprazolam).

What’s Xanax?

One of the world’s most popular benzodiazepines is Xanax (alprazolam). Several neurotransmitters are thought to be stimulated by alprazolam or Xanax.

Xanax is used as a treatment for anxiety disorders and depression-associated anxiety.

As a result of Xanax, anxiety disorders may occur whether or not there is an irrational fear of locations or situations that could trigger panic, helplessness, or embarrassment (agoraphobia).

Other Popular Benzos That Get Prescribed

Benzodiazepines are usually taken orally as pills or tablets. The clear, odorless liquid form of some brands, like Valium, can be administered intravenously as well. If prescribed, Benzodiazepines are not illegal.

Black markets do exist, however. Benzodiazepine drugs have many names on the street, such as Tranks, Downers, Bars, Sticks, French Fries, Ladders, and simply Benzos.

Some common Benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanax
  • Ativan
  • Valium
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Halcion


Despite their medical validity and federal regulation, benzodiazepines can be dangerous and addictive.

Are They Dangerous?

It is safe and effective to use benzodiazepines when used as directed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that misuse is associated with some significant risks.

Here are some telling statistics about the dangers of benzodiazepine abuse:

  • 2010, more than 124,000 people were admitted to the emergency room for Xanax overdoses, and 6,507 people died from benzodiazepine overdoses in the U.S.
  • 2011, the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines was 127 million, and police made 39,408 confiscations of benzos.
  • Over 20 million Americans age 12 and over have misused benzodiazepines at some point.
  • An estimated 95% of benzodiazepine-related hospital admissions also included other substances.

In addition to potential misuse, benzodiazepines have the potential to be physically addictive. It is unlikely that a person who takes a benzodiazepine on an occasional basis or over a period of a few months will develop a tolerance to it. The chances of tolerance increase over time, however. With long-term use, withdrawal symptoms are also more likely to occur when the dosage is reduced.

Potential to Worsen Different Mental Health Symptoms

Benzodiazepines can also worsen depression or other pre-existing conditions, which is another concern. People who are taking these medications may not be able to cope with their feelings and emotions properly because they are emotionally numb.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings become more likely as a result of depression. The effects of benzodiazepines on their own are not depressing. Pre-existing conditions may be exacerbated by them.

Anti-Anxiety Medication Abuse

Benzodiazepines are more commonly abused than you might imagine. If left untreated, a drug abuser’s behaviors can affect their relationships, career, physical and emotional health. The drug class benzodiazepines are known as a tranquilizer. Valium and Xanax are familiar names in the class. American doctors prescribe them often for anxiety and insomnia. Taking these drugs for sedative effects without a prescription turns used into abuse.

Prescription medication is sometimes misused by people who have them. You might also have a problem if you constantly look forward to the next dosage and cannot live without your medication.

The following legitimate medical conditions may be treated with benzodiazepines:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Seizures
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Inducing amnesia
  • Before an anesthetic


In addition to sedating the body and reducing anxiety, benzodiazepines have sedative effects.

The United States FDA has currently approved about 15 benzodiazepines out of more than 2,000 produced worldwide. Pharmacokinetics is usually the method used to categorize them.

Warning Signs

  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Blacking out
  • Passing out
  • Poor judgment
  • “Doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Asking others for their pills
  • Inability to stop using despite making attempts
  • Mood changes
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Mixing Benzos with other drugs
  • Impaired coordination
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Benzo Abuse Causes

It is no secret that some people tend to be genetically predisposed to be addicted to drugs, but the environment and environmental issues and conditions also play a significant role. Peer pressure, low socioeconomic status, and unemployment are some of the common environmental influences.

Overprescribing from doctors can play a role in developing an addiction to benzodiazepines too. Patients who genuinely need this anti-anxiety medication for their symptoms can often get overprescribed by some doctors, which will end up in an addiction to benzos.

Benzo Abuse Symptoms

In a few weeks or months, regular use of anti-anxiety medications can lead to physical tolerance. The drug needs to be taken in more significant amounts to produce the same effects. In addition, withdrawal symptoms may occur if you stop taking the medication.

Symptoms Include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Pounding heart
  • Restlessness


A typical dose of benzodiazepines reduces anxiety and insomnia. Their effectiveness is typically good at prescribed doses. Benzodiazepines can sometimes cause people to feel drowsy or dizzy. Higher doses may exacerbate this side effect.

It is possible to develop a physical and psychological dependence on benzodiazepines despite their many beneficial effects. If abruptly stopped, dependency symptoms may result, as well as seizures. Taking regular doses for a short time does not result in dependence or withdrawal in most people. Withdrawal symptoms may appear similar to anxiety when taken together. Symptoms usually appear from 3-4 days after last use to up to two weeks afterward, although short-acting varieties may show them earlier.

Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction

Commonly abused drugs include benzodiazepines. There is a relationship between this abuse and the toxic effects and the widespread availability of these drugs.

Overdoses can be intentionally or accidentally taken as acutely abused, as seen more frequently in hospital ERs. It is rare for benzodiazepine abuse to result in death or severe illness alone, but it does happen when combined with alcohol and other medications. Alcohol and benzodiazepines together can be hazardous.

Also called “date rape” drugs, benzodiazepines can be used to impair or even eliminate functional abilities necessary for self-resistance, particularly in situations of sexual aggression.

This has increased in people being caught and convicted in recent years. The drug can be added to alcoholic drinks or soft drinks in powder or liquid form to mask the taste.

Benzo Withdrawal

When benzodiazepines are stopped or the usual dose is drastically reduced, withdrawal symptoms usually develop – and can quickly become fatal.

It is hazardous to withdraw from benzodiazepines since seizures, comas, and possible death are possible side effects.

Benzodiazepines can lead to respiratory failure, especially with alcohol, opioids, or other drugs that depress the central nervous system.

At-Home Treatment

People who abuse drugs deny their problems by playing down the extent of their abuse or blaming family or work stress.

One of the most important things you can do at home is to recognize when you are having problems and seek help as soon as possible. See how addiction affects a family.

Recognizing abuse begins with being aware of the signs and symptoms.

Next, the person should try to obtain help. By contacting your doctor or a drug abuse helpline in your community, you can get help.

Medical Treatment

How much and what type of drugs are taken usually determines how much treatment is needed. The hospital emergency department is often sufficient to evaluate you.

In cases where the drugs were taken within the last 1-2 hours, the doctor may recommend gastric lavage. You will receive a large tube through your mouth or nose that is connected directly to your stomach. The stomach can then be flooded with large amounts of water in an attempt to flush out the pill fragments. When you swallow other potentially more deadly medications, this is rarely used.

When people who have taken drugs within the past four hours arrive at the ER, an activated charcoal injection is recommended. Activated charcoal inhibits the absorption of medications. To drink it, you mix it with water and consume it. You might get nauseated, vomiting, or experience cramps.

Flumazenil (or Romazicon) is an antidote that counteracts the toxic effects of benzodiazepines. As a result, benzodiazepines are no longer sedating. Due to its relatively short duration of action, it is usually reserved for severe poisoning due to its tendency to cause withdrawal and seizures in chronic benzodiazepine abusers and may need repeated administration with careful monitoring.

The treatment for chronic drug abuse can usually be accomplished at home with the assistance of your doctor or in a specific drug rehabilitation center. First, the benzodiazepine dosage must be gradually reduced to avoid withdrawal. As a result, people usually have an easier time staying drug-free than during the long recovery phase. An individual abusing these drugs will often need to make arrangements for housing and employment in addition to receiving medical care. This is a difficult transition and the support of family and friends is extremely helpful.


The substance is commonly abused, however not without being coupled with other drugs, especially sedating drugs like alcohol or opioids. It is not necessary to consult with a poison specialist. Patients seen in the emergency department are often referred to a psychiatrist or addiction specialist before being sent home.

In the event that an overdose is suspected of being swallowed intentionally and the person may be at risk of harming himself or herself or others, this procedure is performed. Medical detox for benzos or treatment for anxiety may be required.

Get The Help You Need

If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with anti-anxiety medication or have a potential problem that is arising.

You should reach out to Enhance Health Group today, we can help you figure out if there’s an issue. We can figure out how to manage the problem with you or your loved ones.

We will help you create a treatment plan with everyone involved that needs to be. We can help you build a better future and a better life for yourself.

Contact our admissions team today and find out all you can do to help yourself or your loved ones with anti-anxiety medication abuse.