Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines

Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines Fight Addiction Now

Most people have at least heard of some of the brand names of prescription benzodiazepine drugs – perhaps Valium or Ativan. Far fewer are familiar with the challenges of benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal. In fact, abuse of these drugs is on the rise, leading to a greater need for benzodiazepine detox and rehab.

This helpful summary of the top need-to-know facts about benzodiazepine drugs can help you familiarize yourself with this class of powerful sedatives.

The History of Benzodiazepine Drugs

Understanding this class of drugs means knowing why they were invented, who made them and how they impacted the culture once prescribed. This overview touches on the most important moments in benzodiazepine history.

Americans and Sedatives

Before the invention of benzodiazepine drugs, there was a substantial demand for drugs that could act as anti-anxiety medication. The cultural phenomenon was immortalized by the Rolling Stones song, “Mama’s Little Helper.”

Previously, middle-class Americans had been treated with opiates and barbiturate drugs to manage stress, but these highly addictive prescriptions did more harm than good.

Benzodiazepines Invented in the ‘50s

The godfather of benzodiazepine drugs is Leo Sternbach, a Polish research chemist who experimented with dozens of ineffective benzodiazepines compounds in the 1950s. As an employee at Hoffman-La Roche, as Swedish healthcare firm, he eventually invented an entire class of non-addictive sedatives, many of which are still prescribed today.

Benzodiazepines Get FDA Approval in the ‘60s

The first benzodiazepine drug approved by the FDA was Librium (chlordiazepoxide), earning its stamp of approval in 1960. The second, more widely known benzodiazepine the FDA approved was Valium (diazepam). The FDA deemed it safe for prescribing in 1963.

British Scientist Catches Disturbing Trend

Another scientist, Malcolm Lader of London, began observing the effects of long-term benzodiazepine use in the 1970s. First, he began to recognize widespread abuse of the drug. Second, he found that patients who had developed an unhealthy relationship with the drug did so without changing their prescription dosage.

Risks of Benzodiazepine Addiction Known

Continuing his research into the next decade, Lader eventually published a comprehensive study on the long-term risks of using benzodiazepine drugs as anxiety medication.

Benzodiazepine Rehab History Fact - Fight Addiction Now

What Are Benzodiazepines and How Do They Work?

The following helpful pieces of information outline the chemistry behind benzodiazepine drugs and explain how they interact with the human body. This section also offers an exhaustive list of the benzodiazepine drugs currently being prescribed by doctors.

Benzodiazepines Act on Neurotransmitters

Benzodiazepines affect one’s mood by changing how neurotransmitters work in the brain. The body produces these chemical signals naturally as a way of communicating with itself. Benzodiazepines can greatly change how a person is feeling by influencing those chemical signals directly.

Benzodiazepines Produce Calming Effects

Benzodiazepines drugs typically targets the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA). This chemical signal has inhibitory functions that assist in calming the brain down from an agitated state. Benzodiazepines encourage the brain to boost its production of GABA neurotransmitters, resulting in the sedative effects associated with these medications.

Are Benzodiazepines Still Prescribed in the U.S.?

Yes. In fact, there are more than two dozen types of benzodiazepine drugs prescribed in the United States. They vary in length of effect, but all are used as powerful sedatives.
 
The benzodiazepine drugs currently available in prescription form in the United States include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Bentazepam
  • Bromazepam
  • Brotizolam
  • Camazepam
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Clonazolam
  • Clorazepate
  • Clotiazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flumazenil
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Flurazepam
  • Halazepam
  • Loprazolam
  • Lorazepam
  • Medazepam
  • Mexazolam
  • Midazolam
  • Oxazepam
  • Prazepam
  • Quazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Triazolam
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem

Statistics and Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines

Want to know how many people are affected by benzodiazepines? Interested in how dangerous the drugs have become over the past decade? The following benzodiazepine statistics offer a helpful summary of the most telling data trends.

Doctors Prescribe Benzodiazepines for All Ages

Benzodiazepine use isn’t limited to a single age group. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, new research shows that roughly 5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 80 have an active benzodiazepine prescription. This number reflects both widespread use of these drugs to treat anxiety in patients as well as equally widespread exposure to abuse and addiction.

Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Have Increased

Benzodiazepine use isn’t just nationwide, it’s also on the rise. Research performed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that over a 17-year period ending in 2013, the number of adults prescribed benzodiazepines increased from 8.1 million to 13.5 million.
 
Not surprisingly, over the same period, the number of deaths related to benzodiazepine use increased as well.

Overdose Deaths Related to Benzodiazepines Are Rising Too

Data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed a disturbing trend between 2002 and 2015. During this 13-year period, the number of deaths related to benzodiazepine overdose noticeably increased:

  • There were 4.3 times as many overdose deaths in 2015 than there were in 2002.
  • Contributing to these deaths were instances where patients used alcohol or abused other drugs while taking benzodiazepines.

Finding Benzodiazepine Help

If you or a close loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, there is a way out of its potentially deadly grip. Contact us for help with finding a treatment center that will provide benzodiazepine detox and subsequent benzodiazepine rehab through personalized, long-term care.

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