There is a long list of benzodiazepine drugs out there, but all of them have the potential for abuse. When determining a benzodiazepine’s strength, there are two things to consider: the drug’s potency and its half-life. A half-life measures how long a drug takes to break down and exit the body. Low-potency benzos with a long half-life are weaker than high-potency benzos with a short half-life.
If you’re suffering from an addiction to benzodiazepines, then there is help and hope available. At Vertava Health, we are committed to helping our clients overcome their benzo use. If you’re addicted to one of the medications on our list of benzos, we can help. To learn more about our services, call Vertava Health today at 888.601.8693 to learn more about our benzo addiction treatment program.
Strongest to Weakest List of Benzos
Drugs with a shorter half-life, while more short-acting, are often felt more intensely. Drugs with a short half-life also create their effect more rapidly. These characteristics make these substances more attractive to recreational drug users. Benzodiazepine drug users often prefer short-acting, high-potency benzos, such as lorazepam or alprazolam, due to their fairly rapid and intense high.
Low-Potency Benzodiazepine List
With a long half-life:
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Diazepam (Valium)
With a short half-life:
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
High-Potency Benzodiazepine List
The only medication with a long half-life is clonazepam (Klonopin). However, medications with a short half-life include alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and triazolam (Halcion).
Though not prescribed in the United States, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is sold illicitly on the streets. Used as a date rape drug, Rohypnol is a high-potency benzodiazepine with a relatively long half-life.
Benzodiazepine medications are sedative-hypnotics, meaning they create calming or tranquilizing effects. Because of this, these drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, panic and seizure disorders, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Certain ones may also be used as muscle relaxants. The same actions that make these medications valuable within treatment also entice drug users.
Benzodiazepines take several forms, including an extended-release (long-acting) capsule, liquid, tablet, or orally-disintegrating tablet. Any of these medications may be used to create a sedated or euphoric effect.
When used, benzodiazepines are taken orally in doses larger and more frequent than would be prescribed. The medication may also be crushed so that it can be snorted, smoked, or injected. No matter how benzodiazepines are used, the potential for dependence and addiction runs high.
Risks and Dangers of Use
Aside from addiction, benzodiazepine dependence carries with it a host of adverse health effects and dangers. These include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Congenital disabilities
- Falls and injuries
- Irregular heartbeat
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sexual assault
Like all forms of drug use, individuals who use benzodiazepines frequently experience an extreme loss of quality of life. In many cases, the need to use the drug becomes so intense that it overrules a person’s desire to take care of their family or fulfill other obligations, such as those relating to work or school.
Benzodiazepine use has been linked to increased risks of suicide and suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide). Chronic use of these drugs may change a person’s ability to feel emotions. Some people struggle to feel any emotions at all, which is a state referred to as emotional anesthesia.
Prolonged benzodiazepine use can cause the problems the drugs are designed to treat. When a physically-dependent person quits benzodiazepines, withdrawal can set in. In some instances, withdrawal may last for several months. This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Individuals facing PAWS experience anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Acute withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs can become very dangerous, which means that professional treatment is necessary (medical detox). Certain individuals may experience withdrawal so severe that their life is in jeopardy. In these instances, withdrawal may cause seizures or delirium tremens.
Benzodiazepine overdose is another considerable risk associated with the use of these drugs. According to the CDC, from 2010 to 2014, two of the top 10 drugs responsible for overdose deaths were benzodiazepines. These were alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).
As central nervous system (CNS) depressants, benzodiazepines can slow vital life support systems to deadly levels. When this happens, a person’s body temperature, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates can no longer sustain life.
Benzodiazepines are frequently used with other drugs, commonly with alcohol and opioids, which are also central nervous system depressants. This combination makes benzodiazepines even more dangerous and deadly. Signs of overdose include:
- Blue fingernails
- Double vision
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Slowed or stopped breathing
An overdose is a medical emergency. If an overdose is suspected, contact emergency medical support services immediately.
Find Treatment at Vertava Health
No matter what drugs you or someone you care about is abusing on this list of benzodiazepines, addiction is serious. Treatment often requires a medically-supervised detox program prior to drug rehabilitation.
The behavioral and mental impacts of addiction run deep. This combination of factors often requires more intensive care. Inpatient drug rehab programs are designed to meet these needs by a combination of psychotherapies and evidence-based treatment methods. For more information about the strongest benzos and weakest benzos, please contact Vertava Health today at 888.601.8693.