Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions. Unfortunately, frequent use can easily lead to benzo addiction. When benzo use turns into a substance use disorder, a benzo rehab center can help you get your life back on track.
Using benzos like Xanax and Valium comes with many negative side effects. While most who use benzos are aware of the short-term side effects, they may be less aware of what long-term benzo use can do to the mind and body. Learning about benzos’ long-term side effects can motivate seeking help before it’s too late.
Call 844.470.0410 for more information on the benzo addiction treatment program available at Vertava Health.
Understanding How Benzos Work
Benzos work by affecting certain neurotransmitters in your brain. This depresses the central nervous system, producing the familiar sensations associated with benzo use. Common short-term physical effects of benzos include:
- Feeling of calmness
- Sense of euphoria
- Reduced emotional responses
- Slowed breathing
People who experience racing thoughts or overwhelming emotions find relief through benzo use. However, that relief comes at a cost. It’s easy to become physically dependent on benzos quickly. Tolerance also builds quickly, meaning you need larger doses to feel the same effects.
Benzo Use Brings Serious Health Consequences
Benzos were created for short-term use. Standard medical advice is that benzos should be taken as prescribed for two to four weeks. Using benzos for longer than a month — or using them more frequently than prescribed — can easily lead to benzo addiction.
Below are the generic and brand names of some of the most popular potentially addictive benzos:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
While each of these commonly used benzos produces slightly different effects, they all have something in common: serious health consequences can follow long-term use.
Long-Term Physical Effects of Benzos
Extended benzo use brings some serious physical consequences. Because benzos impact the central nervous system, they slow your heart and breathing rates.
Because the heart cannot beat at an optimal rate, a host of complications can arise, including the following:
- Reduced oxygen levels
- Weakened heart function
- Risk of blood clots
Reduced blood flow puts you at risk of hypoxia, which occurs when your organs and tissues don’t receive the blood flow they need to function.
These benzos seriously affect overall well-being and physical function, putting you at risk of developing other chronic conditions and diseases.
Some side effects, like hypoxia and blood clots, can quickly turn fatal. Benzo use can also lead to fatal overdose by stopping heart function entirely.
Long-Term Mental Effects of Benzos
Long-term benzo use doesn’t just impact the body; it also harms the brain. One of the benzos’ most common side effects after prolonged use is declining cognitive function. Long-term benzo use can lead to the following cognitive side effects and symptoms:
- Memory issues
- Inability to focus
- Difficulty with critical thinking skills
- Reduced executive function
- Increased processing time
In short, benzos make your brain work more slowly and not as well.
In addition to declining cognitive function, some studies have linked long-term benzo use to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Get Help for Benzo Addiction at Vertava Health
Vertava Health offers full-spectrum care for benzo addiction. Our facilities offer detox, inpatient, and outpatient programs, so you can find the treatment plan that works for you. Our evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorder can help you free yourself from the destructive grip of benzo addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to benzos, healing is possible. For more information on our addiction treatment programs, call 844.470.0410 and speak with an experienced behavioral health professional at Vertava Health.