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Beyond Dependence: Effects From Long Term Use of Benzodiazepine

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Benzodiazepines are medications that are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Even though they are effective for treating these conditions, they can be harmful to use for long periods of time. There are a number of negative effects associated with benzodiazepine use.

Benzodiazepine Addiction

Addiction is one of the most common risks associated with benzodiazepine use. People who take benzodiazepines will eventually develop a tolerance to them. This means that the dosage will no longer work, and a person will have to take a larger amount of it. Over time, this can lead to a benzodiazepine addiction.

It is important to note that you do not have to take benzodiazepines for a long time to develop a tolerance to it. In fact, you can develop a tolerance after taking this drug for four weeks. You may exhibit the following behaviors if you are developing an addiction.

  • You take more than what your doctor has prescribed.
  • You take the drug while you are doing something hazardous such as driving a car.
  • You crave the drug when you are not using it.
  • You ignore your family and work responsibilities because of your benzodiazepine use.
  • You cannot cut down on your benzodiazepine use despite the fact that you have tried to.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms.

Cognitive Impairment

Benzodiazepine can cause amnesia, decreased reaction time and drowsiness. These are all signs of cognitive decline. There have been studies done to confirm that benzodiazepine use can lead to cognitive decline. Furthermore, this cognitive decline may not improve after you stop using the medication. In fact, some people had cognitive decline three months after they stopped taking the medication.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

It can be dangerous for you to operate a vehicle while using benzodiazepines. In fact, operating a vehicle while using benzodiazepines is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, which is the legal intoxication limit. That is why people who drive while using benzodiazepines are more likely to get into a car accident.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Benzodiazepines can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There was a study done by the Quebec Health Insurance Program. The study involved 2,000 people who were over the age of 65 who had Alzheimer’s disease. It also had 7,000 people who did not have Alzheimer’s disease.

The study showed that taking benzodiazepines for three to six months increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 32 percent. People who took benzodiazepines for more than six months were 84 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs can cause confusion and lead to cognitive impairment.

Sleep Problems

Even though benzodiazepines can help treat insomnia, they can also cause sleep problems. Studies have shown that benzodiazepines can decrease total sleep time. They can also decrease the amount of time that people spend in REM sleep, which is the deep sleep.

Suicide Risk

Long-term benzodiazepine use can increase the risk of suicide. That is experts have stated that care should be taken when prescribing these drugs. Additionally, people who stop using benzodiazepines are also more likely to be suicide.

Cancer Risk

There have been studies done to show that benzodiazepine use can increase the risk of cancer. It has been linked to lung cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer and brain cancer. Researchers believe that benzodiazepines increase the risk of cancer by depressing immune system function.

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