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How Benzos Affect the Brain

How Benzos Affect the Brain

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a class of sedative drugs that are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia as well as relax muscles and control seizures.

Some of the most popular benzos include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. These medications are widely used, but with long-term abuse, addiction and other serious problems can arise. It is often hard for people to quit these medications on their own once addicted, so it is recommended to go to a substance abuse treatment center for help.

Benzo Effects on the Brain

Like other drugs, benzos affect the brain in various ways and will also have different effects depending on the stage of use, duration of abuse, amount consumed, as well as differences in the individual users.

Short-term Effects of Benzos on the Brain

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers, so they work by initially slowing down a person’s central nervous system.

Short-term effects of benzodiazepines on the brain include:

  • Calm or relaxing feeling
  • Mental confusion
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Less sensitivity to stimulation 1

While these effects on the brain alone are usually harmless, benzo toxicity could lead to coma and cause more serious and lasting damage.

Long-Term Effects of Benzos on the Brain

While some people are prescribed these drugs by a doctor, others may use them illegally to self-medicate like with their anxiety. Benzodiazepines should only be short-term solutions, but because they can be addictive, some people may start to abuse these drugs for several months or even years, especially if they never find other ways of coping. While one large dose of benzodiazepines can cause damage, with prolonged abuse, benzos can affect the brain in other serious ways.

Some possible long-term effects of benzos on the brain include:

  • Dependence and addiction
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Transient brain changes
  • Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease 2,3

While some of these problems can be reversed or improved after benzo use ceases, some studies have found that cognitive function never fully recovered to where it should be.2 Because of the potential for lasting effects, it is better to get help at the first signs of addiction at a facility that offers benzo addiction treatment in Chicago.

Even if the medications were originally prescribed by a doctor, it doesn’t make them safe. Whether its prescription drugs or illicit drugs, get help before problems get worse and the damage cannot be undone. At Banyan Chicago, we offer both illicit and prescription drug addiction treatment to help patients with varying substance abuse problems overcome their addiction and move forward.

To learn more about our different programs or to get started, reach out to us today at 888-280-4763.

Sources & References:

  1. NCBI - Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System–Mediated Effects
  2. thebmj - Benzodiazepine use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: case-control study
  3. NCBI - The effects of benzodiazepines on cognition.
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
How Benzos Affect the Brain
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