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A Closer Look at the Paradoxical Effect

what is paradoxical effect

Imagine you get struck with back pain; a sensation severe enough to warrant a visit to your primary care physician (PCP). Once there, the doctor looks at you and elects to prescribe you some benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. You get home, take your first dose, and within the next hour, are experiencing even more intense pain than you were before. This reaction is clearly the opposite of what you and the doctor intended and serves as an example of a paradoxical effect. Banyan Stuart explores this phenomenon and what you should do when faced with it. 

What Is a Paradoxical Effect Exactly? 

This phrase refers to when an individual experiences the opposite effect of what a drug is intended to do. As the earlier example illustrated, the purpose of the benzodiazepines was replaced by an adverse/opposite reaction that the patient and doctor did not anticipate. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially considering the time and money that goes into obtaining medical treatment in America. 

What is important to remember is that a paradoxical reaction does not mean you are untreatable.  

Why Does This Happen? 

This is not fully understood yet. To be able to monitor the transfer of single neurons in the brain is impossible. Some believe that there could be a correlation between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and an increased likelihood of experiencing paradoxical effects.  

Drug classes and their examples of paradoxical reactions include: 

  • Antidepressant use leading to suicidal or violent compulsions in rare cases. 
  • Barbiturate use resulting in hyperactivity in children. 
  • Benzodiazepine use causing feelings of anxiety, talkativeness, or agitation. 
  • Stimulant use causing drowsiness and relaxation for ADHD patients and some adults. 

Another explanation is referred to as hormesis. This refers to the phenomenon of reacting negatively to a higher dose of a substance but experiencing its benefits with lower doses. These serve to prove that medicine is an ever-growing science, one which requires patience with one's own body, needs, and the process of healing. It is not that you cannot take a certain substance, but that too much of it was the real issue. 

Other factors that can influence the way you react to a drug include: 

  • Genetics 
  • Bodyweight 
  • Tolerance levels 
  • Underlying medical conditions 

Most researchers believe that there is no single cause of paradoxical effects. As modern medicine continues to evolve, there is only so much the everyday individual can do aside from staying vigilant of their own symptoms. 

What Should You Do if Faced With a Paradoxical Reaction? 

It is crucial to alert your doctor and follow their instructions. Do not stop taking medicine on your own unless professionally advised to do so. As stated before, it could simply be a dosing issue.  

Not being transparent is a dangerous avenue and one that can present a variety of risk factors, such as: 

  • Extremes of age, i.e., greater susceptibility to injury for those under 25 or chronic diseases for people over 74. 
  • Alcoholism. 
  • Co-occurring mental disorders. 

In cases of substance addiction, numerous care levels of treatment are available at our Stuart, Florida rehab. 

Banyan Is Here to Help 

It is not hard for the average person to slip into some form of addiction, especially when presented with the confusing nature of paradoxical reactions. It can be frustrating and bring about feelings of uncertainty regarding treatment. Keeping it to oneself, however, can lead to far more profound consequences down the line.  

Medical professionals can only do so much if not informed. To resort to self-medicating presents an elevated risk of drug or alcohol addiction that can snowball into more health issues, creating a destructive cycle. Should you find yourself during such a situation, Banyan is equipped with a variety of addiction treatment options that can help get you back on track. Your well-being is of utmost importance to us, and medical detox is available on-site to give us a clearer understanding of your current physical health, along with bringing the body and mind to a state that will be receptive to the therapies to come.  

Call our Stuart, Florida, Banyan Treatment Center at 888-280-4763 to learn how we can aid you on the path to recovery. 


Related Readings:

Barbiturates vs. Benzodiazepines 

How Can Benzo Withdrawal Kill You? 

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.
A Closer Look at the Paradoxical Effect
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