Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedative drugs that are popular in Irish society. Commonly used examples include anti-anxiety drugs diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®), bromazepam (Lexotan®) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium®) and sedatives such as flurazepam (Dalmane®) and Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol®).

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedative drugs that are popular in Irish society. Commonly used examples include anti-anxiety drugs diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®), bromazepam (Lexotan®) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium®) and sedatives such as flurazepam (Dalmane®) and Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol®).

Addiction to these drugs can occur for a variety of reasons . One of the problems of using benzodiazepines is tolerance. This means that greater doses of the drug are needed to achieve the same effect. Many people find it difficult to cease use in these circumstances as the withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant. This results in physical and psychological dependence. These drugs are widely used, for example, among heroin users, sometimes as a substitute when opiates are in short supply or to enhance the effects of opiates.

There are short term effects of abuse of these drugs including confusion, drowsiness and overdose (particularly when used in conjunction with other sedative drugs such as alcohol and opiates). Longer term effects include depression and memory loss.

The treatment of benzodiazepines abuse is rarely straightforward and there is a paucity of research in this area. A commonsense approach is the combination of medical treatment (maintenance or detoxification) with a particular form of psychotherapy (cognitive behavioural therapy) and counselling support.

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