There are more than 15 different types of FDA-approved benzodiazepine medications. These drugs
are referred to as Benzos and are widely prescribed for a variety of medical and mental health
concerns. The benzodiazepine drug Xanax is the mostly widely prescribed psychiatric
medication. Other types of Benzos include Alzam, Xanor, Zopax, Urbanol, Rivotril, Lorazepam,
Librium, Pax, Rohypol, Dormonoct, Ativan, Dormicum, Zopiclone and Valium.

Why do people use Benzos? They can provide anxiety relief and are often prescribed to treat anxiety
disorders including social anxiety and panic disorders. They are also used to treat alcohol withdrawal
and to assist for the first few days of starting an anti-depressant. They are only intended to be used
for short term acute symptoms. This is because long term use leads to tolerance (the need for more
to get the same effects) and dependency (compulsive use with withdrawal symptoms if the drug is
stopped).

How do they work? Benzos are central nervous system depressants. Our central nervous system
regulates our heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and temperature. When we take a Benzo these
functions slow down by interrupting the brains messages to our bodies through our
neurotransmitters. Whereas stress stimulates our brains and central nervous system, Benzos slows
down the brain by inhibiting the production of neurotransmitters. The result is a feeling of calm and
relaxation. However, the brain quickly adjusts to Benzos and they have less and less effect on the
brain over time, and thus less effect on the body’s central nervous system. This is called tolerance.
Symptoms of tolerance and over-sedation are extreme sleepiness, problems with memory, cognitive
impairment, mood swings, shallow breathing, depression, psychosis and even death. Mixing Benzos
with alcohol increases their potency and risk of overdose.

Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, inability to focus, irritability, restlessness,
muscle weakness, shakes, difficulties concentrating, irregular heartbeat, sweating, hallucinations,
depression and craving. You may also notice behavioural changes such as withdrawal from social
activities, secretiveness, stealing of money, visits to different Doctors and extreme defensiveness
when questioned or confronted.

Benzos detox and treatment must take place under the close supervision of a trained Medical Doctor
and nursing staff. It is possible to have a severe reaction if Benzos are suddenly withdrawn.
Medically assisted detox ensures that the process is safe and thorough, and comfortable for the
person concerned.

Thereafter a non-judgemental treatment process will assist in determining how the dependency
began and address the underlying triggers that developed the dependency, along with learning
coping tools and strategies to maintain abstinence.

If you or your family member are struggling with a dependency of any kind, contact us for a free
assessment. Tel: 021-7617348 or email info@ixande.co.za.

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