Benzodiazepine Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Benzodiazepines are a commonly prescribed, used and all-too-often abused class of drugs in Colorado, and nationwide. Whether you’re in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs or anywhere else throughout the state, you likely know someone who has used benzodiazepines at some point in their life, or maybe you have personally.

Benzodiazepines, often just called benzos, have sedative properties and there are more than a dozen different kinds of them that are prescribed in the U.S., for the treatment of anxiety, stress, panic disorders and other similar scenarios. They may also be prescribed as anti-seizure medicines.

Understanding benzodiazepine side effects is important if you feel like someone in your life may be abusing them, and signs of benzodiazepine abuse are also important to understand.

Benzodiazepine Side Effects

As mentioned, benzodiazepine side effects are related to the fact that these drugs have antianxiety and sedative properties. They also have muscle relaxant properties. When someone takes them, whether by prescription or otherwise, some of the general side effects of benzodiazepines can include drowsiness, coordination problems, and in some people hostility or irritability.

One of the most troubling benzodiazepine side effects with long-term use is an addiction, and physical dependence is also a long-term side effect of benzos in many people.

The official benzodiazepine side effects list includes the symptoms above and also dizziness, weakness, loss of orientation and headache. Other potential benzodiazepine side effects can include depression, sleep problems, confusion, aggression or excitement, and memory problems. Memory problems are also one of the benzodiazepine side effects of long-term use.

Benzodiazepine Addiction: Symptoms, Signs, & Side Effects

Benzodiazepine Addiction Signs

People can be prescribed benzos like Xanax and other drugs for legitimate reasons, often to treat anxiety and panic, but there is also the potential for abuse with these drugs.

Benzo abuse can occur in several different scenarios. First, someone might have a prescription for a benzo, but they may take it in a way other than what’s directed by their doctor, such as taking a larger dose or taking it more often than they’re supposed to.

Benzos are also frequently abused recreationally, and people may pair them with other substances like alcohol to amplify the effects.

If you crush benzos up to snort them or take them in a way other than how they’re meant to be taken, this is also one of the benzodiazepine addiction symptoms.

While the general signs of benzodiazepine use may include the symptoms named above, such as drowsiness and sedation, benzodiazepine abuse symptoms may include taking the drugs other than instructed, doctor shopping to get more prescriptions, or faking symptoms to get prescriptions. Benzodiazepine abuse symptoms can include stealing from friends or family, being secretive or dishonest about your use of the drugs, or feeling like you need them to relax or feel normal.

Just because you abuse benzos doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted to them or physically dependent, but the longer you abuse them, the more likely those situations are to occur.

With an addiction to benzos, your brain has changed to the point where it needs the drugs to feel normal. You may try to stop taking them and yet find that you’re unsuccessful, or you may experience negative consequences with your use of benzos, but you take them anyway.

When discussing the symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse, understanding physical dependence is also important. With physical dependence, you may or may not be addicted to benzos, but your body has become used to their presence, so you need them to feel normal.

Signs of benzo dependence include building a tolerance to the drugs, so you need higher doses to feel the same effects, and also experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them suddenly. Even when you follow instructions provided by your doctor, you can still become physically dependent on benzos.

Benzodiazepine Toxicity Symptoms

Because of how commonly benzos are prescribed and used not just in Colorado but around the country, people have the dangerous misconception that these drugs aren’t harmful, and that’s not true.

Benzodiazepine toxicity symptoms can occur and can lead to overdose and death.

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Colorado Poison Center for online assistance.

Most commonly benzodiazepine toxicity symptoms occur when the drugs are taken with another class of substances, such as alcohol or opioids, or are taken with other sedative-narcotics.

Benzodiazepine Overdose Signs and Symptoms

With just how commonly benzos are used, it can be wise to have an understanding of benzodiazepine overdose signs and symptoms.

Some of the clinical signs of a benzodiazepine overdose may include:

  • Problems breathing
  • A bluish tint to lips or fingernails
  • Extreme disorientation and confusion
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms or out-of-control movements
  • Tremors
  • Stupor
  • Coma

In some instances when there’s a benzodiazepine overdose, there may be other complications that occur as a result such as respiratory damage, pneumonia or muscle damage.

Benzodiazepine overdose symptoms are more likely to occur in people who take large doses, take the drug more frequently than they’re supposed to, or mix it with other substances. Benzodiazepine overdose symptoms are also more common when people crush up the drug and inject it.

If you or a loved one is grappling with a benzodiazepine abuse problem, or you recognize any of the signs of benzodiazepine abuse, there are Colorado addiction resources available such as The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. There are also nationwide resources if you’d like to receive help outside of Colorado.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.