Benzo drug abuse can also be referred to as Benzodiazepine addiction or Benzodiazepine dependence. This is when the patient experiences the following: develops behaviors which depict tolerance to the drug, has withdrawal symptoms, has drug seeking behaviors, continues using the drug despite being harmful to their health and has maladaptive patterns associated with substance abuse.
In most cases of benzo abuse, the patients avoid the unpleasant withdrawal syndromes rather than seek the pleasurable effects obtained from the drug. It is common for patients to develop benzodiazepine dependence once they have used it over a long period of time. Even if the dosage level was small; once they stop using the drug after a prolonged use, they start experiencing various withdrawal syndromes.
Benzo addicts can be described as people who misuse the drug or have a pathological craving for the drug and want to experience the intoxicating and euphoric effects it has and not for the purpose of relieving the withdrawal symptoms experienced when one stops using the drug for medical reasons. It is important to take note of the following classification of benzo drug abuse or any other substance abuse in general:
- Addiction: This is a disorder, whereby the benzo drug user has a pathological pattern of using the drug. Resulting to repetitive adverse consequences socially like failure to be competent at work, dealing with family affairs, legal problems and having interpersonal conflicts.
- Physical Dependence: This is a state where benzo drug use leads to the body becoming tolerant to the drug effects and it can be said to have become accustomed to it. When the patient stops using the drug abrupt or sharply decreases the dosage levels s/he starts to experience negative symptoms.
- Drug Abuse: Although this term can’t exclude dependency, it is used synonymously both in nonmedical terms. In medical context it is taken to mean, a patterned usage of the drug leading to the patient taking in amounts which are harmful to them. It also includes unconventional methods of introducing the drug into the patients system.
All the above terms of benzo drug abuse leads to increased GABAA inhibition: this occurs when the benzodiazepines effect on the body is counteracted when the body becomes tolerant to the drug’s effects. A condition which is referred to as neuroadaptation: the GABA inhibition reduces as the glutamate system excitability becomes increased.
When this happens the body tries to overcome or override the Central Nervous System depressant effects caused by the drug in trying to restore the homeostasis level initially meant to be. Once this is achieved and the benzodiazepines are stopped, the neuroadaptations becomes “unmasked” thus making the nervous system being hyper-excitable which is manifested as withdrawal symptoms.