Benzodiazepine is prescribed to people with mood problems. This is because it increases the activity of the GABA neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter is produced by the body to inhibit the function of other transmitters. It works by slowing or stopping the firing of neurotransmitters in the body thereby controlling the activities of the brain. In the layman’s terms, GABA is the natural sedative of the brain.
GABA suppresses such excitatory neurotransmitters as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine. This in turn helps in controlling:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Hormonal secretions
- Muscle movement
People use benzo to enhance GABA levels. However, with time, the body adapts to getting GABA from outside. This results in an addiction which makes benzo withdrawal difficult. Additionally, the significant role of GABA makes excessive use of benzodiazepine result in health problems. The body changes caused by the extended use of the drug are what lead to the withdrawal symptoms.
Users of benzodiazepine develop tolerance fast and start craving for larger doses to achieve their desired effect. The need for a higher dosage is because the liver produces more enzymes to destroy the benzo. Larger volumes will be required to cover for what is destroyed.
It is the addictive nature of this drug that makes prescribing benzodiazepine for more than three to four weeks in a row unadvisable.
When a person dependent on benzo stops using the drug abruptly, the GABA levels in the body drops substantially. This leads to an increased brain activity due to the spiking of excitatory neurotransmitters. The increase in brain activity gives birth to the first benzo withdrawal symptoms. At times, when the tolerance of a patient rises, he/she might begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms even when on a steady dose.