Benzodiazepine drugs are usually introduced to patients as a result of medical intervention. It could be the patient is suffering from one type of aliment which requires the benzodiazepine treatment. Thus the addicts and abusers of these drugs don’t just come out for the joy or thrill of a high, it first starts as a medicine they need, but eventually end up becoming addicted to it and abusing it.
Patients develop tolerance to the drug while they use it as a muscle-relaxant, sleep-inducing and anticonvulsant medicine. When they cease using the medicine, they start experiencing various withdrawal syndromes some of which can be quite severe. Chances are if the patient does seek medical, psychiatric help or moral support from family and friends, she or he will seek the drug and continue using it for a longer period than was originally intended.
As the patient continues taking the benzo drug over the time in a bid to suppress the withdrawal syndrome, they may increase the dosage to a dangerous high level. They would also devote a lot of time, effort and resources to getting and using the drug. This would then be a typical case of drug abuse like any other.
Other causes for drug abuse is when a patient is on a low dosage of the benzodiazepines but does not abuse or exceed the dosage. However over the time they develop tolerance to the drug and thus become benzodiazepine dependent. This is mainly evident among patients using benzo to cure insomnia. Over the time they feel the dosage does not work as effective as it did initially thus they increase their dosage without any medical advice to do so.
For patients who use these drugs to curb their anxiety, after about 4 months of continuous intake of this drug they lose their effect as anti-anxiety drugs. There is medical evidence which suggests that in the long run these drugs actually worsen the anxiety level the patient was experiencing. This makes the patient to increase the dosage level thus becoming benzo drug abusers.
Risk factors for Benzo Drug Abuse:
The major risk factor for the abuse of benzodiazepines is continuous use over a period of 4 months. Other risk factors include:
- Increasing the dosage level beyond the doctor’s prescription.
- Using potent and short-acting benzodiazepines.
- Having a dependent personality.
- The proclivity for substance and drug abuse.
Many patients experience physical dependence while using highly potent benzodiazepine drugs like alprazolam (Xanax) than when using low potent ones like chlordiazepoxide.