Benzodiazepines are highly addictive medications effective in sedating or calming those with anxiety, panic, or seizure disorders. Unfortunately, short and long-acting benzos taken over a long term can account for potential misuse, abuse, and physical dependence.

The familiar names of Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Ativan, or Klonopin prove how widely accessed these drugs are through healthcare providers. As a result, studies have discovered that more than 5 million adults abuse benzodiazepines.

What Are Short-Acting Benzos (SABs) and Long-Acting Benzos (LABs)?

Short and long-acting benzos have different effects on the brain and body. In addition, understanding the half-life of each drug explains how long the drug will remain effective. Both types of benzos are beneficial when taken as directed. Conversely, problematic behaviors can begin with misuse of the medication because of the calming and relaxing effects of the drug. Misuse of benzos can easily transition into abuse and addiction.

Patients establishing tolerance and physical dependence have a high potential for overdose. Having a sound education and understanding of the warning signs of benzodiazepine abuse is essential. Short-acting benzodiazepines have a shorter half-life, meaning they are processed and leave the body quicker than their counterparts. When drug use is over, the body has less time to adapt to working without it. 

Long-acting benzodiazepines have a longer half-life. Processing slower than their counterpart, the drug takes longer to leave the body. When drug use is over, the body may experience a “hangover” effect, but fortunately, withdrawal problems are fewer. After establishing a diagnosis, the medical provider evaluates the use of short and long-acting benzos to respond to the disorder’s symptoms. 

Effects and Dangers of SABs and LABs

Every person has a different metabolism, and opioids have different rates of metabolization (breaking down in the body). Diazepam, for example, will produce additional benzodiazepine chemicals when metabolizing. The other chemicals stay in the body to extend the overall effect. Potency or dosage frequency is another factor in short and long-acting benzos’ effects and dangers. 

The physical signs of the abuse of benzodiazepines include the following:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slurring words
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination and slow reflexes
  • Drunk-like appearance
  • Glazed look or trance-like state

The psychological effects of benzodiazepine abuse could be any of the following signs:

  • Problems with memory, including temporary or short-term memory loss
  • Mental confusion
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Manic-like mood swings
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Disorientation
  • No interest in activities 

The behavioral effects of benzo abuse can be any of the following behaviors:

  • Doctor shopping for multiple prescriptions
  • Trying to deceive family, friends, and medical providers about drug use
  • Stealing money to get drugs or drugs from others
  • Resorting to criminal activity to get drugs
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • Stealing someone else’s prescriptions

Differences between Short and Long-Acting Benzos

Benzodiazepines are meant to fulfill different treatment options depending upon the diagnosis. For example, the duration of action in each drug determines how effective the drug will be for treatment. Those with insomnia may need immediate help falling asleep but can stay asleep once the drug induces sleep. Therefore, short and long-acting benzos classify how quickly the drug will take effect and how long the drug remains in the body. 

A diagnosis of an anxiety disorder requires treatment over extended lengths of time and a longer period throughout the day. However, extended-release benzos and intermediate benzodiazepines are available for short-term therapeutic use. Longer-acting benzos are most useful for treating very painful symptoms that, once under control, can allow for a slow tapering off of the medication

Abusing SABs and LABs Together

Every medication a healthcare provider prescribes has an immediate intended treatment for a specific diagnosis. Therefore, it is perilous to misuse short and long-acting benzos by mixing them for a desired effect not intended by the provider.

Beyond mixing short and long-acting benzos, taking them with alcohol or other drugs may increase the impact or expected euphoric effect and the risk of overdose and significant adverse symptoms. In most benzodiazepine deaths from overdose, an opioid drug was also involved in the event. 

The increase of emergency room visits from benzodiazepine overdose continues to increase, similar to opioid overdose. In addition, illicit use of benzos may include crushing the drugs to snort them, mixing short and long-acting benzos, and using them with alcohol or other substances.

Dangerously high doses are also responsible for the increased chance of overdose. Unfortunately, benzo-related overdose deaths continue to rise slowly year to year. If received quickly, an antidote, such as flumazenil, can effectively treat benzo overdose.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of benzodiazepine overdose and seek immediate medical help for those experiencing the following signs and symptoms:

  • Impairment of coordination and focus
  • Respiratory distress
  • Confusion and extreme drowsiness
  • Impairment of normal reflexes
  • Coma
  • Death

Detox and Treatment for Abuse of Short and Long-Acting Benzos

Recovery of physical dependence and addiction from abusing benzodiazepines over the unintended long term is possible. In addition, once physical dependence is present, ending usage or missing dosages can be stressful, uncomfortable, and physically dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can be extreme and produce medical complications if not monitored by professionals. Fortunately, Detox West offers a medically monitored detoxification process to protect patients from adverse complications. 

Medicall- monitored detox is available. In some cases, medication-assisted treatments can help the patient tolerate withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, complete detoxification can occur within a few weeks. Once detox occurs, holistic therapy can introduce new positive coping mechanisms to address drug cravings or urges.

Common symptoms of withdrawal from abusing short and long-acting benzos can include any of the following:

  • Severe muscle pain and cramping
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tremors
  • Extreme sweating
  • Seizures

Find Detox for Short and Long-Acting Benzos in Tennessee

Treatment is available if you see a loved one or are experiencing the physical, psychological, or behavioral signs and symptoms of short or long-acting benzos. Detox West Tennessee has a proven success rate in treating benzodiazepine addiction. Immediate attention is essential to prevent overdose and death from addiction.

Begin feeling healthy again by enrolling in a treatment program to meet your individual needs with Detox West Tennessee. Contact us today.