Millions of teenagers and adults take anti-anxiety medications like Klonopin, Ativan, Librium, or Xanax to help them with anxiety. Psychiatrists have prescribed them to people for years to help them with crippling anxiety or panic attacks. However, the FDA has only now admitted that there is a dark side to benzodiazepines. Anti-anxiety medications, it turns out, can be highly addictive.
Benzos: Popular Anti-Anxiety Meds
Benzodiazepines are drugs that have been used for decades. Medications like Xanax are used for anxiety, sleep troubles, and various types of anxiety disorders. There are also medical uses for some benzos, such as muscle relaxation for TMJ people and help with seizure disorders.
Black Box Warnings for Benzos
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has created a black box warning that must outline the risks of benzodiazepines on every bottle. The alerts will describe the potential for abuse and addiction. Even without addiction, users can become physically dependent on the drugs and may have withdrawal symptoms if they cease using them.
People who abuse other substances such as alcohol or opioids are also at an increased risk for overdose. Benzos slow down the lungs, and alcohol/opioids, too, do the same, making it easy for an overdose victim to stop breathing.
Addiction is Dangerous
People addicted to benzos can face dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures or hallucinations. Many people addicted to benzos will have been using them for years, which means they are dependent on them.
“Benzodiazepines will not be the next big epidemic. They have been a ‘silent’ epidemic for decades, intensifying consequences from the current opioid epidemic,” Dr. Harshal Kirane, medical director of Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, told ABC News.
People who are addicted to benzos should have a clinically-supervised detox or taper. For many people, anxiety will come back, so it will be necessary to participate in therapy or inpatient treatment to learn better coping skills.