Long-term Effects Of Benzodiazepines
The effects of long-term benzodiazepine use include drug dependence as well as the possibility of adverse effects on cognitive function, physical health, and mental health. There are significant risks associated with the long-term use of benzodiazepines. However, not all people experience problems associated with the long-term use of benzodiazepines. There is evidence that reduction or withdrawal from benzodiazepines can lead to a reduction in anxiety symptoms, while other's anxiety or panic respond only to benzodiazepine treatment. There are a number of side-effects associated with addiction to benzodiazepines such as depression and flu-like symptoms, nonetheless occurring in only a small amount of people. Due to these increasing physical and mental symptoms from long-term use of benzodiazepines, slowly withdrawing from benzodiazepines is recommended for many long-term users, while others benefit from lifelong benzodiazepine treatment and develop neither tolerance nor side effects.
Some of the symptoms that could possibly occur as a result of long-term use of benzodiazepines include emotional clouding, nausea, headaches, dizziness, irritability, lethargy, sleep problems, memory impairment, personality changes, aggression, depression, social deterioration as well as employment difficulties, while others never have any side effects from long term benzodiazepine use. The side effects of long term benzodiazepine use are not common if used as directed. Like any other chemical or medicine, one should never abruptly stop using this medicine and should wean themself down to a lower dose under doctor supervision until they are completely off the chemical, if desired. While benzodiazepines are highly effective in the short term, adverse effects in some people associated with long-term use including impaired cognitive abilities, memory problems, mood swings, overdoses when combined with other drugs may make the risk-benefit ratio unfavourable, while others experience no ill effects. In addition, benzodiazepines have reinforcing properties in some individuals and thus are considered to be addictive drugs especially in individuals that have a "drug-seeking" behavior; in addition, a physical dependence can develop after a few weeks or months of use, which is not a problem as one slowly lowers their dose. As with any medication, one should never stop taking it abruptly. Many of these adverse effects of long-term use of benzodiazepines begin to show improvements three to six months after withdrawal.
Other concerns about the effects of long-term benzodiazepine use, in some, include dose escalation, benzodiazepine abuse, tolerance and benzodiazepine dependence and benzodiazepine withdrawal problems. Both physiological tolerance and dependence can lead to a worsening of the adverse effects of benzodiazepines. Increased risk of death has been associated with long-term use of benzodiazepines in several studies, however, other studies have not found increased mortality. Due to conflicting findings in studies regarding benzodiazepines and increased risks of death including from cancer, further research in long-term use of benzodiazepines and mortality risk has been recommended. Most of the research has been conducted in prescribed users of benzodiazepines; even less is known about the mortality risk of illicit benzodiazepine users. The long-term use of benzodiazepines is controversial and has generated significant controversy within the medical profession. Views on the nature and severity of problems with long-term use of benzodiazepines differ from expert to expert and even from country to country; some experts even question whether there is any problem with the long-term use of benzodiazepines. Political controversy, in particular in the UK, also surrounds the long-term use of benzodiazepines, and was subject to the largest class-action lawsuit in the 1980s and 1990s. There have also been allegations of a cover-up by medical bureaucracies and the government.
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