Frequently Asked Questions About Benzodiazepines

About Benzodiazepines

Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam). A complete list can be found here.

Informed consent is the process by which doctors empower patients with sufficient information to accept or decline treatment based on a full understanding of the relevant risks, benefits, and uncertainties related to the proposed intervention, as well as alternatives. For more information, see here.

While exact numbers are difficult to come by, an industry study conducted in 2012 found that 94 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines were filled annually in the United States.

Non-benzodiazepines (“Z-drugs”) are a class of psychoactive drugs that are benzodiazepine-like in nature. Non-benzodiazepine pharmacodynamics offer very similar benefits, side-effects, and risks as benzodiazepines. However, non-benzodiazepines have different chemical structures, and therefore differ from benzodiazepines on a molecular level.

Common side effects include memory and cognitive impairment, increased or new sleep impairments, increased or new anxiety, neuropathy, pins and needles sensations, unexplained new health or psychiatric problems, increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lack of balance with an increased risk of falling and related physical injuries, digestion issues, sleep apnea, and tremors. For a more complete list of side effects, see here.

Tolerance occurs when a higher dose of the drug is needed to achieve the same response achieved initially. Tolerance can be likened to a mini withdrawal for someone dependent on benzodiazepines, because the body demands the drug, and is technically receiving the drug but is too acclimated to the dose to respond in the intended manner.

Interdose withdrawal refers to the withdrawal effect experienced when the drug wears off prior to the next scheduled dose.

No. Patients, especially those still on the drug, tend to experience multiple “unexplained” issues and receive multiple incorrect diagnoses.

Yes. They impede the ability to retain information and form memories, which are essential for the most highly effective anxiety therapies, CBT and exposure therapy. They can also interfere with EMDR and first-line PTSD trauma processing therapies.