Patterns of Benzodiazepine Misuse & Abuse

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  • 0:01 Benzodiazepines
  • 0:24 Misuse vs. Abuse
  • 1:37 Signs of Abuse
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Benzodiazepines, like the famous Valium, are drugs that have been successfully used to treat a wide variety of problems. However, they can be misused and abused. Find out the differences between misuse and abuse, and discover their signs and symptoms.

Benzodiazepines

Ever heard of Valium? That's the brand name of a kind of benzodiazepine, which is a type of drug that may have anti-anxiety, sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxant properties. Because of their ability to relax the body, some people misuse and abuse these drugs, especially when stressful life events, like the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job, occur. Let's figure out what this looks like.

Misuse vs. Abuse

Bill has been prescribed a benzodiazepine for his anxiety. The prescription states that he should take one pill a day only. But Bill decides to self-medicate and take two pills today, because he feels a bit more anxious than normal. He's had a stressful day at work, and he thinks that another pill can't hurt. This is an example of benzodiazepine misuse, the inappropriate use of legal prescription drugs in a way that they are not intended to be used. Basically, Bill isn't following directions.

If this happens once, it's misuse. But if Bill continues to disobey his doctor's orders to the point where he becomes dependent on this medication, and it negatively affects his quality of life, he's now abusing the drug. Benzodiazepine abuse refers to a pattern of using any drug in such a way that it negatively affects a person's psychological and physiological well-being and negatively affects their daily life functions, like school and work.

Someone's drug abuse may just look like simply using more at once than necessary, or it may be a pattern of using the drug inappropriately, like snorting it instead of swallowing a pill.

Signs of Abuse

If Bill begins to develop symptoms like drowsiness, slurred speech, confusion, and dizziness, then these may be signs of benzodiazepine abuse or even overdose. If people that love Bill see his relationships deteriorating, his work performance suffering, and his personal life falling apart, then these, too, could be a sign he is abusing benzodiazepines. Ironically, some signs of benzodiazepine abuse are actually the same signs and symptoms for which the medications are prescribed in the first place.

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