Benzodiazepines Use Signs and Symptoms – What Are They?

Last Updated: April 7, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Benzodiazepines often referred to as “benzos,” are psychoactive drugs labeled as sedatives, and are most commonly prescribed to people who struggle with anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal.

Identifying Someone Abusing Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are highly abused because people can find them easilyble. People take this medication to relax and fall asleep more quickly. Sometimes, benzodiazepines can also be used as a date rape drug.
It is critical to notice signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine use because when mixed with other drugs and alcohol they can be fatal.
Here are some of the most recognizable symptoms of benzodiazepine use:

  • Sedation
  • Lack of interest in activities person used to enjoy
  • Neglecting family members and friends
  • Doctor shopping
  • Lying
  • Plastic bags and empty bottles left behind
  • Sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Buying the drug on the streets

What are the Most Common Signs of Benzodiazepines Use?

Other common physical and psychological symptoms of benzodiazepine use include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Vision problems
  • Coordination problems
  • Movement issues
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Poor judgement
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Speech problems]

Overdose is one of the most severe consequences of benzodiazepine abuse. It can even lead to a fatal outcome. Therefore, it is of the essence to talk to the loved one and tell them the concerns. Be patient, avoid being judgmental, and make sure to speak to the benzodiazepine user when they are not high.

Signs of Long Term Benzodiazepines Abuse

Benzodiazepine use can leave a permanent mark on one’s mental and physical health. Some of the most severe consequences of long- term benzodiazepine use are:

  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Addiction
  • Relationship problems
  • Poor work performance
  • Headaches
  • Risk of polysubstance abuse, especially alcohol that can lead to death
  • Lack of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Stomach problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma

What’s Next?

If one suspects that the family member or a friend is using benzodiazepines, it is vital to talk to them and try to explain why it is important to enter rehab. It can be done by staging an intervention. One should invite the loved one to a family meeting where family members can tell them their concerns.
The second step in the benzodiazepines rehabilitation process is detox, which should be conducted under medical supervision to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient rehab facilities offer their patients counseling, group therapy, family therapy, and many more activities that can help a client overcome addiction.
Advice is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, and the primary goal is to establish new coping mechanisms and determine why addiction occurred. Also, we shouldn’t forget to mention the importance of family therapy. To avoid relapse, the family should be a haven for a recovering benzodiazepine user as well as a strong support system.

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Published on: June 23rd, 2017

Updated on: April 7th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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