How Dangerous and Addictive are Tranquilizers like Xanax or Valium?

How Dangerous and Addictive are Tranquilizers like Xanax or Valium?

Tranquilizers are nervous system depressants that treat a wide range of symptoms such as acute anxiety, sleep disorders and panic attacks. However, the word “tranquilizer” is a bit misleading. The goal is not to induce a sedative state but rather to calm nerves, reduce blood pressure and promote sleep. 

Even though tranquilizers have a purpose, they are addictive. This is why doctors prescribe them for short-term use only. Consider that just one month can lead to physical dependence. But what happens if you are struggling with insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks? Can you safely take tranquilizers to get you through? 

Like other potentially addictive medications, you and your doctor must weigh the risks and benefits. If you have an addictive personality or have been in outpatient rehab, you may want to consider an alternative treatment. The risk of becoming addicted is just not worth it. 

Let’s learn more about what tranquilizer drugs are, how they work on the brain and the people who should avoid taking them. 

What are Tranquilizing Medications? 

There are two main groups of tranquilizers: minor tranquilizers and major tranquilizers. Minor tranquilizers are anxiolytic drugs that treat anxiety symptoms. Major tranquilizers are antipsychotic drugs used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. Usually when people talk about tranquilizers, they are referring to minor tranquilizers. 

The goal of tranquilizers is to suppress the central nervous system, alleviate stress and help with sleep. These drugs are effective, but they are not without risk. 

Here are some examples of the most common tranquilizers: 

  • Benzodiazepines. These drugs treat anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, alcohol withdrawal and muscle spasms. Benzos are generally used for a month or so. Anything longer than this can cause dependence and brain damage. 
  • Barbiturates. Barbiturates were once used to treat insomnia and anxiety, but they have been mostly replaced by benzodiazepines. 
  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants boost serotonin levels in the brain to stabilize mood and treat underlying depression. 
  • Sympatholytics. These anti-hypertensive drugs decrease the body’s fight-or-flight response to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Opioids. Opioids are highly addictive drugs that reduce pain signals in the brain. They’re generally used to treat severe pain but can treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression, too. 

Are Tranquilizers Like Xanax and Valium Safe? 

As you can see, there are many types of tranquilizers, and some carry more risks than others. In some cases, minor tranquilizers can be safe and effective when used under the supervision of a doctor. 

However, it’s important to be aware of the negative effects of some of these drugs, particularly when it comes to benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium. Just because these drugs are legal does not make them safe. In fact, they can be just as dangerous as opioids. For some people, it takes just a few weeks to grow addicted. 

If your doctor recommends a tranquilizer, it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits for your personal health. Also, you should always let your doctor know if you have a history of drug treatment and rehab in Phoenix. Your doctor may choose another type of treatment in this case. 

stressed out woman

What Happens if I Don’t Take Tranquilizers as Prescribed? 

Here at Continuum Recovery Center, we are wary of benzodiazepines because of the problems they can cause. However, we do understand that there is a time and place for these medications, such as when recovering from addiction in Phoenix. But, what happens if you do end up abusing a tranquilizing medication like Xanax or Valium? What will happen? 

Remember, tranquilizers are only considered “safe” when taken as directed and under the supervision of a medical professional. Outside of this, they are dangerous and addictive. Here are some health risks to be aware of: 

  • Brain damage. Benzodiazepines cause damage to the central part of the brain. Doctors were seeing short-term memory loss in individuals who had taken the drug, and now we know that this is actually a form of brain damage. 
  • Liver disease. Benzodiazepines are also associated with liver damage and disease. If you abuse these drugs, you’re taking more than what’s prescribed and putting extra stress on your liver.
  • Self-harm. Another problem with tranquilizing medications is the possibility of self-harm or suicide. This risk does not appear to be present in all individuals but rather for those taking the drugs for PTSD and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Respiratory problems. Taking more than recommended or mixing benzos with other sedatives like alcohol can lead to respiratory distress. If breathing suppresses and blood pressure drops, it can lead to coma. 

Am I Addicted to Benzodiazepines? 

People who become addicted to benzos are usually driven by the chemical changes in the brain. This can happen when your doctor prescribes benzos to treat an anxiety disorder or if you took pills from a friend. Either way, it’s typically the euphoria that the body craves. 

Here are some signs of addiction and the need for outpatient addiction treatment

  • Taking more of the medication than prescribed.
  • Taking the drug more frequently than prescribed.
  • Mixing the medication with other drugs and alcohol. 
  • Saving pills for later recreational use. 
  • Getting the drugs from other sources. 
  • Abusing the drugs for relaxation purposes. 

Do I Need Outpatient Rehab for a Benzo Addiction? 

The healing process for a benzo addiction starts with detox. Once you are stable, you can begin Phoenix outpatient treatment for drug abuse. Most programs include counseling, holistic therapies and proper medication. Treatment is important because any prior mental health conditions will return. 

Addiction treatment for benzos typically includes a combination of behavioral therapy, group therapy and 12-step support groups. The goal of therapy is to help you identify negative thought patterns and triggers that led to the abuse. A dual diagnosis Phoenix treatment center will also address underlying mental health disorders. After treatment, you will receive an aftercare plan that helps transition you into your daily routine. 

Continuum Recovery Center treats addictions to tranquilizing medications like Xanax and Valium. We have a structured, supportive outpatient program that provides our clients with support. To learn more about our outpatient drug rehab and how it can give you the second chance you deserve, contact us today.