Benzodiazepines: addiction and dependence

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety and panic attacks associated with panic disorder. The fact that benzodiazepines can be physically and psychologically addictive is hardly controversial. However, what is controversial is the extent of the problem among users who take these drugs for treatment of anxiety disorders only for therapeutic purposes.

In order to have a clearer understanding of the dependence risks associated with the use of benzodiazepines, it is important to distinguish between drug dependence and drug addiction. Is physical dependence on benzodiazepines the same as addiction? If withdrawal symptoms occur after stopping benzodiazepines, does this mean that addiction has occurred?


If the drug is suddenly stopped or reduced, the physical dependence on the drug can be identified by the withdrawal symptoms. Although physical dependence may be a component of addiction, it is not an addiction in itself.

Physical dependence is the result of many drugs.

For example, certain blood pressure medications can cause physical dependence. However, these drugs do not cause addiction.

Physical dependence may be the expected result of long-term treatment with benzodiazepines. If the drug is stopped suddenly or reduced too quickly, this dependence may cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include:

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  • anxiety
  • Diarrhea/upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Concentration reduction
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremor
  • Seizures

If a person is physically dependent on benzodiazepines, they can avoid withdrawal complications by slowly reducing the dose of the drug over a period of time.


Drug addiction is a brain disease that is determined by the components of physical and psychological dependence. The end of physical dependence may lead to detoxification, but psychological factors will firmly control the addict. It is this part that makes it difficult for the patient to stay awake. There is no cure for addiction, and staying awake is usually an ongoing pursuit of the tortured person.

Despite the negative consequences, drug addiction can lead to drug-seeking behavior and continued drug use. Drug-seeking behavior using benzodiazepines may include obtaining drugs from multiple providers or illegally obtaining drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Addiction to benzodiazepines or other drugs can negatively affect many life functions. These consequences may include reduced work efficiency, family or relationship issues, or legal issues. Despite the negative consequences, drug addiction can still lead to continued use of the drug.

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According to the American Academy of Addiction Medicine, drug addiction is not the same as drug dependence. Not all people who are physically dependent on drugs will continue to become addicted. It is believed that certain people are susceptible or prone to addiction due to physical, psychological, and social influences.

Signs of drug addiction may include:

  • Drug hunting behavior (asking for drugs from multiple doctors, obtaining drugs illegally)
  • Craving for drugs
  • Focus on getting medicines
  • Abusing drugs for the purpose of intoxication or pleasure
  • Dependence and withdrawal after stopping the drug
  • Interfere with normal life functions (reduce work efficiency and reduce motivation)
  • Relationship problem
  • Legal Issues
  • Despite the negative effects, continue to use

Pseudo addiction

Drug abuse is a common component of addiction. However, this type of behavior may also be the result of real symptoms that have not been adequately treated. For example, a person with symptoms of anxiety and panic may use drug behavior to control his or her symptoms. This is not a true addiction, because the individual is not seeking drugs for pleasure, and once panic symptoms are adequately treated, they will not exhibit drug-seeking behavior.

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Long-term use of benzodiazepines

Many people who receive long-term benzodiazepine treatment for panic disorder or other anxiety-related anxiety disorders worry that they will be “addicted.” Due to the same problem, some doctors may suspend benzodiazepine treatment. Many studies have shown that long-term use of benzodiazepines is effective and safe, and will not cause most people who are treated for anxiety disorders to become addicted. However, for some people, the use of benzodiazepines may cause addiction. This risk appears to be greater in people with a history of alcohol or other drug addiction or those who actively abuse alcohol or other drugs.

It is important to remember that benzodiazepines are generally safe and effective when used as directed. Long-term use may produce tolerance and dependence, or even tolerance and dependence. However, this is different from addiction. If you think you have an addiction problem, remember that you can help. Discuss treatment options with your doctor or other healthcare provider.


Benzodiazepines: addiction and dependence
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