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benzodiazepines side effects on the body

 Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for their therapeutic effects in relieving anxiety and promoting sleep. They can also be used as a muscle relaxant and an anti-convulsant. Diazepam, temazepam and nitrazepam are examples. Benzodiazepines are most commonly available in tablet form but when misused may be injected (after crushing). Tolerance develops to both therapeutic and non-therapeutic effects. Physical and psychological dependence occur. Benzodiazepines may be misused by the person to whom they were prescribed, or by others who have obtained illicit supplies. Reasons for use include: the effects they have if used alone (relieving anxiety, inducing feelings of calmness and relaxation, inducing sleep); enhancing the effect of other substances (for example opiates and alcohol); counteracting the effects of stimulant drugs; and as a substitute for, or to help cope with withdrawal symptoms of, other substances. In excess, benzodiazepines cause drowsiness, slurred speech, poor coordination, and a glassy-eyed appearance (with dilated pupils). When taken in high doses some people experience a paradoxical effect, characterized by aggression and hostility. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include: feelings of anxiety, sweating, tremor, irritability, headache, nausea, insomnia and perceptual distortions. Sudden cessation of benzodiazepines in someone who has used high doses on a regular basis for a lengthy period of time can induce withdrawal seizures. Anxiety disorders are very common in people who misuse benzodiazepines. For such clients detoxification can be extremely difficult as anxiety is also a withdrawal symptom and clients are likely to be highly anxious about detoxification. As with other CNS depressants a risk of accidents is associated with use. Overdose is possible but unlikely to be fatal unless other CNS depressants have been taken. Injecting potentially brings the problems associated with intravenous use outlined above. There is a risk to the foetus if pregnant women continue to use heavily.

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