By Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics
What are benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs, often prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, muscle relaxation and seizure control. Valium and Xanax are examples of commonly prescribed benzodiazepines.
When benzodiazepines are prescribed by a doctor, they are legal, helpful prescription drugs. When they are taken either in amounts that exceed their doctor’s recommendations or taken without a prescription, benzodiazepines become an illegal, problematic substance.
Benzodiazepines are not only abused by adults. In fact teens, abuse benzodiazepines more often than one may suspect. According to the Partnership at DrugFree.org, one in every eleven 12th grade teens abuse tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium.
7 Reasons Teens Abuse Benzodiazepines
Why do teens abuse benzodiazepines?
- To relax- Benzodiazepines sedate the central nervous system. This sedation helps people with anxiety and other disorders. For teens, they may be looking to “just relax” and feel the effects similar to those that alcohol consumption produce, so they see benzodiazepines as an enticing alternative.
- To relieve stress- Teenagers carry a lot of stress and face constant pressure in their day-to-day lives. Between school, worrying about their social life, making time for extracurricular activities or even jobs, teens are learning to balance and manage their lives. Even if their stresses seem trivial to an adult, teens are feeling real pressure and real stress. They are looking for ways to deal with their stress and sometimes can go looking in the wrong place, like turning to drugs.
- To reduce inhibitions– Fitting in can be a high priority for teens, and with the concern of what people think weighing on their shoulders, sometimes it can be hard to reach out to potential friends, other cliques, etc. Like alcohol, benzodiazepines reduce inhibitions and can make it easier to interact with peers. Reducing inhabitations may give a teen the confidence to try something bold or do something they normally wouldn’t consider. The spotlight isn’t always positive and can lead to shame, gossip, etc.
- To get “high”- Why do people take any drugs illegally? Sometimes it is simply to get “high.” Teens are looking for that “high,” whether it is a street drug, a prescription drug or illegal use of a prescription drug like benzodiazepines.
- They are readily available in the medicine cabinets of parents, family and friends.- Prescription drugs can often be found in a parent’s or grandparent’s cabinets. Teens know where the medications are kept, and simply the fact that it is easily accessible can make benzodiazepines tempting.
- They are increasingly available on “the street.”- Apart from the availability of benzodiazepines in parents’ cabinets, these drugs are often easy to come by elsewhere. Whether from classmates or simply ordering with a credit card online, drugs such as Valium and Xanax are available for teens, or anyone, online. According to NBC news, “a Columbia University study found that 94 percent of Web sites advertising prescription drugs actually don’t require a prescription.”
- They believe that taking benzodiazepines are harmless because they are prescription drugs.- There is a common misconception among teens that prescription drugs are safe because they’re prescribed by a doctor. What they don’t realize is that prescription drugs are only safe under the direction of a doctor and only as prescribed for the person whose name is on the prescription. Even then, taking a dose larger than what is prescribed, taking a medication in combination with other medications that may conflict or taking medication with alcohol can cause major health risks. Prescription drugs are not safe when abused. Read more on prescription drug abuse in our blog “The Cold Hard Facts on Prescription Drug Abuse.”
Identifying abuse of benzodiazepines
When teens abuse benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium, their symptoms can mimic alcohol intoxication. Benzodiazepines can cause slurred speech and make them stagger when they walk. Additional side effects include confusion, grogginess, drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, depression, headaches and trembling. If your teen seems extra groggy and confused all of a sudden, it could be because they have taken benzodiazepines.
When teens abuse prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, they are often mixing them with other prescription drugs. Mixing of drugs often leads to overdoses, landing teens in the ER, or worse. Mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol can also lead to overdose, a coma and even death.
Read more about benzodiazepines here. Learn street names, what it looks like, how it is taken and the dangers of abuse.
If you have noticed that your teen isn’t behaving like him/herself and is often depressed, drowsy or slurs their speech, you can take action. When you are worried your teen may be taking benzodiazepines or other prescription drugs but need confirmation, you can have them take a drug test. Drug tests are available for prescription drugs, just like any other drugs, and you can order drug tests that can be sent discreetly right to your home. You can browse benzodiazepines drug tests by clicking here. Call uVera Diagnostics for more information 1-866-242-5930.
Once you have confirmation that your teen is abusing benzodiazepines, you have the power to stop it. You can seek treatment. To find a treatment center near you, visit SAMHSA.gov and type in your zip code.
If a loved one, friend or yourself have experienced the abuse of benzodiazepines, share your story by sending us a comment below.
uVera Diagnostics is a drug testing company that provides drug tests for use at home or in the workplace. Call uVera Diagnostics at 1-866-242-5930 or browse our selection of drug tests online. Click here to browse drug test kits that test for benzodiazepines.
Posted by Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics and Co-designer and Developer of the CR3 split-sample drug test cup. Bill has 25 years in sales management and marketing and is a 10 year veteran of the drug testing industry. As a parent and co-worker, Bill’s energy is focused on drug testing on every level. Addiction is all around us in alcohol, prescriptions and street drugs, and that is a constant reminder a drug free society starts with each and every one of us.
For more information on drug testing, click here or call 1-866-242-5930.
This information is meant for awareness and education purposes only. Any medical or life saving advice should come from experts. Always consult with your physician about any and all drugs.
Sources: carontexas.org, webmd.com, newportacademy.com
Photos courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.com by marin (girl taking pills) and David Castillo Dominici (depressed teen boy)