UA-63899747-1 Benzodiazepine Dependence – Nzinga Harrison, MD
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Benzodiazepine Dependence is the diagnosis used in the DSM-IV to describe the most severe addiction to Sedative-Hypnotics.  Sedative-Hypnotics are prescription medications that work in nearly the same part of the brain as Alcohol.  The drugs include ativan, klonopin, tranxene, valium, xanax and others.  It is defined by having at least three of the following symptoms in a one-year period:

  1. Tolerance:  The need to use increasing amounts of Benzodiazepines in order to get the same level of intoxication, or using the regular amount of Benzodiazepines doesn’t cause as strong an effect.
  2. Withdrawal: A specific set of symptoms that individuals experience when they stop taking Benzodiazepines.  Symptoms may include dilated pupils, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased temperature, shakiness, nausea and vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma and death.
  3. Using larger amounts of Benzodiazepines and for longer periods than intended.
  4. Persistent desire or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit using Benzodiazepines.
  5. Spending excessive amounts of time trying to get Benzodiazepines, being intoxicated or recovering from Benzodiazepine use.
  6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of Benzodiazepine use.
  7. The individual continues to use Benzodiazepines despite knowledge of negative consequences (i.e. physical illness, relationship problems, job difficulty etc.)

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