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Americans are using more prescription drugs today than a decade ago and they’re spending twice as much on the drugs. The number of Americans using five or more prescription drugs has increased 70% over the past ten years. More prescriptions mean more drugs are making their way to the streets where people are able to purchase them illegally from a dealer. There has also been a sharp rise in admissions to treatment centers for benzodiazepines use, according to SAMHSA.

Benzodiazepines (a.k.a. benzos) are a class of drugs that are used to treat a variety of anxiety and seizure disorders. The drugs Xanax and Valium are popular brand names for benzodiazepines. Side effects of benzos include sleepiness, dizziness, weakness, and headaches. New technological advances in the 20th century led scientists to develop benzodiazepines as a way to treat anxiety and depression. The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland published a report which described the brief history of the drug.

During the 1930s, Leo Sternback discovered benzos while working for a healthcare company. However, the first benzodiazepine was not introduced to the public until 1957 when Librium was launched to treat anxiety. Abuse of benzos was not addressed until the 1980s when they became one of the most prescribed medications in America.

Although benzos are not as popular as alcohol or marijuana, they are still abused by many people. Benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs and can even lead to death. According to this SAMHSA report, the majority of people admitted to treatment for benzodiazepines addiction were most likely to be non-Hispanic, white females between the ages of 18 and 34. The study also indicated that about 86% of people use benzodiazepines as a secondary drug.

Benzodiazepines are addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms for those who have been using the drug for at least six months. Frequent use of the drug can cause impaired thinking, disorientation, and confusion.  If you or someone you love is abusing benzos, please get before it’s too late.