Alex was going through a stressful time with work and felt overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety. After visiting his general practitioner, he received a prescription for Xanax, a commonly used benzodiazepine. He realized they made him feel pleasantly relaxed. Even after the stressful events in his life subsided, he continued taking benzos recreationally most evenings and weekends. Despite warnings of Xanax side effects sexually, he continued to take the drug.
After some weeks, his girlfriend noticed a significant drop in his libido and felt her needs were not being fulfilled. She also expressed worry that Alex might be becoming dependent on the drug. His reluctance to stop taking it at first in spite of his girlfriend’s concerns caused conflict in their relationship. After serious discussions, he decided to seek help to wean off it.
He signed up for a proven program that helped him safely come off of the drug. While his libido doesn’t return to normal at first, dedicated abstinence and focusing on his health eventually work. He and his girlfriend return to enjoying an active sexual life together.
Benzo Abuse: How Common is it?
Benzodiazepines or benzos are commonly prescribed drugs widely used across the U.S. According to a National Health Statistics report, mental disorders are the most common reason for benzodiazepine prescriptions. In the U.S., 12.5% of adults use benzos. Out of those who use them, 17.5% misuse them, and 2.1% of the entire U.S. population has misused them at least once in their lives.
Benzos may be prescribed for anxiety, stress, sleep disorders or musculoskeletal issues — just to name a few. Due to the wide variety of conditions that warrant benzo prescription, they’ve become popular and widely available.
Dangers of Benzodiazepines
While benzodiazepines help many people manage stress, insomnia, and other conditions, they can be dangerous. Due to the pleasant state of relaxation they induce, they can be both psychologically and physically addictive. People with a history of substance abuse or those with an addictive personality are advised to avoid using them unless absolutely necessary.
Like alcohol withdrawal, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal. While you can’t overdose from benzodiazepines alone, unsupervised withdrawal can lead to something called respiratory cessation. This is when the parts of your brain that are responsible for autonomous breathing shut down, and you can simply stop breathing during sleep.
Other side effects of benzodiazepines include:
- Loss of appetite
- Problems with vision
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Inability to stop
- Extreme discomfort trying to stop
Xanax Side Effects Sexually
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of sexual interest
How Do They Impact Brain Function?
Benzodiazepines are a strong sedative. In other words, taking this medicine slows down activity in the central nervous system. This occurs because benzodiazepines increase the quantity of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory brain chemical or neurotransmitter that slows down or blocks many neurological functions. While this can make users feel tranquil and relaxed, extended use or misuse can result in long-term damage to the brain.
As the brain acclimates to higher amounts of GABA generated by benzodiazepines, it ceases to create GABA on its own. When this occurs, users may experience more symptoms of anxiety, worry and panic than they experienced before taking benzodiazepines. Furthermore, all nerves and brain cells that were repressed by the brain’s normal synthesis of GABA are reactivated, which might result in:
- Panic attacks
- Paranoid feelings and thoughts
- Mood imbalances
Excessive or prolonged use can also increase susceptibility to neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
What Are the Challenges of Quitting Benzos?
When prescribed benzos, people are often unaware of Xanax side effects sexually. People may even initially feel that sex on Xanax is more enjoyable, only to lose their sex drive entirely after prolonged or excessive use. After realizing that benzos have negative side effects, people may wish to cease use but find it extremely difficult to do alone.
Withdrawal from benzos can be treated with a gentle dosage reduction. This results in milder symptoms that come and go in waves. If you’ve been taking benzos for more than six months, abruptly quitting your dose might trigger grand mal seizures and delirium and might even be fatal. Considering these dangers, it’s highly advised to seek professional supervision when quitting benzos.
FHE Health has inpatient and outpatient programs that can help you recover from benzo use. Our team of doctors and psychological professionals is trained and qualified to help you. We can make the quitting process as comfortable and safe as possible.
A number of factors influence the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Your dose
- Length of use
- Which benzodiazepine you’re using
- If you’re using more than one drug
- If you’re quitting more than one drug
Can Your Libido Recover?
How fast your libido recovers depends on the severity of your benzo use. Your dose, how long you’ve been using, and how often you use will play a big part. In general, keeping a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating well, and avoiding substances will work in your favor. Try not to become irritated or discouraged; simply be patient and persistent and keep focusing on your health.
Ready To Start Your Journey of Recovery?
Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. They’re most often prescribed for various mental disorders, including anxiety, panic, sleep disorders and more. Despite their widespread use, benzos have many undesirable side effects and should be used with caution. They can be both physically and mentally addictive, and unsupervised withdrawal can be dangerous and even fatal.
Among other things, prolonged or excessive benzo use can negatively impact libido and may result in relationship conflict. Recovering from benzodiazepines should be done slowly and under the supervision of a professional.
If you’re worried about coming off benzodiazepines yourself, reach out to FHE Health for help. Contact us today by calling us at (833) 596-3502. Our team of professionals is ready to take your call.