Drug dependence and addiction are two separate issues that are often confused with one another. Understanding the differences between these terms can be important. Drug dependence is also called substance use disorder. This refers to a scenario where someone needs one drug or several drugs to function. A person can become dependent on drugs without being addicted, and dependence is defined as a physical and psychological response to a drug. Dependence can occur not only with psychoactive drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines, but also medications used to treat chronic conditions. For example, if someone is on a daily medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, they may be dependent on that substances.
When someone’s body and brain are consistently exposed to a substance, their body adapts to its presence. The body and brain may change their own functionality in response to the presence of the drug. Dependence can involve addiction, but it doesn’t have to. Something else related to drug dependence is tolerance. As people’s brains and bodies adapt to a drug, they need higher doses to get the same effects. There are stages that people go through as they become dependent on a drug. These stages of dependence are called the Jellinek Curve. The stages include using the drugs recreationally, then using drugs regularly. Then there is an addiction that develops and dependence where someone is physically and mentally unable to function without them. With prescription drugs, these stages don’t even have to occur. People may become dependent on certain prescription substances while only using them therapeutically as instructed by a doctor.
As a benzodiazepine with psychoactive properties, Versed dependence is possible. Benzodiazepines like Versed (midazolam) work by affecting certain brain neurotransmitters. Specifically, benzos increase the effects of the calming neurotransmitter GABA. The brain can become used to these effects. Neural pathways and wiring may change as a result. Benzodiazepines can lead to dependence very quickly compared to most other substances. That’s why doctors usually recommend people use them for no more than a couple of weeks.
When someone is dependent on Versed or another benzodiazepine and they stop using it suddenly, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Specific withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the drug class a person is dependent on. Other variables can include the longevity of use and how heavily someone uses a substance. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be especially severe and may require medical care. Versed withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Panic attacks
- Concentration problems
- Confusion and cognitive impairment
- Memory problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain
In the most severe cases, benzodiazepine withdrawal can include seizures, changes in perception, hallucinations, psychosis and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In general, benzodiazepine dependence occurs in 1/3 of people who use these drugs for more than four weeks. When people receive Versed infusions, they may develop a tolerance and dependence in just a few days. Versed withdrawal can also sometimes include symptoms of the underlying condition it was used to treat. For example, if Versed was used to treat agitation or insomnia, these symptoms may reappear during withdrawal and be more severe.
Suddenly stopping the use of a substance is called quitting cold turkey. This is not recommended with benzodiazepines like Versed. Instead, most doctors will instruct Versed and benzo-dependent people to gradually taper down their dosage. A medical detox is often recommended as well, especially since withdrawal can include fatal conditions like status epilepticus. During a medical detox, a patient can be given medications and appropriate treatments to keep them safe from the most dangerous withdrawal side effects. The length of a Versed detox can depend on things like how long someone used the medication and whether they have any other substance use disorders.
To learn more about medical detox options as well as addiction treatment programs and payment options, contact The Recovery Village.
Signs Symptoms and Side Effects of Versed Abuse
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.