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Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs known for their sedative, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects, commonly used to treat conditions like anxiety and insomnia. However, the therapeutic benefits of these medications are currently overshadowed by the growing concern over the rise of illicitly sold versions, often referred to as ‘street benzos.’

These illicit versions pose significant health risks due to their unknown potency and composition, making their use far more dangerous than their legally prescribed counterparts.

The emergence of these unregulated substances on the streets marks a serious shift in the UK, something that can lead to instances of misuse and addiction in all corners of society. This article delves into the hidden world of street benzos, exploring the risks associated with benzodiazepine addiction and the growing issue of counterfeit versions, so-called fake benzos, that have infiltrated the drug market in recent years.

What are Benzos/Benzodiazepines? 

Benzodiazepines, or benzos for short, are psychoactive drugs known for their sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties. They are legally prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, including, for example, certain anxiety disorders, insomnia, seizures as well as things like muscle spasms. A commonly prescribed benzodiazepine is diazepam, otherwise known as Valium. Other benzodiazepine variants include lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin).

As medications, benzos work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, responsible for reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. By increasing GABA’s effects, benzodiazepines promote calmness and relaxation in the body, making them effective for their intended medical purposes.

However, the calming effects of benzodiazepines also come with certain medical risks, especially when used long-term or without professional supervision. They can lead to tolerance, dependence, and, ultimately, addiction.

The potential for misuse and addiction is a significant concern, compounded by the emergence of street benzos, which are not subject to the same regulatory standards as prescription medications, of course. This lack of regulation can raise safety concerns, as users often have little to no knowledge of the drug’s true composition or potency.

The Rise of Street Benzos

Street benzos are benzodiazepines that have been manufactured illicitly and sold on the black market. Unlike their prescription counterparts, these drugs are unregulated and, therefore, can pose a risk to users due to their unknown potency and potential contamination. 

The dangers of street benzos lie not only in their lack of quality control but also in the fact that their composition can vary widely. This unpredictability can lead to severe health consequences, including overdose and, in the worst cases, death. This is particularly so when benzos have been mixed with other substances like opioids. The allure of street benzos often stems from their availability and lower cost compared to prescription medications, attracting individuals seeking relief from anxiety or insomnia, as well as those looking for a recreational high.

The rise of street benzos has become a public health concern in the UK as these drugs circulate outside the boundaries of medical oversight, making it challenging to track their distribution and impact. The issue is exacerbated by the ease with which these substances can be obtained, often through online marketplaces and social media platforms, further complicating efforts to combat their spread. This fact only highlights the need for increased awareness and intervention strategies among users of benzodiazepines.

Fake Benzos: A Growing Concern

The emergence of counterfeit benzodiazepines in the illicit drug market represents a growing concern that goes beyond the aforementioned problems associated with street benzos. Note that fake benzos are often designed to look identical to their legitimate pharmaceutical counterparts with similar branding and packaging in some cases. And yet, their contents are anything but safe. Typically manufactured without any adherence to quality control, fake benzos often contain a range of harmful substances, including potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which are known to increase the risk of overdoses and other issues.

The rise of fake benzos highlights the dangers of purchasing and consuming medications from unverified sources. Like out-of-date street benzos, users seeking relief may unknowingly expose themselves to substances of unknown strength. Furthermore, the composition of fake benzos could lead to unpredictable and potentially life-threatening reactions. The appeal of these counterfeit drugs often lies in their lower cost, but the true price can be high.

Addressing the proliferation of fake benzodiazepines requires a multifaceted approach, including education on the risks associated with their use, improved regulation and the detection of counterfeit drugs. Perhaps even more importantly, accessible treatment options for those struggling with addiction are also crucial to dealing with the issue of both street and fake benzos, not to mention where misuse occurs with legitimately procured benzodiazepines. 

Benzodiazepine Addiction

It is important to bear in mind that benzodiazepine addiction encompasses both physical and psychological dependence, often leading to increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Signs of addiction include an uncontrollable desire to use the drug, ignoring the negative impacts on one’s life and, most notably, experiencing physical withdrawal when usage is reduced or stopped.

Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, including anxiety, insomnia, tremors and, in extreme cases, seizures, necessitating a carefully managed, medically supervised tapering process for safe cessation. If you have ever said to yourself, “I need benzodiazepines”, then you should seek some form of benzo help.

The path to recovery from benzodiazepine addiction involves comprehensive treatment strategies that address both the substance dependence and the underlying emotional or psychological issues. This typically includes medical detox to safely manage withdrawal symptoms, followed by therapy and support groups to aid in long-term recovery and prevent relapse.

Given the complexities of benzodiazepine addiction, especially with the added risks of street and counterfeit versions, a multidisciplinary approach to treatment and support is often considered the best way to achieve an effective recovery.

Benzo Help: Next Steps

The good news is that benzo help is available. At Infinity Addiction Solutions, we have a wealth of experience in benzodiazepine addiction to draw upon and have helped people recover when they were users of street benzos before.

If you or someone you know needs benzo help, then you can find out more about benzodiazepine treatment and addiction with us. Even if you have tried to get off street benzos before and found the withdrawal symptoms – such as palpitations, insomnia or tinnitus too much – our addiction specialists will be able to help.

Consider Rehabilitation For a Happy, Healthy Life

Why not get in touch with Infinity Addiction Solutions today to discuss the various therapeutic options for alcohol detox? With the help of a discreet, professional company like Infinity Addiction Solutions you can take the five steps above and start to feel better, and hopefully, begin to live the happy, healthy life you truly deserve.

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