Any of us who’ve had the misfortune of meeting up with a doctor who told us benzos wouldn’t hurt us and then tried to get off this class of drug already know this:
As reported elsewhere in the Telegraph, researchers at the journal Nature have proposed that the addictive effect of benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) has something to do with the drug’s action on dopamine. Valium and other benzodiazepines bind to GABA receptors which in turn, the researchers seem to be saying, potentiates dopamine in some way. Their thinking then moves to how one might create a drug that acts on GABA and reduces anxiety – like benzodiazepines – but without setting off the dopamine and the addictive process. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been proposed as the addictive brain chemical, the one that mediates mental thrills and spills and that drives drug and alcohol use. Practically all addictive substances, and indeed behaviours, seem to have an effect on dopamine. Hence the story’s headline “Valium works like heroin”. (Rest of this article here.)
Here is a story from a couple of years ago talking about how difficult it is to get off this class of drugs. I had several people in the course of doing this blog tell me they’d had experience with both heroin and benzos and benzos by far were worse to withdraw from.