Behavioral disinhibition and spiritual side effects of benzodiazepines

Benzos are responsible for a range of psychological, cognitive and emotional problems. What are the behavioral and spiritual implications of benzodiazepines? Find out here.

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As many of you out there already know, long term benzodiazepine use or abuse can provoke behavioral side effects. Withdrawal can take months to years, with a constant suffering and discomfort throughout. With alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin) being listed in the top 50 prescription medications dispensed in the U.S., the problem isn’t going away.

What are the behavioral and spiritual implications of benzodiazepines? We invite you to continue reading this article and learn about some possible behavioral and spiritual implications of benzodiazepines. Then, feel free to address your question(s) or feedback in the comments section at the end. We will try to respond personally to you!

How do benzodiazepines cause the brain’s disinhibition?

Benzodiazepine medications work by increasing the neuronal inhibition mediated by GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, which leads to a general suppression of the electrical impulses, excitability and activity in all regions of the brain and spinal cord. The largest number of benzodiazepine receptors in the brain are concentrated in the cerebral cortex.

The frontal lobe of the brain is also known as the reasoning area, and benzodiazepines have sedative effects over this brain region, just like other sedative drugs and alcohol. When the frontal lobe’s function is suppressed, people experience reduced judgement, impaired cognitive and executive abilities, and poor impulse control, which makes a person act in an impulsive manner.

What are behavioral disinhibitions?

Behavioral disinhibitions can be detected in anyone who consumes alcohol or drugs that act as depressants of the central nervous system (CNS). This includes benzos. Specifically, benzodiazepine use can damage the frontal lobe of the brain and disinhibit the frontal cortex from self-regulation and control. Behavioral disinhibitions in people who use benzodiazepines chronically and for a longer period of time refers to a lack of ability to control behavior, and engage in acts without considering the potential consequences.

Risk for benzodiazepine behavioral side effects

Apart from concentration difficulties, confusion, feelings of sedation and motor sense(s) loss of coordination, people who take benzos for a period longer than necessary can experience a number of other behavioral side effects. These include:

  • aggression
  • anger
  • agitation
  • depression
  • hostility
  • hyperactivity
  • irritability
  • destruction of property
  • inflicting self-injuries
  • acting inappropriately in public
  • experiencing temper tantrums

While no one can predict with certainty whether a person will experience behavioral side effects from a benzodiazepine medication or which symptoms will occur, there are several groups of the population that are more susceptible to developing such issues. These populations include children, the elderly people, individuals who live in stressful environments, and people who suffer from different mental health issues, including people who have been diagnosed with:

  • autism
  • borderline personality disorder
  • brain injury
  • mental developmental delays
  • poor impulse control
  • …or those who have a history of behavioral problems

Benzodiazepine withdrawal and effects on behavior and spirituality

Withdrawal symptoms from benzos can and most probably will appear when you try to stop taking doses suddenly or take less of your usual amount/dosage. Stopping abruptly IS NOT RECOMMENED if you have been on benzo therapy for more than a month of daily dosing. But, withdrawal symptoms occur even in individuals who have only been on the medication for several weeks.

During benzodiazepine withdrawal, the disinhibited GABA receptor sites have become less sensitive, so the brain experiences a state of generalized excitement. This state of the brain is manifested by feelings of anger, losing control, violent behavior, vivid and disturbing dreams. Other potential behavioral and spiritual side effects include:

  • chronic cognitive impairments
  • lack of emotional responses
  • loss of control of one’s behavior
  • emotional anesthesia
  • impaired consciousness
  • personality shifts
  • suicidal ideation
  • verbal hostility and assault

So, what can you do when these symptoms manifest?

1. Seek qualified professional and peer help

Talk with a doctor who is experienced in benzodiazepine withdrawal. Seek a referral to doctors through pharmacies, hospitals, or local medical clinics. Be picky, because MDs with little to no experience can do more harm than good. Also, join the forum on this site. Getting qualified information is incredibly valuable and may be worth more than your time or money.

2. Talk it out.

Talk with a trusted person who is close to you. Speak with a close friend, family member, or even a therapist. Word of mouth, from trusted sources, is the best referral if you would like to seek regular psychotherapy. Call a hotline like 1-800-273 TALK any time of day or night. Whenever behavioral disinhibition presents itself, know that it will pass and that seeking help can result in a shift.

3. Seek inspiration online.

Read and seek more information about benzo withdrawal support. You can gain knowledge and feel less alone in reading about other people’s journeys. Try multiple websites and actively seek tips. This can help you feel a sense of progress, even if you feel stuck.

Benzo behavioral and spiritual side effects questions

Are you or a loved one faced with mental and physical health issues due to prolonged and high-dose use of benzodiazepine medication? Benzos are responsible for a range of psychological, cognitive and emotional problems, which may cause personal, social and professional life to deteriorate. Please post your questions in the comments section below in order to find honest help and advice.

Reference Sources: Benzodiazepines and disinhibition: a review
Cell Press: Hooked on benzodiazepines: GABA-A receptor subtypes and addiction
CESAR: Benzodiazepines
About the author
Ivana helps moderate Addiction Blog by providing helpful comments and suggestions to our readers. She is also an optimist and a dreamer. Ivana is inspired by books, travels, conversations and people and we are so grateful to have her on our team.


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    1. Hi RD. Since benzodiazepines have so many side effects it is probably very hard to reach higher states of consciousnesses. Maybe the best thing one can do in order to reach a higher state of consciousness is to be substance free.

  1. Is there a law suite for a jail to deny someone from there medications… The symptoms that are described in the article is happening now… I’m getting intouch with the soon as possible…

  2. I deeply understand and relate to y’all. I’m on my 5th and FINAL taper. I’ve done it with the Ashton method. I have less than 2 months to go. I’m so confused and exhausted right now and have nothing to add. I truly hope one day I will fee well enough to help others who are suffering from this and I plan to sing the song I wrote about these lethal drugs(and the pharmaceutical companies and ignorant doctors) out of a megaphone in front of Parliament Hill until the message is heard!!! Lots of love and healing vibes to you all 🙂

  3. Hi,
    I am a psychiatrist and it happens that I was looking at the relationship between Clonazepam and impulse control problems. I want to leave some comments.
    A lot of what I read in this site is certainly true although some qualifications may be needed.
    Especially I agree with the fact that the untoward side effects of these medications are quiet significant and most of the time poorly appreciated. I always avoid prescribing these medications to my patients and if they are on them I strive to help them come off them. I know anxiety can be managed otherwise than taking benzodiazepines and I make the point that anxiety in itself is not a disease.
    My main point, however, is the fact that most of the time patients want to take these medications and they don’t want to come off. I find very difficult to understand this. It is patients who want these medications and push very hard to get them. Many of them start to abuse them and they are addicted and don’t know it.
    I think there is no sufficient stress on this reality in this blog and the comments of the various writers.
    I hope this can be helpful. If yuo want to come off benzos you need to find doctor who know how to help people deal with their anxiety and understand the bio-emotional structure of individuals. –

  4. Hey all,
    I’m starting my 4th taper of Benzos. I became manic and super angry the first 3 times. Now I’m doing it slowly. I WANT THESE OUT OF MY SYSTEM SO I CAN HEAL!!!!! Does anyone out there take any supplements while detoxing off of this yucky drug? Thanks and I’m praying for y’all.

  5. Ivana I forgot to say thank you about #1 under What To Do when these symptoms manifest; find a good professional who knows about benzos and various medications. One needs be communicative with the doctor and proactive; clearly state their level of anxiety and physical symptoms of the anxiety, also mental symptoms. Gathering one’s medical information and history and faxing it to the professional doctor before an appointment is wise, as well as taking your own personal copies of same with one. All adverse reactions to medication/s, current meducations as well as physical medical illnesses must be shared with the professional doctor, via fax first is best, then re-iterated during appointment as different physical ailment meds can interact with psychoactive/psychotropic medication/s.

    1. Yes, Sonia. You are absolutely correct! Thank you for your kind words and your invaluable input on why sharing info with your doctor is important.

  6. I agree with Ronald. Having been on various psychotropic medications, most of them causing hellacious physical, emotional and mental side effects. I remember one, a new ‘one size fits all’ medication, hallucinating so bad a nurse told me a lawyer had a breakdown had been put on same med flipped out with bad hallucinations that when the med was stopped he came out of it telling her it was far worse than the Worst LSD trip he had had! I told the nurse I never did LSD unless someone at some time slipped me some, but the medication-induced hallucinations were like being in a real horror gore movie. It’s this: one has emotional pain and depression, and an anxiety disorder but the wring med/s are given because its either the new pill d’jour or the doctor is not treating All the symptoms possibly due to misdiagnosis as many symptoms can overlap. Wouldnt it be scary if some of these new ‘one size fits all’ psychotropic medicines are similar to LSD which initially was pushed by Timothy Leary a psychiatrist? My Dr is trying to wean me off a benzo, the benzo helps my sleep and anxiety problem, my other Dr tried me on two different new ‘one size fits all’ psychotropics at two different intervals, the first one being an atypical antipsychotic made me feel high and too happy then I began hallucinating, seeing and hearing things that I knew were not there. I called the nurse and she told me stop taking it. Ambulance came took me to ER where I was told never to tale again and the bad reaction was documented. Second med a few months later sent me to the ER and made me have to take a tablet of the very benzo I am being weaned off of. I will say How much safer or less dangerous can these new ‘one size fits all’ psychotropic meds be when their side effects are Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart trouble, rapid weight gain, Hallucinations? On benzo for five years Never had any of those happen to me or end me up in ER. Yes you cant just stop antidepressants or atypical antipsychotics cold turkey, one becomes emotionally and physically sick, so How are those meds any better? They Also affect the mind! Zyprexa made two of the most virtuously moral people I knew into raging nymphomamiacs, a side effect of that med, later they regretted their behavior After being taken off the med and back to their virtuous selves again. How many of the newest ‘one size fits all’ drugs side effects have been thoroughly researched before put on the market? Hellacious visual and audio hallucinations cause severe spiritual amguish and mental torture. And when a doctor from a highly questionable foreign country puts orders and insists you ‘keep taking” a med that causes such, President Trump needs to deport such a malpractitioner, why let such mental terrorists into the US? Thank you Ronald for your valid points.

  7. You say Talk it Out even with a therapist. I’ve been called a whiner, too negative, abandoned by therapists and psychiatrists , told to get a massage, etc all by licensed therapists. I’ve been called an addict by other people in a rehab facility even though I have never abused any drug including Benzos and I am a well educated individual who is now untrusting and livid at these so called Therapists.

    1. Hi Annonymous. I am sorry for your experience so far. I cannot even imagine that someone with the proper training and licensing would talk to a client like that.

      Are you looking to quit benzodiazepines? How may I help?

      If you are looking for a new therapist, you can look in Psychology Today directory listings for someone who has an office near your living area. Sometimes it really takes a few tries until you really ‘click’ with a therapist. So, don’t give up on your search for a professional that can truly understand and help you.

  8. Hello, I was taking Serax (oxazepam, not sure of spelling) 10mg twice a day – for a period of over 40 years. The dr that first prescribed put me on 40mg twice a day and this went on for over 10 years, then the dosage was reduced to 10Mg 3 times a day and this went on for over about 15 or 20 years, not sure of how long, about a year ago my dr at that time refused to fill my rx, so they just jerked me off the medicine. I did not feel like I had withdrawal of any kind, but now it is really hard for me to make decisions of any kind, even when to go to grocery store, I have to set and figure out why I need to do that, I cannot sleep at night, I feel like I am not who I am, it is so confusing. Has this medicine caused something in my brain to not work right? I am 82 years old and drs say I am in good health but why do I feel sick all the time, have no strength or stamina. would appreciate so much some answers?? The crazy things that goes thru my head, I have to ask myself over if it okay to do normal things, it is really hard to explain.

  9. Well, shit.
    Ivana speaketh the truth. I am a formerly successful executive, prescribed benzos a decade ago while stressed-out CEO of a turnaround (which was successful BTW), blindly took them (and other CEO positions) until Sept 2015 when life melted. My wife pitched me out, falsely believes I am a bum. I am not a bum, not a jerk…now(?) for one helluva comeback.
    Cold turkey, out of ignorance as to benzos. I took the damn drugs for a decade and I never knew what they were. “They will help you; they are safe.” Now Aug 2016. I am (I think) getting better. Maybe not. My new doc says maybe. Who knows, after nine months of hallucinations, depersonalization, derealization, physical agony, defocused eyes, cognitive impairment, short-term memory impairment…and most of the remaining withdrawal symptoms associated with this damn drug?
    My simple recipe? Eat clean simple food, drink a gallon of water daily, exercise like a nut even though you think you cannot possibly do it, get divorced, lose your job and your recognizable future, realize you have two choices: lay down and die or suck it up and get back to active life. I ain’t gonna lay down and die.
    One last thought…
    Don’t expect anyone, ANYONE, to understand what you have been through. Benzo withdrawal, at least cold turkey, is literally beyond human understanding. Then again, I know nothing about other types of drug withdrawal. I spent 20 days taking with God…I mean that absolutely literally, not metaphorically or allegorically. Completely, I believe, changed my life. Probably for the better (I hope)…we’ll see what happens (or what we can make happen) from here.

    1. Hi Benzo Bob. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with benzodiazepines with other readers. I am glad you are doing everything you can to aid the recovery of your brain, spirit, and body from these medication. It takes a long time, but things do get better as months and years pass by.

      I wish you all the best in your life! You have the winner mindset…you’ll make it through!

  10. Rehabs/Treatment Centers, such as the residential one I was court mandated to force people to cold-turkey detox from Benzos. In my case, the psychiatrist saw me as by default, inelligible to take any dose of any benzo. I was not even given any anti-epileptic seizure medicine. I was given SSRI meds, trazodone, and Seroquel, simply because they weren’t controlled substances. All antidepressants and antipsychotics have many of the same harmful “spiritual” consequences listed here. And sudden withdrawl from any psychiatric med can be a total disaster. I had been legay prescribed benzos since age 16 for truly legitamate reasons. This was not relevant to the people who worked at the Rehab. I was forced to smuggle diazepam into the facility to ween myself off of them and long after being off of any benzo, I was still suicidally depressed(while on other psych meds). I am able to write this because the gun I tried to kill myself with malfunctioned. I wouldn’t have been in such a mental state is I was properly tapered off benzos (As the Ashton Mrthod suggests). Even my court-mandated hospital detox failed to address my physical dependence on benzos. I was feeling worse after my 5 day stay, which was not beneficial in any way. They had no solution for methadone withdrawl, which lasts longer than they were required to keep me. For all these reasons, I see 12 Step and compmete absttinence-based recovery as punitive and I see Antidepressants and Antipsychotics as highly dangerous, but no addiction counser will ever recognize this. I’ve been tapering off my legally prescribed meds-not just benzos-because I know the horror of being forced to go without these meds abruptly. If SSRI’s were controlled substances, they’d be treated the same by the recovery industry as benzos. Instead, “Dual-Diagnosis” facilities over-prescribe drugs that have been proven to cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors to clients who may not need them to begin with. Benzos need to be seen as a potential form of Harm Reduction. I might be shooting heroin to calm myself if benzos were unavailable to me. Or I might attempt suicide to end my waking nightmare of mental illness.

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