Benzodiazepine therapy can give rise to physiologic and psychologic dependence based on the drug's dosage, duration of therapy and potency. 1 Thus, dependence will develop sooner (such as in one to two months) in a patient who is taking a high dosage of a high-potency agent such as alprazolam than in a patient who is receiving a relatively low dosage of a long-acting, low-potency agent such as chlordiazepoxide. As a result of physiologic dependence, withdrawal symptoms emerge with rapid dose reduction or abrupt discontinuation of the drug.
Most drugs of abuse are addictive. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences and by long-lasting changes in the brain. People who are addicted have strong cravings for the drug, making it difficult to stop using. Most drugs alter a person’s thinking and judgment, which can increase the risk of injury or death from drugged driving or infectious diseases (., HIV/AIDS, hepatitis) from unsafe sexual practices or needle sharing. Drug use during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition in which a baby can suffer from dependence and withdrawal symptoms after birth. Pregnancy-related issues are listed in the chart below for drugs where there is enough scientific evidence to connect the drug use to negative effects. However, most drugs could potentially harm an unborn baby.