Many of the most addictive drugs aren't illegal. They're doled out by pharmacists, sold over-the-counter, or readily available at gas stations. Although these drugs are perfectly legal – and can be beneficial – they have dangerous consequences when misused. And because they are so addictive, they're often abused.
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, including Xanax, Klonopin, and valium, are also massively overprescribed, says Kolodny. They're used to treat severe anxiety and panic attacks, but too many men take them who don't really need them. And too many men enjoy – and become addicted to – their effects. "Benzos are sedating," Kolodny says. "It can be similar to being intoxicated on alcohol. But it affects performance and function and can interfere with your career and relationships." And just like opioids, the body continually craves more. "People too often use benzos in uncontrolled manner and start taking higher and higher doses," he says.
Kolodny says physical dependence on benzos is especially severe – even deadly. "While the withdrawal effects from opioids are not life threatening, you can die when you stop taking benzos," he says. "It's similar to withdrawals from booze. People get delirium tremors and can wind up having a seizure or heart attack."
Even scarier is when men mix benzos with other drugs. "Benzos are bad enough on their own, but if you mix them with opioids, it's really bad," says Maxwell. According to Kolodny, this combination is becoming increasingly common. "Many drug overdoses are opioid-benzo combos," he says. "It's not one plus one equals two with these drugs. It's one plus one equals three. They can make you stop breathing."
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