Taking this drug may increase your risk of dementia

Taking this drug may increase your risk of dementia
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Your risk of developing dementia is determined by a large range of factors– some of which you can control, and some of which you cannot. Your family history, for example, is simply the luck of the draw, and even if you want to, you can’t change your age. On the other hand, things like your diet, alcohol intake, and drug intake are considered changeable.

A new report warns that taking a particular drug may put you at an increased risk of developing dementia later on – and that’s not the only downside of this drug. Read on to find out which commonly prescribed medications can put you at risk and why even short-term use can cause a problem.

READ NEXT: Doing this at night makes you 30% more likely to develop dementia.


A 2021 report published by Psychiatric time warns that the drug benzodiazepine, a psychoactive drug used to treat anxiety, seizures and insomnia, has been linked to a high risk of dementia. It is often sold under the names Klonopin, Valium, Librium, Ativan and other brand names and generics.

“Although there are no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the association between benzodiazepine use and dementia risk, six prospective cohort studies, six case-control studies, and one cohort study retrospective explore the relationship,” the report said. Of the 13 studies mentioned in the report, eight showed a positive association between benzodiazepine use and dementia, and two others showed mixed or inconclusive results. The other studies found no discernible link.

READ NEXT: Doing this in the bathroom could be an early sign of dementia, warns doctor.

older woman taking pills
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A 2016 study published in BMJ and cited in the report specifically looked at how long patients used the drug in relation to cognitive outcomes. The researchers found that short-term use of the drug was associated with development of dementia. “It remains unclear whether long-term use is associated with overall cognitive decline,” the study authors wrote. This complicates the widely held notion that benzodiazepines are considered safe for short-term use, a period generally defined as two to four weeks for this particular drug.

young woman in jeans and a white t-shirt falling on the floor of her house

Experts warn that benzodiazepines have long been associated with a wide range of potentially serious side effects. “These drugs are associated with many deleterious effects, including falls, broken bones, traffic accidents and delirium,” explains the BMJ study.

Additionally, benzos are known to cause drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, loss of motor control, slurred speech, slowed breathing, muscle weakness, and more. However, you should not attempt to stop use on your own. Talk to your doctor for advice on how to safely wean yourself off benzodiazepines.

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Drug addiction dating

Experts warn that in addition to increasing the risk of dementia and triggering other side effects, benzos can also be habit-forming. “Benzodiazepines work by slowing of nerve activity in the brain and throughout the rest of the central nervous system, thereby diffusing stress and its physical and emotional side effects,” explains the American Addiction Centers. In addition to their tranquilizing effects, benzodiazepines are known to release “dopamine in the brain, which is the chemical messenger involved in reward and pleasure. The brain can learn to expect regular doses of benzos after a few weeks of taking them and therefore stop working to produce these chemicals on its own without them.”

Thanks to their addictive properties and the desire of many doctors to over-prescribing the drug, many users have become dependent on benzodiazepines. Tell your doctor if you think you are experiencing any negative side effects from this drug or if you have developed any drug-seeking behaviors around its use.

READ NEXT: Drinking this popular drink lowers the risk of dementia, new study finds.

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