Question: What are the side effects and risks associated with benzodiazepines?
Answer: Benzodiazepines have side effects that are closely related to the benefits that they offer. For example, they are calming, which can potentially lead to dulling of the senses, or inability to think as clearly as one might. In an anxious state this is actually desirable. You are trying to calm down, you are trying to not have racing thoughts.
They can also lead to in-coordination. Again, they are closely related to alcohol, so if you think of the kinds of things that happen with a drink, that can happen as well with benzodiazepines.
That being said, prescribed carefully and taken appropriately, they work quite well for managing anxiety, and side effects can be minimized even as benefits are maximized.
There are also some benzodiazepines that have been used as sleeping medications, and are still used. And these are valuable for short-term use in sleep, but become a problem from an addiction viewpoint if they become taken for many months or years. Also, they cease to be as effective in inducing sleep after a few weeks.