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What are Benzodiazepines?
A benzodiazepine (also known as a “benzo”) is a prescription drug that is typically used as a sedative or tranquilizer. They are helpful with anxiety and other disorders but can also lead to benzodiazepine addiction.
They are known to have a calming effect and are commonly prescribed to patients suffering from anxiety, panic, and sleep disorders (including insomnia), which are very common in the United States.
They’re also given to patients with cerebral palsy to help decrease the intensity and frequency of their convulsions.
In most medical settings, their major benefit is inhibiting the central nervous system.
Benzos are psychoactive, meaning that they’re used to change the thoughts, mood, or level of consciousness of the individual taking them.
This makes them ideal for relaxing a patient with regular heightened anxiety, one entering an intense surgery, and those who have frequent difficulty sleeping.
These same characteristics are what make them a dangerous and addictive illicit drug when they’re obtained from someone other than a doctor or a prescription isn’t followed causing a benzodiazepine addiction.
Call Today to Learn About Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzodiazepines that are appropriately prescribed and taken help calm nerves in anxiety sufferers, allowing them to feel less frazzled and think more clearly.
This happens because the benzos slow down brain activity and nerve impulses.
As a result, individuals under the influence of benzodiazepine will feel drowsy and uncoordinated, and their reaction time will slow down significantly.
Types of Benzodiazepines
There are currently thousands of different kinds of benzodiazepines, but only 15 of them have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Each has a different purpose, and they’re broken down into two types accordingly: long-acting and short-acting. Long-acting benzodiazepines can stay in your system for several days, although this may be altered by a number of factors like the amount and frequency of use.
Valium is a commonly known example of long-acting benzo. Short-acting benzodiazepines will typically only stay in the body for a few hours at a time, but again, this will vary.
Xanax is one of the most popular forms of short-acting benzo. Because they are highly addictive, it’s important to take both types appropriately and cautiously. In cases where benzodiazepines are misused, the effects can often be more dangerous or damaging than the original issue they were taken to treat.
The most common benzos include:
- Valium (Diazepam)
There are additional types of benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Signs and Symptoms
Several decades ago, benzodiazepines were officially categorized as Schedule IV drugs, meaning that they are known to have a high potential for abuse and addiction, along with a limited number of medical uses. However, like with most illicit drug use, it has been difficult to regulate. Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax are prescribed regularly. In fact, they are two of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States, and they’re sold, traded, or otherwise abused frequently from there.
High doses of benzodiazepines and misused prescriptions can lead to benzo addiction. Abusing these drugs can cause a variety of side effects and lead to varying levels of physical and psychological damage. This is especially true when individuals begin mixing benzodiazepine and alcohol, as this combination is often what’s responsible in cases of a fatal overdose. If someone you love has taken a benzodiazepine with alcohol and they are exhibiting extreme physical or psychological symptoms, call 911.
According to a National Institute on Drug Abuse study, a benzo overdose is a relatively common occurrence, reaching an all-time high of 11,537 just two short years ago. Recognizing the signs in yourself or a loved one can be difficult, disheartening, and confusing, but identifying the problem is the first step in taking charge before related symptoms can become permanently damaging or fatal.
The following symptoms are typically present in a benzo addiction:
- Extreme and relentless fatigue
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
- Speech slurs
- Withdrawal from loved ones, friends, and responsibilities
- Abrupt changes in mood, including unpredictable irritability
- Slowed reaction/reflexes and otherwise impaired coordination, which make it difficult to react to physical threats
- Decrease in heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- Skin that is pale and cold
- Blurry vision and dilated pupils
- Feeling Lightheaded, sometimes leading to fainting
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Full-on seizures or more mild tremors
Benzodiazepine abuse occurs for many different reasons, but many individuals have a genetic predisposition that makes it even more difficult to resist. Environmental factors are usually present, as well, and often include overwhelming social pressure and low socioeconomic status, among others.
If you recognize a benzodiazepine addiction in yourself or someone you care about, it’s time to take action.
Our facility offers 24-hour medical care, group and individual therapy and counseling options, and everything else you need for long-term recovery.
Our admissions specialists will also provide you information and guidance in another direction if there is another treatment option that is better suited for your individual needs. Our patient-first approach is what makes us different.
One of the biggest problems with a benzodiazepine addiction is how easy it is to build up a tolerance and require more of the drug to achieve the same effect as before. This can make a withdrawal from this particular drug very unpleasant and relapses more common. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be dangerous and occasionally life-threatening.
To combat the dangers of stopping such a powerful drug, medical professionals recommend being weaned off of benzodiazepines rather than abruptly ceasing to use them. Our detox program is medically assisted to ease any pain or discomfort and monitored to provide emotional and physical support when it’s needed.
Treating Benzodiazepine Addiction
Like any other substance abuse treatment, you’ll want to choose an accredited facility to guide you through your recovery. Highly-trained medical professionals are available to determine the severity of your benzodiazepine addiction, uncover pre-existing mental and physical disorders that may also require treatment, guide you through your detox, and give you the tools that you need to manage your addiction.
If you’re ready to get help, please call today for a confidential assessment and a complimentary insurance verification to get you started. During your assessment, we’ll gather information regarding the length and frequency of your benzo use, mental and physical health issues, and family history so that we can determine the best treatment methods for you. From there, we’ll discuss detox, inpatient, and outpatient options, and you can begin your journey to sober living.
Each patient is different and we’ll mold your treatment to match. Whether it’s benzos alone, benzos and alcohol, or benzos and mental health, we have a plan that can help. No matter where you’ve been, we know where you’re going, and that’s forward into a healthy, sober life.
Our goal is to offer the best care we can in an environment that makes you feel safe and comfortable, away from distractions,triggers, or temptations. We know how difficult this process can be and we want you to know that you’re not alone.