- Benzodiazepine Abuse
- Signs Of Benzo Addiction
- Benzodiazepine Overdose
- Benzo Dependence & Withdrawal
- Benzo Addiction Treatment
Benzodiazepines (“benzos”) are central nervous system depressant drugs used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, panic attacks, and alcohol withdrawal. Benzos are also highly addictive, especially with long-term use.
If you or a loved one have substance abuse issues, professional treatment can help you recover from the effects of drug abuse.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that slow activity in the brain and increase activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), which is located on GABA-A receptors throughout the body. This can cause relaxation, reduced anxiety, and drowsiness.
Benzodiazepine prescription drugs include:
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Versed (midazolam)
Benzos are widely prescribed drugs that are commonly abused for their calming effects. However, they are intended to be used in the short term because of the risks of abuse and addiction.
Misuse can cause changes in the brain that may lead to repeated drug abuse. Benzo abuse occurs if you take these medications in a way other than how it was prescribed, including taking more than the prescribed amount or mixing it with other drugs.
Side-effects of benzodiazepine abuse include:
- dry mouth
- impaired memory
- decreased coordination
- low blood pressure
- slurred speech
- low concentration
Warning Signs Of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzos can be highly addictive and long-term abuse can lead to the development of a substance use disorder (SUD). If you or a loved one is struggling with benzo abuse, it can be helpful to learn the signs of addiction.
Someone with a benzo addiction may exhibit the following warning signs:
- unable to stop using benzos, regardless of consequences
- increased tolerance
- withdrawal symptoms
- abandoning relationships and responsibilities
- engaging in high-risk behaviors
- lose interest in hobbies and other activities
Benzos slow activity in the brain, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. If you take high doses or mix them with other depressant drugs, like alcohol, opioids, or barbiturates, you increase the risk of a life-threatening overdose.
Signs of overdose include:
- slow or shallow breathing
- loss of consciousness
- bluish skin
- extreme sedation
- loss of coordination
If a benzo overdose is left untreated it can be fatal or lead to hypoxia, a condition that can cause irreversible brain damage. If you suspect a benzo overdose, call for medical help immediately.
Benzodiazepine Dependence & Withdrawal
Over time, you may develop a tolerance and need increasingly higher amounts to feel the desired effects. Taking higher doses can lead to physical dependence, which means your body needs the drug to function.
If you suddenly stop or reduce the amount you take, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- panic attacks
- impaired concentration
- muscle aches
It’s important to seek professional treatment if you think you are experiencing benzo withdrawal. Severe cases can be life-threatening and may cause seizures. An inpatient detoxification program can provide medication and around-the-clock monitoring to keep you safe.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
Drug addiction is characterized by intense cravings and uncontrollable drug use, regardless of the consequences. It can be difficult and dangerous to stop using benzos without the help of experienced healthcare professionals.
Addiction treatment programs can guide and connect you with services that promote long-term recovery.
Depending on your individual needs, addiction treatment options may include:
Residential treatment, also known as inpatient rehab, allows you to live at the facility and engage in a wide range of therapeutic activities. Inpatient rehab removes you from outside stressors that may lead to continued drug use.
During inpatient rehab, you may be involved with individual counseling, 12-step facilitation, group therapy, support groups, and healthy activities.
Outpatient programs offer varying levels of intensity, depending on the severity of your addiction. You will attend a scheduled number of treatment sessions each week, which may include family therapy, individual counseling, and behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you change how you think, behave, and react to stress. Behavioral therapy is beneficial for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders and is likely incorporated into most addiction treatment programs.
If you would like to learn about the outpatient treatment options offered at Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, please reach out to us today.
- The Mental Health Clinician — Benzodiazepine Use, Misuse, And Abuse: A Review
- National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Prescription CNS Depressants DrugFacts
- National Library Of Medicine: PubMed — The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
- Semel Institute For Neuroscience And Human Behavior — Benzodiazepine Addiction
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.