About Benzodiazepine Addiction And Treatment

Benzodiazepines, or Benzos, are a class of depressants that affect the central nervous system. Doctors prescribe Benzos as sedatives and muscle relaxants for a wide variety of conditions, from trouble sleeping to panic disorders.

When used properly, Benzos can be beneficial to patients. Unfortunately, this drug’s high risk for addiction has led to thousands of misuse and abuse cases around the nation. Here’s what you need to know about Benzos addictions and treatment.

Benzodiazepine Uses

Benzodiazepines have a long history of development as a drug class. The first two Benzos approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were Librium (chloridiazepoxide) and Valium (diazepam) in the 1960s. These drugs became popular for treating anxiety, because they calm the nervous system and suppress feelings of panic. Other Benzos that hit the market later include Xanax, Klonopin, Tranxene, Serax, Halcion, Restoril, Dalmane, Ativan, and Librium. Benzos act on the GABA receptors in the brain to minimize the natural fight or flight reaction. On top of anxiety, doctors may prescribe Benzos for:

  • Panic disorders
  • Seizures
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle spasms or tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression
  • Alcohol withdrawal

Physicians also use Benzos as a sedation method prior to surgery or for general anesthesia. Different benzodiazepines work differently on the mind and body. Valium, for example, starts to work within 30 to 60 minutes. Valium is a long-acting agent that has duration of action from one to three days. Xanax, on the other hand, is an intermediate-acting agent that has duration of 11 to 20 hours.

Symptoms of Benzo Addiction

Anyone who takes Benzos runs the risk of addiction. The pleasant, calming effect of these drugs is physically and psychologically addicting for users, who may begin to crave the feeling of sedation. One major contributor to Benzo addiction is a lack of awareness of the dangers of prescription Benzos. Doctors often do not warn patients of the risk of prescription Benzo addiction before prescribing the drug. Thus, many unsuspecting patients end up addicted, forming a tolerance for the drugs and experiencing painful withdrawals. A person addicted to benzodiazepine may experience physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Double vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Change in sleeping/eating patterns
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Slowed thinking
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Increased anxiety
  • Irritability and hostility
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Chronic Benzo abuse can also lead to a variety of negative life consequences, such as loss of job, homelessness, broken relationships, worsened mental health, and suicidal thoughts. Despite the negative mental, physical, and personal effects of Benzos, thousands of people in America continue to use and misuse them.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of overdose deaths from benzodiazepines has steadily risen over the last decade. From 2002 to 2015, the number of Benzo-related deaths increased by 4.3 times. Around 2,000 people died from Benzo overdoses in 2002, compared with almost 9,000 in 2015. There has consistently been a higher number of men suffering from overdoses than women in these statistics.

From 2004 to 2014, the number of treatment center admissions for benzodiazepine addictions has almost doubled – from 7,500 in 2002 to 14,851 in 2014. Users often mix Benzos with alcohol, increasing the risk of overdose. In 2011, there were 123,572 Benzo-related emergency department (ED) visits involving drugs and alcohol taken together. There were 357,836 ED visits in the same year for nonmedical use of benzodiazepines.

Importance of Benzo Addiction Treatment and Detox

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment is available. Treatment centers that specialize in Benzo addiction can help walk addicts through the detoxification, treatment, and rehabilitation processes, aiding with therapy sessions and medications as needed to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. With the right professional help, it is possible to leave a Benzo addiction behind you.

Detoxification is an important facet of Benzo addiction treatment and the first step toward recovery. Since the body has become accustomed to receiving Benzos regularly, it will undergo withdrawal. Withdrawal severity and length depend on the severity of the patient’s addiction. While the body readjusts to the absence of Benzos, the patient may experience headaches, muscle aches, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, nausea, and hallucinations.

The detox process must happen slowly to prevent serious withdrawal symptoms such as psychosis and seizures. A slow tapering of Benzo usage is a common technique for detox, as is switching to a Benzo of lesser potency. Always detox from Benzos at a professional treatment facility. To learn more about benzodiazepine addiction and treatment, contact The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches.

If You or a Loved One Is Struggling with Benzo Addiction, The Treatment Center in Florida Can Help! See How We Can Personalize Your Path to Recovery:

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