What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a commonly abused class of psychoactive prescription medication that is given as sleeping pills, and to help treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, panic disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder. They are sometimes prescribed as anticonvulsants or muscle relaxers, or to treat nausea, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or depression.
This medication works by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter called GABA, depressing the central nervous system to create a feeling of calm, effectively treating some types of physical and mental health conditions when used temporarily. Due to the quieting effect these medications have, benzodiazepine abuse and addiction are common.
What You Should Know Before Taking Benzodiazepines
Before taking benzos, it is a good idea to speak with your family physician about issues you may face, as many people struggle with psychological and physiological addiction or other effects when taking benzos. It may take professional detox, therapy programs, drug abuse treatment, and drug rehab programs to stop using these medications.
1 – Side effects of Benzos
Over time it has come to light that prolonged benzodiazepine use causes a wide range of side effects, including:
- Confusion and dizziness
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Memory issues
- Drowsiness or sedation
- Slurred speech
- Cravings for more benzos
Benzos can also create a paradoxical effect, meaning that rather than producing a sense of calm, you may feel anxiety, paranoia, irritability, or display aggressive behavior when taking these medications.
2 – Benzodiazepine Addiction
Signs of benzodiazepine abuse and addiction include tolerance for the medication, needing to take more to achieve the same level of sedation and calmness, and creating a physical dependence over time. Psychological dependence on benzos due to this substance-abusing will also form at the same time, altering a person’s behaviors and creating a substance use disorder in the brain.
3 – Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Benzodiazepines are a drug that, once the body becomes accustomed to having them in your system, cause harsh withdrawal symptoms if you try to cut back or abruptly stop, even if you believe you have not abused benzodiazepines and have been taking them as prescribed by your doctor. Symptoms may include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Muscle pain
- Cognitive and memory issues
- Hallucinations or psychosis
- Suicidal ideation
4 – Rebound Anxiety from Benzodiazepines
After having abused benzodiazepines, a longer-term rehab or aftercare program is usually required, because the side effects of quitting these drugs can return unexpectedly for weeks, or even months after detoxing in a benzo drug-dependent person. A strong relapse prevention program will help you counter these difficult feelings and cravings, as will surrounding yourself with a supportive, sober community.
5 – Combining Benzos with Alcohol or Opioids can be Deadly
As benzos depress the nervous system, mixing them with other substances like alcohol or opioids can cause your heart rate and breathing to slow down to dangerous levels or even stop completely. If this happens, it can lead to brain damage, coma, and death.
6 – Medical Detox is Highly Recommended for Benzodiazepines
A medical detox or medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program is recommended for prescription drug abuse and benzo detox, because
- It may be difficult to handle the drug cravings and discomfort on your own
- Withdrawal symptoms can become serious, leading to psychosis, seizures, and suicidal ideation
A medical detox addiction recovery program will help you safely taper off of the medication slowly with gradually reduced doses and will provide medicine to help you deal with discomfort and restlessness, therapy and counseling to deal with difficult thoughts and other psychological issues and mental illness, with clinical supervision 24 hours a day to ensure you do not suffer ill effects. This benzodiazepine misuse treatment is most effective when followed by a residential rehab, and an intensive outpatient program.
7- Benzodiazepines Laced With Fentanyl
Purchasing benzodiazepine drugs anywhere but a licensed pharmacy comes with a serious risk for drug abusers of buying counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, leading to accidental opiate addiction or opioid overdose. It is never safe to buy drugs on the street, even if they look like the same pills that you have been prescribed. The fatal dose of fentanyl is smaller than two grains of salt. Do not take this unnecessary, life-threatening risk.
Benzo Detox and Rehab at Serenity Oaks
At Serenity Oaks addiction treatment centers, we provide a medically supervised detox for anybody wanting to quit long-term use of benzodiazepines or benzo abuse safely. Our counselors, therapists, and caring staff will provide you with addiction therapy and a custom plan that will provide support, medical treatment, and psychological care as needed as the drugs leave your system.
Once you have completed your detox, our inpatient rehab, our partial hospitalization program, and our intensive outpatient rehabilitation program are recommended to help you break not only the body’s chemical dependence on benzos, but also heal the anxiety associated with your abuse, and the psychological reasons behind addiction (bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.), and prepare you for life after treatment.
If you have noticed physical and psychological signs of drug-seeking behavior, doctor shopping, or benzodiazepine misuse in yourself or in your loved one, contact our drug and alcohol rehab team today to learn more about our treatment plans for benzo addiction, opioid addiction, alcohol addiction, alcohol detox, co-occurring disorders, and Xanax addiction. We will help you get your life back on track, and we will be there with full sober living and addiction recovery support for as long as you need.