BENZODIAZEPINE ABUSE AND DEPENDENCY
Benzodiazepines or “benzos” form a class of one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. Doctors most frequently prescribe these tranquilizers to treat anxiety and insomnia and, used as instructed, they also safely treat many other conditions. Brands of benzodiazepines include names most people will find familiar, including Versed, Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. These drugs typically come in three strengths — ultra-short acting, short-acting and long-acting — which doctors will prescribe based on the severity of a patient’s symptoms.
A drug so widely available invites abuse. Benzodiazepines produce an intense feeling of relaxation and often euphoria in people who use the drug — a desirable effect that users will want to repeat and thus can lead to an addiction pattern. Further, since all drugs invite tolerance, users will need increasing amounts of the drug to duplicate their initial positive responses. Since users can only legally obtain benzodiazepines through prescription, users may have to resort to illicit means to maintain a supply of the drug. In addition to these risks, individuals who use the drug with alcohol or other drugs, face the possibility of organ failure, coma, or even death. Chronic abuse, besides the above consequences, can lead to exacerbated personal safety issues and problems at work or in relationships as well. Withdrawal from the drug poses significant challenges and can further threaten an individual’s health.
SIGNS OF BENZODIAZEPINE ABUSE AND DEPENDENCY
Tolerance is just one of the symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction. Other indications might include:
- Significant amount of time obtaining, using and recovering from the effects of the substance
- The person cannot stop taking the drug, even if it is causing problems in their life
- The drug affects the person’s performance at home, work or school
- The individual begins to seek out other sources for the substance, including street purchases in some cases
- Loss of interest in activities and people they once enjoyed
- When the person stops using, they experience painful withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to quit without professional treatment
The withdrawal process from benzodiazepines can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous in some circumstances, necessitating medical supervision to break free of the addiction.
SYMPTOMS OF BENZODIAZEPINE ABUSE AND DEPENDENCY
Since benzodiazepines are tranquilizers and relieve psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of abuse will present as extreme manifestations of the prescribed effects of the drug.
Those side effects will typically include:
- disorientation or confusion
- blurred vision or difficulty focussing
- slurred speech
- impaired physical coordination
- trouble breathing
- coma, in extreme cases
BENZODIAZEPINE ABUSE’S LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES
Some individuals taking benzodiazepines experience an increase — not a decrease — of their reported symptoms. Similarly, chronic benzodiazepine abusers frequently suffer from exacerbated symptoms instead of relief.
Signs of chronic abuse include:
- abrupt changes in mood or behavior
- increased problems in work or relationships
SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL FROM BENZODIAZEPINES
Benzodiazepine withdrawal poses unique challenges. Not only do symptoms of withdrawal vary widely in kind and intensity, but they also do not follow a consistent, decreasing pattern. A sufferer may feel better one day and worse the next. Further, withdrawal symptoms could last for weeks after the cessation of use and, in some cases, longer.
Common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- irritability and tension
- sleep disturbances
- anxiety and panic attacks
- hand tremors
- increased perspiration
- dry retching and nausea
- heart palpitations
- headache, muscle pain and aches
- weight loss
- memory problems
- problems concentrating, confusion or other cognitive difficulties
- hallucinations or psychosis
- suicidal ideation
THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF A SUPERVISED DETOX
Benzodiazepine withdrawal presents a wide variety of symptoms that vary in intensity and duration and do not follow a predictable pattern. You may not only struggle through your detox period — if you chose to detox on your own — but you may also have no reliable way to judge the success of your recovery. Continuing to experience severe symptoms, you may consider using again to cope, forcing yourself to begin the cycle of recovery all over again. Going it alone has many perils.
Serenity Oaks Wellness Center understands the courage it took to make the choice to get healthy, and we want to encourage not only your good intentions but your ultimate success. Our therapists, counselors, and caregivers have in-depth and first-hand knowledge of the withdrawal process and can give you the right kind and amount of support when you need it most — whether you require psychological care, medical attention, or merely companionship. A supervised detox means you can focus on your recovery — not on managing your recovery.
SERENITY OAKS WELLNESS CENTER’S INTEGRATED APPROACH TO DETOX
To beat addiction, you don’t want simply to stop using; you want to break your body’s chemical dependence on your substance of choice and your mind’s psychological dependence — the reason you likely began using — as well. You want to learn new, healthy, and reliable ways for your body to find relief and your mind to experience enjoyment.
An integrated approach to detox focuses on precisely these two main goals — achieving a healthy body and a healthy mindset, thus maximizing your chances for success. Besides excellent medical care, Serenity Oaks Wellness Center believes that providing you with the guidance you need to heal, the tools you need to succeed and the support you need to transition will in most cases lead to the longest-lasting sobriety.
Surrounded by our knowledgable, experienced, and compassionate staff, you can not merely learn new habits, but begin to live them, with the type of care you need – available when you need it — at every step. Under Serenity Oaks Wellness Center’s watchful care, you can feel more confident of steady progress towards your goal of wellness. When you spend less time assessing your progress, you can spend more time achieving it.
Serenity Oaks Wellness Center’s integrated approach to detox has helped thousands of patients achieve their goal of a healthier lifestyle. You’ve taken the first step towards healthier living, now let Serenity Oaks Wellness Center take the next steps with you.