benzodiazepine addiction
Taking a benzodiazepine for longer than 4 weeks puts the user at risk for developing an addiction.

Benzodiazepines are some of the most commonly prescribed medications. They’re also some of the most commonly abused medications in the United States. The majority of benzos are legally prescribed, which can lead to the dangers of the drug going unnoticed. 

This leads those who use benzos to gradually increase their dosage over time. As a result, a tolerance to benzos can occur. These drugs can become highly addictive and dangerous when misused.

Benzodiazepine addiction is a real disease that affects people from all different backgrounds and communities. Benzodiazepines chemically alter the brain, causing a dependency when the drug is no longer being used. When they’re no longer present in sufficient amounts, withdrawal begins to occur. 

Withdrawing from benzos can result in mood swings, nausea, weight loss, headaches, muscle pain, hallucinations, and more. Fortunately, there are benzodiazepine addiction treatment resources available that can help individuals successfully recover. 

Whether it’s you or a loved one struggling from benzodiazepine addiction, recovery is possible with benzodiazepine addiction treatment. Keep reading to learn more about benzodiazepine addiction and the dangerous effects that they can cause.

Benzodiazepine Abuse Statistics in the United States

am i addicted to benzodiazepines
Long-term usage of benzodiazepines puts patients at risk for developing an addiction to the medication.

Research has shown that about 12.5% of adults in the U.S. use benzodiazepines, which translates to an estimated 30.5 million people. Among these users, 17.1% misused them, and less than 2% had benzodiazepine addictions. Benzodiazepine use was linked to emergency room visits, mental disorders, suicidal ideation, and substance use.

These statistics call for a reality check: We must help our communities through benzodiazepine addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, we encourage you to seek help immediately.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are man-made medications that mildly depress nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and cause drowsiness. Benzodiazepines are used to treat seizures, anxiety, and other diseases caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. 

These drugs enhance the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Increasing the effect of GABA through benzodiazepines reduces brain activity. 

Benzodiazepines are also used to treat disorders such as:

  • Insomnia: Benzodiazepines are generally used as a short-term treatment for severe insomnia.
  • Alcohol withdrawal: Benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide and diazepam, help recovering individuals with alcohol dependence by removing toxins from their body. They also help to alleviate and reduce the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Panic attacks: Benzodiazepines are very effective at treating anxiety relating to panic disorders due to their quick effects. 

What are Different Types of Benzodiazepines?

There are many different types of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines range in how quickly they start working, how long they stay in the body, and for the overall purpose. The different lengths of action in benzodiazepines is the biggest distinction they have. 

For example, short-acting benzodiazepines affect the brain quickly, have a short half-life, and are quickly metabolized out of the body. Benzodiazepines can be broken down into the following categories:

Short-Acting

  • Alprazolam
  • Diazepam
  • Estazolam

Intermediate-Acting

  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Lorazepam

Long-Acting

  • Clonazepam
  • Oxazepam
  • Prazepam
  • Temazepam

What is a Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Benzodiazepine addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive substance-seeking and use despite negative consequences.​ It’s a brain disease that alters how the brain functions. Those struggling with benzo addiction depend on the drug to function on a normal basis.

A benzo addiction can seriously get in the way of an individual’s life. Their work life, relationships, and overall well-being all become affected. Without treatment, addiction worsens over time. This can consequently lead to permanent health issues and severe burdens like financial debt.

Signs of a Benzodiazepine Addiction

Recognizing the signs of a benzodiazepine addiction is key to preventing addiction from worsening. Signs of a benzo addiction range from physical to behavioral cues one can look out for. Those struggling with addiction often leave clues behind. 

Behavioral clues of a benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and responsibilities 
  • Strange financial habits such as borrowing money, stealing, draining bank accounts, or maxing out credit cards
  • Risky behavior, such as driving, after using the drug
  • Reduction in effort to maintain hygiene
  • Uncharacteristic changes in mood

Benzodiazepine addiction can also be recognized through physical and physiological signs such as:

  • Physical weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Poor decision-making abilities and poor judgment
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to defend oneself in the case of an attack or threat
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing

Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines may result in symptoms such as:

  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems

Withdrawal Timeline of Benzodiazepine Addiction

The withdrawal timeline for benzodiazepines varies from person to person. The exact symptoms one will experience during withdrawal is dependent upon multiple factors. 

For example, the severity of addiction and length of use are two important factors. However, one can use the following timeline as a general guideline of benzodiazepine withdrawal:

First 6-8 hours: The first signs of withdrawal begin. This generally includes anxiety and insomnia.

Days 1-4: Rebound anxiety and insomnia peak after a couple of days. During days one through four, severe discomfort from insomnia and increased anxiety tends to occur.

Days 10-14: The symptoms of withdrawal will generally be felt for at least 10-14 days before fading away entirely. 

Days 15+: Those with chronic addictions may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, also referred to as PAWS. These are random periods of sharp withdrawal symptoms months after ending benzodiazepine use. 

The Impact of Benzodiazepine Addiction on Mental Health

Benzodiazepines take a significant toll on mental health. Although people are prescribed benzodiazepines as a way to alleviate mental health issues, the opposite can end up occurring. Misuse can lead to problems in overall well-being and addiction. In certain cases, people will experience anxiety or insomnia when they stop using benzodiazepines. 

Another effect that misuse of benzodiazepines can have on mental health is “emotional anesthesia.” People have described this as an emotionally numb state. In other words, they lack the ability to feel a significant number of emotions. 

In addition, studies have shown that chronic, high levels of benzodiazepine use can lead to depression. Some people may also become depressed during the withdrawal process. Mood instability is a possible outcome of benzodiazepine use that must be taken seriously.

Co-Occurring Disorders in Benzodiazepine Addiction

Co-occurring disorders are defined by the presence of both an addiction and mental health disorder. If co-occurring disorders are present, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for those already suffering from mental health issues.  In other cases, individuals abuse the substance in an attempt to cope with their lives. 

In either case, these disorders often accompany benzodiazepine addiction:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Getting Help with Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, benzodiazepine addiction treatment is an option at a recovery center such as ours. Through evidence-based therapy and care, recovery becomes possible. See below for the levels of care offered for benzodiazepine addiction treatment:

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient rehabilitation, also known as residential treatment, is the highest level of intensive care for recovering individuals. Those who enroll in residential treatment will reside at our facility. 

Each day they’ll take part in a structured daily routine full of treatment services. These services include a combination of different therapies, support groups, holistic treatment, as well as medical care. Inpatient treatment generally runs between 28 to 90 days.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is right below inpatient rehabilitation. Members of PHPs will travel to the recovery center for several hours each day, three to five days per week. This program offers more flexibility than inpatient treatment. However, it requires more commitment than standard outpatient programs.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment offers the most flexibility out of all the levels of care. Recovering individuals are able to create their own schedule based on their needs. Outpatient treatment includes many of the same services that the programs above offer. The main difference is the level of commitment required.

Seek Help Today and Regain Control of Your Life with the Help of  Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment!

Seeking help is the first step in recovering from benzodiazepine addiction. You can regain control of your life through a tailored treatment plan. It’s our goal for every patient to feel safe, secure, and welcome during their time with us. The Harmony Ridge Recovery Center team is 100% committed to your long-term recovery. 

When you choose Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, you’ll enjoy many benefits. For one, our members get to take in breathtaking mountain views during their time at our center. Other benefits also include outdoor activities, full cafeteria, fitness room, and an indoor heated pool. 

In addition to luxurious amenities, our treatment is of the highest quality. If you have any additional questions or concerns, contact us today. We’re waiting for your call.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112