Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment and Withdrawal
One of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs in the United States is Benzodiazepines. 100 million prescriptions are written for these powerful medications every year, and a consequence of using benzodiazepines over a period of time can be unintentional addiction.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that “Benzos,” as they’re often referred to, are the most commonly abused drugs in the country.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is potentially life threatening, which is why it’s imperative that detox take place under the care and supervision of a licensed physician trained in addiction and detox.
The psychoactive drugs known as Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, which are prescribed for a variety of issues but most notably for for anxiety, seizure disorders and sleeping problems and insomnia. Some patients show signs of dependency to these medications as early as two weeks after taking them regularly.
Many Benzos, particularly tranquilizers, are prescribed to calm anxiety or help with sleeping problems. But after prolonged use, they can actually increase anxiety or make it more difficult to sleep for some users. For other users, depression can occur after taking benzodiazepines regularly. They increase usage thinking it will combat the initial problem they sought treatment for in the first place.
It’s easier than most people think to develop an addiction to benzodiazepines and it’s imperative to discuss the possibility with the prescribing physician if:
- Benzodiazepines have been used for more than a month
- The prescribed medication is taken first thing in the morning
- Personality changes are noticeable after prolonged use
- Thoughts of addiction begin to manifest
- It’s impossible to stop taking them after several attempts
What are the most commonly prescribed Benzodiazepines?
Because benzodiazepines affect the brain’s chemistry, essentially quieting the mind and tranquilizing the body, a tolerance and craving to these kinds of drugs is easily developed, especially when used with another substances, such as alcohol or opioids.
According to statistics by the Drug Abuse Early Warning Network (DAWN), benzodiazepines are involved in nearly 78 percent of all emergency room visits for overdoses on another drug.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines becomes immediately risky due to the fact that the body has lost its ability to naturally calm itself in times of anxiety or panic, even in seemingly safe situations and environments.
What are the complications of Benzodiazepine Detox?
Taking benzodiazepines on a daily basis for at least three months is defined as long-term use. Nearly 44 percent of the people who use these medications for that period of time will experience withdrawal symptoms after they stop taking them.
Complicating the matter is that benzodiazepine detox often lasts longer than with other drugs, such as heroin or alcohol. Additionally, withdrawal can reintroduce the symptoms for which the medication was originally prescribed.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated and panic attacks can rapidly appear during detox and cripple users.
What are the Symptoms and Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
- Severe sleep disturbance
- Increased tension, irritability and anxiety
- Nausea, dry retching and weight loss
- Sweating and heart palpitations
- Muscular pain and stiffness
- Cognitive difficulties, such as troubles concentrating and confusion
- Psychosis and suicide
Detoxing from benzodiazepines must be treated professionally because the symptoms of withdrawal are known to vary from day to day in their severity. This is different from other types of withdrawal where symptoms dissipate in a steady fashion over time.
Treatment For Benzodiazepine Addiction and Withdrawal
While they can be properly administered to treat illnesses like seizure disorders and anxiety disorders, it’s not uncommon for patients seeking treatment for one condition to inadvertently develop an addiction to benzodiazepines.
Because of this, a unique and personalized treatment plan should be created for every individual patient during recovery treatment. Addiction is a treatable disease, but every person faces different challenges related to work, family and any underlying psychological conditions causing their dependency issues.
Effective treatment for benzodiazepine addiction can only occur after a patient is treated and brought safely through detox. Inspire Malibu has helped countless people move through this difficult period and into sober, productive and happy lives again.
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