To recover from benzodiazepine addiction, professional treatment is necessary. There’s no need to feel ashamed if you need help with an addiction to benzodiazepines, as you’re not alone. At LUNA Recovery Services in Houston, Texas, our benzo treatment centers are here to help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction.
What Are Benzodiazepines (Benzos)?
While benzos can be effective at treating conditions such as anxiety when taken as prescribed, they can also be highly addictive.
53 million or 19.4% of people 12 and over have used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last year. In 2019, an average of 38 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, totaling more than 14,000 deaths.
While prescription opioids were involved in over 28% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2019, there was a nearly 7% decrease in prescription opioid-involved death rates from 2018 to 2019.
How Are Benzos Used?
Benzos are typically prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders. They are meant to be taken as needed, but some people end up taking them daily. benzos can be addictive, and people who misuse them may start to feel like they need them to function.
How Do Benzodiazepines Work?
Benzodiazepines are a medication commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. As central nervous system depressants, they work by producing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down the central nervous system (CNS). This produces a calming, sedative effect that helps with anxiety.
How Does Benzodiazepine Addiction Occur?
Benzodiazepine addiction occurs when someone takes benzos for non-medical reasons or in larger doses than prescribed. When benzos are misused, the side effects that occur as a result, are intensified, leading to feelings of euphoria and a high.
This commonly leads to making people crave more of the drug and want to use more of it each time, causing the body to build up a tolerance to them, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect. Abusing central nervous depressants can quickly lead to increased dependency and addiction. Benzodiazepine abuse, in many cases, warrants the need for a medical detox before treatment can begin.
What Are The Signs Of Benzodiazepine Addiction?
Signs that someone may be addicted to benzos include:
- Using larger doses than prescribed
- Taking benzos more often than prescribed
- Continuing to use benzos despite negative consequences
Other signs include:
- Difficulty functioning without benzos
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping benzo use
- Neglecting other responsibilities in favor of benzo use
Why Are Benzos Addictive?
Benzos are addictive because they cause changes in the brain that lead to compulsive benzo use despite negative consequences. These changes are caused by benzos binding to GABA receptors, which leads to an increase in GABA activity. This increase in GABA activity results in the calming and sedative effects that benzos are known for.
However, chronic benzo use can lead to tolerance, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects. Tolerance can lead to physical dependence, which is when someone experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking benzos. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, and seizures.
Who Is At Risk For Addiction To Benzodiazepines?
Anyone can be at risk of developing a dependence or addiction to benzodiazepines. This is especially true for those who have a family history of substance abuse. People with a genetic predisposition to drug abuse, are more likely to be at risk of developing an addiction. Benzo abuse can lead to serious health problems, including:
- Dependence: As mentioned, benzos can lead to physical dependence. This means that people who try to quit may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from benzos can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
- Overdose: People who misuse benzos are at risk of overdose. Benzos depress the central nervous system, and too many benzos can slow down a person’s breathing to the point where it stops.
- Dangers of mixing benzos with other substances: People who misuse benzos often mix them with other substances, which can be dangerous and even deadly. benzos are often mixed with alcohol or opioids, which can lead to serious health problems or death.
Benzo addiction treatment centers can help people recover from benzo dependence and live a healthy, substance-free life.
Signs and Symptoms Of Benzodiazepine Abuse
The causes of benzodiazepine abuse are not fully understood, but some risk factors may contribute to the development of this disorder.
Benzodiazepine abuse may be more likely to occur in people who have a history of substance abuse or who have mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. Abuse of benzos may also be more common in people who have a family history of substance abuse.
People who abuse benzos often start by taking them for legitimate reasons, such as to relieve anxiety or help with sleep. However, over time, they may begin to misuse these drugs, taking them more often or in higher doses than prescribed.
Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse (Short & Long-term)
The effects of benzodiazepines vary depending on the dose taken and how often they are used.
Short-term effects can include:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Impaired judgment
Long-term effects of benzo abuse can lead to serious health problems, including:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
- Memory problems
Benzodiazepine addiction can be extremely difficult to overcome. Many people who try to quit benzos on their own find that they quickly relapse due to the severe withdrawal symptoms that can occur when stopping these drugs suddenly.
For this reason, it is important to seek professional help from a benzo treatment center if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. Benzo treatment centers can provide the medical and psychological support necessary for recovery.
Dangers Of Benzodiazepine Abuse
The withdrawal timeline of benzodiazepine abuse is different for everyone. It can depend on the severity of abuse, how long benzos were taken for, and which benzo was abused. Generally, benzo withdrawal symptoms peak around two to four weeks after last use and can linger for several months.
Withdrawal symptoms from benzos can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. They can include:
- Muscle cramps
- Heart failure
Because of the dangers of withdrawal, it is important to detox under medical supervision at a benzo treatment center. Benzodiazepine detox can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Co-Occurring Disorders And Benzodiazepines
Co-occurring disorders are defined as when a person suffers from both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. Many people who suffer from anxiety also suffer from depression, making benzos a go-to choice for self-medicating.
Benzodiazepines can be extremely addictive, even when taken as prescribed. Addiction occurs when someone continues to use a substance despite the negative consequences it causes in their life. When addiction is present, benzos can quickly become the only thing someone can think about, and obtaining and using them can become all-consuming.
Treatment For Benzodiazepine Addiction
Treatment for benzodiazepine abuse and addiction typically includes a combination of detox, rehabilitation, and counseling. Medications may also be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Medical detox is the first step in overcoming an addiction to benzos. To detox, a person must first stop using the substance and allow their body to rid itself of the drug. This can be a difficult process, as benzos can cause withdrawal symptoms that are both physically and mentally uncomfortable.
After detox, the next step in overcoming an addiction to benzos is rehab. In rehab, a person will receive therapy and support from professionals who can help them recover from their addiction. Rehab can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment, is a type of rehab that requires patients to live at the facility for the duration of their treatment program. This allows them to focus on their recovery without having to worry about everyday distractions and triggers.
Inpatient treatment programs can last anywhere from 30 days to 6 months or more, depending on the needs of the patient.
Outpatient treatment is a type of rehab that allows patients to live at home while receiving treatment. Patients typically attend counseling and therapy sessions several times per week, and may also participate in other types of activities such as 12-step meetings or support groups. Outpatient treatment usually lasts for 3-6 months but can be extended if necessary.
Medication management is a type of treatment that involves prescribing and monitoring medications to help manage benzo withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medications used in benzo addiction treatment include:
- Antidepressants: to help treat depression and anxiety
- Anti-anxiety medications: to help reduce anxiety
- Beta-blockers: to help control some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal such as shaking and heart palpitations
Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and neurofeedback therapy are all important aspects of benzo addiction treatment. Addiction therapy can help patients address the underlying issues that led to benzo abuse, learn new coping skills, and develop a support system. Types of therapy used in benzo addiction treatment include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT helps patients identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) DBT helps patients develop skills to cope with stress and emotions.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI) Motivational interviewing helps patients explore their issues and set up a plan of motivation for change and self-discovery.
- 12-step Recovery Programs Recovery meetings provide support and guidance during benzo addiction treatment and recovery.
Sober living homes provide a structured, safe environment for benzo addicts in early recovery. Residents of sober living homes are typically required to follow certain rules, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol, attending 12-step meetings, and following a curfew.
Sober living homes can be a helpful step down from benzo detox and inpatient treatment, as they provide more independence than inpatient treatment while still offering structure and support.
Recover And Rediscover Yourself At LUNA Recovery Services
At LUNA Recovery Services in Texas, we understand that addiction is a disease of Isolation. Our intimate, home-like setting allows our clients to focus on their recovery and rediscover themselves in nature. With attention to detail, our clients receive the individualized attention they need to heal body, mind, and spirit.
If you or someone you love is struggling with benzo addiction, please reach out to us. We can help you find the treatment and recovery resources you need to start fresh and build a foundation for long-term sobriety and wellness.