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Benzodiazepines (“benzos”) are powerful sedative drugs commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorders. They are also used to treat sleep disturbances, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and seizures, and are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs today.
The use of benzodiazepines has been on the rise for years. The number of benzodiazepine prescriptions written annually in the U.S. increased 67% between 1996 and 2013—from 8.1 million to 13.5 million prescriptions.
Given the widespread use and availability of these prescription drugs, it should come as no surprise that benzodiazepine abuse is incredibly prevalent as well, despite the fact that the drugs are classified under the restricted Schedule Four by the drug enforcement administration.
Unfortunately, these commonly abused drugs are also incredibly addictive. Benzo abuse can result in a sensation of being “high” which makes the drugs powerfully rewarding. Sometimes people intentionally misuse benzodiazepine drugs to experience this high; doing so greatly increases the risk of addiction and physical benzodiazepine dependence.
However, even what starts out as normal use of prescribed benzodiazepines can quickly escalate to benzodiazepine addiction. Commonly abused benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Lorazepam.
If a loved one or you are suffering from benzo addiction, seeking help at a reputable outpatient treatment center like RECO Intensive in Delray Beach can help you forge a new path forward. Learn more about benzo addiction and benzodiazepine addiction treatment and about our treatment center below.
Addiction and physical dependence often go hand in hand, but they’re not the same thing.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms vary in duration and intensity, depending on how much of the drug a person has been taking, how long they’ve been taking it, and the drug’s potency.
How long it takes for withdrawal symptoms to begin also depends on the specific drug brand, and primarily on whether long or short-acting benzos were used. Shorter-acting benzos like Xanax and Ativan generally cause withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 8 hours of stopping use, and symptoms are often intense.
Longer-acting benzos like Valium and Klonopin usually don’t produce withdrawal symptoms for 24 to 48 hours. However, these long-acting benzos may be more likely to cause benzodiazepine addiction in the first place since they result in a longer “high.”
Like alcohol withdrawal syndrome, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be unusually severe, making supervised benzodiazepine detox often a necessity for those who stop taking the dangerous drugs. The benzodiazepine withdrawal period may last for up to two weeks before symptoms begin to subside, and withdrawal symptoms can include:
|· Increased heart rate||· Muscle aches|
|· Anxiety||· Blurred vision|
|· Panic attacks||· Dizziness|
|· Insomnia||· Increased sweating|
|· Restlessness||· Depression|
|· Irritability||· Difficulty concentrating|
Heavy users may experience more serious side effects, such as hallucinations, delirium, altered sensory perceptions, depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself), and seizures.
If you stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly, it can also lead to a rebound effect involving the return or even worsening of the panic disorders or anxiety disorders that precipitated the use of the drug in the first place. Instead, slowly tapering off the drug in a dedicated addiction center with the guidance of medical detox experts who can help manage symptoms is strongly recommended.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. They work by disrupting signals from the brain to the body. Even when taken as prescribed, benzos can slow breathing and heart rate and impair balance, reflexes, and coordination; they can also impair thinking and make you lose the sense of time.
When misused or overused, benzos can cause dangerous daytime drowsiness and sleepiness, loss of coordination, impaired memory and thinking, and other problems. In the worst-case scenario, benzodiazepine overdose may also occur if benzodiazepine use suppresses breathing too drastically, which is more common if benzo abuse is combined with the abuse of other drugs.
Benzodiazepines are meant for short-term use only. Over time, abusing these powerful drugs can lead to life-threatening problems, including seizures and convulsions. Long-term benzodiazepine use has also been associated with cognitive impairment and worsening of underlying mental health conditions.
While it may be possible to successfully detox from benzodiazepines on your own, withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and difficult to manage at home. A reputable inpatient or outpatient detox treatment facility will help you manage withdrawal symptoms—sometimes with medications, such as beta-blockers or antidepressants.
While detoxification will get the drug out of your system and address physical dependence issues, you may still have a strong urge to engage in benzodiazepine use. Often, detox is only the beginning of one’s treatment process, and patients will choose to continue their recovery journey at an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.
Drug rehab will give those suffering from substance abuse a chance to address any underlying mental health disorder that may have been fueling their drug addiction. For instance, a professional treatment provider may be able to recommend coping strategies for mood disorders or an anxiety disorders that the patient can use to manage their mental health condition instead of relying on substance addiction.
Many American addiction centers may also incorporate family therapy sessions into the treatment process, allowing family members to process their own feelings about their loved one’s addiction and helping the family as a whole to establish healthier patterns of relating.
Treatment centers will also often incorporate group therapy sessions, in which a treatment provider guides those in drug or alcohol rehab in the goal-oriented discussion. Group therapy sessions can improve mental health by giving patients a safe space to process the trauma of their addictions and to connect to one another, facilitating a shared motivation to achieve recovery.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP programs) are designed to further substance abuse recovery for those who have completed a detox program or don’t need one. Intensive outpatient programs bridge the gap between active rehabilitation and independent living, allowing those struggling with drug abuse to reacclimate to life in the real world while still leaning on the support of a substance abuse treatment provider.
RECO Intensive’s Delray Beach outpatient drug treatment program provides world-class care overseen by an outstanding team of clinicians and therapists. At our addiction center, our skilled team utilizes intensive therapy sessions and support groups to treat the lingering effects of addiction to help you or a loved one create healthy boundaries and pathways for lifelong recovery.
We accept most insurance plans, including BlueCross/BlueShield, HealthNet, Aetna, and many others. Call us to learn more at 561.808.7986, or contact our addiction center online using this form. There’s no time like right now to get back on the road to a brighter future.
Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.