Every year, approximately 40 million American adults are diagnosed with anxiety disorder. A commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of anxiety is benzodiazepines. This medication is used for other conditions as well. Unfortunately, an alarming number of people abuse and become addicted to benzos.
People who use benzodiazepines often develop a tolerance after taking high doses of the drug for an extended period of time. This tolerance can become more substantial, leading the user to feel the need to have higher doses in order to feel the effects. When a person stops using the drug, benzo withdrawal symptoms appear. These symptoms may affect people who have been prescribed the drug or those who abuse benzos without prescription.
What are Benzos?
Benzos, another name of benzodiazepines, are prescription depressant drugs used to treat several conditions. This type of drug works by enhancing the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a type of neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemicals within the brain that work to communicate messages between brain cells. The messages sent can initiate a calming or stimulating effect. GABA sends messages to the body that are calming. When a person experiences feelings of anxiety, overstimulation occurs in the brain. Benzos counter this by sending messages that reduce overstimulation, thus reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Many different types of benzos exist. They differ in terms of their uses, their potency, and how quickly they are absorbed by the body. The most common benzodiazepines are prescription medications, including Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan and Halcion.
Like many drugs, benzos come with potential side effects. The most common side effects of benzos include:
- Impaired coordination
- Increased anxiety
- Behavioral changes, including risk-taking
- Memory problems
- Potential increased risk of dementia
- Risk of dependence
- Withdrawal symptoms
What are Benzos Used For?
Medically, benzos are typically prescribed to treat stress-related conditions, including anxiety disorders, epilepsy, insomnia, and even alcohol withdrawal. They are touted for their sedation and hypnosis effects in addition to their ability to reduce seizures, reduce anxiety and relieve muscle spasms. Benzos may also be used in preparation for some medical procedures.
Are Benzos Addictive?
According to research, benzos cause addiction in a way that is similar to other drugs, including opioids and cannabinoids. These drugs cause changes to the brain that increases levels of dopamine, which is a hormone that makes one feel happy. Repeated use of benzos is rewarding because it puts one in a happy mood.
Benzodiazepine abuse or addiction is described in the mental health community with the term hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder, which comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th edition. A person must exhibit two of a possible 11 symptoms in a 12 month period in order to be diagnosed.
Signs of benzodiazepine addiction may include:
- Continued use of benzos, despite risk to self or others
- Denial of addiction
- Complete loss of control over use of benzos
- Exhibiting sudden changes in behavior
What are Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms?
A wide range of withdrawal symptoms can occur for people who stop using benzodiazepines. Cause benzos impact both the mind and body, benzo withdrawal symptoms do too. Benzo withdrawal symptoms may vary in severity, depending on the duration of a person’s use of the drug, the amount of dosage, and their method of ingestion. The level of physical dependency and addiction can play a part in the severity of symptoms, which may include:
- Panic and anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Impaired vision
- Restlessness and agitation
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Muscle pain
- Feelings of unreality
- Irritability and psychosis
How to Find Benzo Detox Programs in Beverly Hills, CA
It is best to detox from benzodiazepines under medical supervision. Addiction professionals at Refine Recovery employ established safety protocols, ensuring that all patients have the necessary resources for effective detoxification.
If you are struggling with benzo misuse yourself or believe your loved one is abusing benzodiazepines, learning about the different treatment options may be beneficial. At Refine Recovery, we offer individualized treatment programs in Beverly Hills for those who struggle with benzodiazepine addiction and are equipped to help with the throes of benzo withdrawal symptoms. Medically supervised detox, counseling with various behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatment are all important components of a well-rounded treatment program for the best results for benzo addiction. Reach out today to get the best chance at a successful recovery.