Benzo Addiction Treatment
LiList of Common Benzos. Addicted to Benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine Abuse Causes. Why Benzodiazepines Are Addictive? Signs Of Benzo Addiction. Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines also known as Benzos were discovered in the early 1960s and are still a mainstay in the treatment of anxiety disorders. It is also used for those struggling with insomnia, anxiety, spasticity due to central nervous system (CNS) pathology, muscle relaxation, and epilepsy. While not typically an indicated use, benzodiazepines for depression have become more common. When used therapeutically, they are effective at treating these conditions, but many people abuse them for their calming and euphoric effects .
Chronic abuse of benzos for anxiety and depression ofter leads to benzo addiction . This is one of the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from, dependence can develop in as little as a month of use, making medically professional benzo detox treatment essential. One of the most significant risks of benzodiazepines and the reason to get into a benzo addiction treatment program is the high risk of overdose. If you take too much of these psychoactive drugs, you risk experiencing benzodiazepine cardiac side effects, which include slowing your heart rate to damaging or fatal levels.
List of Common Benzos
Benzodiazepine detox treatment is a process used to treat the addiction to benzos, but there are many different benzodiazepines on the market. Further, doctors may prescribe one over the other for various reasons. Perhaps their patients have seen more success for one over the other. Also, the formulation of certain benzo is known to better meet the needs of a particular client. Here is a list of the different types of benzodiazepines.
Ativan is a medication for anxiety disorders, depression, and panic attacks, but it is only for short-term use, due to Ativan’s highly addictive properties. In addition, Ativan should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. Most severe side effects associated with Ativan use occur with high doses or when the drug is mixed with alcohol.
Side effects include:
- Respiratory depression
- Excessive sedation
- Memory impairment
- Loss of consciousness
Halcion is a brand name for triazolam. It is prescribed to treat anxiety, schizophrenia, psychosis, and insomnia. However, Halcion is a controlled substance, and it is often abused because it may cause a “high” similar to alcohol intoxication.
Signs that you may have an addiction to Halcion include:
- Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to quit
- A lot of time spent recovering from Halcion’s effects
- Cravings for the drug
- Ignoring important obligations
- Need more Halcion to feel its effects
Klonopin (Clonazepam) has a high potential for abuse and addiction, even when prescribed to treat a medical condition. It is long-acting benzo, therefore, it takes longer to feel its full effects. Once it leaves the body, a person can experience severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal.
Smoking Klonopin is among the fastest of all drug delivery methods. When someone abuses Klonopin or takes doses that are too high or uses it for long periods, they may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Impaired cognition
- Slow reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Reduced libido
Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication. Therefore, it brings about a significant change in the brain in a short period. As a result, it is one of the most addictive benzodiazepine medications on the market today. Risks are higher in people who take the doses of 4 mg/day for longer than 12 weeks, but anyone who abuses the drug could be at risk for Xanax addiction.
Both Xanax and alcohol act on your central nervous system in the same way; they are both depressants, slowing your system down. In fact, every container of Xanax comes with a warning label that reminds patients not to mix it with alcohol. When people mix drugs, they put themselves at risk of overdose, even more so than when they’re only abusing one substance at a time. Such happens when people mix Klonopin and Xanax.
Common short-term side effects of Xanax include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Impaired memory
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
Librium is a medication typically for the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, Librium can be habit-forming and presents a risk of abuse and addiction. Misuse of Librium occurs when used in larger doses, more often, or for longer courses than directed by a doctor.
Some physical effects that signify someone is abusing Librium include:
- Dry mouth
- Appetite changes
- Upset stomach
- Slurred speech
- Coordination problems
- Unsteady gait
- Slowed movements
- Uncontrolled eye movements
Valium is the brand name for diazepam, which is used to treat muscle spasms and seizures. When prescribed, it’s meant to be taken daily. However, people who start taking more Valium than recommended are at risk of addiction. Valium is especially dangerous when mixed with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol. While some users mix Valium and alcohol or other drugs to intensify their calming effects, others take Valium with other substances without being aware that they are endangering their health and safety.
Side effects of Valium abuse include:
- Blurred vision
- Skin rash
- Irregular heartbeat
- Slowed breathing
Addicted to Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. They’re also used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and to sedate patients before surgery. When used as prescribed by a doctor, the drugs are safe and effective. However, using benzodiazepines for other purposes can cause benzo addiction and other serious health problems.
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medicines. In 2019, an estimated 92 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were dispensed from U.S. outpatient retail and mail-order pharmacies, with alprazolam (38%) being the most common followed by clonazepam (24%) and lorazepam (20%). Individuals abusing benzo drugs obtain them by getting prescriptions from several doctors, forging prescriptions, or buying diverted pharmaceutical products on the illicit market.
Benzo addiction is a disease that makes a person compulsively use benzos even though the drugs are harming their health and well-being. Quitting benzos suddenly can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Rehab helps people safely stop taking these drugs. Benzodiazepine dependence can be different from benzo addiction because addiction develops only in some people. When a person takes benzodiazepines for multiple days or weeks, the brain adapts to the presence of the drugs. As a result, it begins to depend on the drugs to function. Benzo dependence is the state of relying on benzo to feel normal.
Benzodiazepine Abuse Causes
Although some people may have a genetic tendency to become addicted to drugs, there is no single cause for benzo addiction. Some biological risk factors for benzodiazepine abuse include the female gender and the elderly age group.
A noteworthy statistic about benzodiazepine abuse is that women are more likely than men to be prescribed and therefore exposed to a benzodiazepine compared to men. Being of the elderly age group is also a risk factor for the abuse of benzodiazepines since physicians may inappropriately prescribe benzodiazepines for elderly individuals with depressive symptoms.
There is little doubt that environmental factors also play a significant role. Some of the more common environmental influences for benzodiazepine abuse are low socioeconomic status, unemployment, and peer pressure.
Why Benzodiazepines Are Addictive?
Like other addictive drugs, benzodiazepines cause a dopamine release. Dopamine is a chemical that contributes to how we feel happiness. Over time, these drugs change the way the brain releases dopamine. This affects the way the person feels pleasure from all activities. As a result, people addicted to benzodiazepines can sometimes feel happy unless they take high doses of the drugs.
Addiction also affects the motivation system in the brain. The brain associates the substances with happiness and causes cravings that motivate the person to take the drugs. Withdrawal is another component of benzo addiction. People who try to quit the drugs on their own are rarely capable of making it through withdrawal. Instead, the symptoms are typically so uncomfortable that people return to the drugs for relief.
Benzos can also be addictive because they temporarily relieve specific mental health issues. For example, some people self-medicate with benzos to ease anxiety or sleep problems. The drugs can temporarily treat these ailments, but long-term use can make people believe they have to have the substances to feel less anxious or sleep.
When used as prescribed, benzodiazepines usually address associated medical conditions with little risk. The most common side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness and feeling hungover. They may also cause confusion, poor concentration, dizziness, slurred speech, and low blood pressure. People under the influence of benzos have an increased risk of being involved in accidents. Someone who doesn’t know how to react to prescription drugs should avoid driving a car or operating machinery.
Elderly individuals sometimes experience breathing difficulties while on benzos, and they may be at a higher risk of falling. Benzos can also cause congenital disabilities when taken by pregnant women. Benzodiazepine overdoses are rarely fatal unless the drug is combined with another substance of abuse. It’s risky to combine benzodiazepines with alcohol, opioids, or other depressants. When combined, the substances can make a person pass out and stop breathing because depressants slow respiration. The drugs are also used in some sexual assaults. In addition, slipping a benzodiazepine into a person’s drink can render them unconscious.
Symptoms Of Benzo Addiction
Recognizing the signs of someone struggling with benzo addiction can be confusing. However, there are a variety of symptoms that can reveal that someone is misusing benzos. It’s important to take notice of the signs before the symptoms become deadly.
Some physical symptoms that can happen during a benzo addiction, withdrawal, and intoxication include:
- Slowed Heart Rate
- Slurred Speech
- Extreme Fatigue
- Blurred Vision
- Slower Reflexes
- Impaired Coordination
- Pale, Cold Skin
- Respiratory Depression
- Mood Swings
- Cognitive Dysfunction
- Suicidal Thoughts
Signs Of Benzo Addiction
Benzo drug addiction is a disease of the mind identified by components of psychological and physical dependence. Drug addiction results in drug-seeking behaviors and continued use despite adverse outcomes. For example, drug-seeking behaviors with a benzodiazepine may involve getting the drug from more than one provider or illegally obtaining the drug without a doctor’s prescription. Benzo addiction can result in negative consequences in many life functions. These consequences may include family or relationship problems, loss of work productivity, or legal issues.
Benzodiazepines or benzos are habit-forming, and an individual can become addicted to them, even if it’s taken as prescribed by doctors or health care professionals. People who have a history of alcohol or drug misuse are more likely to develop a benzo addiction. If you use these drugs over a long period of time you can develop a tolerance for them. This means that you will need higher doses of the drug to treat your health condition or disease because you’ve become tolerant of the lower dosage of the drug.
Signs Of Benzo Addiction may Include:
- Illegally obtaining the drug
- Obtaining the drug from multiple doctors
- Cravings for the drug
- Preoccupation with obtaining the drug
- Continued use despite negative consequences
- Misusing the drug for intoxication or pleasure
- Interference with normal life functions
- Dependence and withdrawal upon stopping the drug
- Relationship problems
- Legal issues
Combining Alcohol And Benzos
Mixing benzodiazepine with alcohol is very dangerous. People who drink alcohol while taking this drug will feel the effects of alcohol faster. It’s not safe to drink alcohol or take other drugs that have similar effects on the central nervous system (CNS) at the same time because these drugs or substances interact with oral benzodiazepines by causing additional depression of the brain and respiratory depression. Respiratory depression can lead to breathing that’s inadequate for supplying oxygen to the body. This can cause death.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
You can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms by slowly tapering off the drugs. After a person decreases their dose for a few days, their tolerance drops, becoming less dependent on the substance.
- Panic Attacks
People who are addicted to benzodiazepines are unable to wean off the drugs on their own slowly. The disease disrupts their judgment, self-control, and motivation. But addiction professionals can help people with severe benzo addiction safely taper.
Benzo Detox and Withdrawal Timeline
Benzo addiction treatment usually starts with a gradual detoxification process. If a person has been taking high levels of benzos for longer than eight weeks, it’s critical to wean them off the drugs slowly to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Sleep Disturbances
- Muscle Twitching and Tremors
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Dizziness and Lightheadedness
Inpatient Detox: The safest and most comfortable way to detox from benzos is with medical supervision. Inpatient detox is usually warranted when a person takes large doses of benzodiazepines for a long time. During inpatient detox, you’ll be closely monitored, and you may receive medications to help alleviate symptoms.
Benzodiazepines Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
Post acute benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are typically more difficult to identify because of several compounding factors:
- Symptom rebound – the reappearance of acute withdrawal signs such as anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. Rather than peaking and reducing in intensity over time, acute benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms come and go inconsistently, which can make it difficult to tell when the acute phase is over.
- Symptom reemergence – the return of the original symptoms of anxiety, physical tension, and poor sleep that someone had before they used a benzodiazepine. Symptom reemergence will feel uncomfortable, but it is unrelated to withdrawal or benzo post-acute withdrawal.
The most significant risk of using benzodiazepines is potentially overdosing. With a propensity for developing a tolerance, the longer someone takes benzodiazepines, the greater dosage they will likely need to take to achieve the desired effect, and the greater the risk of overdosing. As a sedative, benzos cause breathing to slow. In turn, less oxygen is passed through the lungs to the brain and the rest of the body. When a dose too great is taken, breathing slows to the point of being potentially fatal.
Signs of a Benzo Overdose
How do you know someone is experiencing a benzodiazepine overdose? The most telling sign of benzo overdose is excessive sleepiness or drowsiness. The person may be difficult to rouse, have trouble standing up or fall repeatedly. Look for signs of confusion and speech that is slurred.
Other common signs of a benzo overdose include:
- Breathing that is slow or shallow
- Low blood pressure
- Pupils that are dilated
- Lips that are bluish in color
- Slowed or absent muscle reflexes
- Pulse that is rapid, or weak
- Skin that feels clammy
Benzo Addiction Treatment Recovery
Patients taking benzodiazepines should talk to their doctors about a discontinuation plan before taking the drug and before quitting the drug. Quitting benzos abruptly can cause fatal side effects. Medical professionals can help patients slowly taper off prescription drugs to avoid severe side effects.
Individuals who are dependent or addicted to benzodiazepines should seek medically supervised detox. Clients in rehab for benzo addiction slowly taper off the drugs while receiving 24/7 monitoring.
Detox from benzos can last weeks or multiple months depending on the severity of the addiction and the type of benzodiazepine the person has been on. Some benzodiazepines stay in your system longer than others.
Rehabilitation centers are the best resources for people trying to overcome benzo addiction. Rehabs provide safe environments for recovery, teach clients to live without drugs and provide treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders or other types of addiction.
Once physically stable, you can transition to the next phase of treatment. While everyone’s treatment plan is unique to their needs, most people attend a combination of group and individual therapy and counseling.
During rehab, you’ll learn more about the roots of addiction and develop tools to help you cope with cravings and avoid relapse.
Rehab is available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, depending on the severity of your addiction. The length of treatment may also vary, depending on your situation, but successful treatment typically requires weeks or months.
- Inpatient treatment is often most effective because it allows people to focus 100 percent on their recovery without disrupting their routine.
- Outpatient therapy provides the same types of treatment and counseling but enables clients to return home every night. That way, they may keep up with work and other personal responsibilities while receiving treatment.
The Importance Of Aftercare
While relapse from drug addiction is common, participating in aftercare programs increases your chances of staying sober after you’re done with structured treatment.
Aftercare programs reinforce healthy lifestyle choices and stress coping mechanisms. They can also help you recognize relapse triggers and minimize the damage if you do end up relapsing.
Some people choose to enter sober living after they graduate from rehab. In these drug-free group living environments, they can gently ease back into the demands of regular life.
Others may choose individual counseling. Many people in recovery also attend 12-step group meetings for continued support and encouragement. Meetings are usually free and readily available — and studies have demonstrated one-year abstinence rates of 80 to 90 percent when individuals attend self-help group meetings or other types of weekly continuing care after finishing formal treatment.
Finding Treatment for Benzo Addiction
There is a strong link between mental health and substance abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper benzo addiction treatment.
To determine the most effective ways to treat benzos addiction, such as Ativan Addiction, Xanax Addiction, alcohol, and anxiety meds addiction, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various benzo detox treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient benzo detox treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Psychotherapy for Depression and Anxiety
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of anxiety and depression, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 or 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop the Xanax dosages, they may experience withdrawal effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term Xanax and alcohol addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety and depression, contact one of our helpful benzo detox treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.