Benzodiazepine addiction can occur due to abuse or long-term use coupled with the development of a dependency. Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, are a class of prescription drugs that treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia and also suppress the central nervous system (CNS) and brain function.

When taken as prescribed, benzos relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, induce sleep, produce sedation and alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines include drugs such as Valium and Xanax.

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Side Effects of Benzos

Benzodiazepine addiction can be devastating to one’s health, and cause a dangerously low heart rate, respiration, and coma, particularly when used in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Driving while using benzos is risky as well.

Repeated abuse of benzos, including large or improper doses, can lead to a variety of adverse effects, including the following:

  • Amnesia
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Hostility

Also, severe benzodiazepine addiction can result in a variety of problems that continue after use, such as rebound anxiety and nervous tics, and chronic insomnia. Mental problems such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and impaired memory and decision-making abilities are also common.

Finally, benzodiazepine addiction can result in life-threatening seizures, particularly when it’s use is regular and then abruptly stopped. Anyone can have a seizure from benzo withdrawal. Some people are much more prone to seizures than others and it’s often impossible to know how much risk a person is at, so you must always use an abundance of caution. NEVER suddenly stop using benzodiazepines without consulting a medical professional and getting medical supervision. It could be fatal.

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Withdrawal Symptoms

Repeated daily use can also lead to benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawals when use is discontinued. In fact, withdrawal symptoms caused by benzos are quite serious and can last longer than some other drugs – detoxing from benzos can be just as challenging as a detox from heroin and far more dangerous without medical supervision and support.

Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Sensory distortion
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to touch and pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite

Severe Symptoms can include:

  • Psychosis
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Hallucinations
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Severe symptoms can be life-threatening and should be treated through the use of a medical detox.

Benzos are often illegally sold on the street, but it is important to note that dependence can occur in those who aren’t intentionally abusing it. Indeed, the use of benzos on a daily basis for longer than four weeks can lead to a reduction in the drug’s effectiveness, dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

According to research, individuals who have an addiction to one of these medications can sometimes take as much as 100 times more than recommended, and they may be snorting or injecting the drugs.

Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction

Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction usually begins with detox, a medical process in which the patient is monitored around-the-clock for seizures or adverse complications. Medications can also be administered during this time to ease withdrawal symptoms. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms are largely dependent on the severity and duration of the addiction.

After detox, patients should engage in long-term treatment, which includes behavioral therapy, and individual and group counseling. Behavioral therapy addresses the underlying factors that contribute to addiction and teach the patient how to identify and cope with triggers.

If you or a loved one needs help for benzodiazepine use give us a call today.

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