What to Know about Benzodiazepine Addiction
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, fall into a class of drugs called tranquilizers. This form of tranquilizers is prescribed for medical reasons, but benzos are often a gateway to prescription pill addiction. Once an individual is benzo-dependent, quitting cold turkey can be incredibly difficult. Recognizing benzodiazepine addiction and seeking treatment can improve the quality of life for those abusing these addictive medications.
What are Tranquilizers Used For?
Psychiatrists for patients with severe mental disorders mainly prescribe Benzos. There are also other medical uses for tranquilizers, and each form of the drug provides different effects. While one type of benzo may induce sleep, another will help more with anxiety. Tranquilizers are typically prescribed to patients with the following common medical issues:
- Epilepsy- Since benzos are considered nervous system depressants they help to prevent seizures in patients with epilepsy.
- Anxiety- Nervous system depressants also help patients with panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, since benzos calm the nerves and give a relaxing feeling.
- Insomnia- Certain tranquilizers are known for sleep-inducing effects, like the brand name drug Valium.
- Restless Leg Syndrome- Benzos are sometimes prescribed for their muscle relaxing effects in patients with muscle spasms and pain.
Examples of Brand Name Benzos:
- Many Others
How do Benzos Work?
Tranquilizers work by affecting neurotransmitters (GABA) in the brain that tell neurons to perform certain actions. The affected neurotransmitters relax these neurons, causing a general relaxing effect throughout the entire body.
These neurotransmitters are not the only thing in the brain affected by benzos. The effects of tranquilizers reduce natural production of chemicals like adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. These natural components regulate blood pressure, heart rate, emotions, coordination, memory, focus, and the endocrine system. Consequently, these effects and addictive properties are the catalysts for the ugly stigma surrounding benzos.
The Harms of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Addiction to any drug starts with a tolerance. The brain experiences tolerance when an unnatural chemical is recognized as a natural, biological substance. Thereafter, the brain will react abnormally to the absence of the foreign chemical. Once a tolerance is formed, more of the drug is needed to produce the desired effects. Tolerance is a sure sign of addiction and dependency to benzos.
Yes, tranquilizers help with side effects of certain medical issues, but long-term use of these drugs creates adverse effects. Some doctors will prescribe benzos for long periods of time, unaware that they are sending their patients down a slippery slope of destruction. If you have been taking a prescription for benzos for a long period of time, you may want to consider discontinuing use after consulting your doctor if:
- You experience a constant tired feeling, never feeling fully alert.
- You feel like you are sleepwalking through life.
- You’ve noticed that your cognitive function is weakening.
- You have no desire to exercise or exert energy.
- Your depression symptoms have worsened since you started taking the medicine.
- You experience the opposite of the desired effects of the drug such as extreme frustration, anxiety, depression, and insomnia caused by physiological changes made by the long-term use of benzos.
Withdrawal from Benzos
Withdrawing from benzos is frustrating since it is accompanied by a host of symptoms. Withdrawal occurs when the drug is not administered to tolerance level. Patients may experience symptoms of withdrawal when they are still taking their instructed dose. This means that tolerance has risen and your brain requires more of the drug to function normally. The best detox method is to taper off your benzo intake to reduce tolerance levels. Symptoms evident in those withdrawing from benzos include:
- The feeling of self-detachment
- Muscle pains
- Sight issues
- Skin irritation
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Mood swings
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you are experiencing benzodiazepine addiction the best thing for you to do is be knowledgeable about treatment. Never quit your prescribed tranquilizer without consultation with your doctor. Serious health issues can arise with sudden cease of the drug administered into the body such as seizures that cause death. It is best to seek medical help for a benzo detox plan rather than attempting to experience withdrawal alone.
Treatment centers administer all forms of therapy to help with your addiction such as psychological, clinical, and physical approaches. Dealing with your addiction at a treatment center gives you the necessary support to recognize why you needed a tranquilizer prescription in the first place. This also gives you the opportunity to deal with those issues head on without the unnecessary distraction from addictive psychotic medications like benzos. In some cases, it takes up to two years for the withdrawal effects from benzos to dissipate. Finally, prepare an intricate plan for your addiction recovery; this will give you the best possibility for success in recovery.