About Benzodiazepines Addiction
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs valued for their ability to combat anxiety and stress. They are a popular choice of medication for doctors to give to people suffering from anxiety disorders of various degrees and are effective at helping these people live a normal life.
Unfortunately, benzodiazepines can be highly addictive if they are taken incorrectly or without a legal prescription. Additionally, when taken in large quantities, benzodiazepines can cause a euphoric high that many users find desirable.
Although benzodiazepines are meant to improve quality of life, they can become dangerous if misused and lead to addiction. This is a serious problem, and in many cases a benzodiazepine use disorder is more devasting than the anxiety disorder it was first prescribed to treat.
Left untreated, a benzodiazepine addiction can quickly take hold of someone’s life, causing that individual to act in a way they never thought possible. For this reason, it is important to seek the help of experienced and licensed professionals immediately to combat this disorder.
If you or a loved one needs help for an addiction to benzodiazepines, please contact Brookdale today to begin the treatment and recovery process. Your first step to a new life…recovered is just one phone call away.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Available in many different forms and variations, benzodiazepines are a common psychoactive drug whose primary purpose is to combat high anxiety, although some benzodiazepines can treat multiple conditions at once. The majority of uses for the drug are to help a patient mentally, but some kinds can aid a person physically as well. In these cases, it is usually prescribed to patients struggling with convulsions as a result of cerebral palsy, or any similar situations.
The way that benzodiazepines work is that when taken, they slow down a person’s nerve impulses and brain activity by increasing the effect of the chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid. While this helps to calm an anxious person, it also leads to drowsiness, poor coordination and slow reaction times.
Thanks to the pleasurable high and the drug’s powerful calming effects, it is not unusual for people to develop an addiction to benzodiazepines. When taken properly under a physician’s instructions and correct doses, the risk for addiction is lower. The potential for addiction begins when an individual begins to self-medicate with their prescription or use the drug recreationally.
Benzodiazepines come in long-acting and short-acting variants. As one would expect, the short-acting version takes effect quicker but only lasts a few hours, meanwhile the long-acting variants take longer to take effect but can last up to 12 hours. Both versions are usually available as a pill, tablet, or capsule. In medical cases, benzodiazepines may be given as an injection as well.
When used recreationally, the pills and tablets are often crushed into a powder so that they can be snorted or mixed with liquid to be injected. The reason for doing this is to get the drug into the bloodstream quicker and speed up the effects.
Popular Brand Names & Nicknames for Benzodiazepines
There are many kinds of benzodiazepines, and while they are all relatively the same, each brand acts slightly different and has their own specialties and medical focus. For instance, some may only strive to treat anxiety, while others may seek to aid a patient in managing more than one symptom.
When it comes to benzodiazepine brand names, there are a few that stand out above the rest for their popularity. The biggest names of these (and their chemical name) include:
Of these, Xanax stands out as the most widespread brand name and Versed is unique for being a liquid-only option.
Taking benzodiazepines without a prescription is illegal, especially if they are being used recreationally. While benzodiazepines already have a wide list of brand names and their generic pairings, in many cases drug dealers and users choose to develop their own street names for drugs. This is valuable for them because it makes it easier to discuss their drug of choice without drawing too much suspicion.
When it comes to benzodiazepines, some of the nicknames that are used include:
The nicknames “V’s” and “Z bars” are meant to refer to Valium and Xanax specifically, although they may still be used in place of others in some cases. Furthermore, it is crucial to remember that these two additional names are a reminder that each specific benzodiazepine will carry its own collection of alternate names, and that new names can develop at any time.
In other words, if someone is suspected of abusing benzodiazepines but they are not using any of these nicknames, that does not necessarily mean they are not suffering from an addiction.
How Addictive are Benzodiazepines?
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies benzodiazepines as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that they have medical uses but are habit-forming and have a potential for becoming addictive if misused.
An addiction to benzodiazepines can form in different ways, but the two most common reasons are related to the effects that the drug produces and a desire to continue experiencing them. The first case is when someone develops a psychological reliance on the drug for its ability to provide anxiety relief. If that individual struggles to manage their anxiety, they may choose to take the drug more than their doctor prescribed. When this type of addiction occurs, a physical dependence is almost inevitable.
In the other situation, the benzodiazepine user is probably taking the drug to experience the pleasurable high that comes with large doses. However, as they continue to take it, their body begins to form a tolerance, requiring more of the drug each time to experience the same effects. This encourages users to take more of their chosen benzodiazepine, and in turn, their body will continue to change. Eventually, they will reach a point where the body comes to rely on the drug to be able to carry out normal functions, and without its presence, experiences uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal until the next dose is taken. At this stage, it is said that the user has developed a dependence on the drug and using it will feel second nature rather than as a conscious act.
Once a dependence has formed, it becomes notably more difficult to quit using benzodiazepines, and attempting to quit can be a hazardous act if it is not handled properly.
Symptoms of Benzodiazepines Addiction
In some cases, an individual may not realize that they have developed an addiction, or they may be aware but choose to deny their struggles. The motivation for doing this can vary from feelings of shame and fear to an uncontrollable desire to keep using. In all cases, it is useful to know what the side effects of using benzodiazepines are in order to help spot when they are being abused.
Some of the common symptoms to watch out for include:
Decreased coordination and reflexes
Mood swings (especially anger and irritability)
Additional Information About Benzodiazepines
To better understand the risks of benzodiazepines, especially in relation to their prevalence and impact on society, it is valuable to learn a few of the statistics and additional facts related to them.
Some information reported by agencies like the National Institute on Drug Abuse is that:
Benzodiazepines are frequently used in combination with opioids, raising their risk significantly
One study in Canada found that 60% of opioid drug overdose deaths also involved benzodiazepines
Seniors are the largest demographic using benzodiazepines
Women are more likely than men to use benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are the second leading cause of overdose deaths among prescription drugs
Depending on the type of test used, benzodiazepines can be detected in a person’s system for either a few days or a few months
In 2013, there were around 13.5 million benzodiazepine prescriptions written in the United States and that number continues to rise
Benzodiazepine Addiction Therapy and Treatment
Due to how powerful a benzodiazepine addiction can become it is difficult and potentially even dangerous for an individual to attempt quitting using on their own. For this reason, if a person develops a substance use disorder, they should seek the help of qualified professionals so they may be treated accordingly and effectively.
When an individual is admitted into a rehab facility for benzodiazepine addiction, they must first undergo a thorough assessment to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. In most cases, treatment often begins with detoxification, a process which involves removing addictive substances from the body. During this stage of care, physicians and nurses supervise and manage the symptoms of withdrawal, cravings, and other potential health conditions in a medical setting, ensuring the patient’s safety and comfort.
When a patient has successfully completed detox, they begin the transition into residential treatment. During residential care, therapists work closely with the individual to address the core aspects of their disease, develop healthy coping mechanisms and confront other areas of their life that have influenced their disease. Some common therapeutic modalities utilized during this phase of treatment include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), 12-Step Integration, Motivational Interviewing, yoga, recreational therapy, relapse prevention and family education.
Due to the addictive nature of benzos, aftercare is essential for long-term sobriety. Recovery is a daily commitment that requires dedication and consistency. Before leaving rehab, it is imperative to have a comprehensive aftercare plan addressing the core needs of the patient.
Getting Immediate Help for a Benzodiazepine Addiction
With these points in mind, there is no time to waste. If you suspect yourself or a loved one of an addiction, the time to get help is NOW. Contact Brookdale today to receive the care and support you need, so you can begin living your life.
Your life…recovered begins by calling us at 855-575-1292.