Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment, Effects & SympToms
Benzodiazepine is a powerful barbiturate and one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. Its sedative properties are used to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, insomnia, and muscle relaxation.
Benzo Addiction Treatment in Port St. Lucie
Benzo addiction is a real problem, but it doesn’t have to be yours. Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are powerful drugs that can have serious physical, psychological, and behavioral effects if misused or abused.
At Amethyst Recovery Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, we provide people with helpful resources and information about what Benzo addiction is, how benzodiazepines work, their potential for abuse, and the signs and symptoms of addiction. We’ll also discuss Benzo addiction treatment and relapse prevention strategies.
By understanding more about Benzo addiction and its consequences, you can take steps to make sure you don’t become part of this growing population. It’s important to note that people who have been prescribed a benzodiazepine for a legitimate medical purpose should not stop taking it without consulting their doctor first.
What is a Benzo?
Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs commonly used to treat a variety of health concerns such as types of anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy. Benzodiazepines come in many forms, including pills, liquids, and injections. Some commonly used benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). While they can be effective treatment options when used as prescribed, they can cause dependence or addiction if taken in higher doses than recommended or for longer periods than needed.
How Benzodiazepines Work
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are chemicals that affect the brain and body. These drugs interact with the brain’s neurotransmitters that control emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors.
Specifically, benzodiazepines cause an increase in the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. By increasing GABA levels, benzos produce a calming effect and help reduce excitability in the brain. This can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions related to increased arousal in the brain.
Benzos also have therapeutic benefits for certain conditions when taken correctly under proper medical supervision. For example, they can slow down breathing, which can work to soothe anxious feelings or reduce heart rate variability (HRV) associated with panic attacks. Additionally, they increase levels of certain hormones like oxytocin, which can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Effects of Benzo on the Brain and Body
Benzos are powerful drugs, and their use can have a variety of effects on the user’s brain and body.
Benzos’ Long-term Effects on the Brain
According to research, abusing benzos can worsen:
Benzos’ Long-Term Effects on the Body
As sedatives, benzos can slow down essential functions in the body, leading to negative consequences for various organs such as
- Heart: Benzos can reduce heart rate and breathing rate. Long-term or excessive use may slow the heart to the point of failure. Additionally, these drugs can increase the risk of blood clots, potentially causing various cardiovascular problems.
- Lungs: By slowing down breathing, benzos can contribute to hypoxia, a condition where there is insufficient oxygen in the tissues and organs to maintain essential body functions.
- Liver: Benzos are metabolized by the liver, and misuse can result in liver tissue damage. Over time, this can lead to liver dysfunction and, if not addressed, can progress to liver failure.
Other long-term effects associated with benzodiazepine use include:
- Weak pulse
- Persistent fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression
Common Uses of Benzodiazepines
Benzos are frequently prescribed in the medical community to address a variety of illnesses. From mild to severe anxiety and insomnia, sedatives to help relax muscle spasms, to anti-seizure medications—benzos can be found in various medical practices.
Sleep-related Issues: Insomnia
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)
Potential for Abuse
When it comes to benzodiazepines, one of the biggest concerns is their potential for abuse. All medications—even those that don’t come with a risk of addiction—can be abused if taken in excess. But, benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous because they affect a person’s brain chemistry in such a powerful way. A person who abuses benzos can develop a tolerance over time, taking larger and larger doses to achieve the same effects.
A few of the most significant red flags of benzo misuse include:
- Mixing or combining with other drugs, including alcohol
- Taking more medication than what was recommended by a doctor
- Doctor shopping to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Taking medicines without a prescription
- Deceiving family, friends, and colleagues about Benzo’s use
It’s important to be aware of these warning indicators so that preventative measures can be taken and help sought before an addiction develops. The earlier addiction treatment is sought out, the better the long-term outcome for someone struggling with benzo dependence or addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
Benzodiazepine addiction is a real issue and can have negative consequences. It’s important to be aware of the signs to look out for so that you can get the help you or your loved one needs.
- Intense cravings for benzodiazepines
- Tolerance to the drug, meaning you need increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effect.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination and balance issues
- Respiratory depression
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
- Erratic and unpredictable mood swings
- Paranoia or suspiciousness
- Changes in sleeping patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Avoiding family and friends who don’t approve of drugs
- Feeling angry, irritable, or aggressive
- Uncharacteristic lying or stealing money to buy more benzodiazepines
Benzo Addiction Treatment Options and Relapse Prevention
Recovery from benzodiazepine addiction is always possible, and it starts with a commitment to seek help. As part of the treatment process, you’ll likely need to stay in a specialized residential facility or an intensive outpatient program where you’ll work with professionals and receive the support of peers. Depending on the severity of addiction, this treatment may last anywhere from 30 days to several months or even longer.
While in treatment, you’ll receive evidence-based therapies and work with a team to develop an individualized recovery plan that will help you stay on track long after leaving the program. Some of these therapies could include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – helps individuals identify and change behaviors, beliefs, and thoughts that lead to substance abuse.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – individuals learn skills to help them better regulate their emotions and deal with challenging situations. DBT also includes a mindfulness component, which helps individuals develop self-awareness.
- Group counseling – a group of individuals sharing their experiences and feelings with others who are going through similar struggles. This can help individuals feel less alone and more understood.
- Individual counseling – involves a one-on-one relationship between a therapist or counselor and an individual seeking help. It allows for a personalized approach to treatment that is tailored to the unique needs and goals of the individual seeking help.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – individuals receive FDA-approved medications that reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with their condition.
- Motivational interviewing – helps individuals explore and resolve ambivalence about making changes.
The goal is to get sober, learn healthy coping skills, and make lifestyle changes that support continued sobriety. Your therapist will also help you identify triggers that could lead to relapse so that you can avoid them in the future.
Get the Best Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment at Amethyst Recovery Center
If you or someone you know is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, know that treatment options are available. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach that may work for everyone, Amethyst Recovery Center can help you get the most effective treatment program based on your unique goals and circumstances, specifically Benzo addiction treatment in Port St. Lucie! Begin your recovery journey. Call our 24/7 helpline!
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Whether you or your family member is struggling with addiction, you are not alone in this journey. Explore our expansive addiction resources, including our guides for teens, parents, and spouses, as well as relatable recovery stories from Amethyst Alumni.
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