Benzodiazepines are a class of depressant drugs with a high potential for dependence and abuse. Amongst various types of prescription drug abuse, benzodiazepine addictions can be exceptionally stubborn and difficult to manage. As an example, people who abuse benzodiazepine medications often need professional medical monitoring during the early stages of recovery to ensure a safe and comfortable path to abstinence.
Choosing a benzodiazepine recovery center can be an overwhelming task. There are many options and a great deal of information available. Preparing yourself to make a wise and informed treatment choice for you or a loved one will offer the best chances for a successful recovery.
If you or a loved one is experiencing problems that you believe may be caused by benzodiazepine use, you can call 1-888-319-2606
Who Answers? to discuss this in a private and confidential consultation. Our advisors have access to detailed information about available programs and can help you choose the appropriate one to meet your needs.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are sedative-hypnotic drugs used medically to treat a number of different problems:1
- Muscle tension and spasms.
- Restless leg syndrome.
- Some substance withdrawal symptoms – e.g., acute alcohol withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines are also frequently used before surgery as a sedative and can be used as a mild anesthetic during some surgical procedures.
The most common use of benzodiazepines is to help manage acute stress reactions such as anxiety or panic attacks. While they can be used safely with close medical supervision, they are also mood-altering and addictive controlled substances, requiring a prescription for legal use.
Due to the risk of developing withdrawal effects such as severe psychomotor agitation and seizure, benzodiazepines require medical supervision when decreasing or stopping use. Tapering the dose, or stopping use, should never been attempted without being first evaluated for side effect development risk, and subsequent medical supervision.
Diazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam and alprazolam are common generic forms of benzodiazepines. Brand names include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Versed and Ativan. The benzodiazepine class of drugs is quite large, so if you have questions about a medication not named here, ask your physician or pharmacist for more information.
Safe Use vs. Addiction
Benzodiazepines are safest when used for brief intervals no longer than a few weeks during treatment of acute anxiety, panic or sleeplessness. Benzodiazepines are becoming decreasingly relied on as a pharmaceutical intervention for sleep disorders, as the potential for dependency is so high. No matter what they are indicated for, brief use lessens the potential for both physical and psychological dependency.
Extended use often results in physical tolerance, wherein the body begins to need greater amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect. A person may also become psychologically reliant upon the drug to cope with life stress. Both forms of dependency cause difficulty in decreasing use or stopping use altogether.
A medically supervised benzodiazepine tapering schedule is frequently followed to mitigate the risks of dangerous physical effects that may arise as a person attempts to overcome a physical dependency. Supportive counseling and alternative stress management skills can begin in concert with medical management to more closely address the psychological dependence.
When choosing a rehabilitation program it is important that the treatment professionals at the facility are well trained in the treatment of benzodiazepine addiction, both medically and psychologically. You don’t have to conduct this search on your own. Call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to speak to a treatment support advisor who can help you find the right treatment program for your needs.
Adverse Effects of Use
The immediate effects of benzodiazepines are dependent to some degree upon body weight, overall health, dosage, the presence of other substances in the body and degree of tolerance. Some of the most significant risks faced by a benzodiazepine abuser are overdose, respiratory failure and death.
Symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse
- Problems with motor coordination.
- Impaired thinking and memory.
- Vision problems.
- Speech problems.
- Breathing problems.
- Nausea and intestinal distress.
More severe benzodiazepine abuse can lead to delayed reflexes, rapid mood swings, and hostile or unpredictable behavior. Benzodiazepines can also cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms that may put the user at serious risk.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines2, 3
- Muscle tension.
- Body aches.
- Blurred vision.
- Sensory sensitivity.
- Loss of body control.
- Paranoid delusions.
- Ringing in the ears.
If you or a loved one have experienced any of these symptoms while taking benzodiazepines, it is recommended that you consider treatment immediately. You can discuss options in a free, private and confidential call to the recovery hotline at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? .
Types of Treatment
Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction will vary based on each person’s patterns of use and mental health status. Because benzodiazepines have such powerful effects during use and withdrawal, inpatient treatment is frequently sought.
Emergency medical care may be required to treat an overdose prior to a formal treatment program. Once medically stable, formal treatment can begin.
Inpatient rehab for withdrawal and detoxification. This involves staying in a treatment facility that provides around-the-clock medical supervision. Individual circumstance will typically determine the length of stay. 30, 60 and 90 day stays are common.
Outpatient therapy involves working toward recovery from home. Patients are provided with continued support while the transition back into the community is made. In addition to weekly check-ins at a facility, monitoring at home by friends or family is recommended.
When choosing an option for benzodiazepine treatment, it is helpful to inquire about the course of treatment offered, including medical care, detox protocols, length of stay, therapies provided, and aftercare services.
Choosing a Benzodiazepine Treatment Center
Any treatment center that you consider should be well-informed about the specific nature and treatment of benzodiazepine addiction in order to reduce medical risks and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
In your search for the right treatment center, you will want to ask about treatment offerings, costs, financing options, and how well they can address your individual needs (accommodations for disabilities, psychiatric services, access to necessary medical care you have been receiving, etc.).
You also want to consider the type of setting that will work best for you: local vs non-local, private vs public facility, mixed vs gender specific, etc.
You can call 1-888-319-2606
Who Answers? now for help in determining your personal needs and finding the right treatment program for you or a loved one.
. Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Benzodiazepines. Available at: http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/benzos.asp
. Petursson, H. (1994). The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Addiction, 89. 1455-1459.
. Salzman, C. (1997). The benzodiazepine controversy: therapeutic effects versus dependence, withdrawal and toxicity. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 4. 279-282.