Also referred to as benzos, benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants that are prescribed to treat insomnia, muscle spasms, anxiety, seizures, and panic attacks. Benzos like Valium and Xanax, although effective in treating disorders associated with increased nerve activity, are also highly addictive. Even those who use benzos as prescribed are at risk of developing physical and psychological dependence. However, addiction is the most common result of long-term benzo abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with this condition, our benzodiazepine addiction treatment in Pennsylvania can help.
Understanding Benzodiazepine Abuse
Otherwise referred to as a benzodiazepine addiction, a benzodiazepine use disorder is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to the inability to control their use of the drug. Benzodiazepine dependence is often the result of long-term abuse or misuse, which may involve taking more than the recommended dose, mixing the medication with other drugs or alcohol, or taking benzo pills in harmful ways (such as crushing and snorting pills.)
Many people become addicted to benzos for several reasons, the most common of which is to get high. Benzodiazepines have a hypnotic, muscle-relaxing, and sedative effect on the body. They work specifically by manipulating the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits communication and activity among nerve cells in the brain.
Although these medications are usually safe when taken as prescribed, they can produce a euphoric and relaxing high when taken in high doses. After a while of use, the brain begins to associate pleasurable feelings with the drug, craving it and becoming dependent on it. Benzo’s effects on certain chemicals in the brain also reinforce drug-taking behavior, contributing to addiction.
Nowadays, the mental health community refers to benzo addiction as a hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder. These terms are derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with a sedative use disorder, at least two of 11 symptoms must occur within a year:
- Taking benzos in a higher dose than directed or over a longer period than prescribed
- Taking benzos in a higher dose or more frequently than intended
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the person is not using benzos
- Requiring higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects
- Experiencing impaired performance at school, work, or home because of drug use
The sedative effects of these drugs, as well as their addictive properties, make them a common drug of abuse. Since benzos are prescription drugs, it is critical to note that some people may initially have a prescription for them, but following a period of misuse, they develop an addiction.
If a patient with a prescription for a benzodiazepine follows their doctor’s orders, a substance use disorder will not likely set in. However, if it does occur, the individual may turn to illegal and more dangerous ways to obtain the drug or turn to similar substances to get high.
For instance, doctor shopping is a common behavioral symptom of abuse. This is when an individual goes to different doctors to get several prescriptions from different pharmacies. If you find that a person has the same medication in multiple bottles from different doctors and pharmacies, it may indicate a problem.
Benzos may be obtained from people who are not drug dealers, such as friends, coworkers, and even family members who share and sell their pills to others. Benzodiazepines can also be purchased on the street. On top of this, users may combine benzos with other sedatives, like alcohol or opioids, to intensify their side effects.
Benzo Addiction Symptoms
In addition to the criteria listed in the DSM-5 for diagnosing a benzo use disorder, an individual who engages in benzo recreational use may display certain behavioral and physical signs, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Poor judgment, thinking, or decision making
- Difficulty concentrating
- Doctor shopping (bouncing from one doctor to another for prescriptions)
- Asking friends, family, colleagues, and/or classmates for their prescriptions
- Wanting to cut back on the volume of use but not being able to
- Mood swings
- Risk-taking behaviors, such as driving under the influence of benzodiazepines
- Mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs
The sedative effects of benzos and their addictive properties make them popular substances of abuse. Since these are prescription drugs, it is important to note that many who start by taking these drugs as prescribed begin abusing them for their side effects.
What’s more, due to the natural process of building a tolerance, over time, a person will require a higher volume of benzodiazepines to achieve the familiar high. When the abuse stops, the familiar dose is significantly cut down, and withdrawals will occur. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be highly dangerous and life-threatening.
If your or someone you care about is taking these medications and begins to show the above signs of abuse, get help immediately. Our benzodiazepine addiction treatment includes medically monitored detox, therapy, and even aftercare services to ensure that patients have everything they need to recover from the physical, psychological, and social impact of drug abuse.
Benzo Addiction Recovery at Clearbrook Pennsylvania
Finding benzodiazepine help is crucial for those who are suffering from addiction. Substance abuse can impact every area of your life, including your physical and mental health, finances, career, and relationships, and it can even get you in trouble with the law.
Families, spouses, and friends are also impacted by their loved one’s addiction. If you find yourself unable to control how you take this medication, it is time to get help.
For decades, our drug rehab in Pennsylvania has delivered benzodiazepine abuse treatment, among various other addiction services. We usually start our patients off with a clinical assessment to determine the type of program and therapy options that will best suit their needs.
Most patients then undergo benzo withdrawal treatment, which is a form of our medically assisted detox in PA, where patients are slowly weaned off these drugs and treated with medication as needed. Benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment is a crucial aspect of the recovery process, as withdrawal symptoms are usually uncomfortable enough to discourage patients from sticking to treatment.
Finding a Benzo Rehab Near Me