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Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

There’s no denying that benzo addiction has skyrocketed in America over the past 20 years. They are widely available and accessible, making them ripe for misuse. Enlightened Recovery offers treatment for addiction in multiple locations, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

First discovered and made available in the 1960s, benzos have become one of America’s most widely distributed and commonly used drugs, primarily prescribed for panic and generalized anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines activate the neurotransmitters in the brain that produce calm and relaxation. It’s no surprise that benzodiazepine drugs (such as the popular Xanax) have become one of the most prescribed drugs nationwide.

Doctors nationwide prescribe benzodiazepine, commonly known as benzos, at more than 66 million appointments each year. 

Examples of Benzos

Nearly everyone in today’s world is familiar with some of the common brand names for benzos, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Centrax, and Tranxene, just to name a few. They may take these drugs themselves or know someone who does. 

Benzos are typically prescribed in a pill or tablet form for oral use. However, those who misuse them often crush and snort the tablet. The pills or tablets are usually small, sometimes football-shaped, in various colors like white, blue, and pink.

benzodiazepine pill bottle

Are Benzos Addictive?

Benzodiazepines are considered a Schedule IV controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and yes, they are addictive. 

Benzos stimulates the neurotransmitters in the brain that produce euphoria, peace, relaxation, and other pleasurable effects. It’s no surprise that benzodiazepine drugs (such as the popular Xanax) have become one of the most prescribed and addictive drugs nationwide.

GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that helps block activity in the nervous system, such as anxiety. Low GABA activity and anxiety disorders are closely linked, so benzodiazepines such as Xanax work well. They help increase the brain’s GABA activity so the individual will experience pleasure, euphoria, or calm instead of stress. 

Benzodiazepines also have depressant properties that lower brain activity. As a result, they also treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Interestingly, many treatment centers use benzodiazepines to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms under close medical supervision. 

Benzos are typically only prescribed for short-term use since they are so habit-forming. Other medications are more suitable for long-term anxiety treatments. However, when used as prescribed short-term, benzos can help those with anxiety issues by helping even out the GABA activity in the brain. 

Why Are Benzos Addictive?

Over time, the brain can adapt to benzos in the system, leading to drug tolerance. Those misusing benzos will need a higher dose to achieve the same pleasurable feelings.

Abruptly quitting benzos leads to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. These factors and benzos’ pleasurable effects make them highly addictive when misused for extended periods. 

Using benzos only as prescribed by a healthcare professional dramatically minimizes the risk of addiction.

healthcare professional prescribes benzos

Xanax Addiction

Many people become addicted to Xanax as it is one of the most commonly prescribed benzos. 

As previously mentioned, Xanax is a favored benzodiazepine medication used to treat specific anxiety disorders such as panic and generalized anxiety disorders. Xanax can work as a sleep aid. Some treatment centers use Xanax to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms under close medical supervision. 

Xanax tablets are small, oval-shaped white, peach, or blue pills. Some common slang names for Xanax include Xannies/Zannies, Z-bars, and footballs (due to the shape). 

Xanax is typically only prescribed for short-term use since it can be habit-forming. Other medications are more effective for long-term anxiety treatments. However, when used as prescribed short-term, Xanax can help those with anxiety issues by helping even out the GABA activity in the brain.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Symptoms

Those who misuse benzos take more than the recommended dosage to create a feeling of euphoria. Benzos usually work very quickly, primarily when crushed and snorted. The effect typically lasts between 6 to 24 hours.

When taken as prescribed for no more than a few weeks, benzos are pretty safe. However, when misused, the side effects mimic symptoms typical of being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. 

Common side effects of benzo misuse include: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Mood changes
  • Angry, erratic behavior
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Detachment from surroundings

Signs of Benzo Addiction

In addition to the common physical and mental symptoms listed above, the effect of benzo misuse goes much further and creates even more problems, such as:

  • Strained interpersonal relationships 
  • Financial problems as a result of buying more benzos
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work 
  • Anger, increased anxiety, and unpredictable mood swings
  • Disorientation, no sense of direction, unsure of one’s whereabouts
  • Amnesia, blackouts, no memory of large chunks of time
  • Changes in hygiene (not bathing/showering, wearing sloppy clothing)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (too much/too little sleep or sleeping at odd times)
  • Changes in diet (overeating, too little, or bad food choices)
  • Attempting to cut down or stop using benzos but being unable to do so
  • Continuing to use benzos even if it has caused negative consequences 
  • Taking risks and making bad decisions that would usually be out of character 
  • Legal challenges as a result of driving under the influence, improper acquisition of prescription medication, or other charges related to one’s benzo abuse 

When the issues noted above become apparent, it signals that benzo abuse has become a bigger problem. Even though some of the effects of benzo abuse may be obvious on the outside, the damage happening on the inside may not be as noticeable. 

Although benzos aren’t likely to cause a fatal overdose on their own, when combined with opioids or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as alcohol, prescription sleep medications, or other sedatives, the risk of overdose and death significantly increases.

distressed man sits alone in the dark and shows signs of benzo addiction

Addiction to Benzos & Withdrawals

While benzodiazepines have been able to help millions of people with anxiety disorders, abusing benzos is dangerous. Getting off of benzos brings uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can be alarming and long-lasting.

In fact, some of the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous if left unsupervised. Medical treatment is crucial when detoxing from benzos.

Benzo withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Perceptual changes
  • Increased tension
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia

These withdrawal symptoms can range in severity depending on how long an individual has been misusing the drugs and elements unique to their benzo addiction.

How Long Do Benzo Addiction Withdrawals Last?

The average person typically starts experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms around the first 24 hours of last use. The symptoms will peak from there during the first 1-4 days.

The timeline for benzo withdrawals varies depending on the type of benzo, the amount used, and the length of use. For example, based on these factors, one could experience major withdrawals between a few days and several months.  

Is Benzo Withdrawl Dangerous?

With the correct medical treatment administered for benzodiazepine addiction, the risks of severe withdrawals decrease. However, detoxing solo without a sound support system and proper management can be extremely dangerous.

Quitting “cold turkey” from addiction to benzodiazepines often triggers the most intense withdrawal symptoms and severe physical and psychological reactions.

The unpredictability of the withdrawal process can lead to dangerous and sometimes lethal situations. 

Treatment For Benzo Addiction

Taking on the detox process alone is not a good idea and can lead to tragedy. 

Those seeking proper supervision and support during this trying time will likely see the highest success rates and long-lasting sobriety. A medically supervised withdrawal plan will offer the best chances for a safe and successful relapse-free recovery.

Medical supervision ensures qualified staff will manage any complications. Chances of relapse significantly decrease when the detoxification process is done using safe and appropriate methods for withdrawal. 

Finding the proper support system to detox from benzos could mean the difference between a life of recovery and tragedy.

benzo addiction peer support group

Help For Your Benzo Addiction Today

If you’re at the end of the rope with your (or a loved one’s) benzodiazepine addiction, it’s time to seek help.

At Enlighted Recovery Center, our addiction treatment and care approach centers around threatening the whole person, not just the addiction. We understand that addiction of any kind is a complex disease that requires a personalized and comprehensive approach. 

We combine evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy with alternative and complementary therapies such as yoga and nutritional therapy to promote healing and recovery during your benzo addiction treatment.

Now is the time to start your recovery journey. Contact us today.


Contact Us Today

We’re here to help you or your loved one with addiction.

Reach out to Enlightened Recovery today to learn more about our locations and services.