Primarily used to treat acute anxiety, benzodiazepines are defined by sedative-psychoactive properties. Benzodiazepines, more commonly known as benzos, may be effective in short-term treatment of anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and others, but it has a high rate of addiction and a benzodiazepine addiction is among one of the most dangerous. Tolerance to benzodiazepines builds very quickly, and constant abuse and misuse of benzos (accidentally or recreationally) will quickly lead to an addiction.
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In building a tolerance, a benzo addict begins to up their doses more and more, so early detection and treatment is a very critical weapon in fighting an addiction.
1998 to 2008, addiction treatment admissions involving benzo abuse nearly tripled, reflecting the addictive potential that benzodiazepines is present.
Benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat conditions such as:
- Withdrawal from alcohol
- Muscle spasms
Benzodiazepines are intended for short-term use only, and long-term use is viewed as dangerous and habit-forming. Long-term use of benzos does not only lead to an increased chance of becoming addicted, but chronic abuse very often causes various physical and psychological side effects. Benzodiazepines are viewed as safe and effective for short-term use only. Long-term use of benzos not only causes addiction but also can lead to other physical and psychological effects. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and they are known to cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
In any case of benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal can be potentially fatal if not medically advised. In many cases, victims of benzodiazepine addiction will attempt to go cold turkey in order to treat their own addiction. Quitting cold turkey is dangerous, and any benzo addiction treated through quitting cold turkey will produce deadly withdrawals that may result in death.
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When a victim of benzodiazepine addiction quits cold turkey, they will attempt at self-detoxing themselves by immediately stopping all intake of the addictive substance. While it may sound good on paper, quitting cold turkey gives your body no time to readjust back to sobriety and thus brings upon many uncomfortable, severe withdrawal symptoms.
Instantly ceasing all benzo intake via cold turkey undoubtedly has among some of the most uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Severe withdrawal symptoms that can emerge as a result of quitting cold turkey include:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Visual disturbances
- Convulsions that can result in death
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Manic episodes
- Increased heart rate
It is estimated that approximately 80% of benzodiazepine abuse involves another substance, particularly opioids and alcohol.
Benzodiazepines are not all bad, however. They can be used to treat those who are prescribed it, and they are very effective. On the other hand, even those who do get prescribed benzos are at a high risk of addiction, due to benzos being a naturally addictive and having a high risk of abuse. Whenever a benzo is abused, it almost always leads to negative consequences, so it is important to only take benzos as prescribed by your doctor.
Benzodiazepines and the Brain
Benzodiazepines chemically alter the functionality of the brain, affecting mainly the major inhibitory transmitters in the central nervous system. By creating an abnormal surge in dopamine levels, the pleasure receptors in the brain are rewarded. On the other hand, continuous abnormalities in dopamine levels in the brain cause the brain to get used to the influx, resulting in a building of tolerance.
With the unnaturally large amount of dopamine in an addict’s brain, the brain eventually just stops producing its own dopamine, relying solely on the drug or other dopamine-associated substances.
The long-term use of benzos, studies show, directly correlates with brain damage.
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Benzodiazepine addiction affects the GABA receptors in the brain, and a dependency can form much easier than you think. Continuous abuse can lead to a victim being unable to treat their anxiety or any other of their disorders without the use of benzodiazepines. Benzo addiction is identified by the fact that a user will often find themselves incapable of quitting or controlling their intake despite the severe negative side-effects associated with benzodiazepine addiction and abuse.
When used in the long-term, benzos quickly become ineffective in treating symptoms and do more damage to a victim than help. Short-term use is the only use for benzodiazepines, and heeding the caution and warnings is extremely recommended and effective in benzodiazepine addiction prevention.
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Check out these common benzodiazepines and learn more about these addictive substances:
Ativan (general name – Lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed by a doctor usually used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, seizures, and epilepsy. As one of the safest but still effective medications in drug addiction treatment, it is a common medication in the detox stage of addiction treatment. Although it is common and considered relatively safe for use, Ativan can still cause a benzodiazepine addiction and should only be used if instructed to by a doctor. Ativan is also the most common drug used to treat alcohol addiction and its dangerous side effects and delirium tremens.
Halcion (general name – Triazolam) is similar to almost every other benzodiazepine in the way that it is a hypnotic-sedative drug. Halcion is primarily issued in order to treat any sleeping disorders someone may have, but it is sometimes used to treat anxiety and epilepsy. While halcion may sound like a stereotypical benzo, used to treat anxiety and insomnia, it excels in treating sleep disorders. The similarities of halcion and other benzos do not simply end there, and halcion is highly addictive and has much room for abuse and addiction when used long-term.
Klonopin (general name – Clonazepam) is similar to Ativan in its traits. Generally used to treat seizures, anxiety, sleep disorders, and panic disorders, Klonopin is fast-acting and effective in performing its function. Unfortunately, an addiction to Klonopin forms much faster than usual. Because benzodiazepine addiction is common in the cases of fast-acting drugs like Klonopin, we recommend only the short-term use of Klonopin.
Librium (generic name – Chlordiazepoxide) is a medication similar to Ativan as well, used to treat anxiety and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Librium is commonly used before and after surgeries or dental procedures to curb any acute anxiety or panic that a patient may have. As a benzodiazepine, Librium is prescribed for short-term use and is very addictive.
Oxazepam is a sedative in the benzodiazepine drug class that is commonly used to combat the side effects of withdrawal (a majority of which is alcohol withdrawal) associated with depression and anxiety. By targeting the chemicals in the brain that cause anxiety and depression, oxazepam is a very effective antidepressant used in drug treatment.
Xanax (generic name – Alprazolam) is the most commonly abused benzodiazepine recreationally and is effective in treating anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is relatively easy to be prescribed or obtained by illicit methods, resulting in Xanax being the most commonly abused benzo. Similar to other benzodiazepines, Xanax is strongly recommended to only be used short-term. Long-term users risk abusing, becoming dependent, and even addicted. On the street, Xanax is extremely dangerous. As a matter of fact, there have been a number of reports of people selling fentanyl (an extremely deadly drug) pressed down into a pill that looks like Xanax.
Valium (generic name – Diazepam) is a medication commonly administered to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. Similar to other benzos, it has a high risk for abuse and addiction and should only be used short-term to avoid developing a tolerance and dependency. Valium is also effective in easing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal while a patient may be detoxing from alcohol.
If You’re Suffering from Benzodiazepine Addiction, We Can Help
Benzodiazepine addiction is undoubtedly one of the more severe, acute addictions. When someone begins to abuse benzos, it takes an extremely small amount of time for abuse to turn into full-blown addiction. Seeing as benzodiazepines are among the most addictive substances available, benzodiazepine addiction treatment should be sought out in the early stages of addiction to make it easier on the patient. Benzodiazepine addiction is extreme, and it can easily snowball out of control if professional help is ignored.
When someone is prescribed a benzodiazepine, a common misconception is that long-term use won’t hurt them if a doctor prescribed it. However, ignoring the instructions of your doctor and upping your doses is the first step in becoming addicted. Fortunately, there is treatment immediately available to you through Ocean Breeze Recovery.
Our staff is eager and ready to provide you with the 24-7 care and support you need to take back your life of sobriety. Give us a call at (844) 554-9279 and let us walk you through every step of treatment.