Since their introduction in the 1960s, benzodiazepines or “benzos” have been widely prescribed in the United States to treat anxiety and insomnia, along with other conditions. Over 100 million prescriptions are written for these powerful medications every year. Although they are effective for their intended uses, they must be prescribed with caution as they are highly addictive. When used in conjunction with other drugs, such as alcohol, benzos can be fatal.
Though legally prescribed, becoming addicted is shockingly easy. When a person takes a benzo, dopamine levels surge, flooding the brain with the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This strong wave of pleasure is understandably rewarding and can prove overwhelming, especially to those predisposed to addiction.
With over 30 years of treatment experience, Origins programs are skilled at treating people with benzodiazepine addiction. Whether you’ve come looking for yourself or for a loved one, our team of physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed therapists, and 12-Step immersion staff can help.
Legal but Not Safe
Combining benzodiazepines with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids, can be unsafe because both drugs sedate users and suppress breathing—the primary cause of overdose fatality—in addition to impairing cognitive functions. In 2015, 23% of people who died of an opioid overdose also tested positive for benzodiazepines.
Examples of legally-prescribed oral benzodiazepines that are commonly misused are:
- Alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat)
- Estazolam (Prosom is a discontinued brand in the U.S.)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax is a discontinued brand in the U.S.)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
Signs of use
The signs of benzodiazepine addiction may be more recognizable to the family than the addicted person, or vice versa. Over time, benzodiazepine users often become dependent, meaning the body needs more of the drug in order to function normally. It is important to recognize the signs of addiction as soon as possible.
Benzodiazepines come with a host of common side effects including:
- Memory impairment
- Improper body balance
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Reduced libido
Serious side effects of benzodiazepine use may include:
- Respiratory depression
- Dependence and addiction
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Slow heart rate
- Severe low blood pressure
- Akathisia (a movement disorder)
- Increased heart rate
When stopped abruptly, benzodiazepines can result in withdrawal symptoms and even seizures, even after a short period of use. It is important to seek professional help when attempting to quit benzos because many of these withdrawal symptoms can be life-altering. About one-third of people who take benzos for six months or longer will experience health problems, including seizures, when they try to quit. Medical care for both acute and chronic conditions is a critical component of treatment at Origins.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Dry heaving and vomiting
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Problems concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Increased anxiety and tension
- A host of perceptual changes
Because withdrawal is extremely unpleasant, many people continue to use benzos in order to avoid the experience. Origins offers state-of-the-art, safe, and comfortable detox that helps to eliminate the serious side effects of withdrawal.
Effects on the Brain
When benzos accumulate in the body, they actually alter the structure and function of certain receptors in the brain. As a result, the progression from use to addiction can occur quickly. On average, tolerance can develop after only six months of use, though a person can become physically dependent much sooner.
For this reason, we founded Origins Center for Brain Recovery in Florida to ensure that we provide leading-edge interventions designed to heal the brain on a fundamental level. We incorporate principles from the growing and interrelated disciplines of health psychology and psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which focus on studying the many ways that mental and physical health interact.
Medical Detox and Ongoing Care
Treatment of benzodiazepines at Origins begins with medical detox under the care of our licensed physicians and nurses. But detox is only the first step towards recovery from addiction. We bring our patient’s medical history into current focus by monitoring these concerns and incorporating their management into our treatment plans:
- Co-occurring disorders (a.k.a. “dual diagnoses”)
- Brain damage
- Impaired memory
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
Through Origins’ licensed psychiatrists, medical doctors, and 24-hour nursing staff, we can guide you or your loved one on the path toward physical wellbeing.
Successful detox does not guarantee ongoing sobriety. Many people with addiction fail to remain sober following detox without effective clinical substance use disorder programming. Stabilization is merely a launchpad for further treatment. Once stabilized, a person continues their recovery through inpatient or outpatient programs that offer cognitive therapies, ongoing medical care, wellness activities, and counseling sessions. We offer resort-grade residential treatment campuses in West Palm Beach, FL, and South Padre Island, TX. With a host of exceptional amenities and gourmet meals, our facilities offer safe and comfortable settings in which to embark on the important work of recovery.
Treatment Modalities for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Even after the initial detox period has ended, people who have been using benzodiazepines will continue to experience the effects of that substance. Symptoms can include post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) that can be lessened through fully integrated counseling, psychiatry, and psychology services. At Origins, we offer:
- Medical and psychiatric care
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Chronic pain management
- Wellness activities and recreational therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Twelve-step programming
- Group therapy
- Recovery-based support groups
- Evidence-based interventions for brain health
Contact Origins Today
Origins Behavioral HealthCare is dedicated to helping our patients achieve lifelong, sustainable, and complete recovery. We know that sobriety is possible for everyone, especially through evidence-based interventions that restore mental, physical, and spiritual health. Our fully integrated services provide cutting-edge care that enacts real, lasting change for our patients.
Today can be the day you break the cycle of addiction for good – start your journey to freedom and fulfillment by calling Origins Behavioral HealthCare at 561-841-1296.