Benzodiazepine Addiction and Its Dangerous Side Effects

People often feel safe taking a medication their doctor prescribed, but you should never take and drug lightly. Benzodiazepines are one type of drug that can lead to an addiction with prolonged use even though they are used to treat medical conditions. You need to be aware of the risk of forming an addiction if you take this drug and what to do if you’re already addicted.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are often called “benzos” on the street. These drugs are used to help with anxiety, seizures, insomnia and they can also relax muscles. Some benzos have even been used to help with alcohol withdrawal. They may help prevent nausea and vomiting and are given for depression and panic attacks.

They are psychoactive drugs that work in the central nervous system of the body. Because they’re prescribed by doctors, people tend to think that they’re safe even in increased dosages. Unfortunately, this classification of drugs is one of the more common ones to become addicted to. Long term use or use outside of a prescription can lead to dependence and addiction.

If you’re addicted to benzodiazepines, it’s important to understand that these medications are dangerous to stop abruptly. Quitting your use of them should only be attempted in a drug rehab where you can be monitored for any potential problems or immediate medical issues.

Benzodiazepines are effective at helping with anxiety and seizure disorders because they effectively slow down brain activity. They are frequently prescribed to help patients after other medications have not proven to be effective enough, but when taken for too long, they can become addictive. There are numerous drugs under this category, and they differ in how fast and how long they work.

Some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanax (generic name – Alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (generic name – Clonazepam)
  • Valium (generic name –Diazepam)
  • Ativan (generic name – Lorazepam)
  • Loramet (generic name – Lormetazepam)

Valium and Tranxene begin working within 30 to 60 minutes to help a person feel more relaxed. Tranxene only lasts for three to eight hours while Xanax can last up to 20 hours. Librium, Valium and Klonopin show action for up to three days. This information is important to know when you or a loved one are abusing this drug. It gives you an idea of how long it will take for the drug to get out of your system so you can begin treatment.

Valium is one of the most versatile of the drugs in this category. It is used to relax muscles, to help with anxiety, seizures and for anesthesia. Librium is used with alcohol withdrawal and for anxiety.

The drugs in this group are used to treat mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. However, there is a risk of addiction even when they are prescribed for these and other conditions. Sometimes, people with a mental health disorder will take a benzodiazepine even without a prescription to hide the symptoms. They may decide to increase the dosage or take it more often if it has been prescribed.

People who have an addiction along with a mental health disorder are said to have a dual diagnosis. While medications are often effective at treating the symptoms of these conditions, they can complicate the situation if taken without the direct guidance of a doctor. In fact, they can make the symptoms worse if you take the drug on your own.

To successfully treat a dual diagnosis, both conditions must be dealt with. You may need to attend therapy for the addiction and the mental health diagnosis. The therapist may need to prescribe a new medication for the mental health disorder. While it’s often more complicated to treat two conditions at once, it’s necessary for long-term success. It’s possible to live a happy and productive life even if you suffer from co-occurring disorders.

When you take a drug in this category, you may experience side effects. These effects can worsen if you take higher doses. You may feel weak and dizzy, unsteady on your feet. You may even feel sedated and fall asleep while participating in activities. This creates the danger of injury if you’re driving a vehicle, operating machinery or engaged in other activities that require concentration and alertness.

Sometimes, you may become depressed and disoriented. It can also cause problems with sleeping and headaches. You may feel irritable, excitable and aggressive. You may even suffer from memory impairment.

While it’s generally not a problem to take this drug for a few weeks, it can become problematic over time. Issues of addiction are even more serious for those with a drug abuse history. Long-term use of this drug can increase a person’s risk for developing dementia. They may also experience convulsions or seizures. They can go into a coma or have a slowed heart rate and difficulty breathing.

There is a risk of overdose with this drug. If you take too much of a benzo, you can end up slowing your breathing and heart rate down too much. It can even lead to death, which is why you should seek out medical attention right away if you’ve taken too much or have a loved one who isn’t responding the way they should.

Suffering from Withdrawal

As your body becomes dependent on the drug, it will showcase withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly. You need to be aware of this risk and not try to stop using on your own. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal include the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Twitching of the muscles or muscle spasms

While it’s rare, you can also experience hallucinations, seizures and become delusional. You’ll start to experience symptoms faster when you have been using the short-term drugs.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be life-threatening, which is why you shouldn’t go through it alone. It’s important to attend a detox center if you plan to stop using this drug. Even when you’re taking it as directed by a doctor, they will take you off the drug slowly to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.

Detoxification is the process of cleansing your system of the drug and getting it to function normally again. This process can take several days and be painful if you do it alone. It’s much better to attend a detox center where trained staff can help you manage symptoms of withdrawal. They will look at what benzo you’ve been using and how long it’s supposed to last in your system so they can better help you through the detoxing process.

You have two options for detoxing from benzodiazepines. First, there is medical detox. You may be given a medication which helps reduce the symptoms or even eliminate them altogether. This method of detox appeals to many addicts because they want to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal and the discomfort that comes with them.

However, there is a downside for this method. Many of these medications mimic the effects of the substance you’re trying to detox from. They often have addictive properties and can cause a second problem with addiction if you aren’t careful. It prolongs the detox process because you must be weaned off the medications slowly.

Holistic detox is another method and one that is becoming more widely known. Nutrition and exercise play key roles in detox to help the body work naturally to get rid of the drug while managing withdrawal symptoms. When you eat the right foods to get the nutrition you need, your body is healthier and better able to handle the withdrawal.

You will also get involved in exercise, which helps you experience a natural high from the endorphins being released in your brain. It also helps you deal with stress in a positive way.

Detox can take several days or even more than a week, depending on the type of benzo you have been taking. The symptoms of withdrawal will start within a few hours after your last use or at least within the first day or two. They will gradually worsen until they start to subside a few days later. The cravings for the drug may not go away even after you’ve completed detox. You will need to go through drug addiction treatment to help you learn how to deal with these cravings and other issues from your addiction.

Getting Help for Your Drug Addiction

Once you complete detox, you may feel on top of the world. You’re eating better, getting enough exercise and rest, and you feel more alert. While getting the drug out of your system can make you feel like a brand-new person, you aren’t there yet. You still have to deal with the factors that led you down this dark road through drug rehab.

You need to find a drug addiction treatment center that offers programs to help you learn about your addiction, what led to it, what you will face now and how to deal with it. You have several options for treatment, and it’s important to choose the right one.

Once you have formed an addiction to benzos, it’s important to seek out immediate help from one of the best rehab programs in the country. Your addiction should not be taken lightly, and inpatient rehab is usually necessary in order to stop taking them successfully.

Inpatient addiction treatment provides you with stability during your recovery period, which is something that is lacking if you try to stop taking them at home. These types of treatment programs can provide you with information about the best way to stop taking them so that you don’t suffer any serious side effects. Inpatient rehab offers you a host of other benefits too, including:

  • Providing you with a constant support system of your peers
  • One on one addiction treatment with a counselor
  • The ability to learn what the cause of your addiction is so you can heal
  • Treatment for any underlying co-occurring disorder you may suffer from
  • Relapse prevention tools and techniques

If you’ve been addicted for years or you have relapsed multiple times, you may need an even longer recovery time than what you get with inpatient treatment. Residential programs allow you to live on-site for several weeks or months while you continue to work on recovery. People who choose this route need the additional support until they can learn to deal with addiction on their own. It also allows them to be away from negative influences and temptation.

Not everyone can or wants to attend an inpatient rehab program. Fortunately, there are outpatient drug treatment centers for those who want a second choice. Outpatient programs allow you to attend therapy a few times a week while still managing your other responsibilities.

You still can receive the same types of therapy at an outpatient center that you get with inpatient rehab. You’ll attend individual counseling sessions with a therapist and go to group meetings. Many of these facilities offer alternative therapy and provide medication when needed.

There are several reasons why you might want to attend an outpatient rehab center. If you have a job or a family, you may need to balance your need for drug addiction treatment with time spent at work or at home. Outpatient rehab allows you to choose when you attend therapy around your schedule. Some places offer evening therapy appointments or treatment on the weekends so you can continue to work. Other people may prefer to attend therapy during the day while the kids are in school.

Outpatient drug addiction treatment is ideal for people who have a light addiction or have only been abusing drugs for a short time. If you have a severe addiction, it may not provide the support you need 24 hours a day. However, if you cannot attend inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment is better than not getting help at all.

Intensive outpatient rehab is another option. You spend more hours in therapy while still working around your schedule. In some cases, it may mean being in treatment every day or all day. This is an option for those who feel they need more support than traditional outpatient treatment but still have other obligations.

No matter which type of treatment facility you choose, it’s important to think it through. Consider how long you’ve been addicted, how strong the cravings will be and how much support you have from family and friends. Don’t forget to factor in the negative influences and triggers you’ll have to deal with. Choose the option that will help you achieve your goal of recovery.

It’s possible that you’re not completely sure that seeking information about benzo treatment centers is something you need to do. Perhaps you’ve been taking your medication for quite some time, but it’s prescribed, and so you’re very doubtful about having become addicted to it.

Many people share those thoughts with you, and it can help to learn to recognize the signs of an addiction to this drug. Some of them include:

  • Finding that your current dosage of your medication isn’t working for you
  • Taking more than you should to relieve symptoms
  • Experiencing anxiety or depression, despite your medication
  • Having friends or family members suggest that you get professional treatment
  • Trying to stop taking benzos, but finding that you can’t
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when too much time has passed since your last dose

It’s possible that you’re abusing a benzodiazepine prescription but not really addicted to it. Drug abuse and addiction are similar but not the same thing. Abuse can and often does lead to addiction, but treatment is easier and more successful. If you suffer from drug abuse, don’t wait to seek out help. Get into treatment now.

With drug abuse, you’re taking the medication in a way that’s different from how it’s prescribed or taking a drug that wasn’t prescribed to you at all. You think about it even when you aren’t using and planning for the next time you can use. You may avoid activities where you can’t use your drug and spend more time alone. You might be stealing the drug or doctor shopping so you can get more of the prescription from multiple doctors. You’re also taking the drug because you like the way it makes you feel and not just to treat a condition.

Drug addiction develops when your body becomes dependent on it. As you take more of the drug, your system develops a tolerance to it. You don’t get the same results so you must increase the dose. The brain stops making its own endorphins because it relies on the drug. When the drug has left the system, the brain begins to panic, sending withdrawal symptoms to warn you that you need more. These symptoms continue until you get access to more of the drug. This becomes a vicious cycle that usually doesn’t end without treatment. At this point, you can say you’re addicted.

What Happens in Drug Addiction Treatment?

Going to a drug treatment center can be frightening for an addict. You’ve probably heard stories about what happens in treatment or you’ve formed an idea in your mind. It’s a good idea to know the truth, which is usually less scary than your imagination.

Benzo Rehab Information

The goal in drug addiction treatment is to help you understand your addiction so you can prevent it from happening in the future. You’ll learn about triggers that will cause you to want to use and develop methods for avoiding them or dealing with them.

You’ll learn how to use positive methods for dealing with stress instead of turning to drugs. Most importantly, you’ll uncover the reasons for your addiction in the first place. You may need to deal with some issues in your past or broken relationships to help you avoid relapsing in the future.

Much of your work will be completed through individual counseling. However, you’ll also attend group therapy where you will hear others’ stories and learn how they handle addiction. While it can be intimidating at first to talk about drug addiction with strangers, it’s an important part of your treatment. You’ll build a support network and develop friendships with others who “get you” and your addiction.

Sometimes, you may need to take medication to help with your addiction. While this isn’t the preferred route for most addiction centers, there are times when it’s beneficial and necessary. For example, if you have a co-occurring disorder, you may need medication to manage the mental health disorder. Instead of trying to hide the symptoms through your own drug use, the therapist will prescribe medication which keeps them under control in the right way.

The therapist will review your medical history as well as your addiction history to determine the right medication. You’ll be monitored by continuing to go to the therapist even after the addiction treatment is completed. This helps ensure you don’t get addicted again.

Not everyone responds to treatment in the same way. That’s why many centers offer alternative treatment in addition to therapy. You might go to a rehab center that includes hiking or other outdoor activities as part of the treatment plan. You might join in art or music therapy or start learning about journaling as a way to express your emotions.

Some treatment centers use equine therapy or pet therapy to help you learn how to form emotional bonds again and to be responsible for another creature’s welfare. The therapist may observe you engaging in any of these alternative treatments to gain new insight on the best way to deal with your addiction.

More addiction treatment centers are turning to a holistic approach in their programs. Instead of focusing solely on treating the addiction through therapy, they treat the entire person. They teach the person how to eat healthy and get the nutrition they need to keep their body and mind in optimal condition. Getting the right nutrients through food can be useful in treating a variety of symptoms including depression and anxiety.

Exercise is part of these wellness programs with regular workouts planned along with special activities. Being active can keep you from thinking about drugs. It helps you deal with stress and provides that euphoric feeling you sought from drugs without the negative results. It also gives you self-confidence so you can have a better self-image and will be less likely to want to turn to drugs.

When researching your options for drug addiction treatment, you want to find out what programs are available at the various centers. With more options available, you can have a treatment plan tailored to your situation and needs for a better chance at a successful recovery.

Can You Afford to Go to Rehab?

There are costs associated with going to drug rehab, which is why so many people refuse to consider getting professional help for their addictions. Perhaps you have felt the same way, and you’ve always thought that you couldn’t afford to get professional help.

Fortunately, you can afford to get help as long has you have health insurance. What you may not realize is that your health insurance policy will help you pay for rehab centers, and you may have to pay very little of the bill yourself. In fact, many people find that drug addiction treatment is covered completely under their health insurance policies, and this might be the case for you as well.

The most important thing you can do to ensure that your out of pocket costs are minimal is to be sure to choose drug rehabilitation programs that will work with your insurance. Doing so will provide you with the reassurance that you can get help for your addiction without having to worry about the cost.

Why You Need to Get Help for Your Addiction

Benzodiazepine addictions usually lead to withdrawal symptoms, and these symptoms can begin only a few hours after your last dose of the drug. It is not unusual to experience:
  • Aches, pains and other flu-like symptoms
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Bouts of confusion or disorientation
  • A sudden onset of seizures
  • Rebound symptoms of anxiety or depression

In some cases, suicidal behaviors can result from stopping benzos abruptly, and hallucinations have also been reported. As you can see, withdrawal symptoms can be very serious, and they are rarely mild for very long.

Choosing to stop using benzos with help from a rehab center provides you with the assurance that you are in good hands, and that you’ll be monitored for any serious problems. In addition, staff members will take extra precautions to minimize the severity of your symptoms throughout the process.

Statistics show that the majority of drug users relapse within the first year. You need to find a rehab center that can provide the support and education you need to avoid being one of those statistics. When you go it alone, you often fall back into old patterns and behaviors. Addiction treatment teaches you a new way of dealing with life’s issues so you don’t feel your only option is to use drugs.

Amytal Addiction Treatment

How Northpoint Washington Can Assist You in Washington State

At Northpoint Washington, addiction recovery is taken very seriously. Benzodiazepines can be very dangerous when they’ve been taken too long, or when higher than normal dosages are used, and we understand the need for proper supervision and monitoring at an addiction treatment center.

Our center is small, offering a low patient to staff ratio so you can get more individualized care. Our treatment plans are tailored to each patient instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. We also choose a holistic method of treatment to focus on the entire person and not just their addiction. We offer a variety of programs and have various activities to make your stay more pleasant. You can get involved in exercise through our fitness center or go hiking to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Another reason to choose Northpoint Washington is because our staff is experienced in drug addiction so they know how to support you and help you begin your first steps to recovery. It’s possible to enjoy a life of sobriety when you get the help you need.

If you’re addicted to benzodiazepines either by accident or because you intentionally used them outside of a doctor’s order, please know that you’re not alone. This addiction can be helped with the right drug rehabilitation. If you would like to learn more about how Northpoint Washington can assist you, please contact us right away.

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