SOBA New Jersey Helps People with Benzo Addictions
Benzodiazepine is a prescription drug used to medicate people with anxiety and insomnia, usually to the degree that the conditions disrupt their health and day-to-day lives. Xanax and Valium are two of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines or “benzos” as they are sometimes called. Although benzos are incredibly useful for many people, they are known to be habit-forming, especially when a prescription is not followed exactly.
Around 30.5 million people in the United States reported using benzodiazepines in 2016, according to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. However, the findings also discovered that out of that 30.5 million, only about 0.2% met the criteria for an anxiety disorder. This means that many people are actively misusing this medication, which puts them at risk of becoming addicted to them.
On This Page
- What Are Benzodiazepines?
- Effects of Benzodiazepine
- How Benzodiazepine Addiction Forms
- Signs of Addiction to Benzodiazepines
- Dangers of Benzodiazepine Addiction
- Is It Dangerous to Quit Benzodiazepine?
- Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
- How to Help Someone Struggling with Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you, or a loved one, are struggling with addiction, contact SOBA New Jersey at (888) 229-7989 today to learn more about how we can help.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a group of tranquilizer medications that treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They are depressants, meaning these pills help calm the nervous system down. With millions of people in America reporting that they have high levels of anxiety, benzos are one of the most prescribed medications.
Some of the commonly used benzodiazepines include:
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
Benzodiazepines can be prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of mental health conditions. They can also be used in hospitals and other medical settings to improve patients’ comfort in a variety of settings.
Effects of Benzodiazepine
Taken as prescribed, benzos have a relaxing effect on the body. They attach to the brain’s gamma-amino-butyric-aced (GABA) receptors. These receptors are part of a system that helps calm the nervous system. However, those who misuse the medication by taking more than prescribed may experience some euphoric effects as well. Increasing the dosage for recreation increases your chances of becoming addicted considerably.
A dose of a benzodiazepine will cause these effects and side effects:
- Sleepy feeling due to sedation
- Increased relaxation
- Reduced situational awareness
- Inability to focus on more than one thing at once
Benzos are meant to reduce anxiety or put someone to sleep to stop insomnia, so the effects listed above are intentional, even though some might seem negative. People can be tempted to abuse a benzo because they become accustomed to the state of lowered anxiety that they can only achieve while on the drug. It is also possible to form a chemical or physical addiction to benzodiazepines, which triggers a chemical imbalance between dosages and brings a variety of negative health consequences during withdrawals.
How Benzodiazepine Addiction Forms
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed depressants that are used to relieve anxiety and reduce the risk of seizures in users. Benzo addiction is most likely to form when the drug is used opposite prescription instructions, including using it without a prescription at all. For some people, it can be difficult to notice the first warning signs of a benzo addiction because the drug is a depressant that slows their system and thoughts down. They might feel a drug-induced sense of relaxation when on benzos, which makes them falsely assume that nothing is wrong.
Signs of Addiction to Benzodiazepines
Signs of addiction to benzodiazepines can begin subtly. Many people who are struggling with this substance don’t notice that something is wrong at first for this reason. Also, the sedative nature of benzo places the user into a chemical state of relaxation, which makes them less likely to notice the early signs of addiction. It is important to know about the signs of benzo addiction, so you can identify them as they begin, either in yourself or a loved one.
Physical signs of benzo addiction can include:
- Slurred speech
- Pale skin
Psychological signs of benzo addiction can include:
- Mood swings
- Suicidal ideations
- Unrestful sleep
Social and other signs of benzo addiction can include:
- Distancing from friends and family
- Spending any extra money on benzos
- Only working while on benzos
- Using benzo whenever relaxing
Dangers of Benzodiazepine Addiction
The longer than benzodiazepine addiction lasts unchallenged, the more likely the addiction will cause unsafe consequences for the user. Some of the dangers of benzo addiction happen immediately after taking a dose. Others will begin to form and gradually worsen as weeks and months of abuse pass.
Some of the short-term effects of benzodiazepines include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of motor control
- Muscle weakness
- Short-term memory problems
- Slowed breathing
When taken excessively and/or for long periods, benzodiazepines can lead to:
- Cognitive problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to regulate emotions
- Increased heart rate
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
Is It Dangerous to Quit Benzodiazepine?
Depending on how you try to quit using benzos, it can be dangerous. Abruptly stopping your usage can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. Some of these include hallucinations, grand mal seizures, or delirium.
For those struggling with serious benzo abuse or addiction, it is best to quit by seeking treatment at a drug rehab and detox center. During medical detox, you will receive around-the-clock supervision and care. In some cases, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be used to lessen the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Your addiction treatment team can devise a plan specific to you, your situation, and your needs.
Whether you’ve been taking benzos for a few weeks or a couple of months, you can experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off them. If you’ve been taking benzos for at least six months, you can expect more intense withdrawal symptoms, especially if you try to come off them too abruptly.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on different factors, including but not limited to the:
- Dosage a person is taking
- Length of time someone has been taking benzos
- Number of medications a person is taking
- Individual’s addiction history and overall health
- Type of benzodiazepines being used
- Other medications/substances the individual is taking
The type of benzo you’ve taken also affects how fast you’ll feel withdrawal symptoms. If you’re taking short-acting benzos, like Xanax or Ativan, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as eight hours after the last dosage. If you’re taking longer-acting benzos, like Klonopin, you may not start feeling withdrawal symptoms until a day or two after your last dosage.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Some common withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased anxiety
- Shaking hands
- Body aches
- Increased pulse
- Panic attacks
- Feeling like your skin is crawling
- Not being able to concentrate well
- Feeling out of touch with reality
- Feeling hypersensitive to light or touch
Keep in mind that if you undergo a gradual dose reduction under the care of your physician, your symptoms will lessen as you progress. You may still experience some withdrawal symptoms, but they will be milder and tend to come in waves.
How to Help Someone Struggling with Benzodiazepine Addiction
A safe, effective way to fight benzodiazepine addiction is to seek care from recovery professionals. Here at SOBA New Jersey, we provide various levels of care depending on your needs. Our addiction experts work closely with our clients to assess their situations and needs. We formulate gradual taper schedules that help our clients get through the withdrawal process safely and more comfortably. We also work to address any emotional, mental, and/or behavioral health concerns our clients may have.
Are you ready to break free from the cycle of addiction? Reach out to us today—our admissions specialists are standing by to address any concerns you may have and answer your questions. We are committed to offering compassionate, evidence-based care that can help you quit benzos for good.
Call (888) 229-7989 or contact us online to learn more about our benzodiazepine addiction treatments in New Jersey.
Find more information about our benzodiazepine addiction treatment options here.
At times, you can feel lost and confused when struggling with addiction or mental health. Our team understands what you are going through and works with you to reclaim the life you deserve.