Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

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You adopt your nephew after your sister abandoned him. You did not sign up to raise a kid and are already overwhelmed pursuing your career. You work long hours, but you were the only one willing to step up into the role of being a single parent. You love him but your mental health and sleep patterns begin to take a toll on you mentally and physically. Your friend gives you one of her little pills and tells you to take it at night before you go to bed. You are amazed that it really helped, so off to the doctor you go for your own prescription. You tell her the truth … that you are overwhelmed and don’t necessarily want to go on anti-depressants or anything too permanent but would like something to get you through the stress until you can transition into handling everything on your own.

Your doctor responsibly advises you on your options and you choose to try Xanax. She explains that it is a benzodiazepine and can be addictive. You have no intention of using it regularly, so it should be no problem. Well … no one takes that first pill with the intention of becoming dependent, but it turns into a problem down the road. You find that instead of only relying on that benzo to help you sleep, you start to feel like you need it to function through the hectic days of your life. You have a discussion with a trusted friend about your insomnia, lack of coordination, and slurred speech on occasion. You both arrive at the conclusion that it might be time to seek benzodiazepine addiction treatment. It may be exactly what you need to get your life back in order and on the path to happiness with your nephew.

What is a benzo?

Benzodiazepines are one of the most abused classes of drugs. They affect the central nervous system, causing muscle relaxation, sedation, and reduced levels of anxiety. They produce chemical changes in the brain that create a sense of reward, joy, and security. If used consistently, the brain may not be able to function as it was intended or feel happiness without access to benzos. Over 2,000 benzos have been produced and only 15 are on the FDA’s approved list. They are also known as tranquilizers and are classified by how long they are effective.

Since most people begin their journey with benzos because of anxiety, they are usually taken alongside alcohol and other drugs. They can be deadly alone, but their effects are especially dangerous when combined with other substances, which is known as polydrug abuse. 

How do I know if I need to find benzodiazepine addiction treatment?

At doctor recommended doses, benzos can relieve anxiety and sleep issues. Regardless of the good that they can do, their misuse can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry that leads to physical dependence and the possibility of withdrawal symptoms appearing when trying to stop their use. Symptoms can develop up to four days after the last dose and last as long as two weeks, depending on duration and frequency of use. They can also be hard to distinguish from the symptoms of anxiety. There can be side effects that range from life-threatening to interference with normal activity. Not everyone is insightful or trusts another person enough to help them decide if they have a dependency on any drug, so whether you are looking for signs in yourself or another person to see if you should seek out help, you can look for:

Ironically, many of the signs of abuse are the same reasons for which they started being used in the first place, like anxiety and insomnia, with the addition of anorexia and headaches. Approximately one third of benzo users who take them for six months or longer will start to suffer from health issues when they try to stop, such as seizures. They are so commonly abused that over 60,000 medical articles have been written on them concerning their potential for dependency and abuse.

What can I expect at a benzodiazepine addiction treatment center?

You choose a rehab center that matches the needs that you determined are necessary for a full recovery, from deciding on in- or outpatient; 30-, 90-, or 365-days; medically assisted or not; how to pay for it; and everything else necessary to get ready to change your life. It’s a big decision that makes you vulnerable, so surrounding yourself by a great support system is essential whether they are new friends in the program or old ones that have stood by your side. The basics of therapy are similar in many programs, with variations instituted that accommodate each patient’s specific situation. Steps include:

Having a problem handling the affects of benzodiazepines is nothing to be ashamed of and getting help is the first step to recovering and regaining control over your life. No one thinks that they will slide down the path of addiction so must rely on their friends and support system when the benzos have taken over the brain chemistry. Recovery is not always easy or quick, but it is worth it when you are living your best drug-free life.