Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and dangerous prescription drugs. Benzos are often prescribed to treat a variety of anxiety, depression, and mental disorders. They share many similarities with opioids in regards to their commonality of being abuse and highly addictive nature. In this article you will learn all about Benzo addiction.
What Is Benzodiazepine Addiction?
Benzodiazepine addiction, like many other drugs, is the craving your brian begins to develop for the drug. This craving is caused by the body wanting the drug to function at all times. Because of this, if the person stops using, withdrawal symptoms will begin. These symptoms also come with very powerful urges for the drug.
Benzos abuse will affect the brain and body in similar ways to alcohol. The drug helps increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of happiness and pleasure. This reaction will decrease negative emotions that are associated with depression and anxiety.
Anxiety and depression disorders are commonly treated with benzos. They were created to be a safer and less addictive option to the old standard treatment medications. Prescription barbiturates have now been widely replaced by benzodiazepines. They are also significantly more likely to be prescribed as treatment options then barbiturates were.
Because of the high level or access and the dopamine releasing elements. Benzos are prime candidates for being used and abused.
Benzo Use To Benzo Addiction
As of 2013 benzos were involved in over ⅓ of overdose deaths in the United States. This is likely due to the large amount of prescriptions and the individual users tendency to mix multiple drugs. Even with this data Benzos original goal of being a safer alternative for treating mental health disorders was an overall success.
Benzos are still highly addictive so they are commonly prescribed for a short period of time. Usually a benzo will also be prescribed with an SSRI antidepressant. This allows a doctor to prescribe the benzo to deal with acute symptoms of the mental disorder with the antidepressant to present its effects over a long time period.
As is common with other addictive prescription drugs, benzos are usually used as prescribed to start but slowly over time the user becomes dependent on them. A lot of the time dependency to the drug and even full blown addiction will occur before the patient is taken off of the prescription.
It is medically recommended for benzodiazepines to be only prescribed for short periods of time. Usually only for one or two weeks. This is because there can be withdrawal symptoms from benzos after only three or four uses.
Are Benzos All Addictive?
All benzodiazepines are addictive. Though there are different variations of them. Different people will also react differently to the different types of benzos. Different benzos are designed to work over varying lengths of time.
Short acting benzos include Halcion and Versed which typically last three to eight hours. While Ativan and Xana can last 11 to 20 hours in an individual’s system. Klonopin can last for significantly longer as well as Valium.
While there are no non-addictive benzos, there are other options for treating depression and anxiety. These include SSRIs and SNRIs. These are often prescribed with benzos to try to reduce the amount of benzos taken.
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What Are Benzo Addicts Chasing?
Mental health plays a large role as to why individuals initially try benzos. With hopes to improve their mental health status, lots of people try these drugs to alter their mental state. However, a drug problem begins to arise when an individual tries to get off the drug substance. Here they experience intense cravings, and early symptoms of physical withdrawal from abusing benzodiazepines.
The inability to cope with certain situations, or just wanting to get high are other reasons for benzodiazepine abuse. Benzos act similarly to alcohol by quickly releasing dopamine. This rush causes individuals to dissociate from stress, trauma, or other negative factors in life.
In addition, substance abuse and addiction to benzos can occur from just one time of experimenting with the drug. Young adults or teens may experiment with their family members’ prescriptions, or get them from the streets. These highly addictive drugs can cause serious addiction.
Long-Term Health Effects of Benzo Addiction
Benzos change the way a person’s brain properly functions. Long-term use of these substances can be highly dangerous and life-threatening. The longer an individual has been using, the higher of a tolerance they have to benzos. Benzos affect our central nervous system, and over usage can cause this system to shut down.
Warning Signs of Long-term Drug Abuse to Benzos May Include:
- Memory loss
- Irritability, paranoia and aggression
- Lack of motivation
- Fluctuating blood pressure
- Drowsiness and sleepiness
- Difficulty sleeping and disturbing dreams
- Constant Haze
- Central nervous system shutdown
Consequences of Stopping Benzos
The consequences of quitting benzos can result in withdrawal. Withdrawals are the negative symptoms or effects that individuals face when they stop using drugs. These symptoms can be very difficult to endure, making it hard to stop using the drug.
Powerful cravings also come into play when stopping benzos. These cravings are a common symptom of benzo withdrawal.
Rebound anxiety is an effect of abruptly stopping the use of benzos. Here, people experience heightened feelings of anxiety. These feelings can be much more severe than those ever experienced.
Another negative consequence of stopping benzos is a condition called, “benzo belly.” Benzo belly is not experienced by all users, but it is more common in long-term users. This condition causes long-term abdominal pain, bloating, and loss of appetite.
Why Benzo Addiction Needs Treatment
Benzodiazepines are highly addictive substances that have the ability to cause long-term health effects. Stopping the use of benzos has multiple consequences. This is why many users are hesitant to stop using these drugs. However, it is the best possible choice to stop using.
Benzodiazepines mess with our central nervous system, hindering our brain’s ability to function properly. When an individual abuses these drugs, or becomes addicted, their central nervous system begins to slow down. This is dangerous because your central nervous system can eventually just stop working.
Since benzo addiction makes it extremely difficult to quit, seeking treatment is a great option. The Recovery Team treats addiction to benzos, and wants to help you or someone you love today. Recovery is possible, and can happen to you at any time!
Let’s get you or a loved one help with a few simple steps.