Benzodiazepines or better known as “benzos” are a group of drugs that affect the central nervous system and cause a person to become sedated. They are sometimes used for medical conditions but are often abused and people become addicted to them.
“They act on specific receptors in the brain, called gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors. Benzodiazepines attach to these receptors and make the nerves in the brain less sensitive to stimulation, which has a calming effect.” (drugs.com, 2019)
More commonly heard names for benzos are Xanax and Valium, and they are among the most popular that are used and prescribed by doctors for medical conditions. Below is a list of the most typical types of benzos.
Types of Benzos
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are in the United States. They are part of a group of man-made substances that are used to treat certain disorders such as anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, muscle spasms, and insomnia. They are usually taken orally in a pill form, or intravenously due to the rapid relief from agitation, anxiety, or nervousness. People sometimes take them during stressful situations such as going on a long car ride or an airplane trip.
Someone who uses benzodiazepines long-term will begin to build a tolerance to the drug, often requiring more of it to experience the same effects as they previously felt. They are often used as a means to get “high” and a person becomes addicted because of the pleasurable effects it has on the body.
What are Benzodiazepines Prescribed for?
Benzos can be prescribed by a doctor for different medical conditions. They are typically used as a sedative, and work by slowing down the central nervous system in the body. Some of the things they are used for include:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- As a muscle relaxant
- Panic disorder
Symptoms of Benzo Use
The most common symptoms that are associated with benzodiazepines are:
Health Effects of Using Benzos
- momentary drowsiness commonly experienced during the first few days of treatment
- a feeling of depression
- loss of orientation
- sleep disturbance
- memory impairment
Addiction to Benzodiazepines
Benzos can be highly addictive to a person who uses them, especially if they are used frequently or for a long period of time. After tolerance is built, a person will require a higher dose or more of the drug in order to feel the same way that they had in the past.
From American Addiction Centers, “Today, the mental health community uses the term hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder to describe benzodiazepine abuse or addiction. This term comes from a main mental health book for clinicians, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. ” (American Addiction Centers, 2020)
In order to be diagnosed with this condition, at least 2 out of the 11 indicators or symptoms need to be present in a twelve-month period.
Behavioral Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
- The person begins to decline social events, withdraws from family and friends and other important obligations
- The person does things that are out of character in order to pay for or obtain the drug such as lying, stealing, borrowing money, or maxing out their credit cards
- The person experiences changes in mood or personality
- The individual becomes strangely secretive about the daily schedule and/or tells lies to protect the substance abuse.
- The person engages in dangerous or risky behaviors, such as driving, after using the drug.
- The person no longer cares about their hygiene or grooming efforts, sometimes looking disheveled
- From a place of fear of being without the drug, the person ensures that an adequate supply is maintained at home.
- The person spends an increasing amount of time and energy on different facets of drug abuse.
It may not seem like Benzodiazepines are dangerous drugs, but they can be extremely harmful and highly addictive. Because some people are prescribed benzos by a doctor for chronic pain, individuals will “doctor shop” and get high volumes of it. Someone can get many different prescriptions from multiple doctors for the same drug and obtain a lot of it at one time.
“Benzodiazepines can also be purchased on the street. Purchasing at the street level carries specific dangers. For instance, when drug sellers do not have benzodiazepines available, they may offer other dangerous drugs to the person, which can lead to polydrug abuse.” (American Addiction Centers, 2020)
Benzos can be obtained from anyone, including friends and family members. It does not necessarily have to be a drug dealer who shares or sells their pills.
Treatment at Inland Detox for Benzos
Our inpatient program at Inland Detox is the best first step toward recovery located in the Inland Empire. The goals of our program are always based on the client’s needs, comfort level, and individual assessment. Typically, each client will go through an assessment/evaluation, stabilization, treatment planning, and discharge planning. In our program, we treat anyone suffering from alcohol or drug addiction through a wide variety of treatment methods. Our staff is highly trained, compassionate, and caring towards each and every one of our clients and we want whatever is best for them and their recovery.
Our benzodiazepine detox program maintains three primary goals. These goals include:
- We strive to provide safe, effective stabilization of symptoms experienced as a result of the withdrawal process. This is the physical side of benzo detox and entails the use of medications prescribed by a licensed medical doctor in order to minimize the risks of severe symptoms during stabilization.
- We aim to begin to deal with the underlying mental causes of addiction, which is commonly called dual-diagnosis treatment. Our benzodiazepine detox process includes both group and individual therapy to help you identify the triggers and causes of your addiction and begin to work to resolve them, a process that continues with greater intensity in residential treatment or intensive outpatient care.
- That leads to our third and final goal: coordination of your ongoing treatment plan and further levels of care.
Transitioning from abuse of benzodiazepines to living drug-free is difficult because the withdrawal symptoms are so severe. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction to benzodiazepines, please call Inland Detox at (888) 739-8296.
American Addiction Centers. (2020). Benzodiazepine Addiction: Symptoms and Signs. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/benzodiazepine/symptoms-and-signs
Benzodiazepines. (2019, Feb). https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/benzodiazepines.html