What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are better known as “benzos” and are typically a medication prescribed by a doctor such as Valium or Xanax. Usually prescribed for some disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, muscle spasms and to treat drug withdrawal symptoms.
“The word “benzodiazepine” refers to a group of chemical compounds which do slow down or “depress” the central nervous system. When used correctly, benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders.” (Narconon Suncoast, 2020)
Street Names for Benzos
- Sleeping Pills
- Dead Flower Powers
- Sleep Away
- Z Bars
Benzodiazepines’ Mental and Physical Side Effects
Usually, if taken appropriately, benzodiazepines are not harmful to an individual to take. They need to be taken as directed, and not taken over the dose that is prescribed by the physician.
“Generally speaking, when used as directed under supervision from a doctor, benzodiazepines are relatively safe for short periods of time. They are not, however, meant to be taken for longer than a few weeks to a few months at most.” (American Addiction Centers, 2020)
To be successfully managed, benzos need to be taken for short periods of time for relief which typically requires more interventions from a medical provider such as a psychologist or doctor. A common symptom, such as insomnia may require a medical evaluation to determine the underlying cause of why it is happening and whether it can be treated with pharmaceutical measures or other medical methods.
Side Effects of Benzo Use
The most common side effects of using benzodiazepines include:
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- nausea (feeling sick)
- memory problems
- muscle weakness
- slurred speech
- unsteadiness (especially in older people, who may have fallen and injure themselves as a result)
Some less common side effects can include:
- Changes in sex drive
- Severe itching
- Muscle weakness
- Menstrual problems in women
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
Health Effects from Benzo Use
Combined with the fact that benzos may cause physical and psychological dependence, they may also cause cognitive or memory impairment if they are used consistently for a long period of time. As published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry benzodiazepines can potentially interfere with verbal learning abilities, processing speed, and visuospatial abilities.
“Visuospatial refers to the way an individual sees, processes, replicates and understands where objects are in relation to other things. Processing speed is the way in which simple tasks can be completed automatically after learning them, and verbal learning skills are related to speech and language.” (American Addiction Centers, 2020)
Although the changes in the brain can come on rather quickly, they can also be reversed if the proper treatment is done and the right protocols are made. Contact Inland Detox for more information on the treatment options and detox methods that are used.
Withdrawal from Benzos
Many people will develop a tolerance to benzos due to the amount they are consistently taking, causing their bodies to require more of it to obtain the same effects as they previously had. This often creates a dependence or “addiction” to the drug and the need for it more and more. When someone stops taking the substance, often withdrawal symptoms occur, and they can be quite uncomfortable for the person going through it.
Some common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Hand tremors
- Mild to moderate changes in perception
- Muscular stiffness or discomfort
- Increased tension
- Heart palpitations
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
Detoxification from Benzos
The first step in overcoming addiction to benzodiazepines is to go through “detoxification” or detox from the drug, which means you completely get rid of the substance from your body and no longer use it. If not done in a proper setting, detox can be harmful and cause dangerous side effects.
At Inland Detox, we understand that everyone has their own story and reasons for wanting to detox from drugs or alcohol. Some clients may be coming to us strictly to detox while others are looking to go to a drug treatment facility that does not currently offer detoxification services. Our goal remains the same for every single client we serve, and that is to help them detox comfortably and support them in making positive life choices.
The reason why people tend to use benzodiazepines is that they work well at making someone feel good, and that is clear. Benzos are classified as a Schedule IV substance and are most typically prescribed for medical conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders. They are usually prescribed under the names Xanax, Valium, or Ativan.
Despite being prescribed by a doctor, benzos can be highly addictive if taken over the prescribed amount or for a longer period than necessary.
“Most people understand that they should take prescription medication as instructed, yet perhaps fewer fully understand the implications of deviating from their prescription. This is particularly dangerous with benzos since their chemical composition and action in the body make them especially easy to abuse.” (American Addiction Centers, 2020)
When you begin taking a benzodiazepine, the levels of dopamine in your body surge, causing an increase in feel-good neurotransmitters. The strong feelings of pleasure and reward can cause a person to crave it over and over because of how it feels in the body.
Types of Benzos
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Dalmane (flurazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Restoril (temazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
Treatment at Inland Detox for Benzodiazepines
While at Inland Detox, the first step in helping a patient is called stabilization, which is where the person will experience withdrawals from the drug while in a comfortable, supportive setting. Once the person is in a stable condition, they can be referred to a residential or inpatient treatment center for additional treatment services.
When someone is dealing with a substance use disorder, it’s important that they receive high-quality, proven care that fits their needs. By living in an environment fully focused on recovery, one’s well-being and sobriety become the primary goal. There are no distractions or triggers from work, school, or other obligations. Fellowship with other clients and reinforcement from staff can provide the necessary motivation to continue when one would otherwise like to resume using their substance of choice.
If you or a loved one are suffering from the disease of addiction, residential treatment could be right for you. Please dial (888) 739-8296 to speak with one of Inland Detox’s compassionate staff members, available 24/7. Help is just a phone call away.
American Addiction Centers. (2020). 5 Alarming Facts About Benzo Addiction. https://drugabuse.com/worried-benzos/
American Addiction Centers. (2020, 4 Feb). Do Benzodiazepines Cause Mental or Physical Harm? https://americanaddictioncenters.org/benzodiazepine/mental-physical-effects