What is Benzodiazepine Addiction?
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are a type of drug that affects the central nervous system. They are prescription drugs that may be used to treat a range of issues. Prescribed benzodiazepines can help with mental disorders including anxiety and severe insomnia, while it is also a medical treatment option for the likes of seizure disorders and alcohol withdrawal.
Unfortunately, these drugs can also be used recreationally – and that’s what can lead to substance abuse issues. Benzodiazepine misuse is both highly dangerous and disconcerting. As benzos are designed to affect the brain by blocking nerve signals and decrease the central nervous system’s activity, those that abuse them face a range of physical and mental health symptoms.
There are many types of benzodiazepines. Although they all have similar effects on the brain, they vary in terms of strength and how long they last. This is why some benzodiazepine drugs work better for certain conditions versus others. It also means certain benzos are more detrimental when abused.
For those in the mental health community, benzos abuse or addiction is described as hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder
. This term was coined by the book, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Benzo Addiction Treatment with TOPSAIL
TOPSAIL offers a range of substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation programs. These integrate a range of treatments, therapies, and education programming, along with follow-up care after the main phase of treatment. This approach is followed with our benzodiazepine addiction treatment.
Our benzo addiction treatment begins with a thorough assessment conducted by an addiction treatment professional. After this, there are several paths to take with treatment for benzo addiction. They fall under the following three categories:
The next step in fentanyl addiction treatment is partial hospitalization. This program offer similar intensive levels as inpatient treatment, but it gives patients the opportunity to remain living at home. Group counseling, therapy sessions, and medication management are all part of PHP. The program utilizes full-day sessions, which patients must attend five days a week at our medical facility.
An IOP is the next step down in treatment. While it remains at an intensive level, the amount of time a patient needs to commit to treatment is lowered. For instance, the number of sessions drops from five to three, and these last between three and four hours each. With greater levels of flexibility, patients are able to continue with their work, school, or family commitments while attending our treatment center.
Outpatient programs are designed for those that are further along in their fentanyl recovery process. Designed for those seeking care post-intensive treatment, sessions are weekly and last one hour each. Outpatient treatment places a focus on lifestyle management and methods to prevent relapses from occurring.
As one of the leading treatment centers in Massachusetts, TOPSAIL has the expertise, experience, and approach to care which can assist through each stage of your benzo addiction. This includes everything from behavioral therapy treatment to successfully dealing with benzo withdrawal symptoms.
To be one of the top American addiction centers, we make sure each individual is given the best course of treatment for their needs. Alongside a combination of individual therapy and support groups, we help with medication management and other areas to ensure you’re in a position for positive long-term health. This is done by us learning and understanding your exact situation, building an effective treatment plan with this information.
When you seek treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, you want the best chance of overcoming this. That’s what you get when signing up for one of our bespoke programs at TOPSAIL.
Common Types of Benzos
For a benzo addiction to occur, people need to get their hands on benzodiazepine products. In that regard, there are various options that have been the cause of drug abuse. Commonly prescribed benzos include:
- Alprazolam. The most common brand name for this drug is Xanax. It is most often prescribed for panic disorders and anxiety, although occasionally for insomnia.
- Chlordiazepoxide. Also known as Librax, this drug may be prescribed for either anxiety disorders or alcohol withdrawal.
- Clobazam. Onfi is the brand name for clobazam. This drug is almost exclusively prescribed for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
- Clonazepam. More commonly known as Klonopin, it is a drug usually prescribed for seizures, nerve pain (neuralgia), and panic disorders.
- Clorazepate. Also known as Tranxene, this benzodiazepine is used for some types of seizures, anxiety, and for helping with alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Diazepam. Better known as Valium, this drug is used for a variety of conditions. This includes anxiety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, muscle spasms, seizures, and sedation. It is one of the most commonly used benzo drugs among recreational users.
- Lorazepam. Also known as Ativan, this drug is prescribed for short-term insomnia treatment, sedation, anxiety, and seizures.
- Temazepam. The brand name is Restoril, and it is prescribed for short-term insomnia treatment.
- Triazolam. Also called Halcion, this drug is also among the treatment options for insomnia in short-term situations.
Benzodiazepine Misuse: Why Are Benzos So Addictive?
Muscle relaxers like benzodiazepines are frequently abused for two main reasons. Firstly, they are easy to obtain both legally and illicitly. Secondly, they provide a euphoric feeling when consumed. With the combination of these two points, and even though benzos are an excellent tool to help people live a normal life when used properly, they can be hard to resist and highly addictive.
Prolonged use of benzos, like most abused substances, can lead the user to develop a tolerance for the drug. When that tolerance increases, a person needs to consume more benzos than they did previously to feel the same effects. Benzos are also well-known to produce significant tolerance when used over a long period of time, leading to dependence and addiction.
Dependence occurs when the brain and body become used to functioning with a particular drug in their system. This causes a person to become ‘rewired’, where they only work properly when the drug is present in their body. The longer a drug is used, the greater the potential it has to cause dependence.
Both these effects combine to make benzodiazepines one of the most abused and addictive prescription drugs.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Symptoms
When someone has benzodiazepine dependence, this can result in positive situations. It can help to reduce insomnia for example, as well as the irritability associated with post traumatic stress disorder. However, an addiction can result in a range of negative symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Increased tolerance: Users of benzodiazepines often develop a tolerance. This necessitates higher doses to achieve the same calming or euphoric effects. The escalation it causes can rapidly lead to an addiction cycle as the body adjusts to the drug’s presence.
- Physical dependence: Dependence is marked by unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken. These symptoms can include sweating, headaches, muscle pain, and extreme insomnia. These reflect the body’s reliance on benzos for normal function.
- Compulsive use: Even if they understand the negative consequences, individuals with an addiction feel an overwhelming urge to continue using benzos. This compulsion often overtakes their ability to make rational decisions regarding their health and general wellbeing.
- Neglect of responsibilities: Addiction to benzos leads to a noticeable decline in attention to personal, professional, and educational responsibilities. Addicts can decide to prioritize drug use above everything else, which can lead to them abandoning hobbies, neglecting obligations, missing work, and so on.
- Risky behaviors: Compulsive benzodiazepine use can drive individuals to engage in hazardous activities. This can include using illegal means to obtain the drug or driving under the influence. This drug misuse can, consequently, increase the possibility of legal troubles and physical harm.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Ironically, even though prescribed benzos can be intended to manage anxiety, prolonged usage can also intensify symptoms of anxiety and panic. This heightened anxiety can become a persistent, debilitating condition, one that traps addicts in a cycle of dependency.
- Memory impairment: Benzos affect cognitive functions, resulting in memory issues such as forgetfulness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. This can impact the ability to function on a regular day-to-day basis, potentially contributing to a deterioration in work or academic performance.
- Mood swings: Addicts may experience drastic mood fluctuations. This can range from periods of depression to sudden irritability. Not only can these swings strain personal relationships and isolate them from their support networks, but it can also see them begin using other drugs.
- Social withdrawal: As addiction deepens, people can withdraw from social interactions and relationships. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression, creating a loop that further fuels the addiction.
Common Side Effects of Benzodiazepines
There are various side effects associated with taking benzodiazepines. These side effects include:
- Impaired Coordination
- Vision Problems
The biggest risk is addiction and dependency. Triazolam and lorazepam are stronger drugs and are, likewise, the most addictive. Withdrawal symptoms – more on those below – from decreasing or stopping use can come on quickly. Without the right benzo detox, these side effects can continue to grow and become even more problematic.
Based on research
from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the use of benzos with other substances – including alcohol and opioid pain relievers – increases the risk of serious health issues.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are common with any addictive drug, and that’s no different with benzodiazepines. Common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Blurred vision insomnia
- Panic attacks
- Shaking and trembling
- Slight amnesia
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
Without the right withdrawal management, abstaining – or even lowering their benzo intake – can be notably dangerous for addicts. One of the withdrawal symptoms includes seizures for example, and in certain situations this can cause permanent injury or even be fatal.
To relieve withdrawal symptoms effectively, this will usually involve a withdrawal process which is gradually tapered. Dosage levels are reduced incrementally, all in an effort to lower the levels of benzo withdrawal intensity. If a person decided instead to go cold turkey from their benzo intake, they could experience withdrawal symptoms to a significant degree.
By receiving treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal in a controlled, professional environment at TOPSAIL, this can help with preventing the aforementioned symptoms appearing. The result: benzo addicts are better placed to recover in a healthy, sustainable manner.
Medically Monitored Detox Program for Benzo Withdrawal
Detoxification is a critical first step in the benzodiazepine addiction rehabilitation process. The physical, emotional, and psychological impact of ridding your body of addictive substances can be significant, and that is why it’s critical to do it in a safe, comfortable, medically-monitored environment. Additionally, because there are many types of Benzos – each with different withdrawal symptoms – it is important to undergo rehabilitation with the support of trained professionals.
With the withdrawal process, there are three phases involved. Most benzo addicts will experience the first two, although the third phase is a rarer occurrence. These phases are:
1. Immediate benzo withdrawal:
This phase begins within hours to a few days after the last dose. Typical symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, increased heart rate, and restlessness. These effects result from the body adjusting to the absence of the drug. To alleviate these rebound symptoms, the use of drug substitution and tapering can be incorporated into treatment.
2. Acute benzo withdrawal:
Occurring after the immediate phase, this stage can last from one week to several months. Symptoms often include severe anxiety, depression, cognitive disturbances, and physical symptoms like tremors and nausea. This phase represents the peak of withdrawal intensity. Medical supervision helps to both streamline the detox and reduce the possibility of relapse.
3. Protracted benzo withdrawal:
This long-term phase may last several months to years. Symptoms are usually milder but persistent, and can include chronic anxiety, ongoing mood disturbances, and cognitive impairments. Protracted withdrawal symptoms occur in a subset of individuals – around 25% based on research – and are characterized by a gradual improvement over time.
Overcome Benzos Addiction with TOPSAIL
Whether you are suffering with benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome or require a complete medical detox, you can receive the professional help you need with TOPSAIL.
With our credentialed medical providers, specializing in helping patients overcome addiction and substance use disorders, we can steer you on the right track towards recovery. We are able to assess benzodiazepine prescriptions, see what medication management is necessary, and monitor progress to ensure withdrawal is done the right way.
Trying to overcome benzodiazepine addiction on your own should be avoided. With TOPSAIL by your side, you don’t just receive professional medical help, but also a welcoming environment that incorporates effective individual and group therapy.
Does Insurance pay for Benzo Addiction Treatment?
With recent changes in healthcare law, most insurance carriers will pay for some, if not all, of the cost for addiction treatment under their behavioral and mental health coverage. This can include Detox, Outpatient Programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and Full-day Therapy/Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP).
TOPSAIL accepts all major insurance plans and will work with you to understand how your insurance may cover your treatment.