What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos”) are a sedative type of medication prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder, insomnia, and also seizure disorder. They are used for these purposes due to their ability to give an individual a calm, sedating, and tranquilizing effect. However, it is not uncommon that addiction is formed from these prescription pills. Addiction treatment is often necessary to help an individual recover.
Benzos are most commonly referred to on the street as Tranks, Candy, Downers, or Sleeping Pills.
People tend to abuse benzos because they are extremely effective at relaxing and depressing any emotions. Becoming addicted to benzos is very easy. Research has shown that the addictive powers of benzos are similar to that of opioids, where there is an increase in dopamine in the brain.
More surprising is the fact that researchers have discovered that benzos were associated with the largest number of early deaths among all the prescription medications that were tested. Although death and serious illnesses are rare, when frequently taken with alcohol or other medications, they may be even more dangerous and even fatal.
Common Benzodiazepines Prescribed:
The most commonly prescribed benzos are those which are most readily abused, including:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
Benzodiazepines are depressants. And for this reason, benzos are prescribed to treat insomnia, seizures, anxiety, and panic attacks. However, it is recommended that doctors do not prescribe these drugs for more than two weeks, due to their addictive nature.
What are the Signs of Benzo Addiction?
Abusing benzos is very dangerous because of their physical and psychological problematic symptoms that are associated with the drug. Eventually, you will find yourself with greater tolerance and will fall into a medical condition known as physical dependence. Tolerance makes the brain become highly accustomed to the drug and requires more to get the same familiar high. When the brain receives less than the usual dose, the withdrawal will then be triggered, which can be dangerous and even sometimes fatal from withdrawal seizures. Pay attention to your moods and doses while taking benzos and familiarize yourself with these signs of a developing addiction:
- Problems with attention and concentration
- Memory problems
- Inconsistent mood
- Poor judgment
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Increase in sociability
- Improved or worsened relationships
- Risk-taking behavior
- Stealing or borrowing pills
- Mounting legal problems
- Financial ruin
- Taking more medication or over more extended periods than intended
- Impaired occupational or academic functioning
- Slurred speech
- Being uncoordinated
- Increased sleep
- Changes in personality
The development of a benzo addiction may creep up on a person, but will likely be observable. Benzo abuse has a way of shifting an individual into exhibiting uncharacteristic traits in which they may show some of the above signs.
What Are the Effects of Benzo Addiction?
Long-term effects may include impaired concentration and memory, depression, and sexual dysfunction. When using benzodiazepines for an extended period, you may also experience long-term effects of brain damage. Therefore, they are suggested for short term use because of their ability to change the way the brain functions.
There have also been links between benzodiazepine usage and Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia involving short term memory loss. They have also been shown to impair driving abilities, increase falls, and interfere with cognitive functions in the elderly population.
Withdrawal symptoms may develop when taking benzodiazepines for an extended period of time and they come with severe consequences and symptoms. These symptoms typically last up to 10 days and may include
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased tension
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Muscular stiffness or discomfort
- Mild to moderate changes in perception
- Hand tremors
When taking benzodiazepines regularly, the individual will likely experience withdrawal due to becoming physically and psychologically dependent on the drug. This timeline can vary based upon how much and how long a person has been abusing the substance.
Users who take benzos for an extended period develop higher tolerance. As their tolerance gains strength, the individual may take higher doses to feel the effects. Once they stop taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms will emerge.
Many doctors are hesitant to prescribe benzodiazepines for long-term use because of their highly addictive nature and withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are physically and emotionally painful and may be life-threatening if the user stops “cold turkey.”
Individuals that use higher doses for a prolonged period will have the worst withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are highly variable and usually come and go. They may vary in severity and frequency throughout the phases of the withdrawal process.
The more common withdrawal symptoms usually come within 1 to 4 days of discontinuing use depending on which Benzo used, the amount of use, and the frequency of use.
Less common and more severe symptoms may occur as well, especially in cases of severe addiction. These include:
- Psychosis or psychotic reactions
- Increased risk of suicidal ideation
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment Methods
Depending on the individual’s addiction severity and their level of physiological dependence and risk of severe withdrawal, treatment for benzodiazepines may be done either in an inpatient facility or at an outpatient clinic. If an inpatient facility is suggested by a physician or other addiction treatment professional, treatment will involve 24-hour professional supervision and access to medical care when needed. The 24-hour supervision helps the treatment team monitor your detox journey and, as part of longer-term treatment, your recovery progress. It also allows for immediate intervention if any complications arise, such as withdrawal seizures.
Outpatient care may be recommended if you do not like the idea of staying within a facility and if you are not at risk of experiencing complications with benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
While offering other advantages for some, outpatient programs are not able to provide entirely as immerse of a treatment environment. Some outpatient programs will provide the medications and therapy you may need and allow you to return home outside of treatment hours. These are more suggested treatment options for those with mild to moderate addictions.
Detox is the first step in treating a benzodiazepine addiction. Detox is the process of removing the drug from the patient’s system. This process can cause dangerous side effects if not done correctly. Quitting benzos abruptly can become lethal. A supervising physician must always be present to monitor the process for potentially fatal symptoms, including seizures and suicidal behavior.
Medical detox will also reduce the discomfort of withdrawal, which in turn reduces the chances of relapsing into addiction. A detox may last up to several months, depending on several factors:
- What type of substances has the individual been using?
- How long have they been abusing the substance?
- What is the frequency of substance use?
- Is the individual mixing with other substances
Detox can also involve tampering down from the drug. Tampering down may be reducing the dose or prescribing a less potent form of benzo. This strategy shall be determined by the severity of addiction and the type of drug in which was abused
The process of detox will break the physical withdrawal symptoms. However, it will not stop an individual’s psychological cravings associated with the addiction. Any addiction will require a treatment program that is tailored to their recovery needs.
Inpatient Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
During an inpatient treatment program, patients will check into our facility and receive treatment 24/7 by our addiction treatment specialists.
Everyone’s stories of addiction vary, and therefore, therapy, treatment, and the amount of time in recovery will always modify.
You may be thinking, what exactly is an inpatient treatment facility for addiction? While there are various other different types and levels of treatment, inpatient, also known as residential rehab, is one of the most popular types of treatment for those suffering from a severe addiction.
In most cases, three months is the average length of stay at a treatment facility for an individual to significantly reduce or stop their substance abuse. However, research has shown that while it is true with some individuals, many have better outcomes with a longer duration of stay.
The truth is, there is no standard timeline on a person’s recovery. Therefore, at Ken Seeley Rehab, we treat patients in our inpatient treatment program for as long as it is necessary.
24-hour medical and emotional support is the biggest component of inpatient treatment to help people overcome their addictions. During treatment, residents typically meet with psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists in individual and group settings to guide them with their recovery process to long-term sobriety.
Support of family and friends is also vital while in any treatment program. Through family therapy, family members will learn how to support their loved ones in their recovery journey once they leave rehab. This is a crucial component in recovery. Without the support of a person’s closest friends and family, their recovery may be compromised.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Benzo Addiction
Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) is different from the inpatient stay in that you will not live onsite at the rehab facility. Instead, you shall find alternative housing, whether it’s returning to your home or finding a sober living facility. In some cases, people transition from inpatient rehab to IOP next instead, of going right back to their normal lives.
It will be your responsibility to commute to your IOP sessions weekly. IOP will typically occur 3-4 days a week, up to 4 hours at a time. IOP provides intensive clinical intervention while you adjust to having more free time and maintaining sobriety when not attending treatment.
The transition from an inpatient rehab stay to an intensive outpatient therapy may be a transition that people struggle with. This is why an IOP is an essential continuation of sober care. Continuing with your therapy sessions and being subjected to random drug tests will help assist you in your extension of recovery.
Outpatient Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
These programs are similar to Intensive Outpatient Programs, meaning you will still be able to live at home and commute to sessions. The number of hours spent in therapy will vary depending on your own individual recovery plan, but will generally be less than during an inpatient program.
The concept of outpatient treatment is generally a transition from a supervised inpatient rehab program. You integrate back into society while still committing to your work in recovery.
At this stage of your benzo addiction treatment, you should be more stable and capable of your responsibility to stay committed to your recovery. However, the support from your outpatient program will assist with keeping you on track with your sobriety.
Along with the outpatient program, many people will utilize a 12 step program also. This will be the support you may need during your recovery as you get back into society as a recently sober individual
Outpatient treatment programs will generally last for several months. This will provide lasting support through your recovery to assist you with successfully handling the responsibilities to your treatment program.
Find Freedom From Benzodiazepine Addiction Today!
Here at Ken Seeley Rehab, we understand the importance of your recovery journey. We will provide ongoing support and guidance throughout your stay and long after you complete your program. Your sobriety is our top priority, and with our range of addiction treatment programs, you will have all the support from our professional team of specialists to assist you and your family through this process.
To learn more about Ken Seeley Rehab and how our drug and alcohol detox programs can help you, contact us today. Call now and allow our professional and experienced team of specialists to assist you in taking back control of your life.