Like prescription pain medications, benzodiazepines or “benzos” are medications prescribed by medical and mental health providers as part of a medically monitored treatment plan. They are highly effective and beneficial components of treatments for addiction and several mental health conditions. However, also like opioids, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and frequently misused.
What are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines are drugs that work within the central nervous system to slow down the speed of communication between the brain and body. Although some medications in the same drug class are naturally derived, meaning they come from natural ingredients, benzodiazepines are manufactured or “man-made.” Although the exact process (or mechanism of action) benzodiazepines have within the brain is unknown, it is clear that these drugs are beneficial as part of comprehensive addiction treatment programs.
Using benzodiazepines as part of medically assisted therapy helps slow down the body by reducing blood pressure, slowing your heart, reducing the speed of emotional responses, and helping produce feelings of sedation and relaxation. This state of relaxation allows patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal in various ways but most notably by decreasing the pain and displeasure of withdrawal.
Are Benzos Addictive?
It is also essential to remember that although benzodiazepines may be prescribed to help people overcome addiction or manage symptoms related to several mental health conditions, they are addictive medications. Even when used as prescribed, benzodiazepines have a high potential for dependency and addiction. Because benzodiazepines carry an elevated risk for dependence and addiction, they are classified as controlled substances which means they can only be obtained by prescription from a licensed medical provider. It is essential to follow their dosing recommendations and only take them for as long as they were prescribed as part of your treatment program. You should only use these drugs for short-term symptom management, and long-term use increases your risk for dependency and addiction. Additionally, it is essential to taper off or reduce your dose as prescribed by your treatment professional. Suddenly stopping benzodiazepine drugs can lead to severe, potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of Benzo Addiction?
Like any other substance, benzodiazepines will produce physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of addiction. However, it is essential to remember that these impacts may be the desired response depending on the drug and why one is taking it. It is also important to note that benzo addiction will look different from person to person. Not everyone will display the same signs or experience the same symptoms of addiction to benzodiazepines. Because benzodiazepine addiction frequently arises out of using benzos as part of a prescribed treatment program, it can be challenging to know if your friend or loved one is exhibiting certain signs of benzo use because they are using benzos as prescribed, or if their dependency on the effects of the drug has evolved into a pattern of potentially dangerous benzo abuse.
Although signs and symptoms of benzo addiction will vary widely, several are common for many who struggle with benzo abuse. These may include dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, poor judgment, lack of coordination, vision problems, physical weakness, and confusion. Depending on the severity of addiction, potentially life-threatening symptoms like coma, respiratory distress, and death can occur.
The above are often considered short-term indications of benzo addiction, meaning they will occur soon after someone begins using benzos (whether prescription or otherwise). In addition to short-term effects, long-term benzo addiction will also lead to difficulties. Common long-term effects of benzodiazepine addiction are headaches, memory problems, sleeping problems, tremors, and worsening mental health issues. Behavioral issues including drug-seeking, financial problems, legal problems, and increasing secrecy and isolation may also occur.
Finding the Best Benzo Drug Rehab in Agoura Hills, CA
If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s relationship with benzodiazepines, it is vital to seek help at a treatment center like Ohana Recovery Center to safely and successfully put addiction behind you. Detoxing from benzos alone and without support can be dangerous and is often ineffective for achieving lasting sobriety. At our women’s rehab in Agoura Hills, Ca we will work with you to ensure you can safely detox from benzos and take those first steps towards lasting health and freedom from the hold of drug addiction. To learn more about our programs in California, contact us at Ohana Recovery Center today.