Benzodiazepines, also called “benzos,” “sleeping pills,” and “candy,” are among the list of commonly abused prescription drugs. When they are legally prescribed medications, they serve as a short-term treatment for patients with anxiety or insomnia and are used in a medical setting to control seizures and ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Their sedative effects help relax the patient and keep them calm.
However, the drug is often misused and abused by millions of Americans, leading to a high rate of benzodiazepines dependence and addiction.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are in a class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) depressants. 15 variations of the drug are currently FDA-approved for medicinal use in the US, but they are highly addictive when taken in high doses. The risk of addiction further increases when benzos are used for pleasure (illicit use) or in a manner other than prescribed.
This includes taking larger doses than prescribed and crushing or using the powdered form of the tablet to snort, smoke, or inject into a vein. Using benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs, e.g., opioids, also increases the risk of overdose. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involved benzodiazepines.
Effects of Benzodiazepines on the Brain
Benzos have psychoactive or sedative effects and work by elevating the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This helps to calm the nerves to reduce anxiety levels and relieve insomnia. Feeding the brain with more of the drug than it can handle within a short space of time makes it adapt and build up a tolerance.
Over time, physical and psychological dependence develop and can lead to addiction unless there is some drug abuse intervention. NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) describes addiction as the compulsive seeking and use of drugs despite the harm posed. Once benzodiazepine dependence and addiction develop, you’ll need higher doses of the drug to get the desired effect. This makes it increasingly difficult to control or quit use.
Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Estazolam (Prosom)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Lorazepam ((Ativan))
- Temazepam (Restoril)
Symptoms of Benzodiazepines Abuse
Abusing benzodiazepines can trigger various physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms. Symptoms may range in severity depending on the type of benzo involved, the level of addiction, and whether other substances such as alcohol, heroin, or cocaine is involved. They also vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following symptoms.
Physical symptoms of benzodiazepines abuse:
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision
- Lack of coordination
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
Psychological symptoms of benzodiazepines abuse:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Exercising poor judgment
- Morbid fear of not getting the drug
- Decreased reaction time
Behavioral symptoms of benzodiazepines abuse:
- Mood changes
- Poor hygiene
- Risk taking, e.g., reckless driving
- Aggression or hostility
- Telling lies or being secretive
- Spending all your money to get the drug
- Borrowing or stealing money to support the habit
- Falsifying prescriptions to get more drugs
- Using benzos prescribed to someone else
- Withdrawing from family, friends, or social circles
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are the side effects of the drug leaving the system when you skip a dose or stop taking the substance. The time it takes for symptoms to develop is based on whether the short-acting or long-acting tablets are being abused.
At this point, you will likely engage in compulsive drug seeking to get and use the drug. Symptoms vary from person to person and may be more severe in individuals with co-occurring mental disorders. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Overpowering cravings
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Muscle aches and pain
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Blurred vision
- Suicidal thoughts
Benzodiazepine Addiction Recovery
At Any Length, we understand that benzodiazepine addiction stems from a void that the user is trying to fill, so we offer recovery in way of learning an entirely new set of principles through 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day programs that will help the addict live a healthy, honest life free from drugs. The treatment plan is usually comprehensive and includes adaption of the 12 steps, relapse prevention, sober groups, and sober living.
Working through benzodiazepine addiction at Any Length
Any Length is an affordable recovery center for men nestled on a ranch in Pflugerville, TX. We offer a 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day recovery program to suit the various needs of our clients. Each of these programs offers a safe place for you to find freedom from your addiction and discover lifelong recovery.
Each of our programs are highly intensive and effective in helping you to recover and stay sober, but the longer the program type, the more intense it is. Our recovery programs are delivered in a caring and compassionate environment by a relatable and empathetic staff. Call us today at (866) 433-1992 to find out more about our programs and admissions.