Benzodiazepines fall into the depressant category due to their sedative effects on the central nervous system. When people hear the word “depressant,” they might think of psychological depression or sadness, but in this case, depression means to slow down. Benzodiazepines became popular in the ’60s and ’70s as a “safer alternative” to barbiturates for treating panic disorder and treatment-resistant sleep disorders. However, it quickly became apparent that their side effects often outweighed their benefits over time. If benzodiazepine dependence has caused problems in your life, it is likely that you will need help in order to quit. Our Murrieta rehab center offers both detox and residential treatment to people struggling with benzodiazepine addiction. Contact our drug treatment center by calling (877) 641-0717 to check availability and learn about our substance abuse treatment programs.
The Calming Effects of Benzodiazepines
Doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines for limited use when patients are struggling with a treatment-resistant anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress. Benzos do not produce a strong “high,” but for a chronically anxious person, the feeling of relief offered by benzos often resembles a kind of rational euphoria. Because of the addictive potential of benzodiazepines, doctors typically require prior approval in order to continue to refill prescriptions for benzodiazepines. Examples of frequently prescribed benzodiazepines include the following:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Bromazepam (lexotan or lectopam)
- Triazolam (Halicon)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Regular Use of Benzodiazepines
People with profound anxiety frequently report that taking benzodiazepines allows them to feel normal, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Problems begin to arise when this sense of normalcy results in a tolerance to the drugs. Tolerance causes people to consume higher doses of benzodiazepines than they are prescribed or consume other psychoactive substances – like alcohol – without considering how the additional drugs will affect their already-altered biochemistry. Be extremely cautious when taking benzodiazepines. It is so important to have respect for these powerful drugs and use them only with extreme caution. High levels of Xanax and other benzos may cause patients to feel “barred out,” when their cognitive functioning, speech, and balance become distorted as a result of benzodiazepine use.
Patients taking benzodiazepines may experience a profound sense of drowsiness, forgetfulness, mellowness, or a dulling sensation in their mind and body. Benzodiazepines reduce the acute effects of anxiety and stress on the body and promote deep, restful sleep. It is easy for the brain and body to become chemically dependent on benzos in order to cope with anxiety. Healing from benzo addiction requires more than inpatient medical detox, although detox is an essential first step to tapering the intake of benzodiazepines.
The minute you add another drug in your system on top of a benzodiazepine, the potential for overdose skyrockets. If your doctor prescribes benzos, using any other central nervous system depressant (opioids, other benzos, or alcohol), sedatives, insomnia medications, acid reflux medications, certain antibiotics, and over-the-counter medicines can cause major complications and even death by overdose. Combining drugs with benzodiazepines is also more likely to lead to chemical dependence. When the brain no longer experiences discomfort, people stop developing the coping skills they need to function and manage their responsibilities.
Life Consequences of Benzo Addiction
While benzodiazepine addiction tends to be less common than other types of substance use disorders, addiction always remains a serious risk and potential health hazard. Similar to alcohol, benzodiazepines cause the brain to increase the effectiveness of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical neurotransmitter that produces a sedative effect on the central nervous system. This prevents people from thinking and functioning normally. People who get addicted to benzos often need to attend a good inpatient rehab in order to quit and move forward in recovery. The following programs are most effective:
- Inpatient medical detox
- Residential rehab
- Outpatient addiction treatment
- Sober living
There is no shame in getting addicted to benzos. Our staff at Rise Above teaches the skills proven to help people heal and avoid relying on drugs for relief. We are excited to walk beside you in your journey to sobriety. Contact Rise Above’s inpatient rehab and medical detox center by calling (877) 641-0717 to get assistance for benzodiazepine dependence.