Usually referred to as Benzos, the depressant drugs are actually Benzodiazepines. They work by lowering brain activity, making the individual using them feel relaxed. Common types include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. They’re often prescribed to treat conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. When misused Benzos can lead to addiction, overdose, and even death.
More often than not, people who use Benzos are often getting them through legal methods with a prescription. However, once an addiction forms, they often acquire prescriptions through multiple doctors, forging prescriptions, or then buying them illegally.
The most common type used includes Valium, Xanax, Halcion, and Klonopin. However, the two most commonly found on the illegal market are Clonazepam and Alprazolam. These pills are most likely taken orally or crushed to snort. Benzos are also often used in occurrence with other drugs, specifically opioids, to enhance the seemingly positive effects.
Addiction to Benzos
When not taken appropriately, it is easy for an individual to become addicted to Benzos. With increased tolerance comes a need for more to feel the desired effects, which can lead to addiction and overdose.
Signs of a Benzodiazepine overdose include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Recognizing the signs of benzodiazepine addiction is crucial for seeking timely intervention and treatment. Some common signs of addiction include:
- Increased tolerance: Needing higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects.
- Doctor shopping: Visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for benzodiazepines.
- Loss of control: Inability to control the amount or frequency of benzodiazepine use.
- Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using the drug, such as anxiety, insomnia, tremors, or seizures.
- Neglecting responsibilities: Failing to fulfill personal, professional, or academic obligations due to drug use.
- Social isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities in favor of drug use.
- Risky behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities, such as driving under the influence or using benzodiazepines with other substances.
Treatment Options for Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, there are several treatment options available to support recovery:
Medical detox: Supervised detoxification helps individuals safely withdraw from benzodiazepines while minimizing the risk of complications. Healthcare professionals may gradually taper the drug dosage to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient treatment: Inpatient rehab programs provide a structured, supportive environment for individuals to focus on recovery. Treatment typically includes therapy, counseling, and support groups to address the underlying causes of addiction and develop healthy coping strategies.
Outpatient treatment: Outpatient programs offer similar services to inpatient treatment but allow individuals to maintain their daily routines while attending therapy and counseling sessions.
Seeking early intervention and professional help is essential for overcoming benzodiazepine addiction and preventing its potential consequences, including overdose and death. Reach out to a healthcare provider, addiction specialist, or treatment center to discuss your options and find the support you need for recovery.
Family therapy: Family therapy can help address the impact of addiction on the entire family unit and support the development of healthy communication and coping skills.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications to manage withdrawal symptoms or treat co-occurring mental health disorders.
Support groups: Joining a support group, such as Benzodiazepine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, can provide peer support and guidance for individuals in recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is an effective treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to their addiction.
However, knowing the signs of an addiction can help prevent overdose. If you or your loved ones are showing signs of a Benzo addiction, seeking treatment is the best option.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2018, Georgia saw 1,604 drug overdose deaths, with 67.3% (1,079) involving opioids. While this statistic primarily highlights opioids, it is essential to remember that benzodiazepines are often used in combination with opioids, increasing the risk of overdose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that between 1999 and 2018, the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines in the United States increased from 0.6 to 5.6 per 100,000 population. Although these statistics are not specific to Georgia, they indicate a growing problem with benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths nationwide.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there were 996 benzodiazepine-involved emergency department visits in the state in 2016. This number may not reflect the full scope of benzodiazepine addiction in Georgia but does indicate the drug’s impact on emergency medical services.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a Benzodiazepine addiction, Emerge Healing Center would love to help you experience what recovery can look like. Contact our skilled addiction and mental health professionals at Emerge Healing Center to learn more about our treatment and program options.