Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety, as well as insomnia and epilepsy. Short-acting benzodiazepines like lorazepam (Ativan) may be prescribed for panic and acute anxiety episodes because their effects kick in more rapidly than those of longer-acting benzos. In all cases, however, the goal is usually to prescribe them for as short an amount of time as possible to prevent physical dependence and potential addiction. For those who used these drugs heavier and longer than directed, our benzo addiction treatment program is here to help.
How Do Benzodiazepines Work?
Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Also known as an inhibitory transmitter, GABA has the effect of slowing down nerve activity in the central nervous system and throughout the body, allowing the individual to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Depending on the type of benzodiazepines used and the dosage, the sedation and relaxation produced by benzos may occur more or less rapidly and intensely. Short-acting benzos are flushed out of the body faster than long-acting benzos, but their side effects occur more rapidly.
Long-acting benzos remain in the body longer, meaning they can accumulate with regular use and ultimately become overwhelming for the person’s body. Long-term use of benzos, whether short- or long-acting, can lead to tolerance and physical dependence.
When a person’s tolerance of a drug develops, they require higher doses of the drug to feel the same effects. In addition to tolerance, dependence also plays a role in a developing benzo addiction, as a person dependent on benzodiazepines may continue taking them to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Benzo withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Anxiety: This is a common withdrawal symptom of benzodiazepines and can range from mild to severe. It can include feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and irritability.
- Insomnia: Difficulty falling or staying asleep are also common withdrawal symptoms and can persist for several weeks after stopping benzodiazepine use.
- Tremors: Shaking or tremors in the hands, legs, or other parts of the body can occur.
- Seizures: In some cases, benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to seizures, especially in those who have been using high doses or taking the medication for a long period of time.
- Sweating: Excessive sweating, especially at night, is a common symptom of withdrawal.
- Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms can occur during benzodiazepine withdrawal and may persist for several days.
- Headaches: Many people experience headaches during benzodiazepine withdrawal which can range from mild to severe.
- Muscle pain and stiffness: Muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the neck and shoulders, can occur during benzodiazepine withdrawal.
- Hallucinations and delusions: In rare cases, benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to hallucinations and delusions.
- Depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair can occur during benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be highly uncomfortable and even life-threatening in certain cases, which is why medical detox programs are the safest route for individuals looking to quit. Our Sebring drug rehab offers detox for all types of benzo addictions, and we can help you or a loved one take that first step toward sobriety.
Signs of Benzo Abuse
How do you know someone needs benzo addiction treatment? There are several signs of benzo abuse, all of which may vary depending on the person, the type of benzo they use, the dose, and whether they practiced polysubstance abuse, such as combining the drug with alcohol.
Generally, however, common physical signs of benzodiazepine abuse include:
- Changes in appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Erratic or aggressive behavior
- Extreme drowsiness or fatigue
- Impaired cognitive ability and/or memory
- Mood swings
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Poor coordination
- Respiratory depression
- Slow reflexes
- Slurred speech
Additionally, when it’s evident that a person needs treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, they may display behavioral signs, including:
- Experiencing personality changes.
- Going to multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions for benzodiazepines.
- Neglecting interests, relationships, and goals that were once important.
- Lying about ailments to doctors for more benzos.
- Lying about drug use.
- Often seeking emergency refills from emergency rooms and doctors’ offices due to “loss”.
- Snorting crushed pills or dissolving them in water and injecting the solution.
- Spending more time in isolation.
- Stealing from loved ones to buy more benzos.
- Using benzodiazepines without a prescription.
- Using other people’s prescriptions.
If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs, reach out to our benzo addiction treatment center in Sebring, FL, for help.
What Our Benzo Addiction Treatment Offers
As part of the residential treatment program at our Sebring, FL, drug rehab, we provide medically assisted detox to address withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings in a safe and controlled environment. Clients are placed on a tapering schedule to prevent severe withdrawals and may also receive medication-assisted care (as needed) to further reduce any discomfort or pain.
Detox is a crucial step in the recovery process because it alleviates the discomfort of withdrawal and reduces the risk of relapse. After detox, clients can then begin working with our licensed therapists to address the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors behind their substance use.
Our cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program is an especially helpful tool that our specialists utilize to help clients change their behaviors, form healthier habits, and develop the skills needed for relapse prevention. Our goal is not only to get clients to the point of sobriety but also to empower them to remain independently sober long-term.
However, this does not mean our help ends when treatment does. Even after completing a benzo dependence treatment program, clients can still receive support from our counselors and recovery sponsors through our alumni program. No matter how long the addiction has persisted, Banyan Treatment Centers is here to help.