Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of tranquilizing medications with highly addictive properties. Physicians prescribe them to manage panic disorders, seizures, and severe anxiety symptoms. Not everyone taking these drugs will develop a benzo addiction; however, knowing the warning signs of a substance use disorder can prompt you or a loved one to seek benzo addiction treatment and recover.
What Is Benzo Addiction?
The most common benzo medications are Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan. Doctors prescribe them to treat panic disorders, seizures, muscle spasms, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, among other conditions. Benzos work by slowing down the central nervous system and creating a relaxing surge of dopamine, the feel-good chemical. This sedative quality can be habit-forming since people may want to achieve the dopamine surge’s reward or high repeatedly.
When taken as prescribed, benzos are safe and effective. But even someone with a legitimate prescription can develop an addiction. They may take benzos more frequently or in higher dosages than their doctor recommends, which is considered misuse. Benzo overdoses, especially when combined with alcohol and other drugs, are highly dangerous.
Physical Benzo Addiction Symptoms
Physical benzo addiction symptoms can occur after taking low or moderate dosages, though they may be more severe after taking high doses. They include:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Lack of coordination
- Slow breathing
- Shaking or tremors
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- Muscle spasms
If these symptoms are severe and include cognitive confusion or difficulty breathing, this may indicate a dangerously high dose or overdose that requires medical attention.
Behavioral Signs of Benzo Addiction
Behavioral symptoms can be harder to spot, but here are some signs a person has developed a benzo addiction or is on their way toward developing one:
- They consistently take higher doses of benzos than prescribed.
- They see multiple doctors to get more benzo prescriptions, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”
- They frequently run out of their prescribed medications.
- There are significant changes in their mood.
- They make risky decisions, like driving under the influence of benzos.
- They combine benzos with alcohol or other addictive drugs.
- They spend a lot of time getting benzos or recovering from benzo use.
- The effects of benzos lead them to neglect their responsibilities or their relationships.
- They want to stop or cut back on their benzo use but aren’t able to.
If a person starts to take benzos more frequently or at a higher dose without a doctor’s approval, they may develop a tolerance. Over time, their system requires more and more of the medication to achieve the same effects, possibly leading to benzo addiction.
The Importance of Benzo Addiction Treatment
Someone who has developed an addiction to benzos can’t safely stop taking their medications cold turkey. Brain pathways change as the body builds up a tolerance, so the person can only function with regular doses. After ceasing the use of the drug, people may experience unpleasant or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on many factors, including the individual’s overall health and the amount and type of drug they were taking.
It’s always safest to detox in a medical environment monitored by professionals. Doctors and nurses can treat any significant withdrawal symptoms immediately. They may also prescribe medications to help clients manage physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox offers a safe and comfortable environment to start recovery, making individuals more likely to succeed in treatment and stay sober.
Detox is only the beginning of a benzo addiction treatment program. Afterward, clients receive tailored treatment plans, including therapy and counseling, to help them develop healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety and other issues. Benzo addiction is highly treatable, and recovery is possible.
Get Benzo Addiction Treatment at Sophros Recovery
If you or a loved one needs benzo addiction treatment, contact Sophros Recovery. Our team of addiction specialists has the experience and compassion required to help individuals find healing and recovery. We provide evidence-based interventions, including individualized therapies, medication management, and holistic approaches. You can start your journey to health and hope with our professional guidance and support. Take the first step by calling us today at 904.760.4295 or filling out our contact form.