Over the last two decades, the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions has risen. About one in eight Americans use benzodiazepine, or benzos, each year.
Unfortunately, the rising use of benzos has led to an increase in addiction. Once patients become addicted to benzos, it can be difficult to stop using the drug.
Targeted addiction treatment can help. At Indiana Center for Recovery, our experienced staff provides comprehensive recovery services. We offer medical detox, medication management, psychotherapy, and much more.
What Are Benzodiazapines?
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are common prescription medications. These drugs include:
Other drugs may also be classified as benzos. Doctors may prescribe these drugs for anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures.
Benzos help the body relax. They produce a sense of calm and well-being, which can ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders. But benzo can be highly addictive, too. Patients might begin taking the medication for medical reasons. But soon, they become dependent on the drug. Some patients may also take the drug recreationally, then struggle to quit.
Why Are Benzos Addictive?
Benzos create a powerful calming effect that can become psychologically addictive. Patients who enjoy these sensations may start to misuse benzos. If a person overuses benzos, they might find themselves unable to feel calm or happy without the drug. Soon, they depend on the drug to function.
Benzos are also physically addictive. Daily benzo use can cause patients to develop a tolerance, which leads patients to higher doses in search of the same results. When they try to reduce their dosage, they experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Some patients may even experience life-threatening withdrawal.
Patients need to seek help during the detox process. Once patients develop a dependence on benzos, they need medical help. Our 24/7 team can help patients safely taper off the drug.
Dependence vs. Addiction
Many people who take benzos become dependent on the drug. But dependence doesn’t always develop into addiction.
For patients who build tolerance over time, the original dosage no longer produces the desired results. From there, patients develop a dependence on benzos and require the medication to feel normal, and often being to take higher doses in search of relief.
At this stage, patients usually experience withdrawal if they try to stop. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Panic attacks
It’s possible for a patient to be dependent but not addicted. Patients with a dependency may not need addiction treatment. But once addiction develops, patients need special care.
People who have become addicted to benzos often develop impaired judgment. They may refuse to accept that they need to quit. Addiction can cause chemical changes in the brain, which trigger powerful cravings. Patients may believe that they need benzos, and they might become panicked if asked to stop using.
The patient’s life may revolve around benzo use. They may find it difficult to think of anything else. Often, patients who are addicted experience significant behavioral changes.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
Benzo misuse can cause physical symptoms like:
- Lack of coordination
- Memory problems
- Altered speech
- Mood swings
Addiction can also trigger strange or alarming behavior. The patient may lie about their benzo use. Often, patients seek out several prescriptions from different doctors. They might hide their pills or buy drugs illegally. They may also have problems in their personal and professional life.
Addiction can interfere with a person’s ability to hold down a job. Patients may have trouble in school or at home, too. Addiction disorders usually affect a person’s relationship with their friends, family, and coworkers. Benzo addiction can also have a destructive effect on the patient’s physical health.
Health Risks of Long-Term Benzo Use
Most medical providers prescribe benzos as a short-term treatment. Patients may take the drug for a few weeks or months to manage a severe anxiety disorder. If patients take the drug long-term, their doctor may prescribe a very low dose.
But even when taken under a doctor’s supervision, benzos have serious health risks. Researchers have also found a possible link between benzo use and Alzheimer’s disease. They also produce harmful effects when taken with alcohol and opioids. Some patients may develop a life-threatening drug interaction.
Treatment can help patients avoid these outcomes. During addiction treatment, patients work to break their dependency on benzos. The ICFR also provides care for underlying conditions like anxiety or insomnia. Our team delivers the support patients need to achieve lasting recovery.
How Is Benzo Addiction Treated?
Patients who want to stop taking benzos need medical supervision. Quitting “cold turkey” can be dangerous or even life-threatening. Patients must gradually taper off the drug. During detox, our full-time psychiatrist slowly reduces the patient’s dosage. The team develops a personalized care plan to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort.
Tapering off benzos can be a difficult process. Many patients experience anxiety, restlessness, or insomnia. They may experience powerful drug cravings, too. Inpatient care can make the detox process easier.
In inpatient programs, patients receive round-the-clock support. Our medical team can provide medication to ease painful withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The 24/7 nursing staff delivers encouragement, support, and reassurance. No matter what difficulties patients experience, our team is always ready to help.
Often, patients turn to benzos to manage an anxiety disorder or chronic insomnia. As part of their treatment, patients may receive prescription medication to provide an alternate treatment. At ICFR, we offer holistic care for dual-diagnosis patients.
A well-rounded treatment program may help patients avoid relapse, and can help to stabilize the patient’s mood and improve their quality of life. Our award-winning psychiatrist can assist patients in choosing the right medication.
Therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. During therapy, patients examine their thought patterns and behaviors and work to recognize unhealthy or destructive thoughts and develop coping mechanisms. Patients may also explore their personal history. Sometimes, environmental factors may contribute to addiction. Stress, anxiety, or trauma can also encourage patients to misuse benzos.
Our therapy team helps patients get to the root of the problem. They use evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to support the patient’s recovery. CBT can help patients overcome addiction disorders. During CBT, patients also heal from trauma and rebuild their lives.
Therapy helps the patients heal their relationships, too. Benzo addiction can cause problems within a marriage or family. By the time patients seek addiction treatment, their relationships may be near collapse. Therapy can help families work through their issues together, with family members receiving support as they cope with their loved one’s addiction.
Residential vs. Outpatient Rehab
ICFR offers a wide range of treatment programs, including:
- Medical detox
- Inpatient rehab
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
- Standard outpatient programs (OPs)
Our team can help patients determine which program is right for them. Many patients progress through different programs during their treatment. Patients may begin with inpatient care at a treatment facility, then transfer to an outpatient program. As patients work toward recovery, they may visit the facility less often.
No matter what, our team provides ongoing support and guidance. We ensure that patients receive comprehensive care at each stage in their recovery.
Life in Recovery
Recovering from benzo addiction can be a lifelong process. Many patients need continued support for years after finishing rehab.
Our team can help patients and families connect with resources in their area. Patients may have access to a wide range of support groups and recovery teams. Staying connected with the recovery community can help improve patient outcomes.
If you or a loved one is looking for treatment for a substance use disorder, ICFR can offer personalized guidance. Call our 24/7 helpline at (844) 650-0064. All calls are 100% confidential.