Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that are typically prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorder, as well as insomnia and certain medical conditions including seizures.
Risks Of Benzo Use
Benzos can be dangerous, because they slow everything down, including respiration. An overdose can cause a person to stop breathing. They also slow reaction times and impair judgment and cause confusion. This is why you should never drive while under the influence of benzos, or operate any machinery. Accidents related to benzo use are often fatal. Finally, people frequently mix benzos with alcohol and other drugs. This is where it gets really dangerous. Most cases of fatal overdose involve alcohol or opiates in conjunction with benzo use. Aside from those risks, benzos, such as Xanax, Klonopin and Valium are addictive. A person taking them can develop a tolerance, dependence and addiction to benzos. What’s the difference?
Benzo Abuse, Dependence And Addiction
Benzo abuse means taking the drug in a way other than prescribed. Taking it without a prescription, taking more of it than you are supposed to, or taking it too often constitute abuse. Taking benzos offered to you by a friend, even if you feel you need them for medical purposes is abuse. Purchasing or accepting pills from another source because your prescription has run out is also abuse. When you take benzos for a period of time — even if you use as directed — puts you at risk for developing a tolerance and an addiction.
What Is Tolerance?
You can tell you are becoming tolerant when you find that the prescribed dose doesn’t seem to be as effective as it once was, or you find that it wears off more quickly than before. Tolerance happens, and how quickly it happens depends on your individual physiology. When you have become tolerant of the medication you are taking, there is a good chance that you have developed a dependence on it.
What Does Dependence Mean?
Dependence on a drug means that your body has adapted to having the drug in your system, and needs it. When you go too long without taking the drug, you may experience a wide variety of symptoms. This is called withdrawal. The substances most commonly associated with dependence and withdrawal include opiates, alcohol, nicotine and benzodiazepines.
Withdrawal symptoms can be quite nasty. For people dependent on benzodiazepines, in addition to the unpleasant effects, there is also serious health risks.
While dependence and addiction are two different things (you can be dependent and not be addicted) they often go hand in hand. Benzo addiction can wreak havoc on your life, and the added factor of dependence makes it all that much harder to quit. In order to recover from benzo abuse, both the dependence and psychological addiction must be addressed.
The Dangers Of Benzo Abuse And Withdrawal
The dangers of benzo abuse and addiction are many. Aside from the risks of overdose, benzos can do long-term damage to your health and your brain. Recent studies show that benzos can cause irreversible cognitive damage to those who use them for an extended period of time. Cognitive damage means that you may have difficulty processing and retaining information, difficulty problem solving and difficulty making decisions. In extreme cases, severe deficits can lead to problems with basic self-care. In addition, benzo use can adversely affect your mental health.
Benzos Affect Mental Health
This may seem contradictory, since benzos are often prescribed to alleviate symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety, but continued use can actually cause more problems than it solves, including increased anxiety, depression, apathy, paranoia and aggression.
Benzo Withdrawal Dangers
When you quit benzos abruptly, you run the risk of severe reactions up to and including seizure, coma and death. You should never try to quit benzos on your own. Your best course of action is a detox center where you can be monitored and given medication to help wean you off benzos in a safe, comfortable manner.
How To Withdraw From Benzos Safely
A licensed detox facility should be your first stop. You must undergo the detoxification and withdrawal process in order to get benzos out of your system safely. Under medical supervision, you will be tapered off the benzos gradually, while receiving medical care to help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms and stay as healthy as possible through the process.
Support is important during this time. Going through detox isn’t easy, not just physically, but emotionally. You may be feeling ambivalent, frightened or confused. It’s important that you get help from experienced, knowledgeable addiction specialists who can help you through this process. It’s also important that you follow up after your initial detox with a drug treatment center where you can continue your recovery. People often make the mistake of thinking that short-term detox centers are addiction treatment. While detox is an essential first step, it isn’t the only step. Getting comprehensive treatment services is important, or you run the risk of going back to using.
Getting Help For Benzo Addiction
If you are having a problem with benzos, Broadway Treatment Center can help you recover. Our award-winning program can give you the tools you need to stop using benzos and turn your life around. No matter where you are at in your addiction, there is hope. Call Broadway Treatment Center at 714-443-8218 for a free, confidential consultation.