When an individual is struggling with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, insomnia, seizures, severe muscle pain, or the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, he or she may be prescribed a benzodiazepine. With chemical properties that induce calming sensations within a person’s body, benzodiazepines, or benzos as they are sometimes called, can greatly improve the lives of those who require them.
Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin are all examples of benzodiazepines, and they can all provide alleviation from the aforementioned conditions. However, there are those who consume these medications outside of their prescribed guidelines for recreational purposes. When this occurs, a person is abusing these medications and is making him or herself vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder. Prolonged abuse of benzodiazepines can bring about a great deal of adversity in a person’s life, and, if the abuse of benzos remains longstanding, professional intervention may be required in order to end this form of substance abuse.
Fortunately, there is hope for those who wish to end their benzo abuse problem. Several rehabilitation options for care exist that can help men and women alike overcome the compulsion to misuse these medications so that they may begin living the drug-free lives they desire.
Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. With more than 50 million prescriptions written each year, one study found that just over 5 percent of the total adult population currently possesses a prescription for benzodiazepines. Additionally, it was also found through the same study that two times as many women receive benzo prescriptions each year. With doctors administering these medications at such an alarming rate, the number of individuals abusing these substance is said to be rising. Lastly, and according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), it is estimated that over 30 percent of drug-related emergency room visits each year is attributed to individuals who have abused benzodiazepines.
Causes and Risk Factors for Benzodiazepine Abuse
In order to understand why and how a person comes to abuse benzodiazepines, one must consider various potential causes and risk factors. The following, which are supported by research, may explain why some individuals abuse benzos, while others do not:
Genetic: A great deal of research supports the notion that the likelihood of a person developing a benzo abuse problem and/or addiction increases if an individual has a genetic history of such concerns. Should a person have a genetic predisposition to addiction, and doesn’t seek rehab at a treatment center, it is probable that the inception of substance abuse will happen during adolescence or early adulthood.
Environmental: The primary environment in which one spends most of his or her time can affect whether or not an individual will come to abuse benzos. For example, if a person has easy access to these medications, there is an increased risk that the individual may abuse them.
- Being female
- Having alcohol use disorder
- Early use of benzodiazepines
- Poor impulse control
- Having access to benzodiazepines
- Personal history of a mental illness
- Having a novelty-seeking temperament
Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse
Depending on the severity of an individual’s benzo abuse problem, the warning signs that a person is battling this type of substance abuse problem can vary. If you are concerned that your loved one is abusing benzodiazepines, it could be helpful to note if your loved one displays or reports any of the following:
- Visiting several doctors in an attempt to get multiple prescriptions, also known as “doctor shopping”
- Lying or being deceptive about one’s activities or whereabouts
- Stealing another person’s medications
- No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed in favor of using benzodiazepines
- Using medications outside of the prescribed guidelines
- Irregular breathing
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Irregular heartbeat
- Poor coordination
- Inability to concentrate
- Retrograde amnesia
- Decreased inhibitions
- Poor decision-making skills
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Shifts in mood
Effects of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Allowing a benzodiazepine abuse problem to persist over a long period of time can render a person susceptible to a variety of negative consequences. The following are but a few examples of such consequences, which can be successfully mitigated by engaging in effective treatment:
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal ideation
- Poor performance at work, which could lead to job loss
- Financial strife
- Interaction with the legal system
- Onset of mental health concerns
- Suicide attempts
- Problems with memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Confusion / disorientation
- Sleep disturbances
- Vision problems
- Demise of meaningful relationships
- Polysubstance abuse
When a person seeks treatment for a benzodiazepine addiction, it is often realized that the individual is suffering from additional mental health concerns at the same time. Even if the person is already grappling with a mental illness that may have warranted the initial prescribing of a benzo, it is common for an individual to experience symptoms of other mental disorders, including:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Other substance use disorders
- Depressive disorders
Effects of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal and Overdose
Effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal: The longer an individual abuses benzodiazepines, the more accustomed his or her body becomes to the presence of the drug. Given this fact, should a person abruptly stop his or her use of the substance, there is a high likelihood that the person will experience withdrawal symptoms. While the type of withdrawal symptoms that manifest can differ from one person to the next, the following are among the most common symptoms reported by individuals who have abused benzos and ceased their use:
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle pain
- Suicidal ideation
- Strong cravings for more drugs
- Heart palpitations
Effects of benzodiazepine overdose: In the event a person consumes a benzodiazepine to a degree that his or her body is unable to metabolize it and experiences adverse physical and psychological effects as a result, that individual is likely experiencing an overdose. Considered a medical emergency, the telltale warning signs of an overdose on benzodiazepines can include:
- Impaired balance
- Hindered motor functioning
- Double vision
- Respiratory distress
- Cardiac arrest
- Dramatic drop in body temperature
- Irregular heart rate
Why Consider Treatment for Benzo Abuse at our Rehab Center in Newport Beach
Those who abuse benzodiazepines for a prolonged period of time will likely need professional help to end their abuse of such substances. As with any type of addiction, an individual who has become dependent upon benzos is vulnerable to experiencing a whole host of negative outcomes if treatment is delayed or not sought. For this reason, it is beneficial for a person grappling with this form of chemical dependency to consider treatment options that have proven to be successful in helping others transform their lives for the better by putting an end to an addiction to benzodiazepines once and for all.
Among the various treatment options that exist to treat benzodiazepine addiction, residential treatment at a rehab center is one of the most effective. Within this level of care, men and women looking to break free from their chemical dependency concerns can receive the support they need to truly heal and recover. Additionally, those who partake in this type of care have the added benefit of embarking on the road to recovery with other individuals who know firsthand the struggles that can come with battling an addiction. The individual, group, family, and various other therapies offered in residential treatment supply a unique treatment experience that can provide men and women with the skills they need to both achieve and sustain long-term recovery.
Sober Living by the Sea, a network of premier addiction treatment providers, offers residential as well as other levels of care to meet the needs of those who are requiring the treatment needed to defeat addictions to substances. The Landing, The Rose, and Sunrise Recovery Ranch, the three rehab centers within this network, all supply effective and specialized residential treatment to men and women alike. Each center employs staff with expert training and an unparalleled dedication to supplying the highest quality care possible. In choosing one of these three centers as the place to work towards a sober life, you or someone you love can win the war against an addiction to benzodiazepines and begin living the healthy life that is deserving of all people.