Benzodiazepines, or benzos, namely Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, and Ambien, are highly addictive prescription sedatives/depressants typically prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, and insomnia. Because these drugs are so widely prescribed— in the tens of millions— they are easier to acquire and abuse as compared to other drugs.
Benzo abuse may cause amnesia, hostility, irritability, vivid or disturbing dreams and slow down the central nervous system (Drug Enforcement Administration). Over 30% of opioid-involved overdoses also involve benzodiazepines, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Combining benzos with other drugs or alcohol is common and what makes them especially dangerous, and chronic misuse can lead to tolerance and dependence.
Due to the fact that benzo withdrawal is considered dangerous and distressing, detoxing from drug(s) in this class should be managed under medical supervision. In serious cases, benzo withdrawal can result in psychosis or seizures. If left unmanaged, withdrawal seizures can be progressive and even result in death. Our medical team at Royal Life Centers closely monitors every guest to avoid any serious health complications, and prescribes medicine in place of the benzo being abused to wean the body off of the drug and minimize trauma to the central nervous system. After going through detox, guests are advised to continue rehabilitation by entering our two-week residential inpatient program, where they can continue working on how to live and manage life without drug abuse. Aftercare options, like PHP, IOP and OP, are available as well.
Short-term effects of benzo use may include:
- Panic attacks
- Impaired coordination and confusion
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Memory and cognitive problems
- Mood swings
Long-term effects of benzo use may include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Cognitive dysfunction
Should I seek treatment for benzodiazepine addiction?
Signs of a benzo problem may include:
- “Doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions
- Snorting or injecting pills to increase effects
- Using benzos in conjunction with other drugs, like opioids
- Engaging in other high-risk behaviors
- Loss of interest in activities
- Continuing to use despite negative effects
- Withdrawal symptoms and/or cravings
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or others, you may have a benzo problem and require medical help to safely detox.
Benzo withdrawal symptoms vary in severity depending on abuse history and other factors. It is common for people to experience “rebound” symptoms, which are symptoms the drug initially treated but have now returned more aggressively. Rebound anxiety and rebound insomnia are two examples of these symptoms that tend to make those experiencing them so distressed and agitated that they contemplate abusing benzos again. Luckily, there are medications provided in medical detox that can help with these symptoms. Other common symptoms accompanied by benzo withdrawal include headaches, poor concentration and irritability.
Benzo withdrawal symptoms may include (NCBI):
- Sleep disturbance
- Increased tension and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain
What happens after medical detox?
After being medically cleared from detox, it is strongly suggested for guests to complete our residential inpatient program. It is only when guests complete detox that they can truly begin working on themselves and discovering the source of their self-destructive behavior. Guests receive intensive therapy (individual and in a group setting), work diligently with a case manager to devise an aftercare plan, and exercise life skills conducive to leading productive, substance-free lives. If a guest, and the Royal Life Centers staff agree that our nine-week aftercare program is the next step to take after completing residential, the guest will then move to our sober living housing and begin attending PHP and IOP. They will still have access to the resources that were available to them in residential, but they will be awarded more liberties. They will also have the opportunity to engage in our adventure, movement, and art therapies.
If you or a loved one has a benzo addiction, or any substance use disorder, please reach out to us about your detox and treatment options. Royal Life Centers admissions staff are available 24/7 to answer your questions and address your concerns Because We Care.