Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” are pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for many different types of mental disorders and ailments such as anxiety, panic attacks, epileptic seizures and withdrawal symptoms. Most of the time you can find benzodiazepines in pill or tablet form, but some brands can be administered through an IV. While benzodiazepines are legal when prescribed by a doctor, there is a black market for the drugs, which is illegal. Other names associated with benzodiazepines include tranks and downers. When consumed illegally, benzodiazepines can be very dangerous.
The Effects of Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines slow down overactive brain function, which can relieve severe mental mass. However, when people abuse benzodiazepines, they can experience a high or alcohol-like buzz, which is then followed by a prolonged sedation. Overdosing on benzodiazepine can result in slow breathing and heart rates, leading to death. Due to its high potency, the brain’s neurochemistry can be altered, and over time, users can develop a physical and mental dependency on the drug, and addiction can even be formed under a physician’s care. Additionally, some users will mix other drugs, such as alcohol and opiate drugs, with benzodiazepines to boost its effect, which significantly increases the chances of an overdose.
The statistics on benzodiazepines continue to grow. Currently, over 50 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are being written by doctors. According to AAFP, eleven to fifteen percent of Americans have benzodiazepines in their medicine cabinet according to the American Psychiatric Association, and over 38,000 deaths have occurred in the U.S. due to benzodiazepine overdose, and almost 60 percent of those deaths were caused by prescription drugs according to the CDC.
Some of the common brands of benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan, Halcion, Librium, and Klonopin. Despite the good it can do for those who are prescribed benzodiazepines, it can be hazardous and addictive if misused.
Recognizing the Signs of Benzodiazepine Abuse
Knowing if someone is addicted to drugs can be difficult, but when you know the signs, you can more easily spot them in close friends or family so you can help them seek the treatment they need. Some of the signs of benzodiazepine abuse you can watch out for include:
Nausea or vomiting
In addition to the symptoms of benzodiazepine, you should also be aware of the immediate side effects of benzodiazepine abuse. Harmful side effects can occur during the use of this drug when it is abused or right after the high has gone away. The side effects to be aware of are:
Body aches and pains
Benzodiazepines are one of the hardest drugs to get off of because of their long-term side effects. The long-term side effects you should know and can watch out for are:
Low blood pressure
How You Can Recognize a Benzodiazepine Addiction
More often than not, benzodiazepine addiction can develop without close friends or family noticing. Addiction can occur even if the drug is taken under a doctor’s care and within their recommendation of a safe time to use it. Erratic behavior can start when the prescription has expired (withdrawal symptoms) or when the user began to look for a stronger drug for a bigger effect. If you notice a friend or a close family member beginning to show any of the following behaviors, they may need to seek treatment:
Stealing or borrowing a friend or family member’s prescription
Visiting multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions
Forging prescriptions to obtain more of the drug
Illegally buying benzodiazepines through a street dealer
When a person becomes addicted to benzodiazepine, they tend to build a tolerance to the drug, making them want more of it or a stronger drug to achieve the same effect. You may notice that they are skipping work, school or lowering their responsibilities, such as paying bills on time, to use benzodiazepine. By becoming aware of the signs of benzodiazepine abuse, you can more easily spot it and seek the treatment needed.
Starting an Intervention for a Benzodiazepine Addict
If you suspect or have verified that your friend or loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse or addiction, the next step is to talk to them about it and create a plan to seek help. Unfortunately, many addicts are in denial and cannot recognize that they have an addiction. It is important to stay sensitive, express your concerns gently and encourage them to get treatment. One of the difficult parts about an intervention is getting the addict to agree to be admitted into a rehab facility, but when family and friends show that they care and want to help, the addict will come to realize their need for help.
Withdrawal and Treatment for Benzodiazepine Abuse
Someone struggling with a benzodiazepine addiction is likely to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when going off the drug due to the chemical change that occurs in the brain after abusing the drug. When the person is in a drug rehabilitation center, they can be treated and cared for these symptoms. At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, our mission is to rehabilitate as many people as we can from drug and alcohol addiction. We have a one of a kind rehabilitation program that offers excellent services to our clients. If you or a loved one are struggling with a benzodiazepine addiction, please contact us today to speak confidentially with one of our treatment advisors to see how we can help.