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Signs of a Benzodiazepine Addiction

anxious woman wrestling with signs of a benzodiazepine addiction

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs typically used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. While these drugs can effectively treat these conditions, they also come with a risk of addiction.

Taken as prescribed, these drugs are typically safe. But when used to excess, benzos can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. Familiarizing yourself with the signs of use and addiction can help you to prevent these risks. This knowledge can also help you connect to benzo addiction treatment in a more timely fashion.

Reach out to Vertava Health Massachusetts for more info about our addiction treatment programs by calling 888.655.0289.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepine drugs are depressants. This means they slow down the functioning of your brain and central nervous system (CNS). This action is responsible for creating the calming and sleep-inducing effects these drugs are known for. Benzodiazepine drugs work fairly immediately, making them effective options for “as needed” treatment.

Why Do People Use Benzodiazepines?

Prescription holders and illicit users alike use benzos for similar reasons. A person may seek to self-medicate anxiety or sleep troubles by altering their prescription or obtaining these drugs illicitly. These behaviors often accelerate into recreational use and, in turn, benzodiazepine addiction. Benzos are often used in conjunction with other substances to increase the pleasurable effects of other drugs. Further, many people use benzos to self-treat the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal.

What Are The Signs Of Benzo Addiction?

Benzos create certain mental, physical and emotional side effects even within the bounds of prescribed use. When these drugs are used, the intensity of these effects is often multiplied.

Shortly after a person uses benzo, they may exhibit:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory
  • Intense calm
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy

While certain signs of casual use may be less obvious, side effects become more apparent as a person’s use becomes chronic.

How Do I Know If Someone Is Addicted To Benzos?

Prescription drug use can be tough to spot, especially if the individual has a prescription for the substance. In this instance, the transition from prescribed use to misuse and use is gradual and may not be overly apparent. The progression from use to addiction may be more evident for those who use diverted drugs (someone else’s prescription). In either case, the following signs can point to an underlying addiction:

Within an addicted state, a person will likely:

  • Be consumed by thoughts of the drug
  • Distance themselves from their friends or family
  • Fail to uphold responsibilities that are critical to their well being (e.g., job, schooling, or family)
  • Keep using even though they know the drug is harming them or their loved ones
  • Lie or become evasive when approached about drug use
  • Spend large amounts of time finding or using the drug
  • Struggle to reduce or cease their drug use

To maintain a constant supply of the drug, a person may:

  • “Doctor shop”
  • Feign a condition to obtain a prescription
  • Purchase drugs off the street
  • Steal or hoards pills

Within addiction, a person will develop:

  • Cravings: Strong and frequent urges to use the drug.
  • Dependence: Your physiology begins to rely on benzos to function properly.
  • Tolerance: Higher dosages of the drug are required to yield the same effects.
  • Withdrawal: Sudden cessation of the drug leads to uncomfortable physical and mental health effects.

What Are The Signs Of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?

Acute withdrawal symptoms are some of the most evident signs of addiction. Benzodiazepine withdrawal manifests as:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in perception
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting

In severe cases, a person may experience psychosis, seizures, or progress into delirium tremens. Without proper support, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deadly.

What Are The Dangers Of Benzodiazepine Use?

Though used to treat certain mental health concerns, benzodiazepines can actually lead to mental and emotional disturbances. Suicidal ideation, depression, and “emotional blunting,” or a lack of emotions, have all been linked to benzodiazepines. The most severe danger revolves around polydrug use, specifically other depressants. Benzodiazepine use alone depresses your CNS so that your health is endangered. Alcohol and opioids are both CNS depressants. Combining these drugs with benzos significantly compounds CNS depression to the point where the likelihood of fatal overdose skyrockets.

Fortunately, sobriety and recovery from benzodiazepines are possible. Severe benzodiazepine addiction often requires a medical detox and inpatient treatment. This combination addresses both the physical and mental properties of addiction. As addiction may stem from self-medication, effective treatment of co-occurring disorders, including anxiety, is critical to your success.

Start Building A Drug-Free Life Today

If you’d like to learn more about the signs of benzo addiction, contact us now at 888.655.0289. Your call is confidential; during this time, Vertava Health Massachusetts’s compassionate staff can help you design an individualized treatment program.