Benzodiazepine addiction is a reality among millions of people today. Prescription drug abuse is now a global epidemic. There are a variety of medications prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. However, benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed drugs for these types of conditions. Although these types of drugs are effective, they have the potential for abuse because they are addictive if taken improperly.
Types of Benzodiazepines
Diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam, and clonazepam are all in the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These medications are fast-acting and effective in reducing anxiety, panic attacks, and inducing a restful sleep. Since benzodiazepines work quickly, most doctors prescribe them for short periods of time or for use as needed.
Highest Potential for Abuse
Benzodiazepines have the highest potential for abuse in those who combine these medications with other drugs that are addictive or when taken with alcohol. Many people develop a benzodiazepine addiction when they are taken in high doses. Psychologically, people often become dependent on benzodiazepines because they fear a sudden onset of anxiety or panic attacks.
There are several signs that a person might have a benzodiazepine addiction.
- Some of these problems can include general anxiety about certain things that could be going on in the person’s life or a panic attack while the person is anxious. Therefore, a person might develop phobias like claustrophobia or agoraphobia. These things cause a person to lose the confidence that they might have once had in themselves which means that a person is going to be a lot less social.
- This means that a person might have a lot of nightmares that often disturb sleep or could also suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia.
- This means that the person is confused about things that are going on around them, which can make him or her become delirious if they have been taking the drug for a long period of time.
Changes In Mood
- This means that a person could suffer from depression that might lead to suicidal thoughts. He or she could also have anger or aggression towards people, especially when they are anxious. The person will be a lot less interested in certain things that they were once interested in. He or she will also have a hard time concentrating on things, which means that they might not be able to remember certain things that happened in their life.
- This means that a person might suddenly develop a sensitivity to certain sounds, lights, smells, or flavors. All of a person’s senses can be affected with symptoms like blurred vision or constant ringing in the ears. The individual might also suffer from the sensation of burning, tingling or numbness like there are a bunch of ants crawling on their skin.
- A person might complain of aches and pains that could be followed by weakness in their arms and legs. Therefore, a person’s muscles might twitch a little bit over a long period of using the drug. He or she could complain that they feel like they have the flu, with symptoms such as hot sweats or cold chills, alternating.
The Primary Reason for Benzodiazepine Addiction
One of the primary reasons many people develop a benzodiazepine addiction is because the body develops a tolerance to the effects of the drug over time. This means that higher doses of these drugs must be taken to achieve the desired feeling. People who have a benzodiazepine addiction often take opioids with these medications. Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of opioids such as codeine. Those who are addicted to benzodiazepines may visit a variety of medical doctors to obtain a prescription for these medications. These types of medicines are also commonly sold on the street illegally, which is how some addicts obtain their supply of medication.
It is important for those who have a benzodiazepine addiction to seek professional treatment. After taking high doses of these medications, many people suffer withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, aching joints, diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rash, mood swings, and dizziness. Severe withdrawal symptoms can also occur when addicts stop taking benzodiazepines suddenly. These may include confusion, psychosis, and seizures.
Treatment for a benzodiazepine addiction requires tapering medication dosages over the course of time. Those who have this type of drug addiction are often dependent on other drugs such as cocaine or alcohol, and treatment should focus on freeing the patient from these drugs, as well. Addiction counselors use treatment methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy to change the patient’s attitude towards drug use. Counselors also work to teach patients different ways to handle the everyday stresses of life that may cause them to relapse and use drugs again. Those who undergo treatment for addiction to benzodiazepines and other drugs are more likely to remain drug-free than those who attempt to stop taking drugs on their own. Once treatment is complete, there are a variety of support groups that can help recovering addicts remain drug free and healthy.