Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in the United States for the past decade. While the opioid epidemic is ravaging the nation, attention has been turned to the dangers of these drugs. However, there are other prescription medications that are dangerous when abused. One classification of prescription drugs that can lead to tolerance, dependence, addiction, and even death is benzodiazepines. These drugs, a.k.a. “benzos” are highly potent medications that are useful in certain medical situations, but, with long-term use, present a risk for addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16 percent of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines in 2019 alone.
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What are Benzodiazepines and Benzodiazepine Treatment?
Benzos are used in medical situations as prescription medications. These drugs are referred to as central nervous system depressants. They are prescribed to help patients who are struggling with insomnia, anxiety, high levels of stress, panic attacks, and seizure disorders. They are intended for short-term use because of their high potency and risk for developing an addiction. Doctors will usually only prescribe benzos for a few months, but many patients develop dependency even under clinical supervision. Accurate use would include taking these prescriptions strictly under doctor supervision, adhering to prescription instructions, telling the doctor when tolerance forms, and asking for help with weaning from these medications. Currently, there are 15 name brands of benzos available in the United States which include:
The Dangers of Abusing Benzodiazepines
When prescribed and taken correctly, benzos can really help people with specific medical conditions. But, when taken for too long, individuals will likely start to experience adverse reactions. This means that if a patient was prescribed Valium to help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and they abuse the drug or continue use longer than a doctor prescribes, they may start to experience even higher levels of anxiety. Adverse symptoms of benzos can be a signal that an individual has developed a dependence. Some adverse symptoms that may point to long-term benzo use or abuse may include:
- Mood swings
- Increased anxiety
- Impaired judgment
- Trouble with mobility
What makes benzos so different and dangerous lies in their chemical makeup. Because they are considered central nervous system depressants, they can lead to overdose deaths. When an individual takes too much of a central nervous system depressant, organs that are dependent on the nervous system to function when unconscious can stop working. This includes the respiratory system. This means those who overdose from benzos can quickly stop breathing and even die.
Dangers of Detoxing from Benzos
Usually, a drug will be considered dangerous if it can lead to overdose death or it can lead to complications during detox. While benzos can lead to an overdose death, they are also one of the only drugs that can lead to withdrawal death. Because benzos are considered central nervous system depressants, doctors will only prescribe benzos for a short amount of time. When it’s time for patients to stop taking their benzo prescription, it’s extremely important to pay attention to doctor’s orders with weaning off these drugs. Far too often, when benzos are taken without direct supervision and instruction by a doctor, individuals realize how severe withdrawal symptoms can be. Eventually, benzo addiction takes its place.
It’s very important if you need benzodiazepines treatment or have a loved one struggling with benzo addiction that detox is performed in a medical facility under the guidance and care of an addiction specialist. This way, withdrawal symptoms can be managed and even prevented so that the dangers of detoxing from benzos are minimal. And, the patient is in a setting in which medical professionals can help if ever there were something to go wrong.
Getting Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Although benzos are extremely potent and are a great threat to a person’s health when dependence has formed, there is help available. But, you need to act fast. When it comes to benzos, you never know how long you have. So, give Asheville Recovery Center a call today to find out about how we can help you at (828)518-6996. We have developed a number of programs and therapy options to fit the needs and desires of all types of patients. So, find out why Asheville Recovery Center is the place so many have chosen to obtain the freedom from addiction!