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Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse

Sometimes it feels like anxiety is as thoroughly part of our modern world as the air we breathe. That our natural state is to be on edge and stressed and that trouble sleeping just “goes with the territory” of getting by and getting through the daily grind. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though and anxiety doesn’t have to be your baseline.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

When the day to day pressures become overwhelming, a person rightly seeks help and in many cases that can lead to a prescription to benzodiazepines, which, according to the Food and Drug Administration, are “a class of medicines approved to treat generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, seizures, social phobia, and panic disorder. Benzodiazepines are also used as premedication before some medical procedures”.

More specifically, they are a type of sedative that works to calm or sedate a person by raising the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain which produces a calming effect.

Given the high levels of stress many of us carry on our shoulders, it should come as no surprise that these drugs are among the most widely prescribed with more than 112 million prescriptions being for them being filled back in 2007, for example.

Additionally, benzodiazepines are often used to help with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

For the world of good they’ve done, benzos, as they’re known colloquially, don’t come without risk of abuse and addiction.

As Harvard University points out, “the FDA requires all benzodiazepines to carry the strongest warning regarding the risks of dependency, addiction, or withdrawal symptoms. The FDA also emphasized the importance of not combining a benzodiazepine drug with an opioid because it can stop a person’s breathing”.

Rightfully so because more than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines and between 1996 and 2013 the number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67%, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. To be clear, the 112 million prescriptions mentioned above doesn’t mean that that many individuals were prescribed benzos but rather that those who had prescriptions were getting them filled multiple times. The amount of people on benzos in the United States is about 30.5 million.

Commonly Abused Benzos

While the words “benzodiazepine” and “benzos” may not be overly familiar, the names of the most commonly abuse benzos should certainly ring a few bells:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Librium

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse

The depressive effect on the central nervous system, high level of potency and sedation that are the hallmarks of benzos mean that dependency can grab hold quickly and morph into addiction before you know it.

To that end, before someone falls into a cycle of addiction, there are plenty of signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse to look out for that could help you or your loved one back from the brink.

  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Passing out or blacking out
  • Unable to stop using even when making sincere efforts
  • Going to different doctors for more prescriptions
  • Strong withdrawal symptoms when not taking benzos

If you’re seeing any of these signs, it’s time to consider treatment options.

Get Help with Benzodiazepine Abuse Today

No matter the substance, overcoming abuse and addiction is no easy task on your own. From getting over the hurdle of detox without relapsing, a crucial inflection point in the process, to learning how to deal with triggers, beating addiction is best done with a road map and with the guidance and support of a nurturing, licensed and professional team.

At Multi Concept Recovery we create comprehensive and personalized treatment programs that set you up for a lasting recovery and a fulfilling, substance-free life. If you or a loved one need help to free yourself from benzos, get in touch with us at MCR and let’s work together to get you back on track.

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