Learn about benzos and substance abuse
If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a seizure disorder, or a sleep disorder, then you may have been given a prescription for a benzodiazepine. Also referred to as a benzo, this sort of medication is extremely effective when taken for legitimate medical reasons as long as you only take it as directed by your doctor.
However, if you have not abided by your doctor’s recommendations and began misusing your prescription, then you have opened yourself up to numerous detrimental effects as a result. Additionally, if you abuse a benzo for recreational purposes, you are also at risk for a variety of negative effects.
Benzodiazepines are nervous system depressants that can cause you to stop breathing if you consume too much of them. Furthermore, other areas of your life are bound to be impacted, as those who abuse benzodiazepines are likely to experience familial discord, disturbances at work, several physical health problems, and possibly even polysubstance abuse if this form of chemical dependency becomes more severe.
Fortunately, if you are suffering from a benzo addiction, you have options available to you. There are a variety of treatment services that you can access that can help you understand your addiction to Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepines and develop the confidence and skills needed to live a drug-free life once and for all.
Benzo addiction statistics
Benzodiazepine-related overdoses are rising. Recent research has uncovered that this form of substance abuse is claiming countless lives and only comes second to overdoses due to opioid abuse. With a thirty percent increase in the number of people prescribed benzos, this type of addiction doesn’t seem to be on the decline anytime soon.
Additionally, it was also found that among 75 percent of benzo-related overdoses, individuals were abusing other licit and/or illicit substances at the same time. Given these numbers, much more needs to be done to help people avoid or break free from this type of substance abuse problem.
Benzo addiction and co-occurring disorders
In the event you make the brave choice to seek help for a benzo abuse problem, it’s possible that you’ll also receive care for other mental health or substance abuse concerns as well. If you’re grappling with any of the following co-occurring disorders, effective treatment will address them at the same time as your benzo addiction:
- Tobacco use disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Alcohol use disorder
Causes and risk factors of benzo addiction
Understanding why and how you came abuse benzos can be confusing. However, the following is what researchers and addiction experts agree upon in terms of what can make someone like yourself more vulnerable to abusing substances like benzodiazepines:
Genetics: It is possible that if you have a family history of chemical dependency that you may also struggle with a similar issue. The reason for this is because researchers have identified certain heritable genes that can make someone more at risk for abusing substances like benzodiazepines.
Environmental: Certain environmental factors can determine whether or not benzodiazepines will be abused. For instance, if you’re able to easily acquire benzos, you may be more likely to abuse them. Additionally, if you presently suffer from a mental health or medical condition in which benzos are needed, it is possible that you could develop a problem if you don’t adhere to your doctor’s recommendations. Lastly, if you are not able to cope with stress in a healthy manner and lack social support, you are at an increased risk for misusing benzodiazepines.
- Suffering from a mental health condition
- Suffering from a medical condition for which benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat
- Personal history of substance abuse
- Having an impulsive temperament
- Family history of substance abuse and addiction
- Easy access to benzos
- Being female
- Being around other people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol
Signs and symptoms of benzo addiction
Depending on how long you’ve been abusing a benzodiazepine and how much you’ve been taking, the obviousness of an addiction to these sort of medications may or may not be apparent. If you’ve experienced any of the following symptoms, you should be assessed for the need for treatment:
- Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for benzodiazepines
- Slurred speech
- Repeated absences from work or school
- Neglecting responsibilities at home
- Failing to fulfill obligations at work or school
- Disinhibited behavior
- Declined participation in previously enjoyed activities
- Unsteady gait
- Rapid, involuntary eye movement
- Memory impairment
- Cravings for benzos
- Attention difficulties
- Dysregulation of emotions
Effects of benzo addiction
If you’ve developed a serious addiction to benzos, then you’re already experiencing some negative effects as a result of your substance abuse. However, if you participate in an addiction treatment program, you can heal from or avoid the following effects of benzo abuse:
- Poor performance at work or school
- Polysubstance abuse
- Onset of physical health concerns
- Onset of mental health concerns
- Interaction with the legal system
- Injury as a result of being under the influence
- Disturbed interpersonal relationships
Withdrawal symptoms of benzo addiction
Effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal: If you are experiencing any of the following withdrawal symptoms when not under the influence of a benzo, it means that you have become dependent on benzodiazepines. In order to overcome this sort of addiction, it is important for you to seek treatment in order to endure or avoid these symptoms safely:
- Psychomotor agitation
- Hand tremors
- Grand mal seizures
- Brief visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations
- Accelerated pulse
Effects of benzodiazepine overdose: A benzo overdose is a serious medical emergency. The following are telltale signs that infer that you are experiencing an overdose, which means you need medical care to avoid life-altering consequences:
- Respiratory system depression
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme dizziness
- Blurred vision