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Increasingly more people suffer from anxiety disorders and end up abusing benzodiazepines. Every single year, 40 million American people who are 18 or older get an anxiety disorder diagnosis. It is the most commonly found mental illness in the entire country, so it only makes sense that benzodiazepines are prescribed to help treat its symptoms.
Unfortunately, many individuals become addicted to these medications, bringing along a benzodiazepine addiction wave that is very scary. While the drugs can be very useful for anxiety, they carry some risks too, with the addiction potential being one of the largest risks.
If you think that someone in your family or friend circle is dependent on benzodiazepines, it is important to talk to them and make sure they get help. Also, you should know what signs to look out for. If you notice any, you should make sure the abusive behavior is addressed.
What Are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines are a type of medication usually prescribed for treating anxiety disorders and panic attacks that are associated with panic disorder. They are sedative drugs that can bring calming effects to those using them.
Common types of benzodiazepines that circulate are Xanax and Valium. In the United States, they are some of the most commonly prescribed medications of this kind.
The medications will slow down the brain and body’s functions, which is why they are so amazing for anxiety disorders. The body has a natural chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The chemical can reduce the activity in the brain areas that are responsible for emotions, memory, reasoning, and some important functions like breathing.
When using benzodiazepine drugs, the GABA effects on the body and brain are increased. This is what results in muscle relaxation and anxiety reduction.
Benzodiazepines should only be used when prescribed by a doctor. However, many people end up going overboard with benzodiazepines, sometimes even obtaining them illegally.
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Despite being often prescribed for people suffering from anxiety disorders, the drugs can be quite dangerous. They can be physically and psychologically addictive, and this can greatly affect someone’s life in the long term.
Benzodiazepine abuse is very common, and if it is not taken care of early enough, it will result in someone’s career, health, and relationships being affected significantly.
Both people who have prescriptions and people who don’t have them misuse benzodiazepines. The drugs are either abused chronically or accidentally – and sometimes people even overdose on these medications.
Whereas it is very rare to see someone dying as a result of benzodiazepine abuse alone, the real issue is the fact that benzodiazepines are usually consumed alongside other substances. Sometimes, they are taken with other medications and with alcohol, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Because they can affect functions that allow an individual to resist assault or aggression, benzodiazepines have sometimes been used as “date rape” drugs.
Signs of Benzo Addiction
When someone abuses benzodiazepines, they will show some physical and psychological symptoms. It is important to bear in mind that it may be difficult to realize whether the symptoms come as a result of benzodiazepine abuse or withdrawal.
However, everyone should be aware of the signs of addiction so they know what they should do next.
The following symptoms will appear in someone who is abusing benzodiazepine in high amounts or in someone close to overdosing:
- Blurred vision
- Being unable to defend themselves from any threat or attack
- Having a hard time making decisions or judging situations right
- Slurred speech
- Being physically weak
- Having a difficult time breathing
- Lack of motor coordination
- Death (usually happens when someone mixes benzodiazepines with alcohol or other medications)
Meanwhile, when benzodiazepines are abused chronically, the symptoms that will show up include:
- Memory issues
Long-Term Benzodiazepine Usage
Since benzodiazepines affect the brain and cognitive function, they are some of the hardest drugs to quit in terms of addiction. In the long-term, benzodiazepine abuse will lead to symptoms such as:
- Impaired memory and concentration
- Increased reaction time
- Coordination loss
- Permanent cognitive deficits
- Sexual disfunction
- Hip fracture
- Stiffness of the muscles
- Motor vehicle crashes
Withdrawals from Benzos
Once the brain and body have been getting used to receiving benzodiazepines frequently, quitting the drug will be very difficult. This is not only because the individual craves the medications and the effects they can provide, but also because quitting will result in very uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms are known as withdrawal.
How long someone has been using benzodiazepines will determine how severe the withdrawal is. The longer you’ve been using the drug, the worse the symptoms are going to be. This may also be the case if you’ve been taking high amounts of benzodiazepines.
Some possible symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include hallucinations, cramps, muscle pain, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and coma. In worst-case scenarios, withdrawal may even be lethal.
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Treating The Addiction
If someone is addicted to benzodiazepines, it is important to talk to them and make sure they get help.
It may be hard to make them understand why they need treatment for their problem, as many addicts will think they don’t need rehab for Xanax or similar medications. You have to be calm and gentle, and let the person know you love them and want to help them.
To quit the medication abuse successfully, one will have to go through a supervised detoxification process to get the drug out of their system safely. In the long term, therapy may also be necessary.
How Real Deal Can Help
Real Deal offers everything you need for successful addiction recovery and happier life. We have a supervised detox program where you can start working on quitting substance abuse, but we also offer help for mental health issues that may have encouraged your addiction.
On top of that, we have a sober living program where you can stay after detox. This allows you to find yourself again while living in peace and learning new skills for the life outside the premises.
Don’t hesitate! Get help for someone who is suffering from benzodiazepine addiction as soon as you discover this issue! If you do it early enough, you may end up saving their life.