November 6, 2023

Benzodiazepine Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Benzodiazepine addiction can develop rapidly. Benzodiazepines (benzos) are Schedule IV controlled substances that include Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam). Benzos are commonly prescribed to alleviate conditions like insomnia, anxiety disorders, muscle spasms and seizures.

Despite their effectiveness for their prescribed purposes, the misuse of this class of medication can trigger the development of benzodiazepines addiction.

If you suspect that someone you know has developed a benzo addiction, or if you are worried about your own usage, we have listed the typical indicators and manifestations of benzodiazepine addiction for your reference. Due to the high benzodiazepines addiction rate, use this medication only under close medical supervision.

Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction

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Recognizing the signs of benzo addiction can help inform early intervention and appropriate treatment. There are specific behaviors and indicators that can signal an individual’s growing dependence on benzodiazepines. These are some of the most common benzo addiction signs.

  • Doctor shopping: A benzo addict may visit different doctors to acquire multiple prescriptions, often under false pretenses or by withholding relevant medical information.
  • Engaging in illegal activities to obtain the drug: Involvement in illegal activities, such as purchasing benzodiazepines from illicit sources, forging prescriptions, or obtaining the drug through illegal means.
  • Ongoing use despite adverse financial and social consequences: Persisting with benzodiazepine use despite experiencing strained relationships, financial difficulties, or other adverse effects that result from the misuse or overuse of the drug.
  • Neglecting responsibilities:  Prioritizing the acquisition and consumption of benzodiazepines over fulfilling work, family, or other obligations, leading to neglect of crucial responsibilities.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation: Displaying a preference for isolation from social activities, hobbies, and interpersonal relationships in favor of increased benzodiazepine use.
  • Experiencing mood swings and irritability in the absence of benzos: Demonstrating heightened emotional volatility, irritability, or restlessness when unable to access benzodiazepines, indicating a strong psychological dependence on the drug.
  • Reduced interest in activities and hobbies: Losing interest in previously cherished pastimes and hobbies while allocating more time and attention to the acquisition, consumption, or recovery from the effects of benzodiazepines.
  • Self-medicating emotional symptoms with benzos: Turning to benzodiazepines as a means to alleviate emotional distress, manage stress, or numb difficult emotions rather than employing healthier coping mechanisms or seeking appropriate psychological support.
  • Developing a preoccupation with benzos that disrupts functioning: Experiencing obsessive thoughts and concerns about the next dose of benzodiazepines, leading to disruptions in regular daily activities, responsibilities, and cognitive functions.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns: Encountering disturbances in natural sleep patterns, including excessive sleepiness, oversleeping, or insomnia, as a consequence of irregular or excessive benzodiazepine consumption.
image of man representing benzo addiction signs

FAQs

Are benzodiazepines addictive?

For those wondering are benzos addictive, this class of medication can lead to benzodiazepine use disorder, especially when misused or used long-term.

Why are benzodiazepines addictive?

People become addicted to benzos mainly because they can lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms when taken for extended periods or in high doses. This often causes people to require higher doses over time to achieve the same effects. Beyond this, their fast-acting nature and immediate relief from anxiety can reinforce the addictive potential of benzos.

Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction

The symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction are outlined in DSM-5-TR, the most current text revision of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as follows:

  1. Taking larger amounts of benzos or taking the medication for longer than intended.
  2. Unsuccessful efforts to discontinue benzodiazepine use.
  3. Spending lots of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of benzos.
  4. Cravings for benzodiazepines.
  5. Failure to fulfill personal or professional commitments due to benzo abuse.
  6. Ongoing benzodiazepine use even though it is causing or inflaming interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up or reducing important activities due to use of benzodiazepines.
  8. Continuing substance use in potentially dangerous situations.
  9. Using benzos even though it is triggering or worsening a psychological or physical health condition.
  10. Developing tolerance to benzos so that more are required to deliver the initial effects.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms manifesting upon discontinuation of benzos.

Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction

Treatment for benzos addiction typically involves a comprehensive approach that integrates various strategies to address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. The following components are commonly included in the benzodiazepine addiction treatment

process:

MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

Physicians may opt for a gradual tapering approach in conjunction with medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and minimize the risk of relapse. Medications such as diazepam or clonazepam may be used to facilitate a safe and controlled reduction in dosage, under the close supervision of healthcare professionals.

Therapeutic interventions

Behavioral therapies, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CM (contingency management), play a pivotal role in helping individuals recognize and modify destructive patterns of thinking and behavior associated with addiction. These therapies equip individuals with coping skills, stress management techniques, and effective strategies to handle triggers and cravings.

Peer support groups

Support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and SMART Recovery offer a valuable support system and a sense of community, allowing individuals to share their experiences, struggles, and triumphs with others who understand their journey. These groups provide a platform for encouragement, understanding, and mutual aid, engendering a sense of belonging and solidarity.

Inpatient or outpatient rehab

Depending on the severity of the addiction and the person’s specific needs, inpatient rehab programs provide a structured, immersive environment with around-the-clock care, therapy sessions, and medical supervision. Outpatient programs, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and allow individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily routines and responsibilities. Outpatient rehab is also usually much more affordable.

Holistic approach to recovery

To ensure long-term success, it is imperative to address any underlying mental health issues that may contribute to addiction. Comprehensive care includes integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders, psychological counseling, stress management techniques, and healthy lifestyle practices to promote overall well-being and sustainable recovery.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to find benzodiazepine treatment

Call Now to Get Help for Benzodiazepine Addiction

Have you or a family member been struggling with benzodiazepine use? If so, reaching out to an addiction hotline can be a valuable first step.

Most people who have been using benzos long-term benefit from supervised medical detoxification with a tapered reduction in dosage. Following detox, either inpatient or outpatient rehab is usually required to address the psychological aspect of prescription drug addiction.

For immediate assistance connecting with benzo withdrawal and addiction treatment near you, call 855-701-0479 today.

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