Benzodiazepines, more commonly referred to as benzos, are a group of medications that have a sedative effect when consumed. Some people describe the effects of benzos as calming, which is why they are sometimes prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. However, these drugs can have a number of side effects, including addiction. Preventing serious consequences of benzo addiction starts with understanding the risks of abuse and being able to identify the signs of a benzodiazepine use disorder.
By the nature of these substances, benzodiazepines reduce heart rate and breathing. Lower vital signs are normal while in a relaxing state (our heart rate is lower when we sleep and higher when we run), however, it can be dangerous if they reduce too significantly. Benzos should always be taken as prescribed in order to drastically decrease the possible side effects and risks. When misused or abuse, the following benzos side effects may develop:
Additionally, it is possible to develop a tolerance or physical dependence from the long-term use of benzodiazepines. The user may experience an array of benzo withdrawal symptoms when they stop using if dependence has developed. In this situation, the advised option is to get the help of a benzo detox and addiction treatment program.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health diagnoses in the United States and it is one of the conditions benzodiazepines are used to treat. With that, it is not uncommon for an individual to struggle with addiction and anxiety at the same time. When diagnosed with both of these conditions it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Recovery from co-occurring disorders has been shown to be most affected with they are treated concurrently. For this reason, individuals whose addiction began with a prescription for benzos to treat an anxiety disorder should seek treatment from a dual diagnosis addiction treatment program. Also, someone with a history of addiction should consider alternatives to benzodiazepines for anxiety treatment.
Overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines can be difficult as well as unpleasant. Both physical and emotional symptoms that may present when someone stops using may serve as an encouragement to relapse or discouragement to continue with treatment. Additionally, the risk of health issues and relapse during recovery are among the reasons why it is recommended to get help from a drug and alcohol rehab program.