Benzodiazepine Addiction & Abuse
Benzodiazepines are a group of sedatives or anxiolytics that are prescribed for the short-term treatment of mental health disorders. They increase your production of dopamine and norepinephrine, so your brain gradually stops making these neurotransmitters and becomes dependent on them to function normally. When you take them too often, use more than prescribed, or use them for longer than two weeks, physical dependence can develop.
If you have a benzodiazepine addiction, you are likely to experience some of these behaviours:
- You have tried to stop using them but experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
- You continue to use them despite their negative effects on your life
- You are using an increasing amount to achieve the same effects
- You are using more than one prescription or doctor so you can get more.
If your life feels like it is out of your control and you would like it to change, we can help you to overcome your addiction. It is possible to live a substance-free life that you enjoy and our team of addiction specialists are ready to help you find new purpose in your future.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Symptoms
When you are addicted you will experience uncomfortable symptoms but feel as though you cannot function without benzos:
- Drowsiness and concentration problems
- Anxiety, edginess or panic attacks
- Poor judgement
- Blurred or double vision
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Uncontrolled / jerky movements
Abusing benzodiazepines means that you are taking them
- More often than prescribed
- In a larger dose than prescribed
- Without a prescription
- Using someone else’s prescription
- Without a medical reason or recreationally
While it is possible to abuse them without being addicted, abuse can lead to addiction very quickly, as it is easy to develop a tolerance or physical dependency.
Addiction is a chronic but treatable medical condition that requires professional intervention and treatment. In our 25 years of addiction treatment, we have developed a well-documented programme that has helped our clients move out of downward spirals of behaviour and into productive and gratifying lives that are free of substance abuse and addictive behaviours.
Benzodiazepines slow down nerve activity in the brain. They change the action of neurons that trigger our anxiety and stress responses, by enhancing GABA neurotransmitters and have a calming effect to address over-stimulation while increasing dopamine levels. They are most effective for short term treatment.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants and their physiological effects include
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed motor control
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
Taking them results in an initial feeling of euphoria and drowsiness, which can promote sleep in sleep-deprived people.
Effects on relationships
Your addiction dominates your life and choice of social and recreational activities, which impacts your relationships. You may withdraw socially or find yourself in conflict with people who don’t support your habit. Engaging in risky or reckless behaviour could place you in conflict with the people who care about you.
Start your recovery today!
The Dangers of Benzodiazepine Addiction
Cognitive impairment remains one of the greatest risks of benzodiazepine abuse and addiction. Over the long-term, they can cause adverse effects like slow reaction time, loss of motor coordination, and amnesia. Memory and concentration problems are common with long term use, as they affect verbal learning and processing speed. Drowsiness can put you at risk of motor vehicle accidents and other injuries due to inattention.
Withdrawal symptoms can be very severe, and life-threatening in some cases, which is why many people struggle to stop using them without medical support. Seizures and psychosis have been observed in patients who attempt to withdraw without medical supervision. Long-term use is associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and early death.
Deaths associated with benzodiazepine use increased by 19.3% between 2019 and 2020 in the UK. Overdose becomes more likely the longer you have been abusing them and the greater your dose.
Overdoses occur most commonly when mixing them with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. An overdose is a medical emergency that requires professional intervention. Complications that can arise from an overdose include respiratory distress, inadequate blood oxygenation, and loss of consciousness, as well as muscle damage, brain damage, pneumonia and death.
It is not advisable to stop cold turkey, as your withdrawal symptoms can lead to relapse and reduced tolerance, and increase your chance of overdose death.
If you have a severe dependency to benzodiazepines, private residential treatment is often the best way to manage symptoms of withdrawal whilst tackling the root causes of addiction.
Our rehab centre is a safe and supportive space for you to recover. We understand that a benzodiazepine addiction is controlling your life to the extent that you develop fears of living without them. We will hold your hand as you overcome the challenges that have contributed to your dependency and help you to develop confidence and healthy coping strategies that will empower you to live a life free from benzodiazepine abuse.
Benzodiazepine addiction treatment consists of a detox & treatment programme to help you heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. Contact us today if you would like to talk to someone about your benzodiazepine use.