Benzos, short for “benzodiazepines”, are increasingly being prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of disorders, commonly deriving from symptoms such as anxiety. However, because these drugs are extremely habit-forming, many individuals are getting stuck in painful cycles of addiction, however well-intentioned they were when they began taking the prescribed drug. This, in turn, is raising red flags in the medical community as professionals are starting to see an increase in individuals taking more benzos than the prescribed dosage. While many doctors are now taking more precautions when it comes to prescribing this drug, the unfortunate reality is that once the individual is hooked on the drugs oftentimes they will sometimes seek out other ways to get the drug, even if their doctor will not prescribe them more than their monthly dose. This could result in the user seeking other medical professionals who they can get the medication from or resort to finding it on the streets. This can become an extremely dangerous cycle, sometimes leading to addiction to other drugs or, even worse, fatal consequences to the user. In order to prevent or stop a benzo addiction in its tracks it’s, therefore, important that one understands the implications involved when starting this prescription regimen and how to get help if one feels they are either heading towards or already on the path of addiction.

What are Benzos? What are the Types of Benzos?

Benzos are man-made prescription drugs commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, nervousness, panic disorders, and sleeplessness. They are also prescribed for sedation during surgery, making it all too easy for someone recovering from a surgery to take more than prescribed to ease the pain but unfortunately also getting sucked into the vortex of addiction.  Some examples of oral benzodiazepines are: 

  • Alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR)
  • Clobazam (Onfi)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat)
  • Estazolam 
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

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All types of oral benzodiazepines are available in tablet forms. Alprazolam and clorazepate are offered as extended-release tablets while prescription medications like alprazolam, clobazam, diazepam, and lorazepam are available in oral liquid form. Other medications are available only in orally dissolving tablets, such as clonazepam, while some types of benzos are available for injection. Whatever type of benzodiazepine or however it’s consumed can cause serious health consequences for the user, especially if taken outside of recommended prescription dosage as prescribed by a medical professional.

What are the Side Effects of Benzos?

Because originally intended to be used for short-term help to treat anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, and insomnia, benzodiazepines can cause serious health complications when taken longer than necessary. Since benzos are extremely habit-forming and can easily cause a spiraling down into addiction, it is essential that if you feel yourself developing an addiction, or have already formed an addiction, to these drugs that you seek medical professional help immediately. This is especially necessary if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or you have started to develop a tolerance to the medication, requiring you to take more than necessary to ward off any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Some common side effects of using benzos include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory impairment
  • Improper body balance
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased libido

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More serious side effects include:

  • Dependence and abuse
  • Jaundice
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures
  • Suicide
  • Slow heart rate
  • Severely low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Akathisia (a movement disorder)
  • Increased heart rate

Furthermore, if this medication is abused, you may experience some adverse side-effects, such as:

  • Disturbing or vivid dreams
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Amnesia 

Lastly, the FDA classifies benzos as category D for pregnancy medication standards.This means that benzos has a high potential to cause severe fetal harm if used while pregnant so anyone pregnant should avoid taking this medication at all costs.

What are the Symptoms for an Addiction to Benzos?

Some physical symptoms to be on the lookout for, indicating a possible addiction to benzos include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Goosebumps
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Bone and muscle pain

Since benzos are extremely addictive, it is also essential to your well-being that you monitor any signs or symptoms of possible overdose, including:

  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Coma
  • Shallow breathing

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Furthermore, the most serious side effect of benzo overdose is death. Additionally, if you abruptly stop taking these medications, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Increased anxiety and tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremors
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Perceptual changes
  • Dry heaving and vomiting

The level of severity experienced by withdrawal depends on the amount of time the drug was used and how severe the addiction was. Withdrawal symptoms can even be deadly if not appropriately monitored, so seeking the guidance of a medical professional when considering a detox off benzos is essential to ensure your safety.

What Types of Treatment are Available for an Addiction to Benzos?

Seeking professional medical help if addicted to benzos is essential to ensure that your health and safety are well-monitored and that withdrawal symptoms are minimized. Because benzos are extremely habit-forming and can be hard to detox from, it is key to your sobriety to surround yourself with professionals that can guide you through the recovery process successfully. This may mean that going to an inpatient drug rehab may prove to be the best way to kick the addiction once and for all, all the while giving you peace of mind that you are being well taken care of medically 24/7. Furthermore, inpatient rehab provides you with the opportunity to detox and set healthy foundations of recovery without the temptations and distractions that the outside world provides while you are recovering from a drug addiction. Even if addiction to the drug was a mere accident, receiving counseling while attending inpatient rehab can help you get to the root of the addiction in the first place, or help you process any trauma you may have experienced while you were in your addiction. The process of talking through the core reasons addiction became an issue is key to ensure a successful long-term recovery by helping you to replace old, unhealthy coping mechanisms with new, healthier ones. 

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The time to get help is now. Even if you are unsure if you are experiencing an addiction to benzos, it is best to seek medical professional help before it gets too late. There are other forms of treatment or medication that can help you to live a life of sobriety, while managing any anxiety or insomnia you are experiencing. There is a better way to live than in the grips of painful addiction. Reach out today and be on your path to the fulfilling recovery you deserve immediately.

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