The need for benzodiazepines treatment continues to increase. About 33 percent of people who use benzos for just six months develop health problems when they attempt to stop using them. Benzodiazepine addiction therapy for popular drugs like Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Ambien, and Klonopin, starts with medical detoxification.
When stabilized, the patient continues drug addiction therapy through an inpatient or outpatient program that includes counseling and cognitive therapies. An inpatient program offers many amenities and all of the comforts of home.
What Are Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved them more than 50 years ago. According to recent research published in the journal Addiction benzos are highly addictive. In a review of the literature, researchers found more than 60,000 research articles that associated “abuse” with this class of drugs.
Although the dangers of addiction are high, mainstream physicians prescribe benzos to manage medical conditions like anxiety. Many more thousands of people use benzos as recreational drugs. They may not understand how these drugs work or why they’re potentially addictive.
Once users develop a drug addiction, they need help to stop abusing these drugs. A healthy recovery is possible with therapeutic intervention. Here’s what you need to know to identify a benzodiazepine problem in yourself or a loved one and how to take steps towards a drug-free future.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that benzodiazepine causes a shift in the brain’s chemistry used to measure pleasure. Users feel sensations associated with security, rewards, happiness, and joy. They may not understand why they feel differently, but their brain registers the change. Over time, benzo use is dangerous because the drugs cause changes in the brain’s chemistry.
Altered brain chemistry affects the brain cells’ function. They may cease to function at normal levels unless the individual continues to use benzos. Brain cells demand the drug, and the urge to take more is difficult to ignore.
The following benzodiazepine medicines are commonly prescribed and highly addictive, including:
- Alprazolam (Xanax). This drug is often used to treat panic or anxiety disorders. It is available in different strengths. One form of Alprazolam releases benzodiazepine over an extended-release period. Individuals may crush these capsules to unleash all of the drugs at one time. EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) reports that Alprazolam changes brain chemistry immediately. This makes the drug one of the most dangerous on the market.
- Clonazepam (Klonopin) is prescribed in the treatment of panic and seizure disorders. The capsules are manufactured in 1 mg-2 mg formulas. Some dissolve in the mouth. This makes Klonopin a fast-acting drug (although its effect on brain chemistry isn’t as fast as Alprazolam).
- Diazepam (Valium) is prescribed for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, and muscle spasm disorders. It’s one of the oldest benzos available. Diazepam comes in many generic formulas and strengths. Extended-release capsules of diazepam don’t release their power all at once when crushed, and that’s good news. EMCDDA reports that Valium’s slower effects make it slightly less rewarding than other drugs in the benzo class.
- Lorazepam (Ativan). Lorazepam is prescribed to treat panic disorders. It’s available in pill or liquid formulas that can be directly injected into the body’s circulatory system. Its onset is considered fast to intermediate, so Lorazepam is potentially highly addictive to users.
- Zolpidem (Ambien) is a sedative drug used to treat sleep disorders. Its fast onset is extremely rewarding. Some users become very addicted to it.
While this drug class was originally intended to support people with physical or mental health conditions, those who abuse benzodiazepines use these substances because of their brain chemistry-altering abilities. These chemicals deeply change the brain.
Those who abuse benzos have prescriptions from a doctor or they illegally buy these medications from drug dealers. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports that addiction to benzos is seldom because the patient properly uses them. When the patient follows the physician’s orders about how to use these drugs, they don’t generally develop addictions to them.
Unfortunately, many patients don’t listen to the doctor. They may take too much of these drugs too closely together or they might double or triple the intended dosage. They may continue to take these medicines after the course is complete, or they hoard these medicines to take them later when they need a lift.
Drug addiction to benzos is no small matter. If you or someone you care about is abusing these drugs, get professional treatment services now.