Benzodiazepines Dependence – Benzo Addiction

Using benzodiazepines outside of a prescription from a doctor or abusing a benzodiazepine script can be extremely harmful. It can be a highly addictive substance when abused. This page will explain the types and effects of benzodiazepines and how an dependence can happen. 

What Are Benzodiazepines Used For?

Commonly referred to as “benzos”, benzodiazepines are tranquilizers primarily used for the treatment of anxiety, accounting for 56 percent of all benzodiazepine prescriptions. They are also used to treat insomnia and seizure disorders. Benzodiazepines are also given to people before surgery to calm or sedate them so they can undergo a medical procedure. 

Although you should only take benzodiazepines if they have been prescribed by a doctor, many people abuse them illegally by purchasing them on the street or taking pills from other people. This is considered prescription drug abuse, and often leads dependence. Abuse also takes form as a result of taking more benzodiazepines than prescribed.

Types of Benzodiazepines

Here is a complete list of the different types of benzodiazepines:

  • Riazolam (Halcion)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Quazepam (Doral)
  • Clonazepam (Rivotril, Klonopin)

Benzodiazepines Dependence: Side Effects

Like every other medication, benzodiazepines come with side effects. Some of the most common include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Physical Dependence
  • Cravings For More Benzos
  • Withdrawal

With The Abuse Of Benzos Comes Benzodiazepine Dependence

Benzos are dangerous and highly addictive substances that usually result in benzodiazepine dependence. These are fast-acting drugs that immediately bring an overwhelming sense of calmness and tranquility. For this reason, they are classified as tranquilizers.

While benzos might make you feel good temporarily, they are not without their negative consequences. Many people who take benzos become addicted and find that they cannot stop taking them in spite of a strong desire to do so. 

Benzodiazepine dependence is prevalent in part due to the drug’s high potential to create tolerance. If you take benzos for a prolonged period of time, they stop producing the desired effect since the brain has become chemically desensitized to them. When this happens, an increasing amount of the drug is needed to produce the same effect. 

Once tolerance sets in, someone taking benzos will often take more than they are prescribed or begin buying more on the street. When use escalates further, it leads to benzodiazepine addiction. Unfortunately, fatal overdoses as a result are not uncommon.

Benzo Dependence: Withdrawal Symptoms

When you have been struggling with benzodiazepine dependence and decide to stop taking benzos, you will go through the slow and painful process of withdrawal – otherwise known as detox.

Detox is what happens when your body has become accustomed to processing a certain chemical that is suddenly removed. Many people find benzodiazepine withdrawal particularly uncomfortable.

Here are the symptoms you might experience throughout the process of withdrawal:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of focus
  • Loss of motivation
  • Seizures, coma, or death (in extreme cases)

When it comes to benzo dependence, you may wonder how long it takes to detox. There are two phases of the benzo withdrawal process. The first is the acute withdrawal phase, which is when symptoms are the most intense and uncomfortable. This phase typically lasts around two to four weeks. 

The second phase of detox is known as the post-acute withdrawal phase. During this time, withdrawal symptoms are still present, but they lessen in intensity. This can last up to three months. In fact, benzos are so damaging it can take as long as a year for the brain to fully recover from withdrawal.

Benzodiazepine Dependence Statistics

Here are some statistics to help you understand more about benzodiazepines:

  • Between 1996 to 2013, overdose death rates rose from .58 to 3.07 per 100,000 adults.  
  • In 2008, approximately 5.2 percent of American adults ages 18 to 80 used benzodiazepines. This equals about 15.8 million people – and benzos use is on the rise.
  • Tolerance typically develops in those who have used for six months or more.
  • In 2015, nearly 10,000 people died from an overdose of benzodiazepines.
  • Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine.
  • Women are twice as likely to receive benzos than men.

Benzo Dependence Treatment

Because recovery from benzodiazepine dependence can cause seizures or result in fatality, benzo addiction treatment requires the employment of specialized care. Put simply, attempting to quit using benzos on your own carries potentially dire consequences with it.

Many people find that withdrawal from Xanax is incredibly painful. To fully recover from benzodiazepine dependence, you should undergo a supervised drug detox in the safety and comfort of an in-patient drug rehabilitation facility. Here you can be monitored and evaluated while making the necessary adjustments to get your life back.