Benzodiazepine Addiction

Treatment For Benzodiazepine Addiction in South Carolina

Prescription medication helps many Americans lead normal, healthy lives—but this isn’t always the case. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 30 million Americans have a benzodiazepine (benzo) prescription, which is about 12% of our nation’s population. While not as common as other substance use disorders, benzodiazepine use disorders affect about 2% of those with a prescription. This may seem like a low number, but it’s about 600,000 Americans.

Plus, research shows that over 17% of Americans with a benzo prescription abused this medication in the past. Substance abuse can easily lead to an addiction, even if that substance is prescribed by a doctor. Understanding the dangers of abusing benzos and recognizing signs of addiction can prevent a benzo overdose. Fortunately, The Owls Nest offers person-centered, safe treatment in South Carolina to help individuals overcome an addiction to benzos permanently.

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What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzos are types of central nervous system (CNS) depressants that slow down the body’s systems. The CNS is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. Neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain work in tandem to deliver messages throughout the body. Neurons send messages from the brain down the spinal cord, which then delivers these messages throughout the rest of the body.

Taking benzos affects a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is one of the most common neurotransmitters in the CNS. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In short, it impedes the messages neurons deliver to the rest of the body. An influx of GABA slows down the body’s systems, which can make a person feel more relaxed.

Benzos do just that by binding with GABA receptors on neurons. Neurotransmitters send out messages to neurons. So, blocking the part of the neuron that receives these hormonal messages leaves the GABA stranded in the brain.

This makes people feel especially calm since the brain has more GABA to work with. As a result, benzos are great for people that suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia. Sometimes benzos are used to treat seizures and spasms too.

Some types of benzos are:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

In low doses, benzodiazepines act as sedatives, but in higher doses. It’s like being on a hypnotic drug. Benzos are extremely addictive and have an extreme effect on people, both mentally and physically.

Unlike many other addictive substances, benzos are legal drugs that can be obtained with a doctor’s prescription from local pharmacies. What starts as a common treatment for seizures, anxiety, or insomnia though can turn into a physical and psychological dependence on benzos.

What Is a Benzo Addiction?

Someone who is abusing benzos will almost appear to be drunk on alcohol. People who are high on benzos will also have poor coordination and blurred vision. When someone uses too many benzos, it can appear that they are in a “blackout” and have no recollection of what they did while under such heavy influence. It can be difficult to know when people are addicted to benzos if they have a prescription.

These questions can help identify people with a benzo addiction:

  • Have they been using benzos for a prolonged period of time (longer than 4 weeks)?
  • Does their benzo use place them in risky situations?
  • Are they combining benzos with alcohol or other drugs?
  • Have they found it difficult to stop using benzos, even after trying to quit them?
  • Has their addiction affected their home life, job, or relationships?
  • Do friends and family express concern over their benzo dependence?
  • Do they continue benzo use despite negative consequences?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it’s likely time for people to seek benzo addiction treatment. People shouldn’t attempt to quit benzos cold turkey, especially without medical supervision. Doing so could result in serious withdrawal symptoms.

Often people with a benzo addiction want to stop, but can’t because of the withdrawal symptoms topped with admitting that they need help due to the stigma associated with drug abuse. Yet, a detox plus treatment can reduce the worst of benzo withdrawal symptoms.

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

As the brain adapts to the constant presence of benzodiazepine, those with an addiction to benzos may find themselves unable to function or remain calm without the medication. Someone who uses benzodiazepine may become addicted as their tolerance increases and he or she is no longer taking the drug to treat the initial medical condition but to ward off the symptoms of withdrawal. Benzo withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and even fatal, especially without medical supervision.

Physical Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

  • body aches and pains
  • muscle tension
  • insomnia
  • vomiting
  • tremors
  • excessive sweating
  • seizures

Psychological Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

  • inability to concentrate
  • emotional outbursts
  • irritability to loss of self-worth
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • suicidal tendencies (including self-harm)

Can You Die From Benzo Withdrawal?

A fatal reaction to withdrawal is rare with benzos. With that in mind, can you die from benzo withdrawal? Probably not, but too much vomiting can result in too much dehydration, which can kill someone. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be more severe depending on how long a person uses it, health complications, and dosage. People with a severe addiction will likely have worse repercussions after their last dose.

Signs Of a Benzo Overdose

Overdose by benzos alone is difficult and rare, as the amount needed to overdose is usually quite high, though it varies by individual. Overdosing on benzos alone may be better described as oversedation. While this may not result in death, it can certainly lead to permanent health complications and an expensive visit to the emergency room.

Despite the fact that a benzo overdose doesn’t typically result in death, it affects many individuals across the United States. In Florida alone, there were 1,245 deaths related to a Valium overdose. If a person mixes other drugs with Valium, it’s much more likely to result in a deadly Valium overdose. The same can be said about any other benzo.

Symptoms of a benzo overdose include:

  • severe confusion
  • drowsiness
  • lack of coordination or balance
  • lightheadedness
  • muscle weakness
  • fainting
  • memory loss

However mixing benzos with other substances, like alcohol and other opiates, can result in:

  • shallow breaths
  • difficulty breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • coma
  • death

Individuals with lung diseases should be especially cautious to avoid benzo overdose, as CNS depressants can further complicate breathing problems. It’s more likely for someone to overdose from benzos if they relapse after a long period of abstinence because they don’t have a built-up tolerance to the medication. Personalized, comprehensive treatment can help individuals maintain sobriety and avoid relapse altogether.

Treatment For a Benzo Addiction

To say overcoming an addiction is difficult would be an understatement. It takes integrity, humility, a hunger to learn, and the ability to accept accountability to overcome an addiction. However, individuals can re-learn how to function without dependence upon the drug with the right mindset and right treatment. The brain can return back to its normal state.

Outpatient Treatment (OP)

Here at The Owls Nest, our OPs involve group and individual therapy accompanied by random toxicology screenings to make sure patients are committed to long-term sobriety. Patients who are involved in our OPs don’t need to stay at our facility, but that doesn’t mean that OPs can’t address their problems effectively. Our outpatient programs can help with issues such as:

  • situational stressors
  • family relations
  • interpersonal relationships
  • mental illnesses
  • maintaining sobriety

We offer general outpatient programs, but also provide additional options for those who need them. They include partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

PHPs are the most intense form of outpatient programs. This is because they are extremely structured and require the most time commitment. Those in a PHP should expect to be involved in different forms of therapy which range from didactic group therapy to forms of holistic therapy. Also, they should expect to dedicate eight hours a day five days per week to treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs can act as a step down from PHPs or a step up from OPs. In this kind of program, patients can expect to dedicate anywhere from three to five days per week. Our IOPs involve psycho-educational and didactic group therapy as well as individual therapy. During an IOP, our team will make sure to help patients reach their personal goals through our person-centered treatment plans.

Benzo Addiction Treatment In Florence, South Carolina

At The Owls Nest, we empower individuals through our high-quality, outcome-focused drug and alcohol addiction recovery services. We strongly believe that each person has the free choice to maintain sobriety and live their lives to their fullest potential. We also know how hard it can be to overcome an alcohol or substance use disorder. That said, we are experts in recovery and know you can overcome addiction with the right mindset and help. If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction please contact us now.