Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

We provide men, women, families of all ages, and walks of life with an unmatched level of clinical care when treating benzodiazepine addiction.

Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepines are prescription sedatives given mainly for the relief of anxiety and panic disorder, but they’re also prescribed for the short-term treatment of sleep problems. When taken as directed, benzodiazepines, also called benzos, are safe and effective, but they have a high risk for abuse and addiction.

Every year in the US, physicians write 75 million prescriptions for these medications, making benzodiazepines among the most commonly prescribed medications.  Benzos have a somewhat limited safe duration of use—about 2 to 4 weeks. After that period, the risk of dependence and addiction begins to increase.

New Jersey Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment at Absolute Awakenings

Common Benzodiazepines Include:

  • Valium (diazepam). Diazepam is prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders. Valium acts relatively rapidly and is effective for 24 to 72 hours.
  • Xanax (alprazolam). One of the fastest-acting benzos, alprazolam is effective for 12 hours. It can stop an active panic attack and relieve high levels of anxiety. Because it works so rapidly and powerfully, alprazolam is often abused.
  • Restoril (temazepam). Temazepam treats onset insomnia and is effective for around 8 hours
  • Klonopin (clonazepam). Clonazepam treats seizures and works as an anticonvulsant. Clonazepam’s effects begin within an hour and can last from 12 to 24 hours.
  • Ativan (lorazepam). Lorazepam is another fast-acting anti-anxiety benzo that starts to work within an hour and is effective for about 8 hours. Lorazepam is also prescribed for anxiety associated with depression and insomnia arising from stress.

How Are Benzodiazepines Addictive?

Benzodiazepines, often called “nerve pills,” boost the effectiveness of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. GABA slows down the speed of nerve impulses and calms over-active nerve cells. When taken in prescribed dosages, a person taking benzos feels calmer and much less anxious. Some benzos are more sedating than others and may be given solely for inducing sleep.

People become addicted to benzos in two ways—as an intoxicant and/or a complete replacement for anxiety management skills. When benzodiazepines are taken in large amounts, they can give a person a feeling of intense euphoria and intoxication, and for many people, that’s a primary reason to abuse benzos.

Others come to rely on benzodiazepines as their sole approach to controlling anxiety and do not learn how to manage stress effectively. When people use benzos for the long-term control of anxiety without being supervised by a physician and without therapy, they’re likely to become addicted.

 Unfortunately, in both instances, benzos become progressively less effective when taken in large doses or longer than one month. This leads people to take more than they’re prescribed in an attempt to get the same effects they did when they first started taking benzos. This is called drug tolerance and it is one part of the addiction process.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse

The signs of benzo abuse will vary from person to person, depending to some degree on the medication being abused and whether or not it’s being combined with other substances, such as alcohol. 

Psychological Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse Include:

  • Confusion
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired ability to concentrate
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel joy or happiness)
  • Apathy
  • Impaired judgment

Physical Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse Include:

  • Tremors
  • Poor appetite
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome

Behavioral Side Effects of Benzodiazepine Abuse

  •  Lying about their benzo use
  •  Doctor shopping to get more benzos
  • Secretive behaviors

Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction

The signs of benzodiazepine addiction include all of the symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse, as well as some—or all—of the following: 

  • Complete loss of control over benzodiazepine use
  • Increased tolerance
  • Denying addiction despite evidence to the contrary
  • Continuing to use benzos, even after experiencing serious negative consequences of their benzo use
  • Taking large risks to get or keep using benzos
  • Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce one’s intake of benzodiazepines
  • Benzodiazepine overdose. Benzodiazepine abuse can be deadly, particularly when they are mixed with alcohol or opioids. This mix leads to 11,000 fatalities a year.

Treating Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction responds well to treatment and people can live as fulfilling a life as they wish once they’re in recovery. The first step in treating a person’s benzodiazepine addiction is detoxification. Medical detoxification from benzodiazepines is essential, as people who are dependent on benzos can suffer dangerous side effects if they discontinue them abruptly.

 At Absolute Awakenings, we combine proven therapeutic methods of addiction recovery with time-worn holistic approaches to healing. We believe that providing an individual with a comprehensive approach to clinical care will help pave the road to long-term sobriety.

 If you or someone close to you has either been prescribed a benzodiazepine and has fallen victim to abuse or has been combining benzodiazepines with other drugs (like opioid narcotics), seeking professional help is of the utmost importance.

 Give us a call today to discuss treatment options and get you started on the well-deserved path to long-term recovery.

References

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Benzodiazepine addiction. Benzodiazepine Addiction | Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/Conditions_Treated/Benzodiazepine_Addictions

Brett, J., & Murnion, B. (2015). Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Australian prescriber, 38(5), 152–155. https://doi.org/10.18773/austprescr.2015.055

Ghoshal, M. (2019, November 21). Drug tolerance: What it is, what to do about it & more. Healthline. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/drug-tolerance

Hamzelou, J. (2020, February 19). Benzodiazepine prescriptions reach ‘disturbing’ levels in the US. New Scientist. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2230379-benzodiazepine-prescriptions-reach-disturbing-levels-in-the-us/

Finlayson, A. (n.d.). Benzodiazepine misuse: An epidemic within a pandemic. Cureus. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34306882/

Sarangi, A., McMahon, T., & Gude, J. (2021). Benzodiazepine Misuse: An Epidemic Within a Pandemic. Cureus, 13(6), e15816. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.15816