What Are Benzodiazepines?

A class of psychoactive drugs, benzodiazepines are also known simply as benzos.

These drugs are prescribed for treating mental health conditions. They work by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity. GABA is a calming brain chemical. Usually taken orally, well-known benzodiazepines include Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin.

When used for short periods and carefully as prescribed, benzodiazepines can effectively treat specific symptoms.

Their effects and how quickly they work can also lead to benzodiazepine addiction. This risk is primarily when used for longer periods or not as prescribed.

  • Benzodiazepines affect the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS includes the brain and spine.
  • They have anti-anxiety effects because they calm excessive brain activity. They can promote relaxation.
  • Benzodiazepines also have sedative effects, potentially inducing drowsiness and sleep because they suppress the brain’s arousal pathways.
  • Other effects include muscle relaxation and anti-seizure effects.

The Development of a Benzodiazepine Addiction

Common reasons for initial benzodiazepine abuse include:

  • Recreational use to experience euphoria, relaxation, or sedation, or to enhance the effects of other substances.
  • Self-medication to deal with symptoms of stress, anxiety or insomnia.
  • Prescription abuse. This includes taking higher doses of benzos than prescribed. Prescription misuse also includes using them for longer than intended or taking them more often than instructed.

While this drug class has therapeutic effects, there’s also a high potential for abuse. Effects on the brain and body that can lead to addiction, physical dependence, and other health complications include:

  • Tolerance: With ongoing use, the brain can adapt to the presence of benzodiazepines. Higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects, known as tolerance.
  • Physical dependence: Continuous use of Benzo can lead to physical dependence. The body gets used to the drug’s presence, and if it’s stopped or the dose is reduced, withdrawal symptoms might occur. Withdrawal symptoms can include rebound insomnia, anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, and, in severe cases, seizures.
  • Cognitive impairment: Long-term benzodiazepine use is linked with memory problems, impaired attention, and other mental side effects.
  • Overdose risk: Benzodiazepines can depress breathing and central nervous system activity, especially when they’re combined with other depressants like opioids or alcohol. Overdose can lead to coma and death.

Benzodiazepine addiction usually occurs because of the effects of the substance on brain chemistry.

Long-term benzodiazepine use changes the brain’s structure and function in addition to the above effects. The changes can shift the reward system of the brain, reinforcing compulsive benzodiazepine use despite negative consequences.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Not everyone who abuses benzodiazepines will become addicted. Addiction, a medical condition, can manifest in different ways. Symptoms vary based on many factors, like the duration and dosage of use contributing to increased risk.

Common symptoms that can come from misused benzodiazepines or addiction include:

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Stomach issues like nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased anxiety or panic attacks
  • Memory problems or blackouts
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Preoccupation with getting and using benzos
  • Continuing to use benzos when they’re causing negative consequences
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Participating in risky behaviors under the influence of benzos

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

Once an addiction occurs, it’s a complex condition requiring a customized treatment approach. Benzodiazepine addiction treatment usually involves a combination of behavioral therapies, medical interventions, and supportive services.

Medical Detox

For people with benzodiazepine dependence or other drug misusers, medical detoxification may be the first step.

  • During a medical detox, withdrawal symptoms are safely managed.
  • A medically supervised detox reduces discomfort and the risk of complications when someone stops taking high doses of benzodiazepines.
  • Some symptoms of withdrawal can be life-threatening, so this is an important step.

Behavioral Therapies and Counseling

Behavioral therapies are a cornerstone of evidence-based benzodiazepine addiction treatment once someone has fully detoxed.

  • Contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing (MI) are commonly used in benzodiazepine addiction treatment.
  • These therapies help with identifying and changing maladaptive thoughts and behaviors linked to substance use.
  • Behavioral therapy can help develop coping strategies to manage triggers and cravings and set goals for long-term recovery.
  • Individual counseling sessions are a supportive and safe environment during treatment. Counseling is a time to explore underlying issues contributing to addiction and address co-occurring mental disorders. Individual counseling can also be where an individual develops personalized strategies to prevent relapse.
  • Group therapy sessions provide the opportunity to connect with peers going through similar challenges and provide mutual encouragement, support, and accountability.

Holistic and Complementary Therapies

Effectively dealing with benzodiazepine addiction or other forms of substance abuse can include a holistic approach and lifestyle changes. Healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, mindfulness, stress management, and good nutrition support well-being and long-term recovery.

Aftercare Planning

A treatment plan should include aftercare considerations as well.

A comprehensive aftercare plan is a tool used for maintaining recovery and preventing relapse once formal treatment ends.

While everyone’s plan is unique, aftercare could include:

  • Ongoing therapy
  • Support group participation
  • Access to community resources
  • Vocational or educational support.

Treating addiction to benzodiazepines requires a holistic approach. The approach should address the condition’s physical, psychological, and social components. Combining evidence-based interventions and personalized care can help someone achieve sustained recovery to reclaim their lives.

Get Help for Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction in Los Angeles

If you or someone you know is dealing with benzodiazepine abuse or addiction, professional support and help are crucial.

Take the first step towards lifelong recovery by contacting Invigorate Behavioral Health. We’re a team made up of compassionate professionals. We specialize in treating benzodiazepine abuse addiction and other substance use disorders.

Our Los Angeles addiction treatment plans are carefully tailored to your needs so we can deliver comprehensive care. We understand the challenges you’re facing, but you can recover and begin a life without benzodiazepines.

Our Admissions Coordinators are Available 24/7

Start your journey toward healing today by speaking with one of our dedicated admissions coordinators. We’re eager to help you begin your recovery.

Call (323) 900-5041

Leave Your Details

Let us know how to get back to you.

    Get confidential help 24/7.

    Call us today to discuss your treatment options. All calls are risk-free and 100% confidential.

    Call (323) 900-5041