If you have an addiction to benzodiazepines or “benzos,” Gateway Foundation can help. Our benzo drug addiction treatment center in Illinois is here to help patients like you recover.
WHAT ARE BENZOS?
Benzodiazepines are among the top-selling family of prescription drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. Xanax® alone has long been one of the most popular medications in the United States.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and many other conditions. However, they can cause addiction when taken against a doctor’s recommendation. These drugs may also interact with other commonly misused substances such as opioids.
WHAT DRUGS ARE BENZODIAZEPINES (BENZOS)?
There are two different types of benzodiazepines — hypnotics and anxiolytics. Hypnotics are shorter-acting and generally prescribed to treat sleep problems like insomnia. The effects of anxiolytics last longer, so they’re mostly used for treating anxiety-related issues.
Some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Lorazepam (Ativan®)
- Temazepam (Restoril®)
WHAT ARE BENZODIAZEPINES PRESCRIBED FOR?
Because of their sedative effect, benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for short term relief of a variety of mental health conditions, such as:
- Severe anxiety
- Panic disorders
- Severe or disabling insomnia
- Acute alcohol withdrawal under medical supervision
This prescription medication interacts with the brain’s mental pathways responsible for individual reward and memory responses.
ARE BENZOS ADDICTIVE?
Because of the way these medications work in the brain, benzos can cause a mild to moderate sense of euphoria. This effect leads some users to misuse these drugs, either to increase their treatment’s effects or for recreational use. However, even when taken as prescribed, using benzos regularly for a few weeks or more can lead to both physical and emotional dependence as well as addiction.
HOW ARE BENZOS USED ILLICTLY?
Although the illicit use of benzodiazepines has grown, many people still obtain these drugs legally. In fact, nearly 66 million people are prescribed benzos at their office-based doctor visits each year. Patients can take the original dosage prescribed by their doctor and still have problems trying to come off benzos. This dependence leads some to begin using the drugs illicitly.
Others seek out benzos purely for recreational use. A benzo high feels like a sedating or calming sensation for most users. Some people employ polydrug use to amplify the effects of benzos. This occurs when users combine the substance’s use with alcohol or other drugs like opioids. However, taking benzodiazepines with other substances can be unpredictable and dangerous, causing adverse side effects and increasing a user’s risk of overdose.
Benzodiazepines generally come in pill form. However, some people crush the tablets and snort the powder or dissolve it in water so that it can be injected. These methods produce a faster, more intense high.
HISTORY OF BENZOS
Benzodiazepines were originally produced as a safer alternative to barbiturates. Developed by German chemists, barbituates entered the scene in the late 1800s and were the first synthetic tranquilizers. Their use exploded in the U.S. in the 1930s. By World War II, billions of barbituates were consumed each year by people looking to “take the edge off.” However, experts soon realized that barbiturates carried an extremely high risk of tolerance, dependence and overdose.
In an effort to find a better class of tranquilizers, the first barbituates were synthesized in 1955. As new benzos were produced throughout the 1960s and ’70s, they were marketed as safer, faster-acting and carrying less risk. Still, stories arose about how various benzos created dependence and difficult withdrawal symptoms. In 1979, there was a Senate hearing on the dangers of benzodiazepines. Sadly, the hearings failed to produce any legislation to head off the growing crisis.
Decades of evidence have made it clear that taking benzodiazepines, even with a prescription, comes with serious risks. However, this class of drugs remains hugely popular to this day.
SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS OF BENZODIAZEPINE MISUSE
Doctors usually prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods. When a patient takes their prescription benzodiazepine medicine for the recommended time, they have a minimal risk of addiction. However, taking it for an extended period or misusing it raises the danger of dependence. Using benzodiazepines may cause these side effects:
- Memory issues
- Difficulty with coordination and balance
When someone has a physical dependence on benzos, they can have withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Muscle tension
- Aches and pains
- Blurred vision
Drugs such as alcohol and opioids can intensify the side effects of benzodiazepines. People who take opioids should avoid benzodiazepines because of their combined effects. Benzos can increase the risk of opioid overdose for anyone who takes opioids, including patients who take them as directed by their doctor.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BENZO ADDICTION
Taking benzos against a doctor’s directions or misusing them can lead to an addiction. You might have an addiction to benzodiazepine if you show signs like:
- Using a large amount of your money and time on getting and using benzos
- Having an inability to reduce the amount of benzos you take or stopping them
- Needing to take more benzos to feel the same effects as before
You have help available if you think you have an addiction to benzodiazepines. As a treatable disease, benzo addiction can have manageable symptoms with the right support.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR BENZODIAZEPINE ADDICTION
An Illinois benzo drug addiction rehabilitation treatment center may offer services such as:
- Patient evaluation: At the beginning of your addiction treatment, your clinic will complete an assessment that examines your health and past experiences.
- Supervised detox: To help you stop taking benzos with as few withdrawal symptoms as possible, your doctor will taper you off them gradually.
- Addiction therapy: Group and individual counseling will help you manage the emotional aspects of addiction and build recovery skills.
- Relapse prevention: Once you finish your treatment, you may receive post-treatment care to help you stay drug-free.
Every patient has a different experience with their benzo drug addiction rehab center. The services you get may differ from the care that another patient receives.
BENEFITS OF VISITING A BENZO WITHDRAWAL TREATMENT CENTER IN ILLINOIS
Comprehensive benzo drug rehab centers in Illinois and throughout the United States address all aspects of addiction. They take the physical, emotional, social, and financial elements of benzo addiction into account to help patients recover. Successful benzo drug rehab treatment can assist you with:
- Managing benzo addiction withdrawal symptoms
- Creating a stable life at home, work and school
- Rebuilding relationships with friends, family and loved ones
- Joining a support network of patients and professionals who understand addiction
As you progress through benzo addiction treatment, you will work with your treatment team to set and achieve recovery goals. You get the opportunity to build a new life or take back the one you had before drugs.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AN ILLINOIS BENZO DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAM AT GATEWAY
Treatment programs for benzo addiction at Gateway involve these steps:
- Needs evaluation: We will assess your physical and mental health to create a personalized treatment plan.
- Co-occurring disorder treatment: If necessary, we will also arrange treatment for any conditions related to your addiction.
- Recovery skills learning: Through individual therapy, group counseling, and other support services, we will help you learn new coping behaviors.
- Relapse prevention: Our team will also create a relapse prevention plan so we can help you commit to recovery in the future.
We have many types of therapy and support services available so you can find the best approach for your needs.
Gateway has more than 50 years of history treating patients in and around Chicago. We use evidence-based care that aims to support patients for the rest of their lives. For more information about our services, contact our team online today.