What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines, or “benzos” as they are called, are what the American government refers to as Schedule IV drugs. This means that the government recognizes the useful medical properties these drugs have and the comparatively low addiction risk they present compared to other drugs. However, Schedule IV drugs are powerful enough to require a prescription from a doctor to be acquired and used, unlike acetaminophen in Tylenol or ibuprofen in Advil, which can be bought in stores by anyone.

While some doctors prescribe benzodiazepine medications straight away, other doctors feel more comfortable with a psychological evaluation first before a decision is made about administering it due to the psychoactive nature of the drug.  Benzodiazepine medications available in the U.S. are:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium  (diazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Versed (midazolam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Dalmane (flurazepam)
  • Tranxene (clorazepate)
  • Serax (oxazepam)
  • Doral (quazepam)

In late 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they would require labeling changes for benzodiazepines to include the risks of abuse, addiction, and detox.

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Dependency and Risks of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a range of issues including Anxiety, Insomnia, and even alcohol withdrawal.  However, Physical dependence can occur when benzodiazepines are taken steadily for only days or weeks.  Taking a benzodiazepine for weeks or months can produce withdrawal symptoms when a patient stops abruptly. Failing to taper correctly can result in acute withdrawal reactions, including seizures, which can be life-threatening.

Medically supervised withdrawal management, or detox,  for Benzodiazepines is very important especially when a patient has been using alcohol also.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Elevated Heartrate
  • Aches and pains
  • Panic attacks and Delirium
  • Hypersensitivity to stimuli like light and touch
  • Abnormal bodily sensations (skin-crawling, goosebumps)
  • Depression
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Memory loss (short term)
  • Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
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Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Although the withdrawal period for Benzodiazepines is shorter term, several days to weeks, the recovery from Benzo addiction can be more long term.  Many times patients that end up with a benzodiazepine dependency suffer from an underlying co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety.  Often patients that are addicted to benzodiazepines also suffer from some unresolved trauma in the lives.

At Beachway Therapy Center, we offer a continuum of care that helps patients transition from the detox phase of care into longer-term addiction recovery.  Beachway’s holistic program combines medical supervision with evidence-based clinical intervention to help patients to recover from addiction by identifying the issues that have led to destructive behaviors and patterns in their lives.

Getting Help

Given that benzodiazepine use is associated with emergency room visits, mental disorders, and suicidal ideation, it’s surprising that helping a loved one get help for their dependency can be quite difficult – especially in light of how quickly someone can become dependant.

Beachway’s Florida treatment center is ideal for starting a proper recovery from addiction and building up the mindset and skills that will allow a person to return to their lives free from benzodiazepine dependency. Careful attention is paid to aligning patients with the best type of therapy for them. Whether that is faith-based, music therapy, or in more complex cases, a dual diagnosis, treating both addiction and a more fundamental condition, such as chronic depression, which may have led to addiction in the first place, is crucial.

With this kind of attentive, individualized treatment, patients can eventually leave the intensive recovery phase and return to a normal life. Aftercare support, if required, can periodically reinforce the lessons learned with support groups or other forms of post-treatment therapy to help maintain a commitment to a drug-free life.

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