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Benzodiazepine Addiction: 3 Things to Know

Nov 15, 2021

Benzo addiction can result in serious harm. Get the treatment you need to beat your addiction and manage your withdrawal. Call Hanley Center today.

How much do you know about the benzos you’re prescribed to take for anxiety or other reasons?  Awareness of the risk factors of these types of drugs is important to help you use them safely and effectively. Let’s share some facts about Benzodiazepines and a recommendation about using this controlled substance properly.

Benzodiazepines are a Schedule IV substance, meaning they have a risk potential for abuse that’s noteworthy but not as high as Schedule I and II substances. They may be prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, or other conditions. While they can be prescribed for longer-term use, their use as part of a short-term plan is recommended.

Misuse of benzos (including mixing with other drugs) can lead to numerous threats to health and wellness, including extreme nausea, unconsciousness, and organ failure. Withdrawal can be impacted by the duration of use and dosage amount as well as whether the drug was taken as a pill, snorted, or injected.

Benzos are listed as Schedule IV substances.

The Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act separates drugs into different categories. A drug’s abuse potential is how it gets placed in one of five “schedules.” For example, Schedules I and II have the highest potential for abuse. Schedules III, IV, and V have a lower potential for abuse than the first two schedules.

Benzos are among the substances in Schedule IV. You may recognize the brand name of your prescription on the sample list. It includes Valium®, Xanax®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Klonopin®, and others.

The requirements for Schedule IV include the following:

  • The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

Only Recommended for Short-Term Use

Shorter-acting benzos may be prescribed for a variety of purposes. It could be insomnia or anxiety. In hospitals, a shorter-acting benzo may also be used for sedation before an anesthesia is administered. Other purposes for shorter-acting Benzos can be treating alcohol withdrawal, providing seizure control, and enabling muscle relaxation.

Patients with daytime anxiety may be prescribed Benzos for a longer period of time as part of a treatment for insomnia. While this may be an option for some people, long-term use is not recommended for everyone. The risk of abuse is the reason that anyone prescribed a Benzo should be using it as a short-term treatment plan.

Misuse of Benzos can show up in a variety of ways. Someone may take too much at a single time. They may begin to take the drug more often than it was intended to be taken. They may run out of their prescription before a refill is scheduled. These are early signs of potential abuse of the drug.

Benzodiazepines are a sedative, which helps you relax. For someone feeling stress over personal or work matters, taking a Benzo can feel like a quick solution to managing their physical and emotional responses. By the time you’re preoccupied with taking your next one, your Benzo use can become a distraction and a threat to your work, relationships, and other responsibilities.

The appearance of any of the following may be a sign of abuse of Benzos:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling confused or dizzy
  • Blurred vison
  • Feeling weak
  • Struggling to breathe

Chronic misuse may introduce symptoms that overlap with the reasons you started taking Benzos, including anxiety or insomnia.

Very Dangerous when Combined with Other Drugs

As explained above, taking Benzos can be risky if proper dosage isn’t followed. A more significant risk comes from combining use of Benzos with other drugs. This can occur whether or not someone has a prescription for these controlled substances or not.

It’s common for people who need treatment for misuse of Benzos to be misusing another substance. Some of the more common abusers of Benzodiazepines are among heroin and cocaine users. Taking Benzos while using other drugs can be especially harmful to the brain and body.

Memory loss and mood swings are on the lower end of the potential harm. The outcome can include an increased chance of accidents, extreme nausea, unconsciousness, organ failure, and even death.

For anyone trying to quit using Benzos, the symptoms of withdrawal usually begin 24 hours after the last doze. Those symptoms can last for days, weeks, or months. The duration and intensity of withdrawal will be impacted by how long you took the drug, the dosage amount, any co-occurring mental health conditions, and other factors.

The method of ingestion is one of those additional factors shaping a withdrawal experience. People who ingest a pill experience a slower onset of withdrawal than those who snort or inject Benzos. For safe withdrawal from this type of drug, a medically-supervised detox is recommended.

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety

For information on our programs, call us today: 844-501-4673.

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