Benzodiazepines are a category of prescription medications many people rely on to treat mental health issues like anxiety and insomnia. The well-known brand names Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin are all examples of benzodiazepines. In observation of World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day on July 11, here’s what you need to know if you or someone you love uses these drugs.
How Dangerous Can Benzos Be?
Because conditions such as anxiety disorders and sleeping problems can be so disruptive to people’s lives, many doctors are willing to prescribe benzodiazepines to help their patients find relief. However, even if you are careful to take these drugs only as prescribed, you can still develop a physical or psychological dependence.
Like opioids and cannabinoids, benzodiazepines flood your brain with dopamine – a neurotransmitter that causes a rush of pleasurable feelings. The longer you take your medication, the more it will change your brain’s chemistry. Once you have a tolerance, you’ll need to take increasingly higher doses to experience the same effects.
If you have become dependent on benzodiazepines, it can be tough to stop using them – no matter how resolved you might be. Even people who have taken low doses of benzos over a short period can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, including:
- Muscle pains and stiffness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to sleep
- Mood changes
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tremors
Though these symptoms vary in severity from one person to the next, acute withdrawal typically lasts about a week. However, even after getting clean, some people experience persistent post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
The Benefits of Professional Addiction Treatment
Once you have realized the extensive adverse effects of benzodiazepines, your initial idea may be to quit using them as soon as possible. However, the challenges of trying to stop taking such a potent drug outside a medically supervised setting can be overwhelming. Side effects like agitation, panic, hallucinations and seizures are possible in people who abruptly discontinue benzodiazepines, and these can be difficult to manage on your own.
When you are working on getting and staying clean from benzodiazepines, you will make more progress if you also avoid things like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar. These substances might provide temporary relief from some of your withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but they can also be addictive. If you wish to minimize your vulnerability to additional complications and have the best chance of making a full recovery, we recommend eating a diet built on 45% carbs, 30% fat, and 25% protein.
The Last Resort is a men’s-only treatment program in Texas. In our single-gender environment, we can provide specialized, insightful treatment to those who need it most – while eliminating distractions and creating a sense of camaraderie among our clients. In individual and group therapy, men will learn to get in touch with their emotions and find the motivation necessary for lifelong recovery. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about what we can do for you.