As far as prescription drugs go, benzodiazepines (benzos for short) are among the most prescribed in the United States with roughly 12.5% of adults using them, a number which translates to about 30.5 million people. In other words, 1 in 8 Americans is on these, which is an increase from previous reports.
Before getting into the potential dangers of benzos and their misuse, Addiction Treatment Solutions wants to dive into a little primer of what they are.
What Are Benzodiazepines
First things first, benzodiazepines are, broadly speaking, central nervous system depressants. The main categories that it breaks down into are; tranquilizers, sedatives and hypnotics and the general effect they have is to slow down nerve activity throughout the brain. Given that, benzos have a sedative effect on the mind and body.
While you may not be familiar with the medical term benzodiazepine, you’ll certainly recognize some of the most well-known names that are prescribed; Ambien, Versed, Xanax, Ativan and Valium.
Why Are They Prescribed
Those aforementioned effects are harnessed to tackle a wide range of issues for those who are prescribed something from this family of drugs. Benzodiazepines are often used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia & sleep disorders as well as alcohol withdrawal. Additionally, they help with controlling seizures and muscle spasms and relaxation.
Risks of Benzodiazepines
For starters, benzos are highly addictive, that can’t be stressed enough. While they do serve a very real and necessary function, it’s extremely easy to become dependent on them. It’s advised to take these for the absolute shortest amount of time required.
To that end, of the overall usage, it’s estimated that 17% of the use of benzodiazepines was misuse.
Benzos become even more problematic when mixed with alcohol, a particularly dangerous combination as the effects of both are enhanced and seeing as how benzodiazepine and alcohol each work to depress the central nervous system, the results can be catastrophic.
Some warning signs to keep an eye out for if you’re concerned that you or someone you know may be getting into usage that would be problematic or abusive are;
- Unsteady walking
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- Problems with memory
- Slowed breathing
How To Get Help With A Benzo Addiction
There’s a natural tendency to view prescription drugs as somehow inherently “safer” but as evidenced by the widespread opioid epidemic we’ve been facing over the years, just because something is prescribed doesn’t mean it’s not addictive. It certainly doesn’t mean something can’t be abused. The dangers of benzodiazepines are its use can drift into abuse very quickly with this class of drug.
Just like any addiction, it’s vital to seek outside help. Trying to kick a substance that sank its hooks in so deep and so quickly is beyond tough to do on your own.
The first step in any treatment program is to detox the patient and get them fully off from benzos. This will likely lead to a host of withdrawal symptoms, like;
- Stomach problems
- Flu-like symptoms
- Visual problems
- Problems with memory and concentration
After flushing your system, the rest of your recovery and rehabilitation from benzos can begin in earnest. Ordinarily, this would be in the form of inpatient treatment and eventually transitioning back to your life, clean and sober.
Dangers of Benzodiazepines
Of course, this is a rather oversimplified view of the scope of what goes into treating an addiction to a drug like this. At Addiction Treatment Solutions, we offer a wealth of knowledge and expert guidance in getting you or the person in your life you know to be struggling with benzos the help you need and deserve. Reach out to us today to learn more about what options are out there.