Benzodiazepines are a family of prescription medications often referred to as “benzos”. They are prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, muscular tension, and seizures. While helpful when used according to the prescription directions, many people ask themselves “Are benzos addictive?”
What Are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the central nervous system and brain nerve activity. This helps reduce stress levels and provides a calming effect. Benzos are usually meant to be used on a short-term basis.
Common types of benzos prescribed to people include:
Some of the side effects of using benzos include:
- Impaired thinking
- Feeling weak
- Lack of motor control
- Mood changes
- Impaired short-term memory
- Slowed breathing
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
Millions of People Use and Misuse Benzos
In 2017, the most popularly prescribed benzo was Xanax, coming in at 45 million prescriptions written that year alone. The next most popular benzos were Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, and Restoril. A combined 75 million prescriptions were written for those medications.
The American Psychiatric Association reports that 30.6 million adults said they have used benzos in the past year. This total includes 25.3 million people who reported they used benzos as prescribed, while another 5.3 million stated they had misused the drugs. Adults ages 50-64 reported the most amount of prescription usages, while those ages 18-25 engaged in the highest amount of benzo misuse.
One of the focal points of benzo abuse involves people who do not have a prescription for the medication. Many people, particularly younger adults, treat tranquilizers and sedatives as party drugs. These individuals often also use benzos to achieve a reduction in stress levels related to work, school, or other situational stressors.
People who use benzos without a prescription typically don’t ask themselves “Are benzos addictive?” because they feel their usage may be infrequent enough to remain risk-free. However, addiction to benzos can happen to anyone.
Reckless Behaviors Related to Benzo Addiction
A person who has become addicted to benzos may engage in reckless behavior in order to obtain the drug. Even individuals with a prescription that develop an addiction often take more than the prescribed amount. Like with many other drugs, people can build up a tolerance and require larger amounts that continue to increase regularly.
People who otherwise count themselves as rational, law-abiding citizens may become desperate to procure enough benzos to feed their addiction. This can include asking for or purchasing benzos from other sources, including from people with prescriptions or from drug dealers. These behaviors tend to answer the question, “are benzos addictive?” on their own.
Often people with a prescription drug addiction begin doctor shopping. Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple doctors in order to receive several prescriptions for a drug. For many, this feels like the only way to obtain the unusually high number of pills they need to keep up with their cravings.
While many who doctor shop commonly believe that no one will be the wiser, plenty of people get caught in the act. Physicians and pharmacies can access databases that keep track of multiple prescriptions received by individuals. Doctor shopping is illegal, putting those who engage in it at risk of being arrested, fined, and jailed. The same results prove true for individuals who purchase benzos from illegal drug dealers.
What started out as a simple, temporary solution for a legitimate medical condition or an occasional usage of benzos as a party drug can turn into severe financial and legal repercussions.
Treatment for Benzo Addiction
Benzos typically are meant to be used on a short-term basis. Even so, the answer to the question of “Are benzos addictive?” is yes, they can be. When an individual uses benzos regularly over a long period of time, they increase their chances of developing an addiction to them.
A person who stops using benzos after becoming addicted may experience a host of difficult withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- High blood pressure
- Raised body temperature
- Elevated heart rate
- Difficulty thinking
- Short-term memory loss
- Reduced appetite
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and panic
Because of the serious nature of benzo abuse and the intricacy of withdrawal symptoms, professional help is needed when someone has a benzo addiction. Detox programs offer round-the-clock medical supervision to help patients deal with both physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms.
After completion of a detox program, other helpful options exist to assist a person in maintaining their recovery. Many people continue treatment with outpatient services, in a residential facility, or in sober living houses.
About half of people who develop a drug or alcohol addiction also deal with at least one mental health diagnosis. For this reason, many treatment programs offer assistance with both conditions. Since using benzos often begins because a person suffers from a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression, receiving treatment to address both the mental health issues and the addiction can raise the ability of a person to recover.
Benzo Addiction Treatment in California
If you struggle with addiction to benzos and don’t know where to turn for help, Gratitude Lodge has the answer. We offer inpatient detox treatment in a luxurious setting in Southern California. We provide access to multiple types of treatment, including the management of mental health issues. Contact Gratitude Lodge today to get started on changing your life and leaving addiction behind.