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Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America despite the potential for dependence and addiction. Individuals addicted to benzos often experience adverse side effects. The drug may cause severe side effects for some people. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Benzodiazepines are associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams.” The Redpoint Center treats substance use disorder (SUD) related to BZDs using psychotherapy and other evidence-based methods.

How Can I Tell If I’m Addicted to Benzos?

Some people may have difficulty recognizing BZD addiction. Often, individuals prescribed the medication see “as needed” on the prescription bottle and forget about the limits set by their prescriber. Using a higher dose or taking the drug for longer than recommended may cause some people to develop dependence or addiction. Anyone with a history of substance abuse should inform their prescriber to reduce the risk of BZD addiction.

Unaddressed BZD addiction has the potential to cause severe health side effects, especially if the drug is mixed with other substances. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a “review has found that the growing combined use of opioid medicines with benzodiazepines or other drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS) has resulted in serious side effects, including slowed or difficult breathing and deaths.” Individuals prescribed benzodiazepines should tell their doctor if they use the drug in any way other than as recommended. Failure to disclose BZD misuse may lead to medical professionals prescribing BZD when other medications may have provided the same effect.

Common Signs and Symptoms

BZDs are used to treat anxiety and other mental health disorders. BZD addiction may cause some people to experience more severe symptoms of underlying conditions. The warning signs of benzodiazepine addiction vary from person to person and include:

  • Memory problems
  • Frequent dizziness and loss of coordination
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Forging prescriptions or “doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions
  • Social isolation
  • Changes to appetite
  • Mood swings

The symptoms and side effects of BZD addiction manifest differently for everyone. However, BZDs always cause noticeable changes to a person’s physical or psychological health. Early intervention and professional addiction treatment are essential to reduce the effects of benzodiazepine abuse.

What Are the Side Effects of Being Addicted to Benzos?

Addiction causes chemical changes in the brain and other areas of the body. Chemical changes may cause behavioral or cognitive symptoms and side effects. According to the previously mentioned article by the DEA, “Benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system” [CNS], impacting reaction times and a person’s ability to function.

Some of the known health side effects of benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Memory loss or amnesia
  • Impaired cognition
  • Chronic headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Detoxing from benzodiazepines is highly dangerous without the supervision of a medical professional. The drug has the potential to cause significant complications and health issues if a person attempts to quit cold turkey. A slow tapering off of the drug is the safest way to avoid severe symptoms.

How to Get Help

SUD requires a clinical diagnosis. Individuals worried about potential BZD abuse can reach out to a primary care physician, other medical professionals, or the clinicians at The Redpoint Center. The care team offers intervention services to help clients and their loved ones determine what level of treatment will provide the best support to individuals struggling with BZD abuse. Clinicians at The Redpoint Center offer clinical assessments and diagnoses for individuals struggling with BZD addiction.

People should have the following information available when reaching out for help:

  • Type of BZD abused and dose
  • Contact details for the prescriber
  • Current symptoms
  • Medical history

The clinical team offers a range of treatment options, including in-house treatment programs and referrals to higher levels of care. Benzodiazepine addiction should be treated as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of long-term health issues.

Treatment Options for Individuals Addicted to Benzos

Most people diagnosed with SUD related to benzodiazepines must slowly taper off the drug using medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or other treatment options. The symptoms of withdrawal are potentially dangerous if a person tries to quit at home without adequate medical support.

According to Neurology International, “Regular use of BZDs has been shown to cause severe, harmful psychological and physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms similar to that of alcohol withdrawal.” In addition, “Some of these withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.” The Redpoint Center offers MAT and MAT management services.

The Impact of Co-Occurring Disorders on Treatment

Clients benefit from a personalized treatment plan to meet their unique needs and preferences. Many people diagnosed with BZD addiction have co-occurring conditions. Individuals prescribed BZD often have chronic mental health issues. Clinicians diagnose and address underlying mental health disorders during treatment for substance abuse. Clients have access to a variety of evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies.

The Redpoint Center prioritizes a tailored, trauma-informed approach to care, ensuring clients feel safe and comfortable during treatment for SUD. Co-occurring conditions are treated alongside substance abuse to ensure long-term recovery.

Benzodiazepines are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs and, over the last few decades, have also become one of the most common causes of substance use disorder (SUD). In most cases, individuals who misuse benzodiazepines also misuse other substances, including alcohol, and have co-occurring mental health disorders. Treatment must address active and underlying issues to ensure success in long-term recovery. The Redpoint Center uses prescription medications, psychotherapy, and other therapies to help clients heal from the effects of SUD. Clients and their loved ones benefit from The Redpoint Center’s personalized treatment and support services. To learn more about our programs and how we help people recover from benzodiazepine addiction, contact our office today at (303) 710-8496.

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The Redpoint Center
1831 Lefthand Cir, Suite H
Longmont, CO 80501

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