What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a prescription drug used for treating panic attacks, anxiety, and disturbed sleep patterns. Some of the more commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are Xanax (Alprazolam), Valium (Diazepam), and Librium (Chlordiazepoxide).
Signs of Addiction
Needing more medication to get the same effect is always a strong indication that tolerance has developed. If the medication is abruptly discontinued, withdrawal symptoms can be so uncomfortable that other drugs are taken as a substitute. If the idea of not being able to take any more medication creates feelings of deep anxiety, it is possible that some level of dependency has developed.
Effects of Addiction
In general, addiction to any of the Benzodiazepines creates daytime drowsiness and sleepiness, possible short-term memory impairment, loss of physical coordination, and impaired motor skills. As prescribed drugs, individual types and their side effects are listed according to categories of treatment.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks—Side Effects
Xanax (Alprazolam)- Appetite changes, depressed breathing, irritability, sleepiness, and loss of concentration.
Halcion (Triazolam)-Depressed breathing, hallucinations, palpitations, confusion, aggression, and tachycardia.
Lorazepam (Ativan)- Dizziness, impaired coordination, headache, and disturbed sleep patterns.
Restoril (Temazepam)- Hallucinations, facial and lip swelling, mood swings, light-headedness, anxiety, headache, and suicidal thoughts.
Flurazepam (Dalmane)- Dizziness and drowsiness.
Estazolam (ProSom)- Unsteadiness, dizziness, hung-over feeling, nausea, weakness, chills, and tachycardia.
Versed (Midazolam)- Aggressiveness, anxiety, depressed breathing, sleep apnea, nausea, and vomiting.
Valium (Diazepam)- Hallucinations, slurred speech, tremors, jaundice, loss of muscle coordination, light-headedness, blurred vision, and confusion.
Librium (Chlordiazepoxide)- Confusion, skin rash, jaundice condition, liver problems, abdominal pain, tremors, depression, and sweating.
Disturbed Sleep Patterns
Clonazepam (Klonopin)- Anxiety, lack of coordination, tremors, hallucinations, jaundice condition, rapid heart rate, behavior disorders, convulsions, high blood pressure, lost sense of reality, and delusions.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Exceeding the prescribed dosage of Benzodiazepines leads to dependency and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is reduced or discontinued. Addiction is also known to occur when product usage exceeds four to five weeks. Larger amounts of medication result in more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety and panic attacks, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), body tremors, appetite loss, hallucinations, depression, and tinnitus (ear ringing).
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with Benzodiazepines, it is advised to not attempt detoxification without the active supervision of an addiction specialist or medical personnel that are trained in how to handle addiction emergencies. An addiction specialist knows how to gradually reduce the amount of the drug on a daily basis until drug usage is discontinued. The tapering process minimizes withdrawal symptoms so the comfort and safety of the patient is maintained at all times. Detox, in and of itself, is only the first stage of treatment and long term rehab.
After the drug has been successfully eliminated from the system, treatment turns to counseling, group therapy, and Twelve Step Programs to get to the deep seated issues that underline addictive behavior. Changing addictive behavior patterns is not just a mind over matter, battle of wills. Each recovering addict must discover a program that will allow them to safely unlock the answers to maintaining a life-long commitment to healing.
The Effect of Benzodiazepines on the Central Nervous System
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed as sedatives or depressants in pain management because they induce a calm state of mind or experience of euphoria. The most commonly prescribed medications in the Benzodiazepine family are Xanax (Alprazolam), Valium (Diazepam), and Klonopin (Clonazepam). With long-term usage, all of these drugs can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped. In general, these drugs are specifically used as sedatives or muscle relaxants and are reportedly the most dangerous drugs to self-detox from due to the effect of the drug on slowing down the central nervous system.
Due to the high risk factor of neurological imbalance sustained from drug withdrawal, it is strongly not recommended for individuals to self-detox from any Benzodiazepine medication. As abnormal neurological function progresses with advanced stages of withdrawal from this drug, the greater the risk of life threatening seizures and convulsions. The longer the individual has used the drug, the longer a detoxification program may take to successfully complete. Benzodiazepines are intended only for short-term usage, so if you or someone you know has been taking the drug for a long time there is a very strong chance that dependency has developed. Do not attempt to self-detox from this drug without contacting an addiction specialist first.
Withdrawal symptoms from usage of Benzodiazepine will begin as soon as the individual stops taking the drug. Withdrawal from the drug causes the brain to function abnormally, thus increasing the probability or likelihood of a seizure or convulsion even among individuals with no known history of experiencing these symptoms. Mood, mental, cardiovascular, and muscular withdrawal symptoms are but a few of the wide-ranging effects experienced by individuals detoxing from Benzodiazepines.
Mood withdrawal symptoms include anger, depression, hopelessness, fear, nervousness, overwhelm, and irritability.
Mental withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations (e.g., visual, auditory, and olfactory), panic attacks, paranoia, confusion, disorientation, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.
Cardiovascular withdrawal symptoms include chest pains, chest tightness, rapid heart beat (tachycardia), palpitations, and irregular heart beat (arrhythmia).
Muscular withdrawal symptoms include difficulty walking or standing, muscle spasms, tremors, teeth chattering, trembling, and shaking.