Tag Archives: Benzodiazepines

Opioid and Benzodiazepine Abuse: Two Dangerous Drugs are Often Mixed

Both opioids and benzodiazepines are dangerous drugs in themselves, but a deadly cocktail is mixed when these two drugs are taken together. Even though the dangers of combining these two drugs are extreme, most recreational users do not understand just how dangerous it can be to take both drugs at the same time.

The Dangers of Opioids: Why are Heroin and Prescription Painkillers like Oxycontin so Deadly? 

The opioid addiction crisis that has swept across the United States in the past 20+ years, and increased exponentially starting in 2007, has brought more attention to the dangers of opioids, but many in the younger generation are still oblivious to the very real dangers.

Are Opioids Narcotics? 

Opioids are drugs in the narcotic class that include heroin, oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Opium, fentanyl, and morphine. In a clinical setting, they are used to treat chronic pain, and many will receive a short-term prescription for opioids following surgeries or injuries such as broken bones. The drugs are also highly addictive, which means that long-term use should be reserved only for cases where the quality of life is severely decreased without the medication.

Opioid Overdose, Hypoxia, and Death 

What makes opioids so deadly is the fact that they suppress breathing function. The more opioids a person has in their system, the more the breathing is suppressed. In cases of overdose, the breathing suppression is so great that breathing stops completely. The body literally forgets to breathe – this leads to lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), which quickly leads to brain damage and death.

In many of the cases involving opioid overdose, the individual falls asleep or loses consciousness. With the brain not able to make the conscious decision to breathe, breathing becomes shallower and shallower until the body stops breathing altogether.

How Benzodiazepines Increase the Dangers of Opioids 

Mixing and two or more drugs will always increase the dangers of those individual drugs, but when it comes to mixing benzos and opioids, the dangers are far greater. We have already established that the primary concern with opioid overdose is that the individual falls asleep or passes out – leading to the suppressed breathing function. When benzodiazepines are in the body, the likelihood of passing out or falling asleep is greatly increased.

Benzodiazepines are primarily used for their main effects: general anesthesia, muscle relaxation, drowsiness, and sleepiness. These effects may help with symptoms of anxiety or sleeplessness, but are downright dangerous for anyone experiencing suppressed breathing function.

Benzodiazepines and Opioids Prescribed Together 

In some cases, both types of drugs may be prescribed to a person. However, doctors and pharmacists will advise not to take the two together. Because so many people have overdosed on taking the two drugs in a relatively short period of time, doctors are reconsidering prescribing the two at the same time and checking prescription drug monitoring systems before prescribing.

However, in some cases, the two drugs need to be prescribed for two separate medical issues at the same time. In these cases, doctors warn about the risk of overdose and advise patients to look closely at the half-lives of both and to ensure sufficient time between dosages.

Recreationally Using Benzodiazepines and Opioids Together 

The real concern of mixing these two drugs comes to those who have not been prescribed one or the other, but are using the drugs recreationally. All you have to do is look online in forums and on social media to see the extent of the problem among today’s youth. Kids as young as 13 are regularly taking both opioids and benzodiazepines to get high. Besides the fact that both are some of the most addictive medications available, both have the very real danger of causing overdoses.

Today’s younger generation isn’t just taking a few pills here and there either, they are taking handfuls of pills and mixing them together to achieve an “even greater high.” Even worse, some that have found themselves addicted to opioids have realized that benzodiazepines are often used during medically assisted detox for opioids. The danger here is that many attempts to detox themselves from opioids by taking benzodiazepines. This should never be attempted, and detox efforts should be left to the professionals.

Can You Be Addicted to Opioids and Benzodiazepines at the Same Time

Yes, it is possible to develop an addiction to both opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. Polydrug use like this is extremely risky, not only due to the risk of overdose, but because withdrawals from both drugs can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to get yourself or your loved one into medical detox to begin detoxing from both benzodiazepines and opioids as soon as possible.

Addiction Treatment for Opioids and Benzodiazepine Abuse

We cannot stress the dangers of opioids and benzodiazepine abuse enough. With an addiction to opioids or with an addiction to benzodiazepines, the risk of overdose and death is very high. However, if someone is mixing the two or are addicted to both, that person is a ticking time bomb. You cannot wait to get someone in this situation helps. You need to perform an intervention immediately, set a plan for recovery, and get them into detox as soon as possible.

Get More Information on Prescription Drug Addiction

Benzodiazepine Prescription Drugs that Require Detox

Benzodiazepine Prescription Medications Can Lead to Addiction

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepine medications to treat medical conditions such as panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, anxiety disorders and the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal. While benzodiazepine medications are not as chemically addictive as opioids, cocaine or methamphetamine, they still carry a significant potential for abuse.

Some people abuse benzodiazepine medications for a euphoric high or intense muscle relaxation, and several take these medications longer than advisable. Unfortunately, proper cessation of benzodiazepine medication can be tricky, and attempting to try quitting “cold turkey” can have deadly consequences.

Benzodiazepine Prescription Uses and Risks

People who take benzodiazepine medications for anxiety or other mental health disorders may build a tolerance to the drugs over time. They also develop a physical dependence at the same time, often compelling a cycle of abuse that leads to addiction.

Prolonged use of benzodiazepines will lead to ineffective treatment for the person’s prior symptoms and make it difficult to function at home, school or work. Some people will take these medications in hazardous situations, such as before driving or operating dangerous equipment.

When an individual reaches the point that a benzodiazepine prescription drug is interfering with daily life or has grown into an addiction, it’s crucial to know how to address this issue safely.

Stopping Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Safely

Most doctors will recommend a patient to take a benzodiazepine medication for a certain amount of time and then gradually decrease the dose to wean off the medication. People who improperly stop taking their benzodiazepine medications risk an intense resurgence of previous symptoms the prescription aimed to treat.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms typically include nausea, disorientation, anxiety, hallucinations, hypersensitivity, tremors, and heightened autonomic activities like heart rate and breathing. The most serious possible withdrawal symptom is a potentially fatal grand mal seizure.

When a person enters detox for benzos, medical professionals will administer medications to manage these symptoms and flush the remaining benzos from the patient’s system. This is a long process that involves slowly tapering off the dosage of benzodiazepines that can last weeks or even months, depending on the level of addiction.

Most detox personnel recommend tapering the patient’s previously abused benzodiazepine medication and then switching him or her to a longer-acting benzodiazepine. Then, the patient will slowly taper off of that medication until the physical benzo dependency has passed. During this time, treatment and counseling between doses can help the patient understand the root cause of his or her addiction.

Types of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine medications are available in a variety of brands, each of which has different properties. Some are fast acting but only last for a short time, while others are slower acting but last much longer.

Different benzodiazepine medications require different detox methods, so it’s vital to understand the risks of each type of benzodiazepine medication.

Xanax Addiction

Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, is an effective treatment for a variety of panic and anxiety disorders. This fast-acting medication reduces excitability and increases inhibitory brain activity.

Xanax addiction can easily lead to:

  • Difficulty functioning in work, school or social settings
  • Profound symptoms of anxiety and panic
  • Disorientation
  • Many other negative symptoms

Chlordiazepoxide: Librium Addiction

Chlordiazepoxide, also known as Librium, is a sedative used to treat anxiety disorders and the withdrawal symptoms of addiction to some other substances, such as alcohol. Librium produces extreme adverse effects when combined with some other substances such as alcohol and opioid-based prescription painkillers.

When abused, Librium can cause “paradoxical disinhibition,” a condition entailing symptoms that one wouldn’t typically expect to see from a person under the influence of a sedative, such as:

  • Increased aggression
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity

Clonazepam: Klonopin Addiction

Clonazepam, known as Klonopin, is the third-most prescribed benzodiazepine medication in the United States. This drug treats various anxiety disorders such as:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Extreme phobias

Klonopin abuse can lead to difficulty focusing, memory problems, cravings for more Klonopin, lethargy and delirium. It is possible to overdose on Klonopin, which can lead to respiratory depression, coma or death.

Clorazepate: Tranxene Addiction

Clorazepate, or Tranxene, is a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication that treats several anxiety disorders. Abuse of this drug can lead to dependence, and like other benzodiazepine medications, it requires a careful discontinuation plan for safe cessation.

Diazepam: Valium Addiction

Diazepam, commonly called Valium, is a central nervous system depressant used to treat anxiety and aid relaxation. Valium can ease muscle spasms, prevent seizures and manage the symptoms of various anxiety disorders. Abuse of Valium can lead to tolerance and addiction.

Over time, Valium withdrawal can affect a person’s mental health and cause symptoms such as:

  • Heightened aggression
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of intense anxiety

A Valium overdose can lead to coma or death.

Estazolam: Prosom Addiction

Estazolam, or Prosom, is a short-term prescription to aid sleep. Unfortunately, this drug can lead to dependency when abused, mixed with other substances or taken longer than prescribed.

Flurazepam: Dalmane Addiction

Flurazepam, known as Dalmane, is very similar to Valium and often prescribed as a sleep aid. Similar to Valium, abuse of this drug can easily lead to dependency and significant withdrawal symptoms.

Lorazepam: Ativan Addiction

Doctors generally only prescribe lorazepam, also known as Ativan, for short-term treatment for anxiety disorders. Even if a patient takes this drug as prescribed, it can still lead to tolerance and dependency, which can entail:

  • Profound memory loss
  • Impaired muscle coordination
  • Sensory problems

Midazolam: Versed Addiction

Doctors prescribe midazolam most often as an anesthetic sedative, but it can also help relieve the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Like any other benzodiazepine medication, users should gradually taper off this medication to avoid withdrawal.

Oxazepam: Serax Addiction

Oxazepam, also known as Serax, is a slow-acting benzodiazepine medication that helps users fall asleep and stay asleep. However, slow-release medication can lead to a tolerance, which can then lead to dependency without a cessation plan.

Temazepam: Restoril Addiction

Restoril, or the generic version temazepam, is a sleep aid intended for short-term use. Temazepam can cause short-term memory loss and other withdrawal symptoms with extended or inappropriate use.

Triazolam: Halcion Addiction

Similar to Restoril, Halcion is a sleep aid intended for short-term use. This drug carries a high potential for abuse, and abusing Halcion can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms.

Quazepam: Doral Addiction

Another benzodiazepine sleep aid is quazepam, also known as Doral. This medication depresses the central nervous system and is easily habit forming. Doctors generally only recommend Doral for occasional use.

Undergoing Safe Detox for Benzos

The thought of entering benzodiazepine detox can be frightening, but it’s important to understand how crucial medical assistance is during recovery. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to profound physical and psychological symptoms, so attempting to quit a benzodiazepine medication cold turkey can be extremely dangerous, even fatal.

See Our Detox Services

Prescription Drugs that May Require Intervention, Rehab and Addiction Treatment

Doctors can prescribe hundreds of different medications for various medical conditions, and some drugs are riskier than others when it comes to addiction. Prescription drugs that regulate behavior, aid sleep, or allay the symptoms of psychological disorders all carry a significant potential for abuse. It’s crucial to understand the risks that come with some of the most commonly seen prescriptions in the country.    

Types of Dangerous Prescription Drugs

Many prescription medications carry a significant risk of addiction. Rehab for prescription drug abuse is available for those who need it, and anyone who may be starting a new medication should investigate the risks of addiction.

Lyrica

Lyrica is an anti-seizure medication. Although it is a Schedule V controlled substance, doctors often prescribe Lyrica to people suffering from:

  • Diabetes
  • Various seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia

These medical conditions are very debilitating, so Lyrica quickly grew to astronomical popularity shortly after its release thanks to the marketing behind it touting it as a treatment for fibromyalgia. This drug basically slows chemical transfers in the brain to regulate hyperactive neurons.

Lyrica produces a calming effect, and some users report the effects as being very similar to those of Valium. Doctors also often prescribe Lyrica for general anxiety disorder, post-surgical pain and some forms of chronic pain.

Lyrica abuse is fairly common, as many people will start to abuse this medication even after it stops working for them. There are also many known negative side effects associated with regular use of the drug, so someone struggling with Lyrica addiction will likely experience these symptoms.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription medications used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. These drugs are central nervous system depressants that lower excitability and relax the nervous system, allaying the symptoms of panic disorders and anxiety. However, many doctors only prescribe these medications for short-term use, as long-term use can be risky in several ways.

Detox for benzos typically involves flushing the remaining benzo medications from the patient’s system and then reassessing the patient to determine a better course of treatment. Like any other type of substance abuse, benzo addiction recovery is possible through a robust, comprehensive treatment program that addresses the addiction as well as any mental health disorders.

Some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine medications include the following list. Click on any of the names to learn more:

Alprazolam, Also Known as Xanax

Doctors usually only prescribe this medication for short-term use, typically to address anxiety or panic disorders. Long-term use can lead to dependency, fast tolerance build-up and a variety of harmful side effects, such as:

  • Paranoia
  • Problems focusing
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Diazepam, Also Known as Valium

Diazepam is a more potent central nervous system depressant than alprazolam, and doctors typically prescribe this medication to address medical conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Some doctors also prescribe Valium to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Clonazepam, Also Known as Klonopin

Doctors typically prescribe Klonopin to treat anxiety, panic disorders or seizures. It is mainly prescribed for short-term use because of the highly addictive properties of the drug.

The medication functions as an anticonvulsant drug for its effects on the central nervous system. Many users report that the drug creates a euphoric high, encouraging some to abuse it or take it longer than necessary.

Oxazepam, Also Known as Serax

This drug can help people suffering from insomnia or who have difficulty staying asleep. Unlike other benzo medications, oxazepam is a slow-release formula meant to help a patient stay asleep through the night.

It is long lasting and slow acting, so many people who take oxazepam gradually build a tolerance over an extended period, typically six months or longer.

Lorazepam, Also Known as Ativan

Doctors prescribe lorazepam (commonly under the brand name Ativan) to patients who suffer from anxiety disorders. The drug carries a very high potential for addiction, so most doctors limit patients’ prescriptions to a few weeks at most.

Many people who take lorazepam consistently for a few weeks will display signs of withdrawal after the prescription ends. Lorazepam addiction treatment is a complex process that often begins with detox and can involve a wide range of replacement medications or other treatments.

Chlordiazepoxide, Also Known as Librium

Chlordiazepoxide is a powerful tranquilizer medication sold under the brand name Librium. Librium addiction can set in very quickly after a person starts taking the medication regularly. Symptoms of dependency worsen very quickly over time.

Soma (Carisoprodol) and Robaxin (Chlorzoxazone)

Muscle relaxant medications are common prescriptions for neuromuscular disorders, muscle pain and spasms. Soma is the most common brand name, but various types of muscle relaxers such as carisoprodol, robaxin and chlorzoxazone all carry significant potential for abuse.

These medications are depressants that treat pain quickly, which unfortunately encourages some patients to abuse them at the first sign of stress.

Soma abuse can lead to severe withdrawal effects, such as:

  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme pain
  • Anxiety
  • Disorientation
  • Psychosis

Ritalin, Adderall and Other Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Medications

Some ADHD medications that require addiction treatment after abuse include:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • And more

ADHD medications are generally stimulants that encourage neurotransmitter production in the frontal lobe of the brain. These medications can help improve focus, concentration and sleep patterns in individuals with ADHD. Unfortunately, the stimulating properties of these drugs can lead to abuse from both the people with prescriptions and others who may try to obtain them without a prescription.

Adderall abuse is common on college campuses and in high-stress work environments. A person who doesn’t have ADHD will experience intense focus, improved concentration, heightened energ, and other seemingly positive effects when taking these drugs. However, the drug’s effects are highly habit forming.

Ambien

Zolpidem, sold under the brand name Ambien, is a very powerful sedative prescribed to aid sleep. This drug carries multiple risks, including accidental overdose, dependency and a host of side effects from abuse.

Ambien addiction can lead to:

  • Memory loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Sleepwalking
  • Hallucinations

Primidone and Pentobarbital (Nembutal)

Primidone addiction is common among older males who take the medication, particularly among those who take other medications for multiple sclerosis. This barbiturate is an anticonvulsant and can treat some anxiety disorders as well.

Pentobarbital, often found with the brand name Nembutal, is a more powerful barbiturate and carefully controlled substance. Pentobarbital is also one of the most commonly used drugs for suicide due to its potency and ability to coerce a peaceful, painless death. People who take this drug for longer than absolutely necessary risk creating a dependency once the effects diminish. Accidental death is also a very significant risk.

Loperamide and Imodium

Loperamide, sold under the brand name Imodium, is a laxative medication designed to aid digestion and bowel movements. While this may not sound like an addictive drug, loperamide abuse is fairly common due to the trace amount of opioids present in the drug. This drug is available over the counter without a prescription. Unfortunately, many people suffering from opioid addiction mistakenly believe it is a viable substitute.

Loperamide can actually help some individuals wean themselves off stronger opioids, but there are a host of negative side effects associated with long-term use of the drug, including:

  • Intestinal pain
  • Urinary retention
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Abnormal cardiac behavior
  • And other complications

The Need for Rehab for Prescription Drug Abuse

These medications can all provide health benefits, but it is important to know they can cause dangerous side effects if taken too often. Before taking these kinds of medications, it is extremely important that you weigh the risks and benefits of each.

And finally, keep in mind that entering a comprehensive prescription drug treatment program is the best way to treat any type of prescription drug abuse. At Reflections Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one find the root cause of addiction and develop proper habits to maintain a long-lasting recovery.

See More on Prescription Drug Risks

Why Are Benzodiazepines Like Xanax Widely Abused?

The number of deaths from benzodiazepine overdoses has risen steadily in the past 15 years. The number of those seeking treatment for addiction to benzodiazepines has likewise spiked during that same period.

While generally safe to use when taken according to a physician’s directions, these medications pose a serious risk of abuse for patients who rely on them for the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia.

A Family of Useful Medications

Benzodiazepines are a family of drugs with many familiar names. The most widely known names in the class are:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Librium
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Serax
  • Restoril

These medications are beneficial for treating a number of disorders, including anxiety, depression and seizures. With so many different medications in this category treating so many different disorders, it is no wonder that they are prescribed to many, many patients in the United States.

Prescription Numbers Rise

Between 1986 and 2013, the number of people with a prescription for one of the benzodiazepine family of medications rose from 8.1 million to 13.5 million.

It is fairly common for someone with a prescription for one of these medications to also be prescribed a second or third medication in the same class of drugs. Over time, the body develops a tolerance for a particular medication and doctors often increase the dosage or prescribe another benzodiazepine to restore the desired effects of the drug.

Stigma Decreases

Since Librium was introduced in the 1950s, the stigma associated with mental health problems has dissipated somewhat. Whereas in the past, few people would seek medical help for anxiety or depression, people now regularly seek treatment options for mental health during routine doctor visits. While this has led to advancements in mental health overall, it does also create more opportunities for addiction or abuse.

Prescription Use Seems Innocuous

Mild anxiety, insomnia or depression are common to many individuals who are prescribed benzodiazepines. Everyone experiences such symptoms from time to time, and in the midst of a bout with one of these conditions, it can be difficult to handle or assess the severity of your symptoms.

Determining whether temporary or long-term medication is the correct avenue of treatment can be a very fluid decision for patients and medical professionals alike. Some individuals become accustomed to drug regimens over time, and short-term relief can turn into ongoing dependence.

As you build a tolerance to the medication and your doctor prescribes higher doses or additional medications, it may not even occur to you that you may be growing dependent on the medication and that an addiction is forming.

While the health care industry makes every effort to help avoid drug dependence, these very safeguards can lead to the conclusion that certain drugs do not carry the risks for addiction that illicit drugs carry. This is one of the main reasons drugs like Xanax are so likely to be abused.

Risks of Prolonged Benzo Use

Risks of Quitting Benzo Addiction Without Medically Assisted Detox - Reflections RehabOver time, the body’s tolerance to benzodiazepines often becomes a dependence on the drug as well.

The medication is now a part of the chemical mix the system expects, and the body, therefore, depends on having the chemical for daily operation. Without it, a series of side effects may appear.

We generally call those side effects withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, continual use of drugs such as alprazolam may ironically lead to greater anxiety or depression for patients. As anxiety deepens, higher doses or additional medications are prescribed, leading to a cycle of increased use and even alprazolam addiction.

There is also a very well-documented risk of falling associated with Xanax and other benzodiazepines. Auto accidents are also much more likely for those taking the medications. Combining the medication with alcohol or other sedatives makes the risk of overdose much more likely and leads to thousands of deaths each year.

Don’t Fight This Alone: Get Benzo and Xanax Addiction Help

While Xanax addiction often sneaks up on those who come to abuse it, Xanax detox is often a difficult process. Getting into an alprazolam rehab program can ease the transition off the medication and help ensure success. Medically assisted Xanax detox can free you from the dependence and prevent medical problems that can result from withdrawal.

While in years past there was a stigma around getting mental health treatment, the country now recognize the importance of sound mental health. Don’t let any perceived stigma prevent you from seeking help for Xanax dependence. There is Xanax addiction help, and you owe it to yourself to give yourself the best chance for success.

See More Prescription Drug Resources