Benzodiazepine Addiction Resources Fact Sheet
Benzodiazepine addiction is on the rise in America. While the opioid epidemic has dominated headlines in recent years, drugs like Xanax and Valium have been destroying lives with little publicity. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines, it is imperative to learn everything you can about these potentially deadly medications.
Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about benzodiazepines.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a family of psychoactive drugs whose chemical structure is the fusion of a diazepine ring and benzene ring. Benzos work by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA.
By augmenting the brain’s GABA receptors, benzos produce hypnotic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), sedative, anticonvulsant and muscle-relaxant effects.
Which Illnesses Are Treated with Benzos?
Benzos are highly effective for treating a wide range of both neurological and psychological conditions. Because benzos affect the brain neurons responsible for triggering anxiety and stress reactions, they are commonly prescribed for the following disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Panic attacks
What Are the Different Kinds of Benzos?
Benzos can be divided into three main categories: short-acting (effects lasting between 3 and 8 hours), intermediate-acting (effects lasting between 11 and 20 hours), and long-acting (effects lasting between 1 and 3 days).
Take a look at the following three categories. The generic name of the benzo drug is listed first, with the most common brand names listed in parenthesis.
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene, Novo-Clopate)
- Midazolam (Versed, Hypnovel, Dormicum)
- Alprazolam (Xanax, Niravam)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Lorazepam (Ativan, Temesta)
- Estazolam (ProSom, Eurodin, Nuctalon)
- Oxazepam (Serax, Alepam)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Quazepam (Doral, Dormalin)
- Clonazepam (Rivotril, Klonopin)
How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Benzos?
Tolerance to the sleep-inducing effect of benzos develops rapidly. However, tolerance to the drug’s muscle-relaxant and anticonvulsant effects take a bit longer, between two and four weeks in most individuals.
Tolerance to the effects of benzos is caused by the reduction of GABA receptors in the brain, a process known as downregulation. The time it takes to develop a tolerance to benzos varies from person to person, depending on the rate at which one’s neurotransmitter systems adapt to the drug.
What Are the Symptoms of Benzo Addiction?
As you’ve probably gleaned thus far, benzos are highly addictive, especially when misused or abused. Prolonged use of benzos can lead to a host of troubling psychological, physical and behavioral symptoms.
Some common signs of benzo addiction include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Impaired concentration and memory
- Slurred speech
- Impaired motor coordination
- Physical weakness
- Uncharacteristic mood swings
- Seeking multiple prescriptions from different doctors, or “doctor shopping”
- Risk-taking behaviors (e.g. driving under the influence of benzos)
- Inability to control benzo use
What Are the Risks of Withdrawal From Benzos?
Breaking an addiction to benzos cold turkey comes with a number of risks – some mild, and others potentially life threatening. Those who have developed severe benzodiazepine addiction, as well as those who have preexisting health conditions, are at the greatest risk for experiencing serious complications during the withdrawal period.
People seeking benzo addiction help should enter a medically assisted detox program during the early stages of recovery to ensure their safety during the withdrawal period.
Potential benzo withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Inability to concentrate
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain and stiffness
Other Benzodiazepine Addiction FAQs
There are countless things to know about benzodiazepines, and we’ve only scratched the surface so far. Browse through the following frequently asked questions to learn even more about the dangers and prevalence of these drugs:
Benzodiazepine Addiction Help at Reflections Recovery Center
At Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ, we take a different approach to prescription drug addiction rehabilitation. By combining clinical treatment and holistic therapies, we provide our clients with all the tools they’ll need to achieve a life free from addiction.
See How We Treat Our Clients