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Benzodiazepines, shortened to benzos, are a class of drug primarily used to treat anxiety. Some commonly prescribed benzos are Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. They work by suppressing the activity of nerves in the brain, which scientists believe is one of the causes of anxiety and other disorders. Some benzos are prescribed to aid in alcohol detox.
Effects & Abuse
Benzos are highly addictive due in part to their calming, sedative effects. Some types, such as Xanax, are commonly combined with alcohol or other drugs, potentially leading to overdose. Many benzos are crushed up and snorted to intensify their effects.
- Benzodiazepines prescriptions increased by 67% between 1996 and 2013
- Overdose deaths from benzos increased by nearly 675% between 1999 and 2015
Symptoms & Warning Signs
- Worries slip away
- Enhanced mood
- Euphoric high
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Extreme drowsiness
- Dilated pupils
- Impaired balance
- Sense of calm
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Impaired memory
Withdrawal & Detox
Benzodiazepines have severe withdrawal symptoms that can be deadly. Therefore, it is not recommended that people addicted to benzos suddenly stop using them. Symptoms of withdrawal can include panic attacks, headaches, suicidal thoughts, rapid heart rate, nausea, rebound insomnia, seizures and more. The intensity of these symptoms can make people relapse. Tapering the amount and regularity of the drugs used is the safest way to detox, but we recommend medically supervised detoxification due to the potential risks involved.
Treatment & Rehab
Benzo addiction can be treated through a variety of methods. In addition to medical oversight of withdrawal and detox, treatment centers offer counseling, support groups, and facilities conducive to overcoming addiction.
During medically supervised treatment, doctors may prescribe less potent benzodiazepines to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Relapse can be avoided by managing sleep, continuing counseling, avoiding triggers, and finding new hobbies.