Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse, Signs, Symptoms and Rehab Treatment

What Are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs with pronounced sedative, hypnotic, muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety properties, which are among the most commonly prescribed medicines worldwide and include some of the most famous medicine brands on the market. Alongside their medicinal uses, they are commonly used (and abused) recreationally thanks to their pleasurable euphoric and sedative effects and are highly addictive (with potentially deadly symptoms associated with withdrawal).

Although in the UK they are a prescription-only medicine, they are also widely available online or from street dealers, and benzodiazepine addiction is a growing problem across the country: 1.5 million Britons are now addicted to benzodiazepines according to government figures, with 12 million prescriptions written each year in the UK. Leading brands of benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan and Ambien; they are also known by a number of street names including benzos, downers, tranks, chill pills, drizzleboys, Z bars and noddies.

Types Of Benzodiazepine We Treat

Below is a list of the main Benzodiazepines:

If you or a loved one are addicted to any of the above or another type of Benzodiazepine (maybe you know it by its street name) call us today and let us guide you through the treatment process!

Effects Of Benzodiazepine Addiction

As noted above, benzodiazepines are highly addictive: users can develop physical dependency in only a few weeks. Because of this, doctors need to be extremely careful when prescribing benzodiazepines and manage and monitor their use carefully; this gives rise to the phenomenon of “prescription shopping” as addicts go from one doctor to another to maintain their supply of benzodiazepines without alerting anyone doctor to their drug abuse.

Benzodiazepines produce a sense of euphoria and well-being, and physically pleasurable sensations of relaxation, when consumed; however alongside these sought-after effects there are a number of less desirable consequences of their use including motor skill impairment and drowsiness, both of which can lead to accidents (for this reason driving whilst under the influence of benzodiazepines is strongly advised against). Over the long term, the abuse of benzodiazepines can have severely detrimental effects on a person’s physical and mental health (see below for more information).

Furthermore, as with any addiction, an addiction to benzodiazepines can have terrible consequences for a person’s finances, relationships, and long-term life prospects. Benzodiazepine addiction can be very expensive if a user is procuring their drugs from the dark web or street dealers, and can also cost an addict their job if performance is affected by their drug habit, potentially leading to debt and even financial ruin. It can also create huge problems for an addict’s relationships with loved ones and friends, potentially leading to extreme social isolation – with obvious implications for their mental and emotional health. Moreover, it can lead to the abandonment of hitherto-cherished ambitions and life goals, again with potentially serious repercussions further down the line.

Signs And Symptoms Of Abuse

Frequent benzodiazepine consumption is likely to create visible signs of intoxication in the user: motor impairment, slurring words, and a pronounced lethargy and drowsiness – even frequent episodes of sleeping at inappropriate times – are all common indications of benzodiazepine abuse (although it should be noted that many benzo addicts are able to mask these symptoms quite successfully). They may regularly be late for work and/or miss days due to the effects of their drug abuse, and are likely to be extremely unreliable when it comes to making appointments on time or at all.

Benzodiazepine abuse has serious ramifications for an addict’s neurological health. Long-term use can lead to severe cognitive impairment, along with bouts of disorientation and confusion which can manifest without warning. It is also not uncommon for hallucinations and delusions to occur in heavy long-term abusers of benzodiazepines; meanwhile, some dementia-related conditions may be exacerbated or bought on as a result of long-term abuse. Furthermore, major depressive disorder can result both from the effects of the chemicals themselves upon the brain, and from the problems wrought by drug addiction on the addict’s life.

Benzodiazepines can prove fatal when taken alongside certain other substances including alcohol, and long-term heavy users are at risk of dying when they consume even a comparatively small quantity of alcohol. Long-term use also increases the risk of overdose which can prove fatal; any benzodiazepine user displaying impaired breathing, hypotension, a loss of muscle control, and/or a loss of consciousness requires immediate medical attention.

Withdrawal And Detoxification Process

Benzodiazepine abuse can result in a physical dependence as well as psychological addiction, and serious withdrawal symptoms may manifest when the user stops taking benzodiazepines. While the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms will vary from one user to the next depending on a number of factors including the length of the addiction, the dosages consumed, and the physiology of the addict, it is vital to bear in mind that (along with alcohol) benzodiazepines are the only drug whose withdrawal symptoms can be fatal by themselves even to an otherwise healthy individual.

Because of this, withdrawal should never be attempted without medical assistance. A number of “at-home detox” kits are marketed online but doctors strongly advise against attempting detoxification and withdrawal alone; despite this advice, a number of people die each year from trying to detox by themselves.

On the other hand, a great many benzodiazepine addicts have benefited from residential drug rehabilitation (“rehab”) at least partly because rehab invariably begins with a medically assisted detox, with medical professionals available 24/7 to monitor the addict’s health and intervene as and when necessary, as well as being able on occasion to ameliorate the worst effects of withdrawal to maximise their comfort.

Detox Timeline

As discussed above, the precise effects of withdrawal and consequent symptoms can vary quite significantly from one addict to the next. Because of this it is impossible to give a timeline for withdrawal which will apply exactly to every addict’s experience. However, if you are addicted to benzodiazepines, a rough guide to withdrawal might look as follows:

  • 1-2 days: Around a day after the last dose anxiety and irritability – and possibly aggression – may begin to manifest, along with muscle spasms, restlessness and possible nausea. You are likely to be in a very low mood; cravings will begin to seize you increasingly frequently.
  • 2-5 days: The main phase of withdrawal is likely to include extreme restlessness; wildly fluctuating moods; nausea and indigestion; sweating; and insomnia. You may experience hallucinations. Cravings will be constant and intense.
  • 5-14 days: Although withdrawal symptoms will begin to fade in intensity after around five days any or all of the above symptoms may still occur. Sleep probably continue to be disrupted. Cravings will be less frequent and intense. A profound depression may set in.
  • After a fortnight or so symptoms should have disappeared. However, they may persist as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which is likely to require therapy to address the most problematic symptoms, especially depression.

Treating Benzodiazepine Addiction

Over the last few decades, as benzodiazepine addiction has become an increasingly prominent problem, a great many different approaches to treatment have been developed. Some of these are not endorsed by the medical profession – indeed, as noted above, some options exist which can be extremely dangerous for the addict – while others may not be appropriate for every user. It is vital that you consult your GP if you are suffering from a benzodiazepine addiction before embarking on any course of treatment.

In general, there is a consensus that rehab is the most effective approach to addiction treatment and the one most likely to result in permanent recovery. The combination of medically assisted detox and on-site therapy in a secluded relaxed environment represents a holistic approach to treatment which no other option can replicate. A number of support groups including Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been established worldwide providing help for recovering addicts, and attendance at such groups should form part of your long-term recovery plan; however, support groups such as NA do not themselves comprise treatment for your addiction, but are more a supplement to your recovery.

Detox & Rehab Benefits

Some of the advantages to rehab include:

  • Medically assisted detox with medical professionals at hand 24/7 to ensure your safety and to ameliorate the worst effects of withdrawal.
  • An attractive, secluded, and tranquil environment within which you can focus on your recovery without the temptations of the outside world.
  • Complete confidentiality to reassure you that details of your condition will not become common knowledge outside the facility.
  • Highly experienced, non-judgemental, hugely qualified staff at hand to help you through the key stages of your recovery process.
  • A variety of therapy models enabling you to uncover the causes of your addiction and address them in a manner that most suits your requirements.
  • A peer group of fellow recovering addicts who understand your experiences and can share support and advice.
  • Bespoke fitness and dietary plans to give you the healthiest foundation for recovery.
  • One year’s free aftercare to ensure you have the necessary support long after you leave the facility.

What Next?

If you are struggling with addiction to benzodiazepines, you are by no means alone: as noted above, some 1.5 million Britons are now dependent to some extent on these drugs. However, the extent of this problem does mean that in recent years the medical community has developed significant expertise in treating benzodiazepine addiction, and if you have been struggling with this illness that expertise could be at your disposal within a few moments if you are prepared to take the first step and reach out to an addiction specialist for help. As with any substance abuse, benzodiazepine addiction is a dreadful condition that causes tremendous unhappiness as well as posing numerous very serious health risks, and it is not too dramatic to say that overcoming it can make the difference between life and death.

Call one of our addiction specialists today on 0203 553 9263 and get yourself onto the path to a healthy, happy, successful and drug-free life.

Don't waste another day on addiction
Call Now 0203 553 9263
Call Now 0203 553 9263

Call Now 0203 553 9263

Find us
  • Primrose Lodge
    Perry Hill
    Surrey, GU3 3RF
  • Tel. 0203 553 9263
© 2021 Primrose Lodge
CQC Report
Corona Virus SymbolOur clients’ health remains a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, so our doors remain open throughout lockdown for anyone that needs support. Click here to read our safety guidelines.