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Cedar Oaks Wellness Center has helped countless clients who have developed addictions to prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines. Though many people are initially prescribed the drug to treat their seizures, relieve anxiety, and help them sleep through the night, long-term use of benzodiazepines increases the risk of people developing a tolerance and dependence on the drug, and before you know it, you have an addiction. Abusing this drug can cause serious negative symptoms and can even be life-threatening.
Frequently referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers, their purpose is to slow down activity in the central nervous system to produce calming effects.
Doctors typically prescribe benzodiazepines to treat the following medical conditions:
Though more than 2,000 benzodiazepines have been produced over the years, around 15 are currently approved in the United States by the FDA. The most common benzodiazepines include alprazolam (under the brand name Xanax), diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril).
Partly because of their availability and the pleasurable feelings that come from use, benzodiazepines are widely abused. They can also alter the brain’s chemistry – according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, benzos shift the chemical signals that are used to communicate pleasure. Benzos give people positive feelings associated with joy and rewards, but over time, brain cells have a harder time functioning optimally without the drug.
When people develop an addiction to benzodiazepines, they can suffer negative behavioral, psychological, and physical effects. Some of these symptoms of addiction include:
People with benzodiazepine addictions are also more likely to indulge in what is known as “doctor shopping.” This term refers to clients who visit various doctors with the intent of obtaining prescriptions to the drug they’re addicted to, without the doctors’ knowledge of the other prescriptions.
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Studies also show that there is a strong possibility of overdosing on benzos, especially because people with benzodiazepine addictions often abuse the drug with other drugs or alcohol. In 2015 alone, there were nearly 9,000 overdose deaths involving benzos, which is four times the number recorded in 2002. People struggling with addiction are at a higher risk of overdose because they may be tempted to take more of the drug to achieve the same relaxed feelings they had before developing a tolerance.
It’s important to know the signs of overdose so you can seek help for yourself or a loved one immediately. These symptoms can include:
Benzodiazepine abuse is often intertwined with opioid abuse and addiction. In 2010, 30% of opioid overdose deaths also involved benzodiazepines. People often mix these drugs together because it intensifies the high they can experience, but it also increases the risk of respiratory depression, which means it can slow or stop a person’s breathing.
Cedar Oaks Wellness Center offers a program that specifically treats clients with benzo addictions, including Xanax addictions. We’re more than happy to walk you through the recovery process when you’re ready to start your wellness journey.
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