Do You Need to Be Treated for Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Benzodiazepines are used to treat a plethora of conditions. The most commonly used brands are Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, and Librium. These medications work fast to bring relief from panic and anxiety as well as other conditions involving the central nervous system. While they bring great results, they can be very addicting. The body quickly builds up a resistance to the medication that requires more of it to get the same effect. Though many people feel they are a safe prescription medication that is generally well tolerated, they can be dangerous.

FDA’s Measure to Control the Prescriptions Has Failed

The scenario is almost always the same. ER doctors or family practitioners prescribe these medications for the short term while waiting on an anti-depressant medication to kick in. They can also be given to keep someone from going over the edge when facing a mental breakdown. The FDA has tried repetitively to control the use of these medications, but physicians still give them out without giving it a second thought. They are a controlled substance, but they are not the same as a narcotic. However, the dangers of these medications should not be taken lightly. It’s just as difficult to come off benzodiazepines as it is to discontinue opiates, and many must seek professional help to clear these drugs from their systems.

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Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines

It takes only a matter of days to become addicted to benzodiazepines. For some, using them for a month straight will cause an addiction, while others build up a tolerance and need more after a week. Everyone is different. It’s always best to start on the lowest dose and titrate upwards as needed. Take for instance the drug Ativan. The recommended dosage on this brand for anxiety is two milligrams per day. However, a doctor can give a patient up to six milligrams daily. The difference between two and six milligrams is massive. Rule of thumb is the higher the dose, the harder it is to get rid of.

To successfully wean from these drugs, you must start by reducing the amount. The reduction must be slow and to diminish withdrawal symptoms. If a person is taking two milligrams, they must reduce by a half a milligram at a time. Withdrawing too quickly can cause the following issues:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Hallucinations
  • Cramping
  • Delirium
  • Depression and Worsening Anxiety
  • Fevers and General Malaise

You can withdraw from benzodiazepines without treatment center assistance, but it’s not recommended. Many people don’t truly understand how the body is addicted to these drugs and going “cold-turkey” can cause more harm than good. The key is to taper gradually and to ensure that it’s done under the watchful eye of a professional. These may seem like simple prescriptions that are used by millions of people, but they can be as dangerous as cocaine or heroin.

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Seeking Professional Help for Benzodiazepine Addition

To put things into perspective, consider the life of famous rocker Ozzy Osborne. He has openly admitted to taking every kind of drug made. Yet, he confessed to his fans that the most challenging addition to fight was the one to Xanax. It took him more than a lifetime to get over his use of that substance. So even with all the money and support in the world, he needed a rehabilitation center to get rid of his addiction to benzodiazepines. What does this say about your addiction? Many underestimate the power these little pills can have over them.

If you have taken any of the benzodiazepine drugs for 30 days or more, or you have taken higher than prescribed amounts, then you will need help to come off these medications. You cannot quit without tapering the drugs, or you will have serious side effects. Dual-diagnosis centers may be a good option. These centers work with people who have mental illness or some other medical condition that is fueling the addictive nature. They can help find treatment for the underlying problem and treat the addiction too.

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