Last year, an estimated 2 million Americans abused prescription pain relievers for the first time, averaging to approximately 5,480 initiates per day.
Benzodiazepines or "benzos" are drugs that are frequently prescribed to people in pain and which provide help to people suffering from a variety of symptoms. However, they are easily addictive and hard to stop taking once you develop a dependence.
It is very hard to withdraw from benzos, but it is possible. It is imperative if you want to live a long healthy life free from the misery of addiction.
Here are five important facts about the drug known as "benzo" which you need to know if you or someone you love can't stop taking it.
1. Numbers Don't Lie:
Doctors prescribe benzos for anxiety, seizures, and depression. However, 4 out of 10 individuals who take these pills for longer than 6-10 weeks become physically addicted. They will start experiencing insomnia, agitation and other symptoms when they stop taking the pills.
Prescription drugs may seem safe because a physician has told you it is OK to take them. However, the history of the opioid crisis shows that many physicians do not realize how dangerous these medications can be.
Benzos include brand name pills like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, which are all highly effective in treating anxiety and other issues. However, some people find that their efficacy slows after a few weeks of use, so they must increase their dosage or supplement it with other substances.
Mixing these pills with alcohol or other drugs is highly dangerous and can lead to overdose and death.
Because benzos must be obtained from a doctor, people who have developed a dependency may start looking to illegal channels to obtain the drugs after their prescription expires. They may be tempted to get the same effects from illegal drugs like heroin.
3. Addiction Can Be Blind:
Part of the disease of addiction is denial. Many people do not realize or accept the fact that they may have become addicted to a medication their doctor told them it was OK to take.
Some signs of addiction you should look out for include:
- Going to different doctors to get multiple prescriptions
- Acting hostility or violent
- Chewing, crushing or snorting the pills
- Obsessed with getting more
- Avoiding work or school
4. Dangers of Quitting on Your Own:
Quitting benzos without medical supervision can be very dangerous. You may experience nausea, headaches, muscular pain, irritability, insomnia, increased anxiety, panic attacks, and heart palpitations. You might even have hallucinations, seizures, and psychosis.
A doctor must help you get weaned gradually off the pills. Sometimes physicians will use other medications to get you off of the more dangerous benzos.
Because quitting is so hard, when people try to do it on their own, they are more likely to relapse.
5. Hope for Benzo Addiction:
The good news is that many people have successfully beaten their benzo addiction. Sometimes a family intervention will help.
Often the addict must try different addiction treatment services, from medically supervised detox, inpatient treatment, or intensive outpatient therapy. Others will continue in twelve-step programs or other therapies long after being relieved of the physical dependence, in order to maintain a clean life.
Ask for Help:
Benzo addiction can be frightening, powerful and baffling for both the addict and the people in their lives. By seeking help from professionals, it is possible to get free of this disease and resume a healthy life.
For more information on staying healthy in mind and body, check out our blog.