Benzodiazepine symptoms and warning signs of benzo abuse and addiction
Before someone is physically and psychologically addicted to benzodiazepines symptoms and warning signs of benzo abuse can reveal that a problem exists. Learning how to identify these symptoms can help you get yourself or a loved one to addiction treatment before painful, long-term detox is required. Benzodiazepines or “benzos” as they are more familiarly known, are a powerful class of central nervous system depressants that are prescribed to millions of patients each year. While you may not be familiar with the term “benzodiazepines,” you are certain to recognize the brand names these drugs are marketed under as they are some of the most commonly prescribed, and most heavily abused, drugs in the United States.
Benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed for conditions that can benefit from a muscle relaxant or sedative. This includes panic and anxiety disorders, insomnia, migraines, seizures, epilepsy, restless legs syndrome, and Tourette’s syndrome. Some of the most widely prescribed forms of benzodiazepines include:
One benzodiazepine that is illegal in the US, Rohypnol, has gained notoriety as the “date rape” drug because it causes users to fall into an accepting, compliant state while temporarily disabling their ability to form short-term memories.
Benzodiazepine prescription drug addiction develops as users begin to crave the feelings of relaxation, sedation, and euphoria that benzos produce. Tolerance sets in, and users need to take increasingly larger doses of the medications to produce the same effect. Many individuals begin to take benzos with other substances, such as alcohol and other drugs to increase their potency.
Signs of benzodiazepine addiction
When individuals begin abusing benzos, they start displaying a number of benzodiazepine symptoms and warning signs that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. These early benzo addiction signs include the following physical symptoms:
- Slurred speech
- Dry retching
- Impaired coordination /Vertigo
The negative side effects of benzodiazepine addiction are not only physical. There are also mental and behavioral effects of benzo addiction that can be spotted when you know what to look for. The mental signs of benzo abuse begin to show as a lack of control as the addicted individual displays:
- Extreme irritability
- Amnesia and memory problems
- Increased risk of suicide
The behavioral symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction begin to become obvious as an individual’s dependence on the drug grows. Look for changes in behavior that affect every aspect of the addicted individual’s life.
- Personal relationships are damaged or lost
- Trust and promises are broken
- School and work suffer
- Possessions disappear
- Start stealing drugs, money, valuable items
- Financial difficulties
- Withdrawal from activities
Benzodiazepine addiction treatment
For individuals who have abused benzodiazepines for a long time, detoxing is painful and can even be life-threatening, so it should never be attempted without medical supervision. The severity of withdrawal symptoms is one of the biggest barriers to recovery from benzo addiction, as medical intervention is only somewhat effective at taking the edge off the worst symptoms. Many of the withdrawal symptoms that individuals addicted to benzodiazepines suffer are identical to the symptoms that the drug was originally prescribed to treat, such as shaking, tremors, and insomnia. Life-threatening symptoms that can be encountered during benzo detox include breathing difficulties, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and rarely coma. Detox from benzodiazepines can take anywhere from a week to more than a year.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.