Benzodiazepines are the most-abused class of prescription drugs in the U.S., next to opioid painkillers. These medications, which include drugs like Xanax and Klonopin, are prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. But when they’re abused, they cause serious physical and mental health problems. While the benzo epidemic isn’t nearly as extensive in scope as the opioid epidemic, it affected around 2.2 million people and resulted in 6,000 unintentional deaths in 2010, according to benzodiazepines use statistics.
How Benzos Act on the Brain
Benzodiazepines increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in your brain. GABA is responsible for producing a keen sense of calm and relaxation. When people with anxiety disorders take them as prescribed, benzos are safe and effective. But when you take higher dosages than prescribed, or use benzos as a way to get high, they can interfere with normal, healthy brain function and lead to problems with judgment, memory, and thinking. Benzo abuse can cause long-term problems with coordination and muscle weakness. And it can lead to addiction, a chronic disease that destroys your sense of wellbeing and causes serious problems in your life.
Benzodazepines Death Rate
Benzodiazepines were responsible for 30 percent of prescription drug overdose deaths in 2013, according to benzodizepines use statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the benzodiazepines death rate and abuse rate are expected to increase, according to research. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults filling a prescription for benzos increased by 30 percent. Additionally, the amount of the drug in benzo prescriptions doubled over the same time period. It’s not clear whether the increases are due to more people being diagnosed with anxiety or benzos becoming the default way to treat anxiety disorders. Either way, this trend has experts concerned across the board about the benzo epidemic.
What You Need to Know About the Benzo Epidemic
If you use benzodiazepines for anxiety, and you use them according to your doctor’s directions, chances are, you don’t have to worry about becoming a statistic in the benzo epidemic. But if you abuse benzos–which means you use them in a way other than as prescribed, and your use is beginning to cause some problems for you–you need to know the risks. Here are five things you need to know about the benzo epidemic.
1. Benzos and opioids don’t mix.
The benzo epidemic is inextricably associated with the opioid epidemic. Benzodiazepines death rate statistics show that 75 percent of benzodiazepine overdose deaths also involved an opioid painkiler. Mixing benzos with opioids or alcohol dramatically increases your risk of fatal overdose.
2. Benzo abuse can lead to addiction.
Addiction is characterized by abusing benzos even though they’re causing problems in your life, including troubles related to your health, legal status, finances, and relationships. Benzo abuse can quickly lead to addiction, and once an addiction develops, it almost always requires professional help to overcome.
3. Benzo abuse can lead to dependence.
Dependence occurs when your brain begins to rely on benzos in order to function comfortably. Chronic benzo abuse leads to tolerance, which means you need more benzos to get the same effects. This is due to changes in brain function that occur as your brain attempts to compensate for the presence of the drug. Once a dependence has developed and you try to stop using benzodiazepines, normal brain function will rebound, and withdrawal symptoms will set in.
4. Benzo withdrawal can be dangerous.
Quitting benzos on your own can be dangerous. As normal brain function rebounds after dependence has developed, dangerous increases in blood pressure and heart rate are common. A high quality treatment program like WhiteSands Treatment can help you safely–and comfortably–detox from benzodiazepines.
5. Treatment is essential.
Once an addiction or dependence has developed, professional help is almost always needed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That’s because addiction changes the way you think and behave, and its underlying causes–such as stress or a history of trauma–must be addressed for long-term successful recovery.
If you need help with benzo abuse, addiction, or dependence, contact us today at WhiteSands Treatment, and let us help you get on the road to a healthier, happier life free of addiction.
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.