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People who have struggled with addiction to other substances, such as illegal drugs or alcohol, are especially likely to become addicted to benzos.

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are commonly prescribed drugs. While these drugs are known for their calming effect on the brain and other nervous system parts, they can be incredibly addictive. Many people build up a tolerance to the drug quickly, requiring more and more of the substance to achieve the same calming effect.

Most benzos are prescribed in tablet or liquid form, although some can be injected. Commonly prescribed benzos include Xanax (alprazolam), Onfi (clobazam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Tranxene (clorazepate), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam).

Benzos work by slowing the nerves in the brain and often cause drowsiness. While many people think of benzos as a treatment for anxiety and panic, drugs in this class can also treat seizures and alcohol withdrawal.

Effects of Benzodiazepines

For many people, benzodiazepines are addictive. People who have struggled with addiction to other substances, such as illegal drugs or alcohol, are at increased risk of becoming addicted to benzos. These substances alter the GABA and dopamine systems in the brain, and when these feel-good chemicals are disrupted, it is easy to become dependent on a drug to calm down.

Tolerance happens quickly with benzos, and people who use them may find they need more and more of the drug to achieve the same sedating effect they had at first use. It is possible to become tolerant of benzos within six weeks of the first use. The brain can become dependent on benzos to calm down, and it can become harder and harder for the user to achieve a relaxed state of mind without the drug.

There are long-term health effects of benzodiazepine misuse. Several factors may contribute to this, including biochemistry, sex, body weight, length of use, dosage, and more. Some of the potential long-term health effects of benzo abuse include:

  • Memory problems
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors (shaking)
  • Headaches
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety

Recovery from benzo misuse, including Xanax addiction, is possible, and the long-term health effects of benzo abuse can often be reversed with proper medical attention.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawals

Withdrawal from benzo use causes intense symptoms and can result in death. If an individual is suffering from benzo addiction, it is essential to get help from a medical professional during the withdrawal process. There are many factors at play in determining how difficult Xanax withdrawal will, including their dosage and if they have used any other drugs in combination with benzos.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Breathing problems, such as rapid or labored breathing
  • Seizures
  • Heart rate changes
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Death

There is no guarantee that a person will experience the same withdrawal symptoms each time they stop using benzos. There is no such thing as safe benzo withdrawal. Reaching out for addiction treatment today is the first step toward getting to recovery.

Benzo Statistics

As doctors continue to prescribe benzodiazepines regularly, new research is constantly being done on how they affect the body and brain. Recent studies on benzos have found:

  • In 2018, 5.2 million Americans reported misusing benzos. Over 46% of those who reported misuse of the drug did so in an attempt to get relief from stress.
  • Only 20% of people who misuse benzos get the medication from a medical professional.
  • 60% of people who overdosed from opioids in 2015 also tested positive for benzodiazepines.

The statistics are clear – benzo addiction is common and can happen to anyone. Many people who use benzos quickly find themselves searching out other drugs for relief from anxiety and stress.

Detoxing from benzodiazepines at home is incredibly dangerous and can result in a coma or death. Some people choose to go through Xanax detox at home, believing that they will make it to an emergency room or detox center if their withdrawal symptoms become dangerous. Sadly, many people who try this never make it out of their home to get help.

If you are ready to get treatment, do not try to go it alone. We are here to help – not judge.