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Benzodiazepines Addiction

Benzodiazepines addiction
Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed drugs nowadays. Used mainly to treat anxiety and insomnia, benzodiazepines have found their way to most of us these last couple of years. Affecting the neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), causing its levels to rise, benzodiazepines have a sedative effect that efficiently relieves anxiety. Some of the popular benzos include Valium, Xanax, Librium, and Ativan, but there are many others that are commonly used.
However, benzos are meant to be used short-term only. Why is that, you ask? It is because of the high risk of developing an addiction to these very same benzos that makes doctors alert and careful about prescribing them. That, however, does not prevent many of us from abusing them, thus leading to the development of a very serious addiction.

Why are Benzos Addictive?

As we mentioned earlier, benzos have been more and more widely being used. In fact, from 1996 to 2013, the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines increased by 67%. Research has also demonstrated an awfully high number of people misusing these sedative drugs, with that number being around half a million people in the United States alone. Benzos have been abused by people of all ages. However, it is the teenagers and young adults that most commonly fall into the hands of benzo addiction.
So the question is – Why are benzos so addictive? In order for us to understand why it is so easy for the different benzos to cause an addiction to develop, we first need to understand the role of a unique neurotransmitter, called dopamine, in the brain.
You see, dopamine influences many important functions in the brain. One of those functions is serving the center as a reward. Similar to how eating chocolate stimulates the release of dopamine, which then causes us to feel good, benzos act in a sort of way. But unlike most drugs or chocolate, for that matter, benzos do not directly increase dopamine levels.
Instead, benzos weaken the inhibitory interneurons in a specific part of the brain. It is this part of the brain that makes sure to prevent any spikes in the dopamine levels by reducing the rate of firing the neurons that are responsible for producing dopamine. Although we would expect this to cause a decline in dopamine levels, by doing so, benzos are causing more dopamine to be produced.
Over time, with the long-term use of benzodiazepines, long-lasting changes in the brain happen. A higher dose of benzos is needed in order to continue achieving the stimulating, pleasurable experiences as before; thus, an addiction develops.

An Effective Benzo Taper Schedule

We know that the withdrawal symptoms occur when the use of drugs, in this case, benzos, is suddenly discontinued. That is why it is highly important, as a doctor, to introduce your patient to an effective taper schedule.
In the beginning, the patient should taper with a long-lasting agent such as Valium. The initial dosage should be adjusted individually for each patient, according to the present symptoms. Each week, the taper should be limited to no more than 5 mg of Valium. It is important to taper by 10% of the dosage that is being used every 1 to 2 weeks until you have reached 20% of the original dosage that has been used. By the time the 2-4 weeks have come, the taper should be by no more than 5%.

Find The Ideal Destination For Addiction Treatment

In most cases, the first withdrawal symptoms occur within the first 24 hours after the last dose has been taken. These symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months even. In fact, many past benzo addicts have explained having experienced the withdrawal symptoms even years after they have stopped taking any benzos. This is a long process, and many factors are to be considered.
Many different withdrawal symptoms are expected to occur. The list includes:

  • Anxiety;
  • Insomnia;
  • Irritability;
  • Headaches;
  • Sweating;
  • Hyperventilation;
  • Nausea and/or vomiting;
  • Restlessness;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Audible, tactile, and/or visual hallucinations;
  • Muscle aches, etc.
Although benzodiazepines are known to cause a heavy addiction, there is always the scenario in which you can put a stop to your addiction and live a healthy and happy life. However, going through the withdrawal period will not be easy. The physical and mental symptoms that are experienced require proper medical treatment and support that only a healthcare professional can give you.

And so, we highly recommend you to look for a treatment center that offers support and treatment for your benzo addiction. The best treatment centers offer support through the detox process and later an option to choose from an inpatient and an outpatient program that best suits you. As a part of these programs, you will engage in counseling and cognitive behavior therapy that is meant to help you eliminate your addiction.

Conclusion

Quitting benzos will not be easy, especially if you have developed a deep physical and psychological dependence, which is the case that happens with many people all around the world. Because of the feel-good feeling that benzos lead to, the feelings of comfort and relaxation, it is quite easy to develop an addiction to certain benzo.
Then on the other hand, getting back from that addiction is not simple. But nobody said that it was impossible. With the proper help that only a certified treatment center can offer, you too can join the millions of people who have left any sign of their benzo addiction way back in the past behind them.