24 January 2018

What is Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Before discussing the question of what is benzodiazepine addiction, it is important to talk about what this medication is and what it is used for. Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that are used in the treatment of a number of medical conditions. Those who suffer from anxiety, panic disorders and sleep problems may be prescribed benzodiazepines. The drugs are also often prescribed for the prevention of sleep disorders and to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome. However, they are addictive and can be harmful when abused. While most people who abuse prescription drugs do so unwittingly, there are others who deliberately abuse them for recreational purposes. This can ultimately have a negative impact on health, relationships, and personal finances.

How Does Benzodiazepine Addiction Develop?

For most people, prescription medication is designed to be taken over a short period of time. This is because a tolerance can quickly develop. As the body gets used to the drugs, it will adapt by producing fewer dopamine chemicals, which are responsible for feelings of pleasure.

When the number of feel-good chemicals produced by the body is reduced, the user may feel as though the medication is not working as well as it once did. It will certainly not be having the same effect that it did in the beginning. Unfortunately, it is this that often leads to a temptation on the part of the user to up his or her consumption levels.

The problem with prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines is that many people mistakenly believe them to be completely safe. This is because a doctor prescribes them. The very idea that they could be harmful or capable of leading to an addiction is unfathomable to many.

As most individuals do not realise what constitutes prescription drug abuse, benzodiazepine addiction is quite common. Taking more of the medication than advised to by a doctor is classed as abuse, as is taking medication that was prescribed for another person.

When a tolerance to benzodiazepines develops, a physical addiction is often not too far behind. The more of the drug you take, the higher the likelihood that you will develop a physical dependence where your body begins craving the drugs whenever the effects wear off.

Do You Have a Benzodiazepine Addiction?

If you are one of those people who always believed that medication prescribed by a doctor had to be completely safe, you may yourself have pondered the question ‘what is benzodiazepine addiction?’ in the past. You might have thought that addiction was something that only happened to those buying street versions of the drug.

The reality is that many individuals who develop such an addiction started taking this medication on the advice of a doctor. There are some instances where even those who take the drugs exactly as advised by a doctor will go on to develop an addiction. In these circumstances, where no abuse of the drug has taken place, it can be even harder to accept that an addiction exists.

To determine if you have a benzodiazepine addiction, consider how you use your medication and whether your use is having a negative impact on daily life. When you first began taking the drug, you are likely to have been following your doctor’s advice to the letter. However, you may have reached a point where you felt that your medication was not having the same effect that it once did. Maybe you started taking your medication more frequently, which resulted in you taking more over a 24-hour period than advised to? Or, perhaps you decided to take higher doses of your medication each time, also resulting in you consuming more than the recommended dose? This is often how an addiction begins.

The more of the drug you were taking, the more likely it was to have an effect on your life. You may have become preoccupied with your medication; when you were not using it, you were thinking about it. Maybe you spent a lot of time thinking about how and when you are going to get your next prescription.

If you were worried that your doctor would not renew your prescription, you may have become agitated or irritable and maybe you began looking for an alternative supply. This could have entailed visiting another doctor or start searching online.

As you were increasingly under the influence of benzodiazepines, you may have found that your thinking and judgement was impaired. You might have also suffered with other physical and behavioural symptoms, such as:

  • blurred vision
  • weakness
  • drowsiness
  • slurred speech
  • mood swings
  • loss of interest in people and activities

If you can relate to any of the above, it might be that you have developed a dependence on benzodiazepines. It is important that you get help as soon as possible as addiction is an illness that does not go away without treatment. In fact, once it has developed, it will gradually get worse. Thankfully, with treatment, you should be able to overcome your physical dependence on benzodiazepines.

Is Your Benzodiazepine Use Negatively Affecting Your Life?

It is hard to accept that a prescription drug can cause so much harm, so it is important that you consider the impact that your use of this drug is having on your everyday life and your relationships with others.

If you have developed an addiction, you may find that you have lost interest in activities that you once enjoyed. With much of your time spent under the influence of mood-altering chemicals, it is likely that your behaviour has changed as well. The people around you are almost certain to have noticed, and some may have already mentioned this to you.

Since drugs like benzodiazepines affect your ability to think clearly, you may not be able to see the damage your use of them is having in the same way that your family members and friends can. It is important to listen to their concerns and to do an honest evaluation of your life.

Think about how things have changed recently. Are you spending less time with your loved ones because you are under the influence of drugs or because you are preoccupied with thoughts of getting these drugs?

Are you neglecting responsibilities at home or at work? It is likely that others, who are picking up the slack, are wondering what is going on. They will want to know why your behaviour has changed and may have their suspicions that substance abuse is to blame.

Until you get help for your addiction, your relationships with those you love will continue to be negatively affected. You could also find that your ability to work is impaired, which might affect your financial situation.

Can a Benzodiazepine Addiction be Treated?

There is no need for you to continue living under the cloud of a benzodiazepine addiction as treatment is available. You can learn how to live without such mood-altering substances with help from a provider with experience in addiction treatment.

Stopping benzodiazepines suddenly can be extremely dangerous though, so it is vital that you seek advice before attempting to detox. For most people, benzodiazepine withdrawal is a gradual process. In a dedicated detox facility, your dose of medication will be reduced over the course of a few weeks, until you are substance-free. During that time, you are likely to experience a number of withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines can be mild to severe in intensity; without effective management, they could even end up being life-threatening. With careful supervision and monitoring though, the process of detox can be much more comfortable while the risk of problems will be extremely low.

Once you are free from benzodiazepines, you can begin working on your rehabilitation. It is during this process that you will learn how to live a substance-free life. To do this though, it is important that you can identify the reason you became addicted.

A good counsellor or therapist will work with you to examine your past to see if you can get to the cause of your illness. The reason this is such a vital part of the recovery process is that unless you discover what caused your illness, it is likely to be lurking under the surface, threatening to send you back down the path of addiction at a later date.

Once you know the cause of your illness, you can work with your counsellor to identify the negative thought processes that have led you to this point. Your counsellor will help you to challenge these thoughts and behaviours and will provide you with the skills to develop new positive ones going forward.

Where Does Treatment Take Place?

Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction takes place in an inpatient or outpatient facility. There are many different treatment providers in the UK including the NHS, private clinics, and charities, and all offer different types of programmes to help affected people overcome a range of addictions.

Here at UKAT, we have a number of private clinics that provide inpatient programmes for those who want to get started on the road to recovery as soon as possible. Our privately-funded programmes provide a fast and effective approach to addiction recovery and our clinics offer a safe and comfortable environment in which to get better.

If you would like more information on how we can help you move on to a life free from mood-altering substances, please do not hesitate to contact us today. Alternatively, if you are interested in finding out more about benzodiazepine addiction, one of our friendly advisors will be happy to assist.

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