Benzodiazepines are a group of medically controlled drugs that, on the one hand, offer benefits that give them legitimate therapeutic purposes but on the other are highly addictive when used inappropriately or for extended periods of time. Perhaps you are visiting our website today because you or someone you care about is using benzodiazepines outside of the supervision of a medical professional; or is experiencing difficulty in coming off a long term prescription. If so, be aware that once tolerance sets in, benzodiazepine addiction is very likely to develop.

image showing a bottle of benzo pills

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Benzodiazepines?

Medically it is recognised that Benzodiazepines can cause dependency within 10 to 14 days of continuous use. At this point the body will develop a tolerance and the amount used will either need to be increased for the same effect or reduced gradually in order to stop them safely. Just because you or a loved one have developed a dependency does not necessarily mean you are addicted. Please read on for further information on what Benzodiazepine addiction really is.

What Is Tolerance and Dependence to Benzodiazepines?

Tolerance and dependence to Benzodiazepines does not necessarily mean you have a Benzodiazepine addiction. Tolerance happens when the body and brain’s chemistry adjusts to a certain chemical at a certain amount or frequency of usage. The Benzodiazepines at this point will fail to have the same effect that they initially did. To gain the desired or required effect, the amount will need to be increased. This is a never ending cycle of the body and brain adjusting to each new increased dosage so that it becomes ineffective.

Dependence to Benzodiazepines occurs once tolerance has developed. On larger amounts, a gradual reduction will be required in order to avoid full blown withdrawal symptoms, which can be very uncomfortable and even life threatening. Once Dependence has occurred, if the individual is unable to reduce safely with their GPs support, an inpatient medical detox is recommended, especially for those taking larger amounts or combining the medication with alcohol or other drugs

What Is Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. If the individual is an addict, they will go to any lengths to get their hands on Benzodiazepines, whether it be through manipulating their GP for further prescriptions, ordering generic forms of the internet, stealing them from others, or buying them off the street.

Image showing a prescription medication form being filled in

Addiction is an illness of the mind and body that can lead to tolerance and dependence, but tolerance and dependence does not qualify an addict. Someone with the illness of addiction will find it extremely difficult to stop without a full medical and psychological intervention treatment. They not only rely on the Benzodiazepines physically and mentally, but also have a complete lack of control around the drug. They are prone to relapse due to the psychological aspect of addiction.

Addiction leads to consequences; a Benzodiazepine addict will become increasingly unwell mentally and physically through their addiction; they will lie, cheat, manipulate and even steal in order to feed their addiction. Their family and friends will be gravely affected as they watch their loved one spiral out of control with their addiction, leading to bigger and bigger consequences.

What Are Benzodiazepines Used For?

Benzodiazepines are a prescription only sedative medication used to treat short term acute anxiety, insomnia, as a pre-med to an operation, detoxification from alcohol dependency, as a muscle relaxant for muscular spasm or to stop or prevent seizures. Doctors today are all too aware of how addictive these medications are and so in the majority of cases are very careful to prescribe on a short term basis only. Benzodiazepines come in various forms, some short acting and some longer acting, they also come in various strengths. ALL Benzodiazepines have the potential to become addictive or abused by the user.

The most commonly prescribed and abused Benzodiazepines are as follows:

  • Diazepam (valium) – Longer acting and usually prescribed for muscle spasm relieve, acute anxiety and also to stop or prevent seizures
  • Lorazepam – Short acting and usually prescribed for acute cases of relief from panic attacks and seizures
  • Nitrazepam – A very strong medication prescribed only for the most acute cases of insomnia, where other medications have failed and mostly used in a hospital environment
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide) – Mainly used for detoxification from alcohol dependency, as has less potential to be abused and has a slower release
  • Temazepam – Prescribed for short term relief from insomnia
  • Xanax (alprazolam) – Prescribed for short term relief of anxiety disorder and panic disorder
  • Dalmane (flurazepam) – Prescribed for short term relief from insomnia

Benzodiazepines do have a genuine medical purpose when prescribed and used as instructed by the physician, but as one of the most addictive prescription drugs available, many have difficulty stopping them. An addict will find it practically impossible to stop or control the amount that they take. They will take the drug purely for its sedative and euphoric effects, regardless of whether they have a genuine medical condition or not. They can be taken orally in prescribed pill form, or intravenously administered in a hospital environment.

What Are the Effects of Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines have the effect of making the user feel less anxious, drowsy and “chilled out”. As a relaxant both physically and mentally, they slow down the body and the brain. In larger doses they can produce a euphoric effect and/or extreme sleepiness. They also have the effect of warmth and wellbeing.

A low dose of Benzodiazepines present the same effects on the brain and central nervous system as alcohol, though to a lesser degree. Taken in large doses, however, they can lead to violence, aggression and a condition similar to alcohol drunkenness.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Benzodiazepines as a therapeutic treatment is their limited efficiency. In other words, using one of these drugs to treat insomnia or anxiety yields results only for a very limited amount of time. They become ineffective the longer they are taken. This characteristic opens the door to tolerance and addiction.

Those who are taking prescribed Benzodiazepines should adhere to the exact prescribed dosage and if affected by drowsiness or delayed reactions, should NOT operate heavy machinery or drive. Under the drug drive law, it is illegal to drive if affected by any drug in this way.

What Are the Negative Effects of Benzodiazepines?

The negative effects of Benzodiazepines are that they can make the user very drowsy, clumsy, and prone to falling and losing balance, risk taking due to a false sense of confidence and feeling of wellbeing, forgetfulness, cause depression and suicidal ideation. They are also very, very addictive and withdrawal is extremely unpleasant both mentally and physically and if not done in a controlled manner can be life threatening.

Image showing a man suffering from benzodiazepine addiction

 

Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol or Take Other Drugs with Benzodiazepines?

Absolutely not; mixing Benzodiazepines with alcohol or any other kind of drug can be fatal, especially drugs that have a sedative effect as this will increase the sedative effect of the Benzodiazepine. This can lead to dangerous risk taking behaviour, accidents, respiratory and organ failure, coma and even death.

 

The Statistics on Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction is frighteningly common and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, social class or upbringing. Let’s look at the stats:

benzodiazepine infographic

What Are the Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction?

As with just about any other drug, Benzodiazepines produce certain signs and symptoms that make it possible to identify an addiction. Those signs and symptoms manifest themselves physically, psychologically and behaviourally. If you suspect that you have an addiction to these drugs or that a loved one is suffering, it is important to seek help without further delay.

Prescription drugs and depression

In terms of physical and psychological symptoms, excessive and long term benzodiazepine use can result in:

  • Periods of amnesia; both short- and long-term
  • Intermittent irritability
  • Depression and loss of appetite
  • Unexplained extreme sleepiness
  • Confusion, anxiety and aggression.

One of the most common behavioural signs of Benzodiazepine addiction is the need for the addict to have multiple doctors or sources where they can get their supply of the drug. What is behind this? The addict is essentially using his or her doctors as their dealers. Multiple doctors are necessary because using a single doctor would increase the chances of suspicion that something is wrong and having the prescription stopped. Multiple doctors spread prescriptions over a longer period of time, thus reducing the likelihood of any of them becoming suspicious and challenging the patient.

Benzodiazepine addicts may also spend an inordinate amount of time ‘shopping’ online. That’s because these drugs are readily available to order over the internet. An addict who has exhausted his or her supply of doctors may turn to online transactions to get the drugs they crave. They may also resort to buying them from dealers off the street or stealing medications from family and friends. They may also resort to these methods to pad out prescriptions due to them taking more than the prescribed amount.

Image showing an advertisement about readily available prescription drugs

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?

It has been our experience that the most difficult part of Benzodiazepine treatment is the withdrawal process. It is vital to get the addict to admit that they have a problem before they are willing to seek help; this can prove difficult as they will be reluctant to give up Benzodiazepines, be extremely fearful of withdrawal and are likely to justify its use in that it is a prescribed medication and therefore they are not a drug addict.

The nature of these drugs dictates that many people addicted to them do not recognise their addiction or the underlying physical and psychological cause of it. This applies especially to the addict who started out by taking Benzodiazepines for a legitimate therapeutic or medical purpose.

Withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant, negatively affecting the body and the mind. Going “cold turkey” which means stopping abruptly and completely, is not an option for an individual who has a dependency to this particular drug; attempting this is extremely dangerous. The following symptoms will manifest from an abrupt and uncontrolled withdrawal from Benzodiazepines and are the next step up from symptoms of severe anxiety:

a table about benzo withdrawal symptoms

In some incidences of heavy and long term Benzodiazepine addiction, protracted withdrawal symptoms can occur, even with a carefully medically managed detox:

image showing the withdrawal symptoms of benzo addiction

It is important that Benzodiazepine addicts, or those whom have developed a dependency, seek professional medical help before attempting to stop and do not attempt to quit by themselves or go cold turkey. Withdrawal from a heavy Benzodiazepine addiction or dependency should always be done in a controlled environment under the supervision of a medical professional. In fact, medically supervised and controlled withdrawal is the first step toward overcoming Benzodiazepine addiction.

What Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction Is There?

For an individual who has an addiction to Benzodiazepines it is essential that they seek both medical and professional addiction help. We strongly recommend inpatient detoxification and rehab for this particular addiction, due to the dangers and complications that can arise. Addiction can lead to unintentional or intentional overdosing which can result in coma and death so it is important to access the correct professional treatment immediately.

Our rehab centres provide a full medical detox regime for those with a Benzodiazepine addiction or dependency. The detox will be carefully monitored throughout by medical and therapeutic staff to ensure the patient’s safety at all times. We only work with CQC regulated treatment centres and have access to over 100 exemplary rehabs within the UK and also some elite and luxurious rehabs abroad. All of our approved rehabs adhere to strict medical and therapeutic guidelines and policies at all times

Addiction Helper specialises in treating addiction and have helped over 10,000 addicts to access the correct support and treatment for their individual addiction. We can find you or your loved one the ideal treatment plan and rehab facility in which to recover from Benzodiazepine addiction, ranging from affordable to luxury treatment, with locations all over the UK and also overseas.

Following a successful medical detoxification from Benzodiazepines, the individual will then ideally undergo a full rehabilitation programme to address the psychological aspect of their addiction. Our rehabs are staffed by experienced and fully qualified addiction treatment experts, including doctors, nurses, counsellors, psychotherapists, holistic therapists and highly trained and experienced support workers.

We only deliver the latest in evidence based addiction therapeutic and medical treatments such as one to one counselling, process groups, trauma therapy, CBT, DBT, 12 Step therapy, group therapy, educational workshops and relapse prevention techniques, mindfulness, meditation, fitness programme, healthy eating programme and more.

Each individual’s treatment programme is specifically tailored to their individual medical, physical, social, emotional, spiritual and psychological treatment needs. We treat the individual as a whole using person centred treatment techniques. Failing to treat the psychological aspect of Benzodiazepine addiction will usually result in relapse. For this particular addiction full inpatient residential detox and rehabilitation provides the individual with the best chance of staying permanently free from Benzodiazepines and the associated destructive addictive and maladaptive behaviours.

image showing a lady who is happily free from benzodiazepine addiction

How Long Does Detox Take?

The duration of the Benzodiazepine medical detox will be dependent on a number of crucial factors personal to the individual, taken into account by the Doctor during a comprehensive medical admission assessment. The patient’s mental, physical and emotional health will be a factor, as will the duration of the addiction and the dosage of Benzodiazepines they are dependent on. Each patient is different, so a full assessment is required before detox can commence. Addiction Helper offer a free and confidential assessment over the telephone, conducted by our experienced and highly skilled addiction treatment experts. Please contact us directly so we can advise you on the likely duration of your detox and rehabilitation. We will ask you a number of medical and mental health questions relating to your addiction before suggesting a suitable programme that will give you or your loved one the best chance of a full and permanent recovery!

In addition to a full medical detox and rehabilitation programme, we also offer extended care options in the form of outpatient appointments, day care treatment, secondary inpatient care, tertiary care/sober living and 12 months free aftercare for all those who complete their treatment programme with us.

We tend to recommend private residential treatment for the most Benzodiazepine addictions. We believe residential treatment really is the best option because it affords the opportunity to receive concentrated care and therapy in a distraction-free environment that is well-suited to recovery. In cases where residential treatment is neither necessary nor not possible, patients can seek out treatment from their GP and their local drug and alcohol services on the NHS

Is Benzodiazepine Addiction Curable?

Any addiction, as a chronic disease of the mind and body, is not curable. However, it can be successfully arrested, we will provide you with the treatment and tools required to maintain permanent ongoing recovery. We will support both you and your family each and every step of the way ensuring you receive the best treatment possible for your individual circumstances.

How Soon Can I Get Into Rehab for Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Benzodiazepines are drugs that can lead to serious physical and emotional problems or even death. They are not drugs to be taken lightly, even if you begin using them under the supervision of a doctor. If there is any chance you are suffering from a Benzodiazepine addiction, you need to do something about it right away. We offer free assessments, advice, and treatment referrals. We can help you get started on the road to recovery today! Simply by calling our 24-hour helpline, you will have access to trained professionals more than capable of assisting you in your search for comprehensive and effective treatment. With one phone call and a commitment to getting well, you can overcome Benzodiazepine addiction. We can arrange for an immediate admission into one of our private residential treatment centres. There are no waiting lists, unlike the NHS and we can get you the correct professional treatment without further delay.

Call or chat to us live now for more information on how we can help you to break free from Benzodiazepine addiction today!