Benzodiazepines are drugs that reduce anxiety and help with sedation. They are often called “benzos” for short. Xanax, valium, and diazepam are common benzos. While they can be very helpful for psychological or medical treatment, they are highly addictive. Many people start using benzos after being prescribed by a doctor and unintentionally become addicted. Determining whether or not you have become addicted to benzos can be difficult. You should look for the classic symptoms of addiction to determine if you need to seek treatment for benzodiazepine addiction.
Areas of Your Life Are Being Affected Due to Use
A major sign of addiction is areas of your life are being affected due to your benzo use. Examples of areas of your life being affected as a result of drug use are missing days/being late for work, financial problems, missing family events, failing to effectively complete household tasks, and legal trouble arising. Problems arising as a result of your benzo use are problems that did not exist before you started using benzos because they are a result of being intoxicated on benzos or having to obtain benzos. If your family members have started to show concern—especially if an intervention is staged—you may want to seriously consider the issue.
Building a tolerance to a drug consists of having to use more of a drug to get the same effect. For example, you may have started out taking one benzo twice a day to feel relief from anxiety. When you start building a tolerance, you will no longer feel relief from anxiety from taking one benzo twice a day. Instead, you will feel the need to take more benzos and after shorter durations of time to feel relieved from anxiety.
Physiological addiction is the result of a change in the body’s homeostasis, which in the internal state that the body tries to keep itself at. The addicted body becomes used to having the addictive substance in its system. When the body does not receive the addictive substance, it reacts by causing the body to go into withdrawal. Examples of drug withdrawal symptoms are body aches, chills, vomiting, insomnia, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, hypertension, etc. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try stopping or cannot use the drug, you have most likely developed physiological addiction.
Finding Psychological Relief
Many addictions are triggered by an underlying psychological issue (e.g. childhood trauma, depression, low self-esteem, chronic stress, etc.). If you find that using benzos relieves a psychological distress other than what it was prescribed for (e.g. helping you forget a trauma), you may be developing a psychological dependence to it, which is one of the components of addiction.
Part of being addicted to a substance is becoming preoccupied with obtaining and using it. If you are constantly contemplating about the ways that you can obtain getting your drug (e.g. buying it off the street, lying, stealing, pawning items, etc.), you are entering the danger zone.
If you are taking your medication as prescribed, there should be no shame. However, if you are realizing that your use is spiraling out of control, you may feel ashamed about your use. You may be hiding pills or lying to others about the pills that you are taking. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step. Keeping it secret will only fuel the progression of the disease.
Treatment Options Available for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Medical detox is essential if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not use. Withdrawal can be excruciating and even fatal if you are not being cared for under proper medical supervision. Detox is available in hospitals, stand-alone detox clinics, and inpatient rehab centers.
Inpatient treatment is what people mostly think of when they think of “rehab.” Inpatient treatment is typically 30 to 90 days. You will be confined to the facility and go through various individual, group, and experiential therapies. An effective inpatient treatment center is one that takes a holistic approach to treating addiction.
There are three types of outpatient treatment: partial-hospitalization (PHP), intensive-outpatient (IOP), and outpatient treatment (OP). Partial-hospitalization consists of six-hour sessions that meet five days per week. Intensive-outpatient consists of three-hour sessions that meet three to five days per week. Outpatient treatment consists of one-to-two-hour sessions that meet once or twice per week. Outpatient treatment is right for those who are at the early stages of addiction. PHP or IOP is bet for those who are at the beginning of their recovery because they consist of long, frequent sessions. OP is best as a requisite for those who have completed a more intense form of treatment. Keep in mind that you may need to find detox elsewhere if you are considering outpatient treatment.
Meetings will allow you to collaborate with those who can empathize with you on solutions to the problems that you face in recovery. Twelve-Step Meetings are not the only option. There are many 12-Step-Alternative Programs that are just as effective- if not even more effective- than 12-Step Programs. Meetings should not be the only source of treatment. They only address the spiritual and social components, not the psychological or physiological.