Benzodiazepines are a collection of medicinal drugs that have a sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant and muscle relaxing effect. For this reason, they are sometimes used in the treatment of many mental health problems such as anxiety and agitation. But in addition, they can be used for treatment for seizures and as a premedication when a person is having surgery of some kind. In the 1980’s it was seen as a “wonder drug” and was the most prescribed medicine in the whole of the western world.
Tolerance to benzo’s
The issue with Benzodiazepines is that if they are taken for an amount of time longer than four weeks there is a very serious risk of tolerance, this is where the normal dose becomes much less effective so higher and higher doses will be needed to get the same effect, withdrawal symptoms start to appear when the drug wears off and so users take more to avoid the detox experience.
Another big flaw is that these drugs are traditionally prescribed for people who are suffering anxiety which is a mental health condition and often not one which is the sole condition of a sufferer. Those who are suffering from depression, personality disorders, Bipolar disorder and basically any other mental health problems are automatically at a much higher risk of developing an addiction. So they are prescribed this highly addictive drug and often not in the short term either.
Ceasing use of benzodiazepines is not an easy task, even if you don’t have an addiction you may still experience a few side effects when you stop taking it so it is best to come off it slowly, over a period of time and lower the dose gradually. If you do decide to quit straight out you can expect to experience an array of withdrawal effects. Psychological effects include a return of anxiety and panic attacks, detaching yourself from reality,feeling unwell and in some cases a break down may occur. Physical withdrawal symptoms include breaking out in sweats, severe headaches, muscle spasms, nausea and irregular heartbeats. In severe cases convulsions may also occur and these can obviously be very dangerous to health.
Treatment for addiction will usually need to take place at an inpatient drug rehabilitation center as detoxification can be a lengthy and dangerous process if not monitored correctly, it has been known to last as long as 6 weeks if not longer in some cases. Also if a person with an addiction is left in the outside world there is every chance that they will relapse completely before detox has finished just to get rid of the withdrawal effects. Once the detox period has successfully been completed and the body is free of the drug completely then the rest of the treatment can begin. This involves spending lots of time in counselling and group therapy learning all about the nature of addiction and how their own personal journey with substance abuse came about.
Once the addict and the medical staff agree that it is time, the patient can begin to think about being released back in to the real world. They make take several trial runs before actually taking the final step, the main purpose is to find out what changes will need to be made to keep the recovering addict on the road of sobriety. This could involving severing relationships with people who may still be using the drug as if the social circle remains the same then the addict will more than likely fall in to relapse very quickly. Sometimes changes may be as extreme as moving to a completely new area to cut themselves off from any supply of drugs.
Cause Not Symptoms
One thing about benzodiazepines is that when they are prescribed they are only prescribed to treat the symptoms of a problem and not the root cause. Often the root cause of anxiety or sleep problems is down to a mental health problem and if that is not explored and treated accordingly then the risk of addiction becomes much higher and it then becomes an issue of dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is the condition where a person has both a mental health problem and a substance abuse issue at the same time. It can be difficult to find the correct treatment for this condition as many rehab centers are not willing to take on patients that have a mental health condition, whereas many mental health institutions are not equipped for caring for someone with a substance abuse problem.