People turn to benzodiazepines because they work—a group of depressants that help with seizures, anxiety, and insomnia. Benzos are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. However, when it comes to benzodiazepines addiction facts, people aren’t as educated or well-versed about the subject as they should.
Even still, between 1996 and 2013, prescriptions for benzodiazepine went up by 67%, rising from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. Let’s learn more about benzo addiction facts and what this means to society.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, sometimes known as benzos, are essentially tranquilizers widely prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle tension, and insomnia. Benzos also help people relax before surgery or medical procedures. Benzos work on the central nervous systems and the neurotransmitter GABA to calm nerve impulses, which eventually helps calm anxiety. Generally, they produce a calming, well-being state that makes them addictive.
Types of Benzos
Benzodiazepines come in various formulations, and they’re widely available for misuse and abuse. Some street names for benzos include:
- Nerve pills
Then, the most common types of benzodiazepines include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril)
5 Interesting Benzodiazepines Addiction Facts You Should Know
Most people know they should take prescription drugs as instructed, yet it can be challenging to understand the implication of deviating from their prescriptions. Benzos are particularly dangerous since their chemical makeup makes them especially easy to abuse.
1. Benzos Are Easy to Abuse
Researchers know that benzos increase dopamine levels instantly, which fills your brain with feel-good neurotransmitters. There’s evidence that benzos’ addictive power is similar to that of opioids and cannabinoids, which are substances with strong addictive qualities.
Benzos, in particular, accumulate in the body, altering brain receptors’ structure, thereby making them more susceptible to excitable surges from other neurotransmitters. As a result, these chemical reactions make it more challenging for people to stop taking the substance.
On average, benzodiazepines tolerance can develop after six months of use, but many people become physically dependent sooner. Around 44% of users will eventually develop dependence and withdrawal symptoms from their benzos misuse.
2. Quitting Benzos Is Extremely Challenging
Unfortunately, choosing to quit benzos isn’t as straightforward. First of all, cutting the medication cold-turkey can result in severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Those with high doses of the medication can experience psychosis and seizures during withdrawal.
Even if people use low doses of the medication, they can still experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Not to mention, people often mix benzos with alcohol, which also leads to alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they try to get sober. Additionally, the risks of mixing medications with alcohol are commonly overlooked benzodiazepines addiction facts. People who want to stop taking benzos should always seek medical attention and do so only through medical supervision.
3. Often Leads to Cognitive Impairment
Doctors discovered a disturbing trend of cognitive impairment on those who stayed on prescribed benzos for years. Those who use benzodiazepines long-term forget things they knew or could easily recall, sometimes even forgetting how to perform tasks they once knew.
Researchers looked at the connection between these impairments and found that doses and cognitive deficiencies had a secure link. Study participants, both older and younger, experienced the same impairment. While the results don’t point directly to dementia, we need more research to understand how severe these cognitive side effects can be.
4. Benzos Lead to Higher Chances of Alzheimer’s Disease
In general, long-term use of benzodiazepine prescriptions increases among the elderly, with up to 31.4% of orders going to people ages 65-80. However, the number of Alzheimer’s disease also rose. One study looked at the length of benzodiazepine use, and when each person was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The result was outstanding with long-term benzo users directly linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
The longer a person took benzos, the higher the risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease, with 84% higher for those seeking the drug for over six months.
5. Dying Early Is Very Likely
Beyond the previous risks of using benzodiazepines, people have to understand that misuse of benzos can potentially kill them. Unfortunately, benzos are linked with the highest number of early deaths.
One study, in particular, analyzed over 100,000 participants’ medical records and found that benzodiazepines were linked to early deaths among all the medications. The study found that the changes in premature death almost doubled for someone with a prescription for benzodiazepine.
Benzodiazepines Addiction Statistics
When it comes to addiction statistics, the national numbers are never the full picture. Even when the effects of benzodiazepine are severe, people with substance abuse issues don’t think about the repercussions. However, for benzo addiction statistics, it appears that benzodiazepine use is continuously high; here’s what you should know.
- More than 30% of overdose deaths are due to benzodiazepines.
- Overdose death rates for co-prescribing opioids and benzos are ten times higher.
- 44% of benzo users become dependent.
- Over 30.5 million people use benzos, with 2% struggling with substance use disorder.
- About 2% of benzo users say they use it to relax or relieve tension, 22.4% use it for sleep, about 5.7% for experimentation, and 11.8% to get high.
- Only 20% of benzo users received a prescription from doctors, with the majority saying they received it from friends and family members.
Treatment Options for Benzodiazepines Addiction
While benzos are incredibly addictive, those who are willing to break the addiction cycle can seek treatment. Because cutting cold-turkey can be incredibly dangerous, it’s best to start with a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and benzodiazepine detox process to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.
Speaking with an addiction treatment specialist as soon as possible is the best way to start seeking help for benzo addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:
Benzo Medical Detox: A clinically supervised detox process to ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Often, people who misuse benzos mix it with alcohol, struggle with opioids misuse, or have co-occurring mental health illnesses. A dual diagnosis treatment plan collectively and holistically treats the various ailments.
Intensive Outpatient Programs: A form of drug rehab that offers more flexibility to patients looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving.
Long-term Recovery Programs: It’s easy to relapse after treatment, with long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, seek help immediately. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.
We believe in treating each patient on a case-by-case scenario because no two addiction stories are alike. Start walking towards your recovery, and we’ll be here supporting you and your family every step of the way. Please don’t wait another day to start addiction treatment, primarily when your life depends on it.