Addiction is a complex disease. There are many reasons why people develop addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Benzodiazepines, commonly known as “benzos,” are a class of drugs that are often prescribed to individuals to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. While they can be valuable prescriptions, they are also highly addictive. 

Even if an individual is using them as prescribed, benzodiazepines can have complicated effects and increase the risk of developing substance use disorder (SUD). It is important to know how to effectively identify the signs and symptoms of benzo addiction to encourage those who are struggling to seek the professional treatment that they need to overcome it.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a type of drug classified as “depressants,” meaning they slow down the body and mind’s active systems. They do this by slowing the transmission of signals to the brain, which produces sedative effects. Some common examples of benzos include Xanax, Valium, and Ativan. 

Depressants are not inherently bad. Many are used in medical settings and prescribed to treat intense symptoms of anxiety and panic or to provide aid for restful sleep. However, like the use of any substance, there are risks involved with using benzodiazepines. These drugs are often highly abused and can lead to various harmful health effects, including respiratory depression.

Many healthcare professionals have reduced their prescriptions of benzos, especially for prolonged use, because they have a high addictive potential. Another consequence that can result from using benzos is drug overdose. Benzo overdose is characterized by excessive sedation as well as impaired mental status and diminished motor reflexes. Because of these effects, benzos are a dangerous drug to engage with recreationally. 

Overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines is complicated. Therefore, professional treatment is often required to address the myriad of effects these addictive drugs can have on one’s life. 

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The Effects of Benzodiazepines

Benzos affect both the body and mind. Recognizing the effects of benzos is crucial for effectively identifying a benzodiazepine addiction. Those struggling with an addiction to benzos may regularly:

  • Withdraw from social situations
  • Appear drowsy or unsteady
  • Experience muscle fatigue or lethargy
  • Have blurred vision 
  • Experience difficulty focusing 
  • Suffer from persistent headaches or lightheadedness
  • Engage in an increase of risk-taking behavior, or express reduced inhibitions
  • Slur their speech
  • Exhibit mood swings
  • Have difficulty forming or recalling memories
  • Appear confused or have their judgment impaired
  • Express an increase in feelings of anger, irritation, frustration, or even hostility. 

An individual does not have to exhibit all of the signs above to be struggling with an addiction. Likewise, it is important to understand that many additional long-term effects can result from benzo addiction. 

Additional Warning Signs of Addiction 

Addiction is never an isolated disease. Benzodiazepines can affect a person’s physical and mental health and, in turn, affect their relationships, personal goals, and professional responsibilities. 

A person does not have to actively see an individual using benzos to observe the effects of benzo addiction. Recognizing the immediate effects of benzo use, coupled with changes in daily life, can be a reason to open a conversation about addiction and professional treatment. 

Some of these other signs of benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Compromised or inconsistent sleep schedule
  • Emotional detachment or self-isolation tendencies
  • Decreased workplace performance or attendance
  • Disinterest in personal hobbies
  • Inconsistent tending to home responsibilities
  • Compromised personal hygiene
  • Increase in self-belittling thoughts or words
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Recognizing these signs is necessary to inform an individual’s next step toward a healthier, sober life. There is always help available to challenge an addiction to benzos. Finding the right center for alcohol and drug treatment and recovery atmosphere is crucial for taking the first step toward a transformed life in sobriety. 

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Pursuing Professional Treatment

Professional care is necessary for overcoming addiction. As addiction is complex, it can be difficult to understand the relationship an individual has with benzos or the myriad of ways they impact daily life. While wanting to detox and overcome the use of benzos at home is tempting, professional help is often required to establish lasting sobriety. 

Education is paramount throughout recovery. Having trained professionals available to field questions and help an individual navigate unexpected stresses, withdrawal symptoms, and more is crucial. Working alongside professionals to address immediate needs and set up a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy can help each individual prepare to maintain their abstinence from benzodiazepines in the future. 

Professional treatment also provides a community of peers that can deconstruct common feelings of isolation or stigmas that may be present in a person’s mind. Finding like-minded individuals to challenge and share in experiences can directly challenge these isolationist tendencies. Engaging in residential treatment and ongoing outpatient care can connect an individual with peers who are ready to support and hold each other accountable for a truly effective and transformative recovery journey. 

Tackling an addiction to benzos is always difficult, but the trained, caring professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery are here to help. We understand the need to address the effects of addiction in every aspect of daily life, and our staff, coupled with our unique approach to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in our Hawaii rehabilitation programs, can help you challenge and overcome the effects of benzo addiction in your life. From medically supervised detox programs to residential and ongoing outpatient care, we are committed to helping you maintain a sober lifestyle. For more information on our rehab in Hawaii, or if you have questions about how we can personalize your time with us, call (866) 390-5070.