Recovering From a Benzodiazepine Addiction While Coping With Anxiety

Recovering From a Benzodiazepine Addiction While Coping With Anxiety

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Benzodiazepines are drugs prescribed for those with anxiety. However, these drugs are addictive, and people can end up relying heavily on them. Eventually, and unintentionally, people can become addicted to these substances. Those who end up with a benzodiazepine addiction often have anxiety as well, but the good news is that these co-occurring disorders can be treated concurrently. By addressing all elements of people’s addictions and mental disorders at once, First Steps Recovery helps them discover a fulfilling, substance-free life.

At First Steps Recovery, benzodiazepine addictions and co-occurring disorders are treated on a personalized level to take into account each client’s individual history, circumstances, and needs.

What Is a Benzodiazepine Addiction?

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that produce symptoms of sedation and hypnosis. These drugs are prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, muscle spasms, or seizures. Legally, the drug is only available through prescription for specific health challenges. However, many people find a supply of the drug by forging prescriptions, seeing multiple doctors for different prescriptions, or buying them illegally. Benzodiazepines are also commonly used alongside other drugs to increase euphoric sensations.

Addiction typically begins with a desire to use the drug consistently. The body and mind start to experience a dependence on the drug and signal a desire for more of the effects (often euphoric). From there, it turns into addiction. Benzodiazepine addiction can end up interfering with one’s work, education, home, and social life.

Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of Benzodiazepine Addiction

A benzodiazepine addiction is often identified by the user’s physiological dependence on the substance. Associated behavior would include actively seeking out the drug, struggling financially because of drug purchases, and pushing aside responsibilities (work, home, school, etc.) to tend to the addiction.

Signs of a benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Amnesia
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams
  • Slowness of the central nervous system
  • Sleepiness or relaxation

There are also specific overdose effects. These include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Respiratory depression
  • Profound sedation
  • Coma
  • Potential death

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines can be intense. When a person has not taken benzodiazepines for a period of time, depending on the severity of the addiction, the following symptoms can arise:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry retching and nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Perceptual changes

Those who take higher dosages of benzodiazepines may also experience seizures and psychotic reactions due to withdrawal.

Recovering From a Benzodiazepine Addiction While Coping With Anxiety at First Steps Recovery

However, there are ways to address one’s dependence on benzodiazepines. Treatment is available for benzodiazepine addiction and co-occurring disorders like anxiety. The staff members at First Steps Recovery are experienced in helping people recover from both anxiety and a benzodiazepine addiction.

The first step in recovery is detoxification. Detoxification first works by relieving clients of their physical dependency on the drug by enabling it to leave the body. To ensure a safe and relatively comfortable experience, First Steps Recovery offers a medically supervised detox program. Over the week-long process, the body adjusts to a new state of being. First Steps Recovery provides a safe space for clients to begin recovery, providing 24/7 supervision, resources for overcoming withdrawal symptoms, and gender-specific care.

The next step of recovery is figuring out which treatment program is the best one. First Steps Recovery offers a number of programs that are catered to clients’ needs. For instance, some clients may need more hands-on supervised care through residential programs, while other clients can benefit from outpatient programs through which they can still be actively engaged in their own lives. In all treatment programs, though, there are a number of holistic and clinical services that clients have available to them.

Clinical Services at First Steps Recovery

Treating co-occurring disorders can be challenging. However, having therapies and treatments that address all aspects of a client is the key to success. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, is a therapy that addresses both one’s thoughts and behaviors. CBT targets the client’s unhelpful thought patterns in order to restructure these thoughts and produce healthier behaviors. Destructive behaviors often come from unhealthy thinking. For clients with anxiety, these overwhelming symptoms can lead to the use of benzodiazepines, whether by misusing one’s prescription or finding the drug illicitly.

Other support can be found through individual and group therapies offered at First Steps Recovery. Specifically in group therapy, clients learn how to communicate with others about their experiences and find commonality. Often in group therapy settings, many clients share the same experiences or disorders and can provide different perspectives on the issues at hand.

Sharing advice and experiences helps clients not only build an inner circle for recovery but also understand they are not alone. For those struggling with co-occurring disorders such as benzodiazepine addiction and anxiety, seeing how other people navigate their recovery and healing can be helpful and provide hope.

Here at First Steps Recovery, clients coping with a benzodiazepine addiction often also cope with anxiety. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for those with anxiety. However, it is easy for clients to eventually become addicted to this substance. This is when a co-occurring disorder emerges. There is, however, treatment for clients coping with co-occurring disorders. The first step is detoxification, which allows the physical body to decrease its dependence on the drug. The next step is finding a treatment program with the right services for the disorders at hand. Clinical therapies offered at First Steps Recovery include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and group therapy. To learn more about treatment for benzodiazepine addictions and anxiety, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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