Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are commonly prescribed to combat anxiety and sleep disorders like insomnia. In the last fifteen years, benzo use has been steadily rising, and along with it have come higher death rates, notably when these drugs are used in combination with opiates or opioids.
One in four people who are prescribed benzodiazepines will abuse them
According to a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30.5 million American adults use benzodiazepines, representing between four and six percent of the population. Of those, about 17 percent overuse, or take them for uses other than they were intended.
A short-term solution
Generally, benzodiazepines are never recommended for long-term use, and rarely without an adjunct therapy, like psychiatric counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy. If taken as prescribed, and only for a short duration of treatment, they help address issues such as anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. They are also used in conjunction with treatment for alcohol addiction to ease tremors and other symptoms.
Some commonly prescribed benzos include:
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Restoril (temazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Serax (oxazepam)
Because they are not as strictly controlled as opioids, they are often easy to obtain from a doctor. However, in about 20 percent of cases that result in benzo abuse, users get them from a friend or family member.
Because they are so effective at relieving anxiety, they can become highly addictive, leading some to look no further for a solution to their problem.
Benzo use is on the rise
As life becomes more hectic, fast-paced, and stress-filled, benzos can become a quick fix that eventually turns into a habit. While many doctors recognize that there are many non-drug interventions that can be more effective over the long term, the fact remains that prescriptions for benzodiazepines have doubled over the past 20 years.
Living in the age of anxiety
Anxiety, panic, and fear are very real in this day and age, and not just to those with a diagnosed mental illness. The pressure to perform at work, to engage in social media, or to over-achieve in school can be enough to drive anybody over the edge.
If an individual is not encouraged to seek an alternative treatment, taking a pill now and then may seem harmless enough. If it helps us cope with the constant barrage of noise we are faced with every day, it might seem like a godsend – at least, at first.
Ironically, the symptoms of benzo overuse are much the same as the symptoms for which they are prescribed. Anxiety, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, weakness – all of these can manifest as a result of benzo withdrawal. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several months, and prolonged withdrawal is not uncommon, sometimes years after the drugs have been discontinued.
Getting help for benzo dependency
Recovering from benzo dependence is not something you should attempt on your own. With the right interventions and treatments, it is possible to put it behind you and take back control of your life – and learn how to cope with your anxiety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a benzo dependency, we can help. Reach out today to get started.
Opioid addiction in America has risen to crisis proportions in recent years, affecting people from all demographics and all walks of life.
According to a recent study released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, 130 people die every day from opioid overdose from drugs that include prescription pain medications like oxycodone and morphine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and hydromorphone, and street opiates like heroin.
Opioid addiction can affect anyone
It often starts innocently enough. Following an injury or after surgery, patients are prescribed pain medication to help them cope as they heal. What is supposed to be a temporary intervention quickly turns into a physical addiction.
If the doctor refuses to renew the prescription, patients often turn to the street, often ending up with counterfeit drugs, some laced with deadly doses of fentanyl. Those who do not overdose become even more addicted.
While some manage to maintain their jobs and go on with their lives in spite of it, many lose everything to their addiction, spending all of their time trapped in the cycle of getting money for drugs through crime or deception, looking for drugs, using them, and recovering from them.
For these individuals, there is little choice. The withdrawal symptoms are severe enough that they will do just about anything to keep themselves well – which means, continuing to use. When desperation sets in, any promise of relief will do, leading even the most cautious into dangerous territory.
Opioid addiction treatment Long Beach
While you might think the opioid crisis is a recent phenomenon, addiction has threatened public health several times over the past few centuries. Every time it takes hold, scientists come up with newer versions of the drug that are supposed to be safer.
Many of these formulations, like heroin, and more recently, methadone, have actually been invented to treat addiction. The philosophy is that if a doctor can control and monitor the dosage, it will be easier to manage. In reality, what they are really doing is transferring the addiction to a different form of the same thing and continuing the cycle. While some may respond to this treatment and move past their addiction, many become stuck in it for years, never truly breaking free.
What’s different in today’s opioid treatment?
Today, we better understand the mechanisms of addiction and pain. We approach treatment and recovery differently than in the past, putting the focus on the patient and helping them return to a functional, productive life.
Medications we now use to treat opioid addiction, like buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Subutex, are highly advanced, alleviating the symptoms without causing the opiate “high.”
At our Long Beach opioid treatment center, we combine drug therapy with a multi-disciplinary therapeutic approach that includes psychological counseling, physical therapy, and educational support to help individuals get their lives and their joy for living back on track.
While medications are an important intervention in addiction treatment, we place an equal focus on the underlying cause, whether that is rooted in chronic pain, psychological behaviors, outside stressors, or other forms of mental illness. This type of combination therapy has helped many people overcome the bonds of opioid addiction and return to a healthy, productive, and happy life.
Opioid treatment Long Beach
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, we can help. Reach out today to get started.