By Sandy Baker
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are prescription drugs that typically treat conditions such as panic disorders, seizures, insomnia, and anxiety. For many people, these drugs work very well, minimizing symptoms of underlying conditions. But benzos can be addictive, especially when used for a long period of time or misused. If you’re taking them, should you be worried about addiction?
Most often, doctors use these drugs for short-term needs rather than daily use. Those taking benzos, such as Xanax, Librium, or Ativan, exactly as prescribed by their doctor will not likely develop an addiction. The risk of addiction occurs for those who consistently misuse these drugs. For example, some people use them to improve concentration levels. Others seek out the calming effect they tend to have. Some want to experience the powerful euphoria these drugs can cause.
Misuse of benzos occurs when you take someone else’s prescription, take more than your written dose, or purchase benzos illegally without a prescription. If you are engaging in these activities, you are in danger of developing an addiction, especially if you feel compelled to continue to use the drugs even though you know you should not.
Signs You May Have an Addiction to Benzodiazepines
If you’re taking benzos for any reason, pay close attention to how you feel while using them. It’s also wise to work with your doctor to minimize how much or how frequently you use them. The following are some of the most common warning signs of benzo addiction.
#1: Experiencing Withdrawal
Do you feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking benzos? These drugs can cause dependence, a condition in which the body becomes so reliant on the substance that it fights back when it does not have access. Common side effects include:
- Irritability and intense anxiety
- Inability to focus
- Muscle pain and cramping
- Loss of consciousness
- Suicidal thoughts
Benzo withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. That’s why you should always work with your doctor or a drug treatment center to stop using.
#2: Wanting to Stop but Being Unable To
In some situations, benzos create intense cravings when a person isn’t using them. If you’re thinking about your next dose often or feeling like you absolutely have to take a pill right away, that could be an indication of dependence.
If you’re using more than your prescribed dose, that’s also an indication of addiction. It occurs when your body builds up a tolerance to the drug and requires more of it to experience the same outcomes.
#3: Engaging in Reckless Behavior
Benzo addiction can be so significant that a person may engage in behavior unlike them to get the drugs they desire. For example, you may be searching through a friend’s cabinet to find their prescription. You may have gone to more than one doctor in the hopes of getting a second prescription. It may feel like you’ll do anything to ensure you have the next dose, even purchasing it illegally.
#4: Focusing Almost Constantly on Benzodiazepines
For many people with benzo addiction, these drugs become the focus of their day. You get up and go to school and work, but you need to have a dose with you or you cannot focus. You may not be performing at the level you were, either. For example, you may be struggling with maintaining responsibilities, keeping up with relationships, or listening to others.
#5: Using Other Drugs With Benzodiazepines
Some people mix benzos with other drugs in the hopes of getting an improved effect. Doing this is quite dangerous, but it can happen as a person with addiction seeks out a better experience. Often, mixing drugs like this puts you at a higher risk for overdose.
What You Can Do About Benzo Addiction
If you see these warning signs in yourself or another person, it’s time to get help. Don’t stop taking benzos without the help of your doctor or a treatment center like The Ranch at Dove Tree. Many people need to wean off these drugs to ensure they can safely stop using them.
What you can do right now is call for help. We can help you learn how to manage your anxiety without highly addictive drugs. Reach out to our team to learn more about the wide range of tools that can help you regain control over your addiction.