Benzodiazepines are sedatives that are used for a variety of medical symptoms as they have a variety of effects. Colloquially referred to as “benzos”, they are often used for their anti-anxiety, sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxant qualities. Doctors often prescribe them for anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Benzodiazepines act on the GABA receptors, the same part of the brain that alcohol affects. Physical dependence has been reported with as little as one month of use. Benzos cause dependency and addiction faster than any other substance. Chronic benzodiazepine use can cause depression, nausea, sleep difficulties, and anxiety attacks. Ataxia, intoxication, coma, respiratory depression, and death are symptoms of an overdose. When benzos are mixed with other sedatives such as opioids or alcohol, the risk of fatal overdose increases significantly.
Upon cessation of benzo use, many users feel intense withdrawal symptoms which signals the need for benzodiazepine addiction rehab. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are considered the only substances that can cause death as a direct result of withdrawal. Common milder symptoms include anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, fatigue and depression. More dangerous symptoms of chronic benzo use may be violence, delusions, mania, or respiratory depression.
Detox from benzodiazepines without medical attention is extremely dangerous. Although not every addict faces life-threatening circumstances, substance abuse treatment should be a necessary next step. A benzodiazepine addiction rehab and detox facility can provide the suggested medical care for a withdrawing addict. Doctors may decrease the dose gradually and prescribe long acting benzos such as diazepam to ease withdrawal symptoms. Rapid cessation of benzodiazepine intake causes severe withdrawal symptoms, and tapering helps curb them.
Detox helps the addict cleanse their body, but does not treat the causes of the addiction in any way. At an inpatient benzodiazepine rehab, the patient is encouraged through a variety of methods to discover and treat the root of their addiction and to live a healthy, sober life. While going through the program, the recovering individual lives on-site. Through group, family, and individual therapy, the addict learns about their addiction and can begin to identify triggers. The treatment may facilitate group seminars on relapse prevention and healthy coping mechanisms. Holistic treatment centers may offer acupuncture, equine therapy, massages, yoga and meditation, nutritional courses, and exercise opportunities. Every treatment program is different, and many can adapt to an individual’s needs.
Outpatient drug rehab programs offer much of the same treatment services, but patients are not required to live at the facility. They are permitted to return home at night, giving them the opportunity to fulfill daily obligations such as work, school, family, and finances. The downside to an outpatient program is the exposure to real world situations, such as drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy behaviors. For this reason, outpatient programs are often recommended for those who have already completed a residential program.
While participating in an outpatient program, many people choose to live in a transitional living house. These houses provide a safe haven for newly recovering addicts to return to at night. They provide a healthy support group, drug testing, and structure.