How Are Benzos Abused?

Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs that are generally prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. They are Schedule IV drugs, as they are less likely to cause addiction when they are taken as directed by a physician. However, benzodiazepines are still addictive, and people who abuse them often become very dependent on them.

The most frequent benzodiazepines prescribed by doctors include:

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan
  • Halcion
  • Librium

Benzos are Not for Long-Term Use

In most instances, benzodiazepines are considered a short-term solution to anxiety or sleep disorders. They are not intended to be used as a long-term treatment. Instead, people suffering from anxiety or insomnia are encouraged to find alternative treatments to help them manage their problems.

Alternative treatments that can be helpful with anxiety or insomnia include individual therapy, acupuncture, diet and exercise, and biofeedback. There are also some other medications that may be able to be used, particularly for anxiety, that are better for long-term maintenance as opposed to benzodiazepines.

How People Abuse Benzos

When people are placed on benzodiazepines, it’s critical that they follow the recommendations from their doctor. If the person doesn’t use the medication as prescribed, they can put themselves at risk for addiction. Also, if they don’t manage their medications properly, someone else in the home may abuse them. Many addictions start in the medicine cabinet.

The most common ways that people abuse benzodiazepines are:

  • Taking the sedatives without a prescription
  • Taking more of the drug or more frequent doses than what’s prescribed
  • Taking the drug in a way that is not prescribed, such as snorting or injecting it
  • Combining the sedatives with other substances, such as prescription drugs or alcohol, to enhance their effects

Withdrawal Process

When benzodiazepines are abused, an addiction to them can form. To complicate matters, these drugs are both psychologically and physically addictive. This can make the detox process particularly uncomfortable.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur anywhere from 6-48 hours after the last dosage, depending on the type of benzo taken and its manufacturer. The most common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, sweating, nausea, headache, and insomnia.

To ensure a safe detox process, supervised detox is highly recommended. It’s also not advised to go “cold turkey” because benzodiazepines are both physically and psychologically addictive and withdrawal can be fatal.

It has been shown that programs that offer supervised medical detox and therapeutic intervention are best for addictions of this sort. The River Source offers detox and treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, and we have a number of holistic treatment options that make the recovery process more rewarding. Call us today to learn more.


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