What Are Benzos? How Do They Lead To Addiction?
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a type of medication also known as tranquilizers. They are a class of depressants used for sedation, reducing anxiety, aiding sleep and other purposes. Benzos are highly addictive and yet some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America.
When people use them without a prescription, it is called misuse and can quickly lead to addiction.
The Most Commonly Abused Benzos
If you are wondering whether someone you know could be addicted to a benzodiazepine, here is a list and brief description of some of the most popular benzo drugs. Although benzos can come in a variety of forms and brand, let’s look at the most commonly circulated types:
- Valium (diazepam) is most commonly available in a white, yellow or blue round pill, scored with the manufacturer’s numbers. It often has the letter “V” imprinted on it or cut out of the center.
- Xanax (alprazolam) is sold in orange, white, yellow or blue oval-shaped pills. Xanax bars are the shape of a rectangle, scored into four sections.
- Klonopin (clonazepam) is available in white, yellow, blue and green round pills that sometimes have the letter “K” cut out of the center.
- Ativan (lorazepam) is available in a white five-sided or round pill, which is scored with the manufacturer’s symbols.
Why Benzos Can Be Addictive
Benzos are often used in combination with illicit drugs or alcohol, increasing the potential of addiction and enhancing the drugs’ depressant properties.
People who enjoy a sedated feeling are at risk of addiction to benzos. These psychoactive drugs activate the brain’s pleasure centers, which is what makes them desirable for continued use. However, after a few weeks of use, the sedative effects are practically nil, requiring higher doses of the drug to achieve an effect.
Signs and Effects of Benzo Abuse
Your loved one could be abusing benzos if he or she exhibits some of these characteristics:
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Dry retching
- Loss of libido
The effects of abusing medications like Xanax and Valium can include the above symptoms as well as the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Suicidal risk
These lists are not all-inclusive. The many symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction are dangerous and some are life-threatening. The most serious side effects of benzo abuse result in death through suicide, overdose or respiratory depression (cessation of breathing).
Dangers of Black-Market Xanax
Benzos are sold on the street under names like Tranx, Sleepers, Z Bars and Heavenly Blues.
Illegal drug manufacturers often add cheap fillers to street Xanax, sometimes resulting in a fatal concoction. Several people across the U.S. have died by taking only one black-market Xanax.
Counterfeit Xanax bars can be hard to recognize; they look a lot like the real thing. And when fake Xanax is laced with fentanyl, a fatal overdose is a real possibility.
If Xanax bars bought on the black market are asymmetrical, discolored, thicker than usual or if they break into three parts instead of four, then there’s a good chance they’re counterfeit. Avoid at all costs. Better yet, before it gets to the point where you or a loved one is soliciting benzos on the street, seek treatment instead.
Addiction Treatment Protocol for Benzo Recovery
When someone enters treatment for an addiction to benzos, they begin the journey of rebuilding their relationships, career, finances and the activities they used to enjoy. If you’re having trouble getting a loved one addicted to benzos to agree to treatment, then you should look into a professionally guided intervention to make that final push.
The first step at any treatment facility will involve detoxification. Due to the serious nature of benzodiazepine addiction, medical aid for detox is highly recommended to start the healing process. The addictive properties of tranquilizers are incredibly strong, and withdrawal without specialized help can be lethal.
Unsupervised withdrawal from benzos can cause:
- Other painful, potentially deadly symptoms
Inpatient rehabilitation is the safest course of action for someone you know addicted to benzodiazepines. As an inpatient, your loved one will receive the medical supervision necessary (and possibly medication) to ease the detox process.
A common practice for benzo addiction is to titrate down until the drug can be tapered off completely. Conversely, a common treatment is to switch the patient to a less potent benzo for a short time.
The typical benzo treatment protocol also involves healthy meals to replenish nutrients lost during substance use. Additionally, various clinical and possibly holistic therapies should be used to help heal the patient during inpatient treatment – and into the outpatient phase, too.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment Help Options
If your loved one is suffering from addiction to benzos, your family is not alone. Xanax, for example, is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the U.S.
Addiction Treatment Services is dedicated to helping families that have a loved one struggling with benzodiazepine abuse.If you find yourself worried over your family member or close friend, we can help you find the right treatment center for all of their recovery needs.
Our professionals are also familiar with the intricacies of insurance coverage for behavioral health services (e.g., substance abuse and mental health treatment). Remember, mental health benefits work differently than general medical benefits.
Addiction Treatment Services can match you with a rehab program that best fits your insurance. Our experts are dedicated to helping families understand their insurance benefits in order to make informed decisions.
Benzo addiction is a serious and dangerous condition. By getting your loved one help today, you could very well be saving their life.