Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment, Detox, & Rehab Programs
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are central nervous system depressants that are prescribed to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and reduce muscle spasms and seizures.1 Benzos typically have a low potential for misuse in the general population although chronic use is associated with a high risk of dependence and misuse.2 In the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.7% (4.8 million) people 12 and older misused prescription benzos in the past year.3 That same year, 0.4% (1.2 million) people 12 or older had a tranquilizer/sedative use disorder.4
If you think that you or a loved one are struggling with benzodiazepine misuse, treatment is possible. This article will help you to understand what benzodiazepines are, identify signs of benzodiazepine addiction or misuse, and get connected with resources for treatment.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that produce a sedative and calming effect, meaning that they depress, or decrease, excitatory activity in the central nervous system, making the user feel more relaxed or drowsy.3 Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder but may also be used to relieve sleeplessness and reduce seizures or muscle spasms.4
Benzos have the potential for misuse, and misuse is more common among adolescents and young adults, who may take the drug orally or crush the pills and snort them to get high.6
Various prescription drugs fall under this class of drugs, including including:5,6
Who is Using Benzodiazepines?
One of the most prescribed drug groups in the U.S., benzos may be used by between 4 and 5% of the population.4 Older people and women use benzos more, with women being prescribed the medication twice as often as men.4 Additionally, those who have opioid prescriptions are much more likely to be prescribed a benzodiazepine.4
While benzos have a low abuse potential, they are more likely to be misused by those who have a family history or a substance use disorder.4 Misuse may occur because an individual who has used the drug as prescribed begins to use the benzo inappropriately due to various factors or an individual intentionally using benzo with the intent to get high.4
When to Seek Benzo Addiction Treatment
Benzodiazepines may quickly produce feelings of sedation and relaxation, which makes them effective for short-term treatment for anxiety, mood, or panic disorders. If taken regularly, a person’s body begins to adapt and tolerance can develop, so that the person needs a higher dose of the medication to achieve the same effects as experienced previously.7
With long-term use, benzodiazepines are associated with dependence, which means someone will experience withdrawal symptoms if they significantly reduce their dose or stop taking benzos.7 Dependence on a drug does not necessarily mean addiction, but it is often present in people who are addicted to benzos.7 Addiction to benzos is identified as an individual compulsively using the drug regardless of harmful consequences.7
Studies show that benzodiazepine misuse commonly occurs with other substances, particularly with alcohol and opioids, but they are commonly combined with other drugs as well. There are a variety of reasons for this: benzos can enhance the euphoric effects of other drugs; benzos can reduce the unwanted effects of drugs, such as insomnia due to stimulant use; and they can alleviate certain withdrawal symptoms from other drugs.2
Combining benzos with opioids can increase a person’s risk of overdose because both types of drugs can cause sedation and suppress breathing, as well as impair cognitive functions.8
Alcohol and benzodiazepines result in a synergistic effect in depressing the central nervous system, which can cause oversedation and significant impairment. Alcohol is involved in approximately 25% of visits to the emergency room for benzo misuse and in 1 in 5 benzodiazepine-related deaths.2
Addiction is different for everyone, but no matter how your symptoms present, they can get worse if they are ignored. If you are concerned that you are presenting symptoms of tolerance, dependence, and/or addiction as a result of benzo use, Consultation with a medical professional can help to determine the best course of action for you.
If you or a loved one are struggling with benzodiazepine misuse, We are available 24/7.
Take Our Benzodiazepine Addiction Self-Assessment
If you think you or someone you love might be struggling with benzo misuse or addiction, take our free, 5-minute benzodiazepine addiction self-assessment below. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the probability and severity of benzodiazepine use disorder. The test is free and confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
Types of Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
Because addiction can look different in everyone, there is a wide range of treatment options available to meet your individual needs. An evaluation by a medical professional to discuss your symptoms can help to determine your appropriate level of care and the type of setting that best suits your treatment needs.
There isn’t one treatment strategy that works for everyone. Treatment varies based on the type of drug, how long it was used, dosage, and the health history and individual needs of the patient.7 Once in a program, your treatment should follow an individualized care plan to help you meet your recovery goals. Most treatment includes behavioral or mental health therapy. Your treatment plan may focus solely on benzodiazepine use or could include co-occurring disorders such as mental illness or polysubstance use (using benzos in conjunction with other substances, such as alcohol).
Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction can take place in several different settings and with different services and levels of care. Some of these include the following.
- Duration: Days to weeks.9
- Location: Hospitals, specialized inpatient detoxification units, or an outpatient setting with close medical supervision.9
- Who this is suited for: People who have been using benzodiazepines they have not been prescribed, those who are not using benzos as prescribed, those who are using benzos in combination with other substances (including alcohol or opioids), and those whomay need to be medically monitored for withdrawal side effects.9
Medically supervised withdrawal from benzodiazepines is often called medical detoxification or medical detox.9 Those who have used benzos regularly for a long period of time are likely to experience uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.2 Some may benefit from medical supervision to manage the physical or psychological symptoms of withdrawal.9 Detox can take place in a hospital, a clinic, or an outpatient facility, and may last from a few days to a few weeks.9
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may include many symptoms that range in severity and duration depending on how much you have used, how long you have been using, and the specific benzo you have been using.5 Physical symptoms can include headache, sweating, heart palpitations, or dizziness, and psychological symptoms may include anxiety, insomnia, difficulty with memory and concentration, or even perceptual distortions like changes in sensory processing.10
In some cases, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous and even life-threatening.10 A medical professional can assess whether detox is a necessary part of your individualized treatment plan.
Inpatient Benzo Rehab
Inpatient benzodiazepine treatment takes place in hospitals, clinics, and rehab facilities.9 Benzodiazepine inpatient treatment can also happen in a residential setting, which is not a hospital but a living environment where patients stay overnight for the duration of their treatment program.9 Residential benzodiazepine treatment can range from one month to as long as a year depending on the program’s format and the needs of the patient.9
Inpatient or residential benzodiazepine treatment typically includes behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be effective in addressing not only substance use disorders but also mental health disorders that can co-occur with addiction.11 Some programs may also include assistance in finding employment, furthering your education, or finding stable housing as well, to address the psychosocial effects of addiction.9
Outpatient Treatment for Benzodiazepines
Outpatient benzodiazepine treatment programs are a treatment option for people who want to live at home during treatment for their addiction.9 Outpatient benzodiazepine treatment is comprised of different levels of care:9
- Partial hospitalization programs where the patient attends treatment for 4 to 8 hours per day for about 5 days a week and can last as long as 3 months.
- Intensive outpatient programs typically require 4 to 6 hours a day for 3 to 5 days a week. They can last from 2 months up to one year depending on their format and the frequency of group sessions.
- Standard outpatient programs include sessions of 1 to 3 hours and patients attend treatment 1 to 3 days a week.
Outpatient treatment for benzodiazepine addiction tends to benefit people who are willing to attend regular group and individual treatment sessions and have a strong support system at home.9 Other logistical considerations, like stable housing and transportation, are also predictors of success in an outpatient program.9
Aftercare for benzodiazepine addiction treatment is sometimes also called continuing care. Continuing care has been demonstrated to produce better long-term outcomes for addiction treatment overall.12 Aftercare provides continued support and strengthening the abstinence skills and strategies they learned during treatment.12
Getting a Loved One into Benzo Rehab
Some people may not be ready to enter addiction treatment for benzodiazepine use right away or be in denial that their benzo use has become a problem. While you may be highly concerned about your loved one, it is important to remember that you cannot force them to get help and that an intense or aggressive approach such as an intervention may drive them further away. You can set healthy boundaries with your loved one and offer support in finding treatment when they are ready. Education, support, and outreach are key in preventing and treating substance use disorders, and teachers, healthcare providers, parents, and other family members can all play a role in helping their loved ones be well.11
Finding the Right Benzo Addiction Treatment Center
When you are ready to seek treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, your healthcare provider can help to determine your level of care and any other needs and priorities, such as co-occurring disorders.
Once you are ready to start treatment, finding the right treatment program can be overwhelming. American Addiction Centers’ admissions navigators can help with this process. Reach out to them by calling today to verify your insurance and determine the right option for you.
Find Out if Your Insurance Plan Covers Benzodiazepine Addiction Detox
American Addiction Centers can help people recover from benzodiazepine misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs). To find out if your insurance covers treatment at an American Addiction Centers facility, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential.
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