Benzo Abuse: No Joke
Benzodiazepines (benzos) work on the brain by releasing something called GABA. GABA acts as a sedative and will create a sense of calm, also when somebody ingests a benzo there’s going to be a release of Dopamine which creates pleasure or euphoria. Now usually benzos are going to be prescribed for somebody who suffers from anxiety, panic disorder or some kind of sleep issue but there might be a few issues with treating these symptoms with medication. For example, you might have recently experienced a major event which is producing some uncontrollable emotions, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have major panic disorder, or you might have recently experienced some sleepless nights, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you suffer from insomnia. Maybe you’re having a rough day, perhaps you’re having a rough couple of days or you’re stressed out about bills, relationships, work, etc. Whatever it is, its creating a sense of anxiousness. This does not necessarily mean that somebody has general anxiety disorder. If you completely turn off your anxiety, you remove a safety mechanism telling you the consequences of your actions. This could lead to a relapse.
Even if somebody does suffer from one of these disorders and has been correctly diagnosed, using a benzo to treat those symptoms might just be a temporary fix. Unfortunately, sometimes a benzo is prescribed to people who don’t necessarily need them. For example, if somebody’s in earlier recovery and suffering from post acute withdrawal, they might be experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia and to treat those symptoms with benzos would be doing that person a disservice. If somebody is predisposed to the disease of addiction, this can create physical and mental dependence, the two components that make up addiction.
A list of commonly prescribed benzos might start with the most abused benzo, Xanax. Some terms for Xanax are: footballs, ladders, zannies, and bars. Other abused benzos are Klonopin, Ativan and Valium. If you’re worried about a loved one abusing a benzo, here’s some common symptoms that somebody will show if they are abusing them: impaired judgment, slurred speech, vertigo, poor reflexes, depression and a number of other behavioral, emotional and physical changes. In the event you or a loved one is abusing benzos and decides to stop, don’t do it cold turkey.
Benzo withdrawal can be challenging without the support of some kind of medical facility and when it happens it can lead to relapse. It is really important to do it under the supervision of a detox or some kind of medical facility where you can taper off the substance. Doing so in this manner can prevent seizures and possible death when coming off the benzo. Upon entering a detox facility, you might experience some of the following withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, panic attacks, rapid heart rate, muscle spasms, body tremors, hallucinations and depression.
After the physical detox, the individual will likely need to enter a treatment facility or some recovery program in order to stabilize and put the disease in the remission. A holistic approach to this treatment can consist of clinical and medical aspects, counseling, writing, therapy, process groups. Physical rehabilitation can consist of yoga to help regulate anxiety and stay in the moment, especially during the onset of a panic attack. Also, intense physical activity to get the brain functioning normalized and, of course, a solid peer group to help encourage and reinforce sobriety. Benzo abuse is no joke, there’s a lot of people out there that are affected, there’s people out there that are dying as well.