Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are commonly used prescription drugs. They are tranquilizers that have a powerfully calming effect on the user. Benzos are intended to be taken only on occasion and not for an extended period of time, but they’re commonly abused.
In the DSM-5 (a reference for mental health disorders), the American Psychiatric Association defines a benzo addiction as a hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder. Like any form of substance abuse, benzo addiction is a mental health condition and should be treated in a caring and nonjudgmental way. Our staff at Washburn House, a substance abuse treatment facility, in Worcester, MA will help you understand your addiction and break it, so you can take on your life in a healthy way.
Which Drugs Are Classified as Benzos?
Benzos are considered “downers,” so those who struggle to relax are particularly vulnerable to benzo addiction. There are different types of benzos for different purposes, but all have the potential to be addictive.
Types of benzodiazepine prescription drugs include:
How Do I Know I’m Addicted to Benzos?
Benzos are used to treat many mental health disorders, especially those which are anxiety-related. They’re commonly prescribed for:
- Panic disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
You’re at risk for benzo addiction if you take the drug in any way other than how it’s prescribed to you by a doctor. If you take it more often or in higher amounts than intended or were given or sold the drug instead of prescribed it by a doctor, you could be addicted.
One major warning sign of addiction is needing more of the drug to feel the same effects. Your body gets used to the benzo and develops a tolerance for it, which means you need more of it over time to get the same high.
Signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction include:
- Memory problems
- Poor judgment or thinking
- “Doctor shopping” – Bouncing from one doctor to another to get benzo prescriptions
- Hostility or violence
Your loved ones might notice your benzo addiction before you do.
How Do I Recover from a Benzo Addiction?
It can be deadly to try to quit benzos without any support. Taking the drug, especially if you’ve built up a tolerance to it, changes the chemistry of the brain. Your brain and body physically need it. Withdrawal symptoms are sometimes severe enough that they’re lethal.
Detox is absolutely necessary for quitting benzos. Our Medically Monitored Detox program at Washburn House in Worcester, MA will guide you through this process safely under the care of our doctors and nurses, who are available 24/7.
What Is Detox from Benzos Like?
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Extreme anxiety
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Vomiting and dry heaving
- Burning sensation in the brain
How intense these symptoms are and how long they last depend on how heavy your use of benzos was. You should be prepared for the detox process to take some time. The acute, or most intense, phase of withdrawal typically lasts from 7 to 10 days. Symptoms can linger, but be less severe, for up to two years. Washburn House provides a variety of treatments to get you through benzo withdrawal, including potentially weaning you off in decreasing amounts of the drug over time.
Your brain chemistry has changed dramatically since abusing benzos, and it takes time for your brain to heal. During withdrawal, you’ll be especially vulnerable to relapsing. Participating in a therapy-intensive addiction treatment program will help you learn to manage these temptations as well as your remaining withdrawal symptoms.
If you complete detox at Washburn House, our knowledgeable and experienced clinicians will help you decide on the next steps that are right for your recovery journey.
What Happens When I Get to Washburn House with a Benzo Addiction?
When you arrive at Washburn House, you will be greeted by our warm and welcoming staff. Our highly trained clinical and medical treatment professionals will conduct a pre-screening evaluation to determine how severe your benzo addiction is.
If needed, you’ll be referred for our Medically Monitored Detox program. If you do not need to detox, we’ll talk you through your options and get to know you and your individual needs. We know that no two addictions are alike. Only by getting to know you as a whole person can we create an effective treatment plan.
What Treatment Process Is Right for Me?
Clinically Managed Inpatient Drug Rehab
This residential program offers 24-hour structure and support. You will receive group and individual therapy, case management, and medication management, if needed.
Day Treatment (PHP)
Our Day Treatment program gives you structure and supervision for a portion of the day with intensive programming, including therapy and skills training. You go home at the end of the day, making it a lower level of care than inpatient rehab and best for those who have completed inpatient recovery and/or who have supportive, sober environments at home.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
IOP at Washburn House includes three hours of group therapy at least three days per week. You’ll live at home but will also have an assigned therapist and case manager to help you transition into the community after you complete the program.
How Long Does Recovery from a Benzo Addiction Take?
Recovery from the physical and psychological effects of benzo addiction can take up to two years.But, as with other forms of substance use, there is no point at which you should consider yourself in the clear. You’ll always remember what the high was like, and you’ll need to cope with relapse triggers for the rest of your life. Recovery is a lifelong process, and we’re here to help you!
Does Washburn House Accept My Insurance?
We accept most commercial insurance plans.
If you don’t have insurance, we also accept direct payments for our addiction treatment programs. If you aren’t sure how to pay for your treatment, give us a call! We’re more than happy to help walk you through your options.
What Happens When I Leave Washburn House?
Your assigned therapist and case manager will help you build a comprehensive relapse prevention plan, which will prepare you for temptations you may face down the road. You will also build an aftercare plan, including resources like therapy and support groups.
Support is vitally important when you’re recovering, no matter how long you’ve been sober. We’ll help make sure you have a safety net of support to have your back when things get tough!
What If I Still Suffer from Anxiety, Insomnia, or Seizures?
We at Washburn House understand that the condition for which you were prescribed benzos was severe enough to impact your daily life. Our goal is to help you manage these conditions effectively while limiting your possibility for relapse. To stand the best chance at maintaining sobriety, you should not resume taking any form of benzos. The risk of abusing them again is too great.
Our clinicians will carefully evaluate your physical and mental health symptoms and create an alternative plan for treating what you need treated. This may include medications without addiction potential, such as SSRIs for anxiety disorders, or lifestyle and behavioral changes. Whatever the solution, you can be confident we have taken your condition seriously and will help you manage it well.
Washburn House in Worcester, MA is ready to help you move into a future of sobriety and leave prescription drug abuse behind. The tools you learn here will support you through recovery at our treatment center and in your life beyond!