Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in America. Commonly referred to as “benzos,” the benzodiazepine family of antianxiety medication, often taken under the familiar brand names Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, is taken daily by millions of men and women suffering from everything from anxiety, to seizures, to insomnia. But as the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions continue to grow at a staggering rate, so too do the cases of benzodiazepine abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths. Here’s what you need to know about the looming benzodiazepine crisis, often referred to as “the silent epidemic”:
Dependency Is Often Inadvertent
Well-meaning but time-strapped physicians may inappropriately prescribe benzodiazepines to patients without first considering individual risk-factors or warning patients of long-term consequences. Then patients – trusting their doctor’s advice and desperate to feel better – often take the medication faithfully and responsibly for years without questioning their use. Meanwhile, for an estimated 15 to 44 percent of benzodiazepine users, the body adapts to the drug in such a way that physical dependence is developed. It may take missing a dose and experiencing subsequent withdrawal symptoms or verbalized concern from an attentive medial professional before the problem is even discovered.
Withdrawal Can Be Dangerous
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, agitation, insomnia, aches and pains, blurred vision, panic, nausea, seizures, psychosis, and more. Severity of symptoms depends largely on a patient’s medical history, physical condition, duration of use, and benzodiazepines dosage. In no instance, however, is quitting “cold turkey” recommended. The safest way to deal with a benzodiazepine addiction is to seek help from an addiction psychiatrist or medical professional. The most effective form of treatment is often a slow taper, wherein a professional supervises the gradual reduction of benzodiazepine dosage in order to minimize symptoms.
There Are Alternative Treatment Options
While benzodiazepines can be dangerous and addictive, they can also provide a great deal of relief for the estimated 40 million American adults suffering from clinical anxiety. The drugs’ accessibility, relatively low price, and rapid results prevent many patients from considering alternative treatment. But while benzo use may effectively mask the symptoms of anxiety, research suggests it does nothing to cure anxiety and may actually worsen the condition. Anxiety is a complex mental health condition that affects every aspect of life – mind, body, and spirit. The most effective treatments for anxiety address those same aspects, with a holistic approach that addresses the root cause of the illness.
At True Life Center for Wellbeing, we are interested in understanding each patient’s unique story in order to provide customized and comprehensive treatment. Our team of collaborative experts includes two full-time psychiatrists, as well as a full-time psychiatric nurse practitioner, which allows us to safely oversee benzodiazepine detox. We also offer outpatient psychiatry, psychotherapy, holistic services, and an Intensive Outpatient Program for those seeking compassionate, integrative anxiety care.
Fore more information about addiction or mental health treatment please call True Life Center at 858-384-4535. We would be happy to provide information, resources, and support.