Los Angeles, California -
Los Angeles, CA – The alarming rates of opioid addiction and overdose deaths have rightfully attracted significant attention from public health and law enforcement officials, but they are far from the only substances of concern. Muse Treatment, a drug and alcohol rehab facility based in Los Angeles, is offering a guide to withdrawal from the anti-anxiety medications that are some of the most challenging drugs to quit.
Published as a blog on Muse’s website, the guide offers comprehensive information on detox and withdrawal from benzodiazepines (“benzos”). These are the anti-anxiety medications usually known by the brand names Ativan, Halcion, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Xanax. Because they are so often prescribed, many people don’t realize how addictive they can be. Yet they are tough to quit because withdrawal symptoms are so severe, including life-threatening seizures. In fact, recovering benzo addicts often say they'd rather give up heroin than Valium or another of this class of drug.
Benzos have become a popular solution for people under extreme stress or coping with the fear of flying and similar emotions. Unfortunately, many users treat them like aspirin, sharing them with friends and family without realizing benzos should only be administered by a physician. Even without addiction, benzos are dangerous when combined with alcohol – as they often are by users seeking a “twice as good” cure for their anxiety.
Muse hopes to counteract this risky over-confidence with its guide to benzos, which explains what they are, why they are so addictive, and what to expect in detox and rehab – before someone decides to take them.
Like other drugs, benzos boost dopamine levels in the brain’s pleasure-reward areas, creating pleasurable sensations. This process makes them effective in treating anxiety. However, the sedative effect of these drugs, plus their addiction-forming chemical properties, can make them easily abused. Even people taking these medications as prescribed can develop a benzodiazepine dependence over time.
Any type of benzodiazepine is addictive, and you can become physically dependent on them as you would on heroin or tobacco. You can build up a tolerance, meaning that the same dose no longer gives you the same effect causing you to take larger and larger amounts. People can experience adverse effects like breakthrough anxiety between doses, and with continued use, they become physically dependent on it, creating a combination of substance abuse and mental health disorder. Physical dependence can occur quickly, causing withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. You are more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder with long-term benzodiazepine use.
Many people often develop a tolerance to benzodiazepines after taking a high dosage for an extended period. With tolerance, the user needs a higher dosage to feel their effects. When they suddenly stop taking the medication, withdrawal symptoms appear. Withdrawal symptoms can affect people prescribed them just as much as those abusing them.
Withdrawal symptoms are physically and emotionally painful and can even be life-threatening if the user stops suddenly. The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms are worse with those with a more extended history of use or higher dosage.
The most common symptoms are called “rebound” symptoms and appear within one to four days after stopping use. These symptoms will usually last up to ten days and include sleep disturbances, headaches, heart palpitations, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, panic attacks, muscular stiffness or discomfort, hand tremors, excessive sweating, and mild to moderate changes in perception. Many of these are the very same symptoms benzodiazepines are initially prescribed for, which is why they are called rebound symptoms. Withdrawal can also lead to seizures, hallucinations, and psychotic episodes and may pose an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.
These harrowing experiences make it critical to undergo withdrawal with expert medical supervision, followed by a comprehensive rehab program. Rehabilitation, especially dual diagnosis treatment, address the underlying anxiety for which benzos were prescribed so the recovering addict is better able to avoid relapse and return to daily life.
To read Muse’s complete guide to benzo detox and withdrawal, visit Muse Treatment online. For treatment of any addiction for yourself or a loved one, including dependence on alcohol, opioids, and other drugs, visit online or call (800) 426-1818.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]
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