Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction and Abuse
Anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia and twitching legs: All of these conditions are very different, but all of them can be effectively treated with benzodiazepine medications. These powerful drugs can soothe an overactive mind and allow a person to feel a sense of calm and ease that might be difficult to find when medical conditions are standing in the way. Unfortunately, these medications can also cause a boost of euphoria in people who take them improperly, and they can sometimes be targets for abuse. Learning to spot the signs of abuse could help families know when to step in and say something, when someone they love is crossing the line into addiction.
A Need for Pills
Those who abuse benzodiazepine medications may take doses that are much, much higher than the doses recommended by experts. For example, in a review of benzodiazepine abuse in the journal Addiction, researchers report that some addicts were taking doses a factor of 30 to 120 above the doses recommended by their doctors. Brain chemistry is to blame for this boost, as addicted people may need to take remarkably large doses of drugs to counteract the natural actions of the brain, which is attempting to keep things under control at all times.
People who take medications at high levels like this may burn through a prescription in mere days, when that prescription was meant to last for a month or even longer. As a result, people may resort to stealing the medication from other people, or they may be forced to look for new doctors who will write additional prescriptions for them. This “doctor shopping,” as it’s commonly known, can prove fatal. According to a studyconducted in West Virginia, people who shop for doctors are at a greater risk of dying of a prescription drug overdose than people who use the same medical professionals over and over again.
People who continually run out of pills, or who are always talking about ways in which they can find new pills, are likely abusing their benzodiazepine medications. Among all of the warning signs of addiction, this is the easiest to spot.
Some other alterations families see in addicted people include:
- An increased need for privacy
- Slurred speech
- Sudden changes in mood
- Desperate need for money
- Lack of interest in work, friends and/or family
The focus of the person’s life is the addiction and the pleasure the drugs can bring about. Everything else seems to pale in importance, and people may begin to seem like strangers to the people they love. Any attempt to discuss the change might be met with anger, tears or just silence. The family may know, deep down, that something has changed, but the person might be unwilling to confirm or deny their fears.
If you’re in this situation, we’d like to help. At Alta Mira, we offer a comprehensive addiction treatment program in a luxury setting. Our intensive intake testing allows us to identify mental health or behavioral health issues that might underlie an addiction, and our counselors are adept at developing treatment programs that can break through denial and bring about meaningful change. If you’re ready to get help for someone you love, or you need help for your own addiction, just call us. We can help.