Benzo Addiction Stories: The Journey Before and After Recovery
Benzodiazepine use disorder is a serious behavioral health condition that requires detox followed by therapy and other types of professional care. Detoxing from benzos, which are prescription anti-anxiety drugs, can be dangerous and life-threatening. Stories of successful detox, treatment, and recovery help inspire people currently using and struggling to stop. Professional help for benzo addiction is available, and it is effective.
Benzodiazepine addiction is a severe mental health issue and a danger to physical health. According to a 2019 study, the use of benzos is high among U.S. adults, and misuse accounts for almost 20% of total use. Benzo addiction is particularly dangerous because combining them with other depressants like opioids significantly increases the risk of a fatal overdose.
Stories of benzo addiction are all too common. But also common are stories of successful recovery. If someone you care about is misusing benzodiazepines, encourage them to get help. If you feel like your use has become problematic, consider these personal stories of overcoming addiction and take steps to make similar changes.
About Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzodiazepines are prescription controlled substances used to treat mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. They are central nervous depressants, which means they reduce activity in the brain. It is this action, which produces a relaxed, calm state of mind, that leads some people to misuse benzos.
As a potentially habit-forming class of drugs, benzodiazepines are schedule IV controlled substances. The class includes well-known brands like Valium and Xanax.
Misuse of benzodiazepines can lead to a substance use disorder. It’s possible to become psychologically dependent, feeling like you need benzos to relax but also physiologically dependent. The latter is particularly dangerous because withdrawal can cause very serious symptoms, including psychosis and seizures, which can be fatal.
Benzodiazepine Addiction – Stories of Hope
If you or a loved one struggles with quitting benzos, these stories of overcoming addiction might inspire you to get professional support.
From Pill Party to Accidental Overdose
“I first used Xanax when I found it in my friend’s medicine cabinet. She was having a party, and it was her mom’s prescription. After that, we threw more pill parties, raiding our own medicine cabinets and sharing what we found.
It seemed pretty harmless at first. I mean, they were prescriptions, so none of us thought it was a big deal. I loved the Xanax for a while, but I wanted to try some other stuff too. Someone had hydrocodone and told me it would be even better, and it was. I felt so relaxed and got a buzz too.
This went on for months, and I still didn’t think it was a problem until I almost died. Without realizing how dangerous it was, I used opioids and Xanax at the same time. My friends couldn’t wake me up and called 911. I woke up in the hospital with my mom crying next to my bed.
At home, my parents got really strict and wouldn’t let me do anything with friends anymore. I got depressed and wanted to use again. After sneaking out to go to a party, my parents caught me and told me I needed to go to rehab.
“It was a really difficult time. I was supposed to be in college, but instead, I spent months in rehab. At first, I thought that the overdose was just a mistake. I wasn’t an addict. But professional care helped me see that I had come to rely on Xanax to deal with the social anxiety I didn’t know I had. I came away from rehab with healthier coping strategies. I started college the next semester, confident that I could be successful without using drugs again.” –Julia M.
Relying on Benzos for Years
“My doctor prescribed me a benzo for depression and anxiety. She warned me that it wasn’t a long-term solution and that I needed to try therapy and eventually find an antidepressant that worked. I didn’t want to do either of those things, especially after trying the benzo. It left me feeling more relaxed than I had in years. I felt like I had my solution, that I could use it reasonably and not get addicted.
When my doctor wouldn’t refill the prescription anymore, I learned how to doctor shop. This went on for years. I thought I was doing just fine. I had a good job, a nice apartment, and a girlfriend I thought I might propose to eventually.
It was my girlfriend who confronted me about the pills. I tried to downplay it, but she wasn’t stupid. She knew I used them daily. I agreed to stop, and when I couldn’t, I was shocked. When I tried to quit, I got extremely anxious. I felt nauseous and achy, and I couldn’t sleep. I knew I had a real problem.
My girlfriend helped me find a recovery program. It started with medical detox to help me stop using safely. That was so difficult, but it was a good reminder that what I thought was reasonable drug use was a real addiction.
Recovery after detox was slow, but it worked. I finally addressed the root problem, which was my mental health and mood disorders. I came out feeling better, more physically fit than ever, and armed with strategies to cope with life without benzos. My girlfriend and I are now married, and I will forever be in debt to her for being brave enough to confront me about drug use.” –Brad S.
Benzos Nearly Ruined My Life
“Like a lot of people, I saw prescription drugs as safe alternatives to harder drugs, even drinking. My dad was an alcoholic, and I didn’t want to go down that path. With pretty bad anxiety, I self-medicated, but I refused to do it with alcohol. I thought taking prescriptions without a doctor’s direction was a smart move. I was just treating my anxiety, right?
I thought I had it all under control, but the relief I got from taking one dose of Xanax or Valium stopped being enough. I doubled the dose. I took the pills throughout the day. I was in a constant state of buzzed relaxation. I fell asleep on the subway one day and had my purse stolen. I was so zoned out at work that I couldn’t get anything done. Eventually, I got fired.
Even after these kinds of things kept happening, I denied to myself that I had a problem. My sister confronted me, but I got mad and stopped talking to her. When I ran out of money, I went to my parents. They took me in but soon after regretted it. I found a low-paying job, but I still couldn’t afford the rent to move out.
It was the prospect of my parents kicking me out and having literally nowhere else to go that led me to get help. My parents agreed to send me to rehab. The comedown was rough, but once my head was clear again, I saw the wreckage of my life. I had a good job and friends once. Now I had no job, no money, no friends, and only my parents behind me.
Thankfully, that was enough. Recovery has been difficult. It’s still tough for me not to reach for denial. I have to remind myself daily that I got addicted to drugs. It happened, but now it’s over, and I fight to stay sober every day.” –Nikki F.
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Seeking Professional Help for Benzo Addiction
If these stories spark something familiar inside you, it might be time to seek residential care. Whether it’s for you or a loved one, professional help is the best way to recover from benzodiazepine addiction. The most critical first step is to detox safely.
Unlike other drugs, benzos cause a withdrawal syndrome that is more than just uncomfortable—it’s dangerous. There is a risk of psychosis, delusions, seizures, and even death when coming off benzos too abruptly. Don’t try to take this step alone. Contact a rehab facility that includes supervised detox or can recommend an appropriate program.
Detox is only the first step. Follow up safe detox with long-term therapy and other kinds of professional care. This is necessary to reduce the risk of later relapse. With supervised detox and a solid residential facility and recovery program, you can have a happy ending to your benzo story.