Managing benzodiazepine addiction requires a multi-step approach that identifies the underlying causes of addiction and then proceeds with a careful treatment program. Because these medications are often used to manage conditions like depression and anxiety, it’s important that clients undergoing addiction treatment receive therapy and counseling, as well as peer support.
If you’re familiar with prescription drugs, you’ve probably heard of Xanax, Valium, Tranxene, Librium, or Ativan. These are different brand names of a category of drugs called benzodiazepines. You might have even received them from your doctor to help you manage anxiety, seizures, or panic attacks. They can also help relieve muscle spasms and insomnia.
Benzodiazepines can be extremely beneficial and have a low potential for abuse according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Unfortunately, even though they’re listed as a Schedule IV drug, they can become addictive. In fact, more than 5 million people misused them in 2018.
If you’ve misused benzodiazepines, you know the harm they can cause. Even if you use them for a short time, you can end up with clammy skin, a slow heartbeat, memory loss, have trouble breathing, or suffer from blackouts. Long-term effects of benzo addiction can include respiratory arrest, increased risk of cancer, and an increased risk of developing underlying mental disorders. The best way to prevent these risks is to stop abusing benzodiazepines. If you’re ready to do that, you’ll need to go through addiction treatment.
How Addiction Treatment Begins: Evaluation, Assessment, and Medical Exam
When you first decide you’re ready to treat your addiction to benzodiazepines, you’ll require an evaluation and medical assessment. During this process, a treatment professional will ask you questions and explore your medical and therapeutic history. If you started using benzodiazepines from a prescription, you’ll want to share why your doctor prescribed you the drugs in the first place. You may also need to take a medical exam.
The goal of this evaluation is to determine what kind of treatment you need. You might have come into the facility for benzodiazepine addiction, but a staff member may discover that you have untreated mental health, behavioral, or learning challenge diagnoses, as well. Evaluating your health is a vital part of making sure you get the comprehensive care you need. After you have a treatment plan in place, you’ll move on to detox.
Detox: Freeing the Body of Benzodiazepines
Detox focuses on your physical body. The primary purpose of the detoxification process is simple: to remove benzodiazepines from your body and brain. But overcoming withdrawal symptoms isn’t always easy. The severity of withdrawal depends on how long and often you misused benzodiazepines and how much of the drug you consumed. There are many withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepine addiction and you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle spasms
- Ringing ears
- Racing pulse
- Aches and pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Panic attacks
If you’ve taken benzodiazepines for more than 6 months, there’s a 40% chance you’ll experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. But you don’t need to worry. Most detox programs offer medically supervised programs to help ease discomfort and provide 24/7 support. There’s no magic number for exactly how long detox lasts, but on average this process can last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. Once your body is free of benzodiazepines, you’re ready for drug rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation: What Happens In Addiction Treatment
Because benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications, you may experience an increase in anxiety or stress when you seek treatment. In fact, most programs are aware of the risk of this “rebound anxiety.” To help you get through this period, treatment program therapists will guide you through each step of the recovery process.
In addition to therapy for anxiety, benzodiazepine rehabilitation often includes:
- Therapy to treat underlying trauma. Most people who struggle with anxiety have experienced some form of trauma. If this is true for you, that pain may be one of the reasons you are experiencing substance abuse issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help change your behavior by challenging and refocusing your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.
- Counseling for co-occurring disorders, if needed. Benzodiazepine addiction and mood disorders are often deeply intertwined. If you’re anxious, you may have other mental health disorders like depression, panic disorder, bipolar, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well. If you do, individual and group counseling can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for your anxiety. Counseling also helps you develop better ways to deal with stress, helping you avoid relapse.
- Peer support. Receiving support from others in recovery is a great way to build healthy social relationships. Peer support sessions also allow you to share your own addiction experience, learn from others, and build accountability relationships. Without such support, maintaining your recovery can be really difficult. That’s why we provide our very own 12-step program for all our clients.
- Family therapy. A major focus of rehabilitation is restoring family relationships. This is especially true if you struggle with high anxiety levels. In that case, you need to know that you’re not alone and that remaining on a healthy path will help you in the long term. Close family members can provide that kind of support. Family therapy teaches them how to understand and support your challenges and recovery journey.
- Relapse education and prevention. We know that 40 to 60% of people relapse after addiction treatment. We also know that the more you understand your triggers, how to manage stress, and how to ask for support when you need it, the less likely you are to relapse. Relapse education and prevention training can help you learn critical skills to manage addictive triggers once you complete your treatment.
- Aftercare support. We won’t abandon you when your rehab program is over. Instead, we’ll continue to check in on you, provide you with needed care, and recommend resources that will help you stay on the path of long-term recovery.
Let Us Help You Recover Your Life
At Genesis Recovery, we know that living with anxiety is hard. We also know that trying to numb your pain with misusing benzodiazepines can lead to addiction. But there’s a better way. Our prescription drug addiction treatment program can help you regain control of your anxiety and your life. Contact us today at 619-797-7319 if you or a loved one are ready to begin addiction treatment.