Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are powerful drugs that are frequently prescribed in the United States. They are also highly addictive substances. Once a person has become addicted to a benzo, they may need comprehensive professional care to get through withdrawal and achieve recovery. Buckhead Behavioral Health is a trusted source of benzo addiction treatment in Atlanta, Georgia.
How Is Benzo Addiction Treated?
Benzo addiction treatment may incorporate both medical and therapeutic services.
The medical component of benzo addiction treatment typically involves the use of certain prescription medications to ease the distress of withdrawal. Benzo withdrawal can be a painful and potentially dangerous experience. This is why medical detox can be an essential first step in the benzo addiction treatment process.
Once a person has completed detox, the therapeutic phase of their treatment can help them address the behavioral aspects of benzo addiction. Depending on the full scope of each person’s needs, their treatment for benzo addiction may include therapies and related services such as the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Relapse prevention education
Before a person transitions out of treatment for benzo addiction, they should also receive a discharge plan with information about the community-based organizations and services that can support their continued recovery efforts.
About Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzodiazepine use is extremely common in the United States. According to a 2019 article in the journal Psychiatric Services, more than 30 million adults used benzos at least once in the previous 12 months. More than 5 million of these people engaged in benzo abuse.
Even when a person uses a benzo as directed by their doctor, they risk developing an addiction. When someone abuses these drugs, the likelihood that they will become dependent increases.
Benzo addiction is characterized by tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance means that as a person’s body becomes used to the presence of benzos, they need to take more of the drug to achieve the effects they are seeking. Withdrawal refers to the distressing physical and psychological symptoms that occur when a person stops using benzos.
When a person feels compelled to take increasingly larger amounts of benzos, and when they cannot stop doing so due to the pain of withdrawal, they are in danger of significant harm. The negative effects of untreated benzo addiction can include overdose and death.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
Benzo addiction can affect different people in different ways. So it can sometimes be difficult to tell if someone you care about has a problem. In general, though, here are a few of the more common signs and symptoms of benzo addiction:
- Slurred speech
- Having problems with memory, focus, and concentration
- Experiencing dizziness and muscle weakness
- Displaying uncharacteristic agitation or irritability
- Using benzos more frequently, in larger amounts, or for a longer amount of time than directed by the prescribing physician
- Trying to buy, borrow, or steal benzos that have been prescribed to someone else
- Doctor shopping, or visiting several physicians and exaggerating their symptoms in an attempt to get multiple prescriptions
- Combining benzos with alcohol or other drugs
- Becoming agitated when they can’t acquire or use benzos
Steps involved in Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
The opioid crisis affects many people throughout the United States. Atlanta and the state of Georgia are not immune to this crisis. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, “In 2020, 67% of drug overdose deaths in Georgia were related to opioids—1,309 total.”
Benzodiazepine addiction is a treatable condition. When a person gets the right type and level of benzo addiction treatment, they can end their substance use and achieve a drug-free future. Depending on how a person has been impacted by benzo addiction, their treatment may include the following steps:
- Residential treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Outpatient rehab
Once a person has completed detox, they can transition into one of the other programs listed above. Some people will spend time at multiple levels, while others will only receive care at one level. What’s most important is matching the level of care and type of services to the unique needs of each person who is receiving treatment for benzo addiction.
Most Commonly Abused Benzos
The following are examples of commonly abused benzodiazepines. For each benzo listed below, the generic version is listed first, followed by the brand name in parentheses:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
Benzo Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
Depending on which type of benzo a person has been abusing, the first withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours or a few days after their last dose. Some benzos, such as alprazolam and diazepam, remain in a person’s system for an extended period of time. This can delay the onset of withdrawal symptoms for as long as a week.
Common initial symptoms of benzo withdrawal include:
- Drug cravings
- Anxiety and agitation
Benzo withdrawal symptoms usually reach the acute stage within 3-5 days after they began. Again, this timeline can vary depending on which benzo a person has been abusing. The individual’s age, weight, and a variety of other factors can influence when symptoms begin and when they peak.
During the acute phase, a person may experience intense distress from symptoms such as:
- Muscle pain
- Severe stomach aches
- Abdominal cramping
- Excessive perspiration
- Racing heart rate
- Tics and tremors
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal ideation
Some benzo withdrawal symptoms can last as long as month. Others may endure even longer. Research indicates that as many as 25% of people who engage in chronic benzo abuse may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms.
Protracted withdrawal, which is also referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS, can include symptoms such as:
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Depressed mood
- Impaired memory
- Diminished problem-solving skills
- Disrupted sleep
These and other PAWS symptoms can endure for several months.
The intense distress of benzo withdrawal and the likelihood that some symptoms may last for a long time are two reasons why it can be so valuable to begin treatment in a detoxification, or detox program. Detox can help people complete the withdrawal process safely and with minimal discomfort. During detox, people can receive personalized support to help them manage any distress they experience.
Types of Benzo Addiction Treatment in Atlanta
If you are seeking benzo addiction treatment in Atlanta, you have many options.
- As noted at the end of the previous section, detoxification can be a vital component of an effective benzo addiction treatment plan.
- If you need round-the-clock care, an inpatient or residential program may be the ideal placement.
- Once you have completed inpatient or residential care, you may step down to a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP).
- If you do not need round-the-clock services, you may begin your benzo addiction treatment in Atlanta in a PHP or IOP.
- Outpatient counseling and therapy programs can be vital sources of continued support after you have completed detox and one of the higher levels of care listed above.
Please remember that there is no single ideal way to recover from benzo addiction. The most important factor is finding the place that can assess full scope of your needs and then provide a truly personalized treatment experience.
Begin Benzo Addiction Treatment in Atlanta
Buckhead Behavioral Health provides comprehensive care for people who have become addicted to benzodiazepines and other drugs. Features of our benzo addiction treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, include personalized services, multiple levels of care, and specialized programming for people whose struggles with addiction are accompanied by co-occurring mental health concerns. Please visit our admissions page or contact us directly to learn more.