Benzodiazepines Addiction Treatment
For people with longstanding difficulties with anxiety or sleep, relief can come in the form of a tiny pill containing benzodiazepines. These medications can slow down the activity of the cells within the brain, allowing tortured, anxious thoughts to fade in importance. Sometimes, it’s just the right kind of therapy that could help people to experience the sort of relief that could elude them without the help of drugs.
The same drugs that bring relief could also bring pain, however, as these medications have been linked with addiction. In fact, in a study in the journal Psychopharmacology, 47 percent of people who used these drugs for more than one month developed a physical dependence, and perhaps some of these people moved on from a physical need for medications to a psychic inability to control their use of these drugs. For these people, addiction treatment programs could be vital. Here, they can access the targeted help they’ll need to stop their drug abuse, and they can learn how to handle the triggers that might push them into benzodiazepine addiction in the future.
Benzodiazepines are almost perfectly suited for the human body, and when they’re in place, they can trigger a series of very persistent chemical changes. The brain slows, and in time, those cells become accustomed to functioning at a slower and quieter pace. When the drug is no longer available and the brain is asked to function at its normal pace, it can rebel in a variety of different ways. According to a study in the journal Addiction, most people going through a withdrawal experience a short-lived period of anxiety and insomnia.
Others endure a longer and more significant period of withdrawal that might include:
- Anxiety, including panic attacks and a feeling of tension
- Nausea and dry heaving
- Headache and muscle pain
- Changes in perception
Withdrawal symptoms are distressing in relation to addiction, as many people who are living with problems like this choose to return to drug use in order to make the pain and discomfort disappear. Withdrawal is particularly dangerous for people who are addicted to benzodiazepines, as some people could lose their lives in their quest to get sober. Returning to drugs might seem reasonable, when people could die for their attempt to heal.
Treatment programs strive to help people get sober without dealing with ongoing pain. For some people, this means switching to a different type of benzodiazepine medication and then tapering a little bit each day until none of the drug is available at all. This kind of change-and-taper program can allow the body to adjust slowly, so nothing terrible takes place. Other people don’t need this kind of slow taper, but they do need close medical monitoring, so medications can be provided if serious withdrawal symptoms begin to take hold.
Finding the Trigger
Dealing with an addiction properly means digging down to the source, determining why the person takes drugs. For some, the trigger is an underlying mental illness. According to a study in the journal Psychiatric Services, benzodiazepines are often prescribed for people who have serious mental illnesses, and while some people never abuse the substances, those who have a past history of addiction to almost any substance are more likely to abuse the benzodiazepines that could help them. A thorough mental health screening, provided at the beginning of the treatment process could help mental health professionals to identify these issues and provide clients with a treatment program that could help.
For women, addictions are sometimes related to a traumatic episode, such as childhood sexual abuse or survivorship of an abusive relationship as an adult.
The link between trauma and benzodiazepine abuse could be particularly stark, as these medications are sometimes provided in the wake of trauma, even though a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that people provided with these drugs healed no quicker in the face of trauma when compared to people who did not get those drugs. Women who go through trauma and who get these drugs might only end up with an addiction, and that trauma might always be in the background, waiting to strike once more. It can be difficult for a woman to discuss this kind of trauma, but doing so could allow her treatment program to help her.
People with addictions may also have triggers that cause them to be drawn to benzodiazepines, including:
- Friends who also abuse drugs
- Moments of high emotion, including intense happiness or grief
- Sleepless nights
- Angry confrontations at work
These individualized triggers can be important clues the treatment team can use when planning treatment sessions.
Learning in Therapy
Once a person’s specific triggers have been identified and the treatment team really understands all the issues that may have contributed to the benzodiazepine addiction issue, the real work of therapy can begin. Some programs provide intensive one-on-one therapy, allowing a client to work directly with the same mental health professional on a regular basis. The two work as problem-solvers, developing intensive plans that could be put into play when triggers strike or dysfunction begins to creep back in. Therapy like this could also allow clients to learn how to process mental illnesses like anxiety and depression without the use of drugs at all. Therapy might also allow clients to process their traumatic experiences in a healthful manner, so they can leave their memories behind and live a life that’s focused on the future.
Some people also benefit from therapy provided in group settings. Here, everyone who participates has an addiction of some sort, and the discussions are always led by a trained mental health professional. People with benzodiazepine addictions might still get to solve problems here and process their pain, but they’ll have a much larger group of resources upon which to draw. Group therapy also allows people to contribute to the healing of other people, and for some, making a contribution that helps others could provide a boost in feelings of happiness and peace. Group therapy has also been proven effective in people with benzodiazepine addiction, as a study in the journal Addiction found that people who got group therapy had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety when the program was through, and they held onto these gains a full year later. For some people, this could be the therapy of choice.
Who Needs Help?
Benzodiazepines are strong medications, and almost anyone who takes them for a specific period of time might develop a physical dependence on the changes they can bring about. This physical dependence isn’t the same as an addiction. People who have a physical dependence might need to take medications in order to stave off symptoms of withdrawal, but people with an addiction might take drugs when there is no need for them. People like this might also take benzodiazepines specifically for the feelings the drugs can bring about. As the addiction grows, people like this might be so desperate to keep their issues hidden that they might visit multiple doctors, lie about the pills they take and hide pills all over the house. The sense of guilt might be enormous, but it might also seem much too hard to stop the abuse.
If this sounds familiar to you, please call us. At The Orchid, we have a comprehensive treatment program that can help you to move past your addiction and get on with your life once more. We’ve designed our treatment program just for women, and the community approach we use could be just the sort of thing you’ll need to leave an addiction behind for good. Please call us to find out more about our benzodiazepine programs. We can even schedule an intake appointment for you right over the phone.