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Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, panic and trauma and are the most widely used medications in the United States. Commonly referred to as “benzos,” these medications have sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties. Some well-known and frequently prescribed benzodiazepines are Valium and Librium.
According to the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set report from the Department of Health and Human Services, of all the people obtaining treatment for drug abuse, 60,200 were addicted to benzodiazepines. This showed a drastic increase from the 22,400 people who sought treatment for benzodiazepine addiction in 1998.
Benzodiazepines enhance the results of neurotransmitters, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is in charge of reducing the activity of neurons that cause anxiety and stress. Short-term use is believed to be beneficial, but long-term use may be questionable because of the potential for tolerance. There are also other adverse side effects.
Insomnia: There are significant prescriptions for insomnia, but only for short-term, severe insomnia. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for insomnia, to be used as needed rather than on a regular basis.
Anxiety disorder: Benzodiazepines are often recommended by physicians for short-term use, for those who have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Seizures: Benzodiazepines are also prescribed as a powerful anticonvulsant for individuals suffering from epileptic seizures. They are proven effective in preventing lingering spasms.
Panic disorders: Because benzodiazepines have fast-acting, anti-anxiety effects, many physicians prescribe these drugs to treat various panic disorders for the short term.
Drug and alcohol withdrawal: Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed for short-term use for those who are withdrawing from alcohol. The drug helps in the detoxification process and reduces the risks associated with severe alcohol withdrawal.
Yes, benzodiazepines are dangerous, and physicians rarely recommend them for long-term use. Individuals who abuse benzodiazepines often retain their drug supply by obtaining written prescriptions from many different doctors. Those who abuse benzodiazepines have been found to forge prescriptions or buy diverted pharmaceutical products on the internet or through dealers. When used with alcohol or other depressants, benzodiazepines can be life-threatening.
Abuse of benzodiazepines is predominantly high among heroin and cocaine abusers. A large number of people entering treatment for narcotic or cocaine addiction also report abusing benzodiazepines.
The Cottage House at Avalon Malibu is licensed under the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP), and treats substance use disorders, such as addictions to benzodiazepines, along with other co-occurring behavioral health issues. The program is also licensed to treat adults in an inpatient setting in what is considered to be a non-medically supervised, sub-acute detoxification.
The licensed psychotherapists, staff, and physicians at Avalon Malibu comprehend the complexity of drug addiction. At Avalon, our goal is for every client that comes to us with an addiction to gain greater insight into the meaning of their life, and turn the pain of the past into the stepping stone to a future built on choice, rather than compulsion.
When drug behaviors take over a person’s life and they are thinking about drugs such as benzodiazepines; it’s time for them to seek help. Addiction is often the result of deeper issues. The need to be uncovered and confronted. Families and friends are impacted by people who are addicted. The Cottage House is a luxurious residential treatment facility where people can experience new roads and ways to embrace a life free from substances. At Avalon Malibu, it is possible to get on the right track toward a better life.