Lake Worth Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Benzo Treatment at BHOPB

Benzodiazepines, or benzos for short, are a type of medication known as tranquilizers that work on slowing down the central nervous system. They are prescribed by doctors to help with anxiety, insomnia, muscle relaxation, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. Common benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. These medications are highly addictive when misused, an unfortunate circumstance that many have experienced. Fortunately, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches offers benzodiazepine addiction treatment that can help.

How Do Benzodiazepines Work?

Benzodiazepines work by amplifying the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain that lessens the activity of neurons. These drugs bind to particular receptors on GABA-A receptors, which heightens the affinity of GABA for its receptor and magnifies its inhibitory effects. This results in a general decline in neuronal activity in the brain, which can cause a calming effect, reduce anxiety, and induce sleep. While benzodiazepines may also impact other neurotransmitter systems in the brain, their primary mechanism of action is believed to be through their effects on GABA-A receptors.

Even though benzodiazepines have their medical purposes, these drugs are often widely misused and abused. The opioid crisis is a major problem in the United States, but over 30% of opioid overdoses also involved a benzodiazepine.1 Some people will start by abusing these medications for their sedative and calming effects, but frequent misuse can escalate into chemical dependency and addiction. Over time, benzodiazepines may lead to some long-term risks for a person’s health as well, so it is important to get benzodiazepine addiction treatment at the first sign of a problem.

Signs Someone Needs Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Because benzos are taken for valid medical reasons, it may be hard to tell when someone is taking them as directed by a doctor or is abusing them and in need of benzodiazepine addiction treatment.

Some warning signs of benzo abuse and addiction may include:

  • Secretive behaviors or frequent lying
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Poor judgment
  • Lack of motor control
  • Several empty pill bottles
  • Doctor shopping
  • Taking medications for no apparent medical reason
  • “Pill popping” at random times
  • Frequent visits to doctors’ offices
  • Constant lethargy
  • Taking more than directed
  • Prioritizing benzodiazepines over more important things

When someone you care about starts showing these symptoms of addiction, they need a benzo rehab program that can help them address this disease safely and effectively. Getting them treatment at our Banyan Lake Worth rehab is crucial before their problems continue to escalate.

Can You Overdose on Benzos?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on benzodiazepines. Overdose can occur when an individual takes too much of the drug at once or when they take it more frequently or for a longer duration than prescribed. The risk of overdose on benzodiazepines increases when they are taken with other drugs, such as alcohol, opioids, or other central nervous system depressants. Additionally, certain factors, such as age, weight, and health status, can affect an individual’s sensitivity to benzodiazepines and increase their risk of overdose. Therefore, it is important to take benzodiazepines only as prescribed and to inform healthcare providers about any other medications or substances that are being taken to avoid overdose.

Benzo Addiction Treatment in Lake Worth

At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we are here to help people overcome their addictions to such medications so that they can regain control of their lives. Patients who come to our facility will start with a complete medical assessment to outline their physical, mental, and even spiritual needs for recovery.

After a treatment plan is created, their recovery journey will begin. The first step to benzodiazepine treatment is usually withdrawal symptoms management with our BHOPB detox programs. Under the supervision of trained medical staff, patients will slowly wean their bodies off of these drugs to help them overcome their physical dependence on these medications. Detox is often accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms, some of which can even be life-threatening in the case of benzo abuse. Luckily, our staff is available to make the process as comfortable as possible and address any unforeseen complications.

After detox is complete, the next step of benzo addiction treatment will be addressing each patient’s mental and spiritual needs while also continuing their physical healing for a comprehensive approach to their recovery. In both individual and small group settings, our staff will lead various therapy programs to help our patients in all of these areas as well as to prepare them to rejoin their friends and family outside of our facility. Patients will also start to develop a healthy routine with practices that can be applied to their everyday lives once treatment is over.

“Benzodiazepine” is not a word that is particularly common in the news. It has too many syllables and seems too scientific to be threatening. But as America becomes the most heavily medicated nation in the world, we are all becoming increasingly familiar with benzodiazepines — we just know them by their brand names. Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Rohypnol, and Ativan are all names that have popped up in the news over the years, touted as both miracle cures for psychiatric ailments and as dangerous drugs responsible for rising body counts. Due to the rise in the abuse of these drugs, our Lake Worth drug rehab is sharing the most common warning signs of benzo addiction.

History of Benzodiazepines

Polish-American chemist, Leo Sternbach, is credited with discovering benzodiazepines in the late 1950s while working for Hoffman La Roche in Nutley, NJ. It was originally found to have hypnotic and muscle relaxant effects. The first marketed benzo was called Librium, (which was launched in the United Kingdom in 1960) and was followed by diazepam (generic version of Valium) in 1963.1

Less than 20 years later, Valium had become one of the most successful prescription drugs of all time, as it was the first drug to top $100 million in sales. By the late 1970s, the drug’s addictive properties were well documented, creating concern about a nation of addicted women, as women were the primary marketing targets of Valium and other benzodiazepines.2 In 1976, Pfizer patented alprazolam (the generic name for Xanax), which was a stronger and faster-acting version of Valium. Just one milligram of Xanax equaled the potency of 20 milligrams of Valium.3

By 1983, there were 17 benzodiazepines on the market, and it was a worldwide industry worth $3 billion. There are now over 30 different types of benzodiazepines available for prescription, and the market has continued to explode in revenue and profitability. Xanax is still the world’s most popular prescription drug, and as of 2018, the number of Xanax prescriptions had risen to nearly 21 million.4

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Benzos?

“Benzos,” as they are colloquially known today, are prescribed by doctors when patients are reporting problems with sleep and/or anxiety. They are depressant drugs that slow down the central nervous system to ease feelings of anxiousness and nervousness. They are designed to help patients relax but are only meant for short-term use.

The problems with benzodiazepines occur as doctors continue to prescribe the drug over long periods, leading to tolerance, the potential for dependency, addiction, and extremely difficult to manage withdrawal symptoms. The three most common types of benzos include long, intermediate, and fast-acting, with the faster-acting drugs creating the strongest chance for addiction.

Taken over a long period to help with sleep or anxiety, individuals begin to rely on the drug for daily functioning and become hopelessly dependent on it. “When doctors prescribe benzos for nightly sleep, tolerance develops quickly,” said Dr. Stewart Shipko, a Pasadena, CA psychiatrist, in a Huffington Post article. “Routine sleep is the worst possible use for benzos.”

“That first night it works great. People think ‘Miracle drug!’ a full night’s sleep with no hangover. Already by the end of the first week, they’re no longer getting that quality. So, the dose begins to rise, say, from .5 milligrams, which is easily stopped, to 2 milligrams, which is not.”5

Based on this information, a person can become addicted to benzos within 6 months to a year, maybe less. How quickly drug addiction kicks in depends on the dose, frequency of use, and duration of use.

Benzodiazepine Use in the United States

U.S. prescriptions for Xanax rose 17 percent from 2006 to 2010, to nearly 94 million written annually. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), rehab visits for benzodiazepines tripled between 1998 and 2008.6 Users have shown a high tendency to gain strong dependence on these drugs and experience extreme difficulty in breaking them.

Unlike many other prescription drugs, dependency on benzodiazepines occurs even while using pills exactly as prescribed by doctors. Typical users of this drug are usually functioning adults who are not in danger of dramatically destroying their lives by continued use. This frequently serves as justification to keep using the pills, even though they may not be curing the initial problems they were prescribed for.

The fact is that they don’t address the cause of anxiety and only treat the symptoms. They have been reported to restrict the formation of new memories and create a problematic cycle of dependency: feeling anxiety, taking pills, feeling better. All this does is create a false paradigm of helplessness against anxiety.8

Part of the issue is that alternative ways of treating anxiety are not always explored because primary physicians only meet with patients for 15 minutes per session. How is a doctor supposed to review all of the risks and benefits associated with a drug and assess whether their patient is an ideal candidate for usage?

Often, writing a prescription is the easiest and most immediately effective treatment option. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), rehab visits for benzodiazepines tripled between 1998 and 2008.7

Individuals seeking to cease the use of benzodiazepines often experience more difficulty than people trying to break heroin addictions. People who have been responsibly using the drug for multiple years will have to taper off the drug and may experience withdrawal symptoms for months or even years before finally being free.

Common Benzodiazepine Abuse Signs

Long-term use of benzodiazepines has even been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.8

Some of the most common benzodiazepine addiction signs are:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory impairment
  • Personality changes
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Social deterioration
  • Impaired cognitive abilities
  • Restlessness
  • Chronic sweating
  • Hand tremors
  • Increased anxiety or tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Craving for or inability to cope without benzos
  • Neglecting relationships

Dangers of Mixing Benzodiazepines With Other Drugs

It is not uncommon for a person to mix benzos with alcohol or other drugs either recreationally or to self-medicate. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Whitney Houston are two well-known entertainers who met untimely deaths by mixing benzos with other narcotics.

Mixing any drug with another is problematic and potentially fatal. Here is a breakdown of what happens when mixing benzodiazepines with other drugs.

  • Mixing opioids and benzodiazepines strengthens the effects of both drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the combination of the two contributes to approximately 30 percent of all opioid-related deaths.9
  • Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol, both depressants, have a cumulative effect on the nervous system and may cause organs to shut down.
  • With benzos acting as depressants and amphetamines acting as stimulants, many users mix the two to counteract the impact of one drug or the other. This is unwise and can lead to an overdose.

Learn More About Benzodiazepines and Addiction Rehab

Do you want to learn more about the signs of benzo addiction? If so, then follow this link to download Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches’ free informational eBook, Understanding Addiction to Benzodiazepines. In it, you will find information on the physiological and mental effects of benzo addiction, as well as recommendations for selecting a detox and recovery program for yourself or for someone close to you who is struggling with addiction.

Our Lake Worth drug rehab also offers benzo addiction treatment to help those struggling with drug use disorders obtain long-lasting sobriety. For more information about our BHOPB detox or addiction treatment in Lake Worth, call us today at 561-220-3981.


  1. National Library of Medicine – The history of benzodiazepines
  2. JSTOR – Increased Prescribing of Valium, Librium, and Other Drugs—An Example of the Influence of Economic and Social Factors on the Practice Of Medicine
  3. ACS – Alprazolam
  4. Statista – Number of alprazolam prescriptions in the U.S. from 2004 to 2019
  5. HuffPost – Is It Bedtime for Benzos?
  6. SAMHSA – Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings
  7. National Library of Medicine – Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review
  8. Harvard – Benzodiazepine use may raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Benzodiazepines and Opioids
  10. NIH – Benzodiazepines and Opioids

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