Benzodiazepines, often referred to as “benzos,” are depressants that cause sedation. They are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. However, people without prescriptions may obtain them in order to get high, and those with a prescription can also misuse them.
Potential short-term effects of benzos include drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, muscle weakness, slowed breathing, and blurred vision. Mixing benzos with opioids or alcohol is common and can be dangerous. In 2019, 16% of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzos.
In recent decades, benzo use has increased. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of people filling a benzo prescription rose by 67%. Researchers analyzing data from the 2015 and 2016 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health found that about 30.5 million people used benzos. Of those, 17.1% misused them. 46.3% reported that their reason for misuse was to relax or relieve tension; 22.4% used it to help them sleep; 11.8% intended to get high.
When coming off benzos, it’s important to do so in the care of a medical professional, as benzo withdrawal can be dangerous. At a medical detox center, nurses are available 24/7 to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible while you get drugs out of your system. Mental health professionals are typically present to help you cope with any psychological discomfort. Detoxing is the hardest part; once you’ve made it through, you can start building a great life in recovery.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build healthy coping skills to thrive in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.