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5 Signs of Benzo Abuse in a Loved One

Two people learning about the signs of benzo abuse

Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, are a class of prescription drugs most often used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. In recent years, benzo use has increased significantly, which many associate with an increase in the prevalence of anxiety disorders. With increased use comes the potential for abuse and addiction.

Benzos are highly effective, which is why they are so widely prescribed. However, because they are prescription drugs, many people are unaware of how dangerous they can be. Benzo use can quickly lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction. If you suspect a loved one is abusing benzos, professional benzo addiction treatment is the safest way to get help. At Ashwood Recovery, we are committed to helping patients and families understand the dangers of benzos and getting proper treatment. Contact us online or call 888.341.3607 to learn more.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Benzo Abuse

Current research suggests that benzos may be equally as addicting as opioids, if not more. Benzos increase neurotransmitters like dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), creating feelings of pleasure and alleviating the sense of unrest associated with anxiety. In the quest to maintain these feelings, dependence on benzos can occur quickly, and many people do not realize that they are becoming addicted.

Benzo abuse or addiction can result in numerous consequences, including an increased risk of overdose and death. Being able to recognize the symptoms of benzo abuse can be life-saving. Symptoms to watch for can include the following:

  • Sedation and drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Mood swings and emotional instability
  • Increased irritability
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Forgetfulness, memory problems, or difficulty concentrating
  • Social isolation
  • Neglect of responsibilities

Most benzos act quickly, taking effect within an hour and lasting up to six hours. This rapid action can promptly reduce anxiety or panic symptoms but also leads to increased tolerance. As tolerance grows, individuals may self-prescribe higher doses, feeling the medication isn’t as effective as before.

5 Common Signs of Benzo Abuse

Benzos should be used short-term due to associated risks. They can lead to abuse, addiction, and adverse effects on the body and brain, such as cognitive impairments. Unfortunately, benzo abuse signs can be difficult to spot, particularly in the early stages. If your loved one has been prescribed benzos, be sure to educate yourself about early warning signs, including:

  1. Increased tolerance – Over time, individuals will require higher doses of benzos to achieve the desired effects. How quickly this happens depends on the frequency of use. Increased tolerance directly increases the risk of overdose.
  2. Physical dependence – Regular benzo use leads to physical dependence. A clear sign of physical dependence is the display of withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, insomnia, or anxiety, when not taking or reducing the amount of benzos being used.
  3. Behavioral changes – You may observe a decline in work or school performance, neglect of responsibilities, increased secrecy, isolation, or social withdrawal.
  4. Doctor shopping – Doctors now often limit access to benzos, which can lead individuals to go to multiple different healthcare providers or frequently change doctors and pharmacies to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  5. Poly-substance abuse – Many people mix benzos with other substances, including alcohol and opioids, to intensify their effects. Unfortunately, this also significantly increases the risk of overdose and death.

One of the most unexpected parts of benzo abuse or addiction is that misusing them can result in side effects that mimic the very conditions they were prescribed to help: anxiety, panic, and insomnia. If you observe signs of benzo addiction in a loved one, seeking professional help is crucial for their safety and well-being.

Enroll in Benzo Addiction Treatment Today at Ashwood Recovery

Benzodiazepines are highly effective for treating anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and more. However, they are also highly addicting and often misused because of their mood- and mind-altering effects.

If you need help to end the cycle of benzo abuse or addiction for a loved one or yourself, Ashwood Recovery is here to help. Contact us online or call 888.341.3607 to talk with a treatment team member today.