Some Unsettling Statistics
The coronavirus has meant that anxiety is on the rise. And when anxiety is increasing, so, too, do prescriptions for anxiety-relieving drugs. This is an unsettling thought, considering a recent article from Psychology Today. The piece cites a report by the US National Center for Health Studies as well as the National Ambulatory Medical Care survey and states that benzodiazepine prescription rates are “soaring to ‘disturbing’ new levels”. For every 100 adults that saw a doctor in the years 2014 to 2016, 27 left the office with a benzodiazepine prescription. Furthermore, “30 percent of labeled opioid overdose [is] actually opioid-benzodiazepine overdose.” So what are benzodiazepines? And why are they so dangerous?
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a class of drug that are useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and other medical conditions. Brand names include Xanax, Valium, Librium, Klonopin, and Ativan, while drug names include alprazolam, diazepam, and lorazepam. On the street, users may refer to them as “xannies,” “bars,” “V’s,” downers, or tranks. Benzos relax the body by amplifying the effects of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA.) When GABA is more active, brain and nervous system activity slows down, relaxing the body. While benzos are generally safe for the short-term and at proper doses, there is a high risk for abuse. Furthermore, like with alcohol and other drugs, benzo users will eventually (and sometimes quickly) develop a tolerance, requiring more pills to achieve the desired effect. Finally, with benzodiazepine dependence come withdrawal symptoms, which can include seizures and death. In short, benzos aren’t to be taken lightly.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse
The following are some signs that someone might be abusing benzodiazepines.
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- “Doctor shopping” – This refers to the practice of visiting multiple doctors to obtain several prescriptions
- Mood swings
- Emotional detachment and isolation
Build a Foundation for Success
Ocean Recovery has been successfully treating benzodiazepine and other substance abuse disorders, as well as eating disorders since 2002. With facilities in sunny Newport Beach, California, we take a holistic approach to substance abuse treatment. We offer individual and group counseling, addiction education, yoga, and more, attacking addiction from all angles by treating the whole person. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please consider giving Ocean Recovery a call today. Our admissions specialists are standing by and ready to help you start building your foundation for success.