Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Benzodiazepine addiction is very common, mainly due to the fact that a tolerance to this particular drug only takes as little as two weeks of daily usage. The first form of this prescription drug was introduced to the UK in 1960, known as Chloradiazepoxide (Librium).  This was followed three years later by Diazepam, a common form of prescription drug that is prescribed for anxiety and as a muscle relaxant.  By 1983 there were already 17 different types of Benzodiazepines on the market in Europe.  Today this has increased further to over 30 different types of this drug.

Initially, when Benzodiazepine’s were first prescribed there was little awareness of the long-term use effects, and they became one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in Europe and around the world. Known as “Mothers Little Helpers”, they were most commonly prescribed for their calming effects and induced feelings of well-being.  It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the medical institution came to realise their addictive properties and the difficulties faced in withdrawing patients from them, especially those who had been taking them for a substantial period of time.  This led to much publicity and coverage by the media, television and radio. Sadly it was a case of too little too late. Many patients had already began their journey on benzodiazepines and subsequently were in a position of dependency, feeling trapped and a slave to the drug.

Different types of Benzodiazepines

There are many forms of this drug currently available in prescription and via the black market.  You may be taking a form of Benzodiazepine and not even realise the dangers and potential to become addicted. Many come under a different name that is misleading from its generic name. There are also many different types of medication, such as antipsychotics, that include a form of benzodiazepine. Here is a list of Benzodiazepine tablets that are currently available:

Drug Name and common forms of Generic names    

alprazolam (Xanax, Xanor, Tafil) flunitrazepam (Rohypn) midazolam, (Versed, Hypnovel, Dormicum)
bromazepam (Lexotan, Lexomil) flurazepam (Dalmane) nitrazepam (Mogadon, Insoma, Nitrados)
chlordiazepoxide (Librium, Nova-Pam) halazepam (Paxipam) oxazepam (Serax, Serapax, Serenid, Benzotran)
clobazam (Frisium) ketazolam (Anxon) prazepam (Centrax)
clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril) loprazolam (Dormonoct) quazepam (Doral)
clorazepate (Tranxene) lorazepam (Ativan, Tavor, Temesta) temazepam (Restoril, Euhypnos, Normison, Sompam)
diazepam (Valium, D-Pam, Pro-Pam) lormetazepam (Noctam) triazolam (Halcion, Hypam, Tricam)
estazolam (ProSom) medazepam (Nobrium)

Am I Addicted?

There are some signs and symptoms too look out for that would strongly indicate you have a benzodiazepine addiction.  You DO NOT have to suffer from a physical dependency to have an addiction, or to abuse a medication.

  • You have been taking a form of Benzodiazepine daily for more than 2 weeks
  • You have built a tolerance to the drug (This means you need a higher dose to gain the same effect as the original dose)
  • You request repeat prescriptions early
  • You take more than the stated dose
  • You binge on Benzodiazepines
  • You use Benzodiazepines to withdraw from a binge on another drug
  • You find yourself lying to family and friends or to your Doctor around the amount you are taking
  • You buy them off the Internet to pad out prescriptions or to take more than prescribed
  • You find yourself shaking and highly anxious if you miss a dose (see withdrawal symptoms)
  • You mix them with other drugs and alcohol to gain a greater effect
  • You feel fearful and anxious of running out

Benzodiazepine withdrawal

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is notoriously difficult and very unpleasant.  Along with Alcohol it is one of the most difficult and dangerous drugs to withdraw from.  Many do not understand that stopping abruptly or reducing too quickly, when there is a physical dependence, can lead to seizures and death. Symptoms can last from a few days to several months, even after stopping.  The intensity and length of withdrawal symptoms will depend on:

  1. The amount of Benzodiazepines you are taking
  2. The length of time you have been taking them
  3. The withdrawal regime you follow
  4. Other medical complications and your general state of health

Here are some of the symptoms that manifest in the withdrawal process:

Abdominal pains and cramp
Agoraphobia (fear of going outside)
Breathing difficulties
Blurred vision
Changes in perception (faces distorting and objects moving) 

Chaotic thinking

Extreme lethargy and lack of motivation
Feelings of unreality and disconnection

Feelings of suicide
Flu-like symptoms
Heavy aching limbs
Heart palpitations

Sensitivity to light
Lack of concentration
Loss of co-ordination
Loss of balance
Loss of memory Loss of appetite
Muscular aches and pains
Nausea and vomiting
Panic attacks
Rapid mood changes
Shaking and Tremors eyes 

Social Phobia
Sore eyes
Sweating Seizures
Tightness in the chest
Tightness in the head

How to Get Help

Sadly on the NHS, there is little help in the terms of detoxification from Benzodiazepines; accessing funded rehab for a prescription drug habit is almost impossible. Due to the severe withdrawal symptoms many individuals find it a never ending or impossible task to stop.  Taking control of the drug yourself when you are addicted, and trying to deal with family, commitments and life at the same time is incredibly overwhelming for most. Many whom are addicted end up stuck on the drug for years and years, for some it began with an innocent prescription for a genuine complaint, for others it became a solution as a come down from other drugs.

Liberty House understands how uncomfortable and scary it can be to detox from Benzodiazepines.  Therefore our in-house doctor will assess each case on admission carefully and thoroughly, before agreeing a reduction regime that the patient feels comfortable with.  This will be frequently reviewed by the Doctor to ensure the patient is coping.  Liberty House Staff are on hand 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to provide support. As well as detoxing, the patient will benefit from a comprehensive and individualised treatment program, consisting of a number of holistic and proven addiction treatment therapies.  This will include counselling, CBT and relapse prevention as well as a structured program that can be continued and maintained on leaving treatment.

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