What is a benzo?

A benzo, short for benzodiazepine, is primarily used to relieve anxiety, panic disorders, sleeping problems, and seizures. Commonly abused benzos include alprazolam (Xanax) for anxiety, diazepam (Valium) for seizures, clonazepam (Klonopin) for panic disorder and seizures. The pills can become addictive for those who use the drugs over a long period of time. Benzos typically are prescribed short-term for that reason.

The medications, which are sedatives, work in the central nervous system and slow down the body’s functions. They increase GABA, a naturally occurring amino acid in the brain that helps slow the body’s functions and reduces excitability in the nervous system. It’s a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses in the brain to the nervous system. So when benzos are taken, users are able to relax.

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What do benzos look like?

Benzos come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Xanax bars are white, or similar to Valium, round in a hue of blue, yellow, or peach. Ativan is round and white with an “A” on it. Librium comes in capsules with aqua blue and yellow casings.

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How is a benzo taken?

Benzos come in the form of pills that can be swallowed or dissolved on the tongue. Abusers often open capsules or crush up pills to snort them or dilute them, then inject them by needle. The pills can also be taken in a less obvious way, by putting them in the rectum.

Why do people use benzos?

People use benzos that aren’t prescribed to achieve a sense of relaxation. When taking a large dose of benzos, abusers can experience a “high.” Users often combine benzos with other drugs to “balance out” effects of stimulants or to ward off the anxiety that comes with withdrawal symptoms of other drugs. However, benzos are highly addictive as well.

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SLANG TERMS

  • Chill pills
  • Downers
  • Nerve pills
  • Zannies
  • Bars
  • Planks
  • Tranks
  • White boys / white girls

History of Benzos

The first benzo was identified and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1955, which was chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and Valium was identified and approved in 1963. Benzos were created after drug manufacturers realized that anti-psychotic drugs had undesirable side effects, and opioid medications distributed in the 1800s were highly addictive and problematic.

In the 1970s, researchers noticed that benzo users were increasing their dosage and found it hard to get off of the drugs. In the 80s, researchers warned against long-term benzo use. Benzos are typically prescribed for 2 to 4 weeks. Then, from 1999 to 2010, deaths that resulted from an overdose of benzos quadrupled.

 

What are the Symptoms of Benzo Addiction?

If you or your loved one is using benzos, you’ll start to notice obvious signs, such as a lack of energy and excessive drowsiness. They may also seem confused, have problems recalling correct memories, slur their speech, or they may not be as quick with their words, movement or reflexes as they used to be. In addition to these signs and symptoms, you may notice pill bottles with a name that doesn’t match theirs on the prescriptions, or pills in an unlabeled plastic bag.

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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

PARAPHERNALIA

  • Pills
  • Pill cutters
  • Rolled up dollar bills
  • Needles
  • Pill crushers
  • Pill bottles
  • Syringes
  • Blotting paper

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What are the Effects of
Benzo Addiction?

Short-term use of benzos usually subside when the body gets used to them. To achieve the same high each time, a user must take more than they did before. The short-term effects become more severe with larger doses. Long-term abuse can contribute to the risk of having dementia or Alzheimer’s in the future. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and create a stronger anxiety than before taking the benzos, which is why it’s important to detox under professional guidance and supervision.

Short Term Effects of Benzo Addiction

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slowed reactions
  • Impaired memory
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea

Long Term Effects of Benzo Addiction

  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Shakiness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Personality changes

Benzo Addiction Statistics

30.5 million

Americans use benzos daily

80%

increase of people filling prescription benzos from 1996 to 2013.

44%

Of constant benzo users become addicted to their drug.

How is Benzo Addiction Treated?

Benzo addiction can be treated by a physician, but a detox from the highly addictive drug will come with long-lasting mental symptoms that need to be addressed in therapy. A doctor can slowly take a user off of a benzo by lowering their dose slowly. A reason not to do this cold turkey because there may be a better benzo to help with detox that has a longer, more mild dose and can help a user come off the addiction without relapsing.

At Gratitude Lodge, we offer benzo detox. You’ll be able to benefit from our expertly-trained and certified staff of medical professionals. After your detox program, you can stay in our inpatient rehab treatment center for a greater chance of success during your road to recovery. You’ll partake in group therapy, receive individualized counseling, and create a support system for your new life.

 

Common Drug Combinations with Benzos?

Benzos are commonly paired with stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and meth, to relieve the anxiety and edge that comes with the comedown of those drugs. Opioids, including heroin and painkillers, are often combined with benzos because it enhances the “high” received from opioid abuse. Realistically, benzos shouldn’t be taken with any other drugs because it can cause coma, seizures, or death.

  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Opioids
  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin
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