Benzodiazepines are medications commonly prescribed for anxiety. Sometimes, a benzodiazepine like Ativan is used to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome. For many people, there are little issues with taking these medications. For addicts and alcoholics in recovery, on the other hand, the highly addictive nature of the drug as well as the severe symptoms of withdrawal make benzodiazepines a risk to recovery efforts.

Benzodiazepines are dependency forming: Doctors can barely say with credible legitimacy that benzodiazepine medications are non dependency forming or aren’t addictive. As central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines work by slowing everything in the brain and body down, while also relieving some physical pressure. Patients who suffer severe anxiety and/or panic feel a great sense of freedom when they take benzodiazepines. Their anxiety is calm and they don’t have to live in fear of the debilitating effects of anxiety or panic. However, should they miss a dose on accident, decide to switch the medication, forget to fill their prescription, or just stop taking the drug, they are met with symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal is the indication that the brain and the body have formed a chemical dependency on the medications, needing it to function and to regulate anxiety. In some ways, this scenario seems logical. The brain cannot regulate or soothe anxiety on its own. Benzodiazepine medications help regulate and soothe anxiety. Therefore, the brain cannot regulate or soothe anxiety without the medications. The problem is that the brain becomes completely dependent on the medication for more than regulating and soothing anxiety, which is why it goes into withdrawal without the medication.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is exceptionally nasty: Even patients who do not abuse their benzodiazepine prescriptions or become addicted to them experience symptoms of withdrawal. That is one of the reasons benzodiazepines are so dangerous for recovery. The symptoms of withdrawal from chemical dependency on benzodiazepines is both dangerous and difficult to manage. All of the symptoms which necessitate a prescription for benzodiazepine treatment come back. Since the brain has become dependent on benzodiazepines to manage these symptoms, the experience of them can feel ten fold, meaning their is a lower tolerance for the panic and anxiety which can occur. In addition, patients typically suffer from difficulties sleeping, thinking, functioning, and can even suffer from seizures. Though the immediate symptoms of withdrawal can last a few days to a few weeks, ongoing symptoms of withdrawal can last for months. For those who do abuse the drug in high quantities, the withdrawal is compared to that of heroin or other opiates.


Design For Change is a residential treatment program offering treatment and recovery services to the Lancaster, California area and anyone seeking life changing treatment. Relying on evidence based practices and proven treatment methods like holistic healing and twelve step integration, our patients are encouraged to make actionable changes in their life which lead to lifelong sobreity. For informaiton, call us today at (877) 267-3646.

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