Benzodiazepine Awareness DayJuly 7, 2022
July 11th is Benzodiazepine Awareness Day. This day aims to bring recognition to the dangers of long-term use and misuse of the substance. Medical professionals frequently prescribe these drugs, but they carry a risk of dependence, especially when used over long periods of time. Because dependence can lead to addiction, recognizing the signs and intervening in substance misuse can prevent long-term consequences.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, also referred to as benzos, are prescription medications that treat anxiety and sleep-related issues. This includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and insomnia. Medical professionals also prescribe these to lessen symptoms related to alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are only intended for short-term use due to the high likelihood of dependence, addiction, and negative side effects. Anyone with a prescription for these types of medication requires close monitoring by a physician.
Benzodiazepine Misuse Concerns
While a majority of people taking these drugs do so as prescribed, a percentage do misuse them. A 2019 study noted that 17.2% of all benzodiazepine users reported not taking the medication as prescribed or misusing the drug. Misuse could be taking more than the intended dose, more frequently than prescribed, or without a prescription. Even those who follow their provider’s directions can develop a dependence, resulting in them needing to taper off the medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Combining this medication with other drugs or alcohol often results in detrimental, or deadly, effects.
Benzodiazepines and Addiction
Combining benzodiazepines with other drugs or alcohol places people at a much higher risk of substance use disorders, overdose, and severe side effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16% of opioid overdose deaths also involved these medications. This is partially due to the fact that both of these drugs suppress breathing and increase fatigue. The same source notes that those who are taking both of these substances are ten times more likely to die from an overdose than those only taking opioids.
Misusing benzodiazepines, especially with other drugs or alcohol, can quickly lead to addiction. Because they are widely available, it is easier for people to obtain the drugs, resulting in frequent misuse. Spotting a substance use disorder in a loved one may be difficult, but knowing what to look for and when to intervene can ultimately save their life. Here are some key signs that someone may have developed a drug or alcohol addiction:
- Increased privacy or secrecy
- Withdrawal from friends or family
- Sudden changes in school or work performance
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Increased irritability
While this is not a comprehensive list, generally a person who is struggling exhibits dramatic changes in mood, behavior, or interests. Any sudden changes warrant concern and should be addressed.
Addiction Intervention Services
Often, those who are addicted to a substance do not see a problem with their behavior, and loved ones first express concern. Intervening in problematic substance use can reduce the likelihood of lasting physical and psychological effects. At Whitman Recovery Service, we facilitate difficult conversations with your loved one about their substance misuse. We offer intervention services where you can express your concerns and ultimately get your friend or family member the help they need. Our proven methods are effective, with 98% of those with substance use issues attending treatment after meeting. Contact us today to learn more about our intervention process.