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Understanding Benzo Addiction and Treatment

In the midst of the opioid problem in America, 30 percent of the opioid overdoses also have another culprit involved – benzodiazepines. Benzos have been around for more than 50 years and have proven to be highly effective at treating addiction withdrawal symptoms as well as added to various medications to improve their effectives, but they also have a downside: they can be abused. They work by affecting the same areas of the brain that alcohol does – the GABA receptors. However, when they are abused, a benzo addiction can lead to severe long and short-term problems.

3 Minute Read | Published Aug 18 2023 | Updated Feb 28 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by

Benzo Addiction – What Is It and What Are the Dangers?

In this article, we will look at some of the side effects of benzo abuse, what withdrawal is like and how benzo addiction is treated.

Medications That Contain Benzos

Benzodiazepine is used in a wide range of medications that are available through prescription. These drugs are controlled substances and the length of the prescription doesn’t usually allow for abuse, but multiple prescriptions and buying medications illegally lead to benzo addiction.

Some of the well-known brands of drugs that contain benzodiazepine include the following:

  • Valium
  • Klonopin
  • Xanax
  • Ativan
  • Ambien

Who is Abusing It?

Any amount of misuse of the substance can lead to an addiction because of the addictive properties that benzos have and that the drugs such as opioids that benzos are often combined with have.

The first type of person who abuses the substance is one who is buying the drug illegally or without a prescription to use recreationally since it brings about euphoria and relaxation. In such a case, addiction can form very rapidly. They may also use benzos as a way to boost the effects of other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine.

The second type of person is one who has a prescription. When used within the prescribed limits, addiction is not likely, but if the person missed doses and then doubles-up or takes more than they were advised to take, then they risk benzo addiction.

Benzodiazepines Side Effects

Benzos have many severe side effects when they are misused. The benzodiazepines side effects that indicate that there is abuse present are as follows:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Problem solving and memory issues

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal

Unfortunately, as most addicts are aware, stopping by yourself isn’t as easy as just deciding to. Apart from the drug-seeking behavior that partly originates from physical changes in the brain, there are severe benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms to deal with.

Without a medical detox program, one can expect to experience the following when stopping benzos:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Tremors
  • An increase in the person’s blood pressure, breathing and heart rate
  • Heavy sweating
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression


An addiction to benzodiazepines or the drugs that contain the substance isn’t something that will just go away by itself. The longer it goes untreated, the more side effects and problems the person tends to have. If the addiction is in a loved one, then it can be difficult to see their life become worse and worse. However, treatment is just a phone call away.

Rehab for an addiction to benzodiazepines first addresses the withdrawal symptoms. They achieve this with the assistance of medication, which is highly controlled to avoid abuse. After the person is safely helped through the detox, they can then take part in the rehab programs that are aimed at addressing issues within the person’s behavior and thinking processes. Together with aftercare services such as support groups, a person can reclaim what benzos took from their life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020).
"Prescription CNS Depressants."
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bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020).
"TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet Lingford-Hughes, A., Welch, S., Peters, L., & Nutt, D. (2004).
"BAP Updated Guidelines: Evidence-based Guidelines for the Pharmacological Management of Substance Abuse, Harmful Use, Addiction and Comorbidity: Recommendations from BAP. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 18(3), 293-335."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet Lader, M. (2015).
"Benzodiazepine Harm: How Can It Be Reduced? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 81(3), 428-436."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet Schmitz, A., Votaw, V., & Galanter, M. (2017).
"Pharmacotherapy for Benzodiazepine Use Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 37(4), 414-421."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet Lingford-Hughes, A., Patel, Y., & Bowden-Jones, O. (2017).
"Improving the Management of Addiction Medications in Primary Care: Reflections from an Open-Label Pilot Trial of Depot Naltrexone in Alcohol Dependence. British Journal of General Practice, 67(657), 365-366."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018
bullet Weaver, M. F. (2015).
"Prescription Sedative Misuse and Abuse. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 88(3), 247-256."
Retrieved on July 25, 2018

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