In a society where anxiety and stress seem to be at all-time highs, the use of benzodiazepines (benzos) continues to increase. Common benzos include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. Often, these tranquilizing drugs are prescribed by physicians for the treatment of anxiety and anxiety disorders. They have a calming effect on the body, which is the main reason people like to take them.
It’s safe to say that no one likes to feel anxious and stressed out. Chronic stress has been said to be the cause of many ailments and illnesses, as stress can wear you down mentally and physically. Sometimes it just gets to a point where you can’t take it anymore and seek help. Anxiety medication has come to the rescue for those who have an anxiety disorder, which is wonderful. At the same time, plenty of people end up addicted to the drug.
Yes, you can get addicted to benzodiazepines, as the feeling of being calm and collected is preferred over anxiety and stress. You can get addicted to benzos even if you take your medication as prescribed. Your body can physically become dependent on the drug, as your brain makes chemical changes while you’re taking the drug.
For those that abuse the drug, taking more of it than prescribed, or taking it without a prescription, addiction may come more readily. Psychologically and physically, you could find yourself craving the drug more and more. It’s at this point – the point of dependence or addiction – that it may be necessary to consulting an addiction specialist to begin tapering off the drug.
Quitting benzos is possible. If you’ve become dependent on or addicted to a benzodiazepine, or if you’ve been on the medication for a while to minimize anxiety, consider the following expert tips to get free from the addiction.
A great way to start your benzo addiction treatment is to really think about why you want to quit benzos. Define your “why”. Is it because you feel you’ve got better anxiety coping skills and you simply want to get off them? Or have you been abusing them and it’s quite clear you’re addicted? Do you feel as if you’ve used them as a crutch for far too long? Take time to investigate how getting off benzos can make you feel better about yourself. And, any other benefits. Write them down and hang onto that paper to refer to down the road should you start to forget your “why”.
It is advised that you seek medical help when stopping the use of benzodiazepines. Medical detox refers to one undergoing addiction treatment under the care of addiction specialists. During the detox time, the body eliminates the toxic chemicals associated with the drug. The period of time it can take to detox varies depending on factors like how long you’ve been on the drug, the dosage, and more.
If you have tried to quit unsuccessfully before or simply want an environment that will help you throughout your days, rehab is a wonderful treatment option. This means that you would stay at the rehab for a short time to “recover” from the addiction. The staff and medical professionals can help you get through withdrawal and give you the psychological support that you need.
If you’re not particularly crazy about rehab, you can see a psychiatrist or counselor to help get you off benzos and learn to cope with life without them. Some people opt for a halfway house for a while as well, as they are a safe and encouraging environment to learn to live without using drugs.
There are 12 steps and non-12 steps narcotics support groups that offer wonderful support and encouragement. Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-Step support group where you can meet face-to-face or online with others in recovery. You’re able to get and offer support to others in similar shoes, as well as get a sponsor/mentor who will be there to offer extra support for quitting benzos.
SMART Recovery is a support group that can assist you in your recovery too. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It uses more science-based literature, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to target negative or limited thoughts or belief patterns. They teach that as you change your mindset, negative thoughts, or false belief patterns, you have a much greater chance at not wanting to use alcohol or drugs.
Take some time to learn about addiction and recovery. There’s plenty of information online or at the library that can help you learn tips and techniques for quitting benzos or any other drug. You can also learn other life skills that could help you go on to build a wonderful life. Learning helpful anxiety reduction techniques can help quite a bit.
If anxiety has been a problem, try out some techniques and see if they help. Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are great stress relievers. You might also want to check out videos online, such as YouTube, as there are various experts in the recovery field offering free, educational videos.
If you feel like you are addicted to benzos, or simply want to get off them for another reason, the first step in quitting benzos is to admit this to yourself. Then, you may want to admit this to a professional. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about your concerns and let them know that you want to stop taking them. Typically, you’ll begin weaning off the medication gradually – also known as tapering.
Consider getting extra support from family, friends, and a support group as you navigate the road to recovery. Rest assured many people have stopped using benzos and are handling anxiety and stress in more natural ways. If this is your desire, know that you can too!