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Benzodiazepine Addiction


Benzodiazepine Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Many people believe that prescription medications are always safe to use in any circumstance. But some prescription medications, including benzodiazepines, have the potential for misuse and addiction.

Benzodiazepine abuse is extremely common and accounts for 20% of benzodiazepine use overall.[1] About 3.9 million people abused a benzodiazepine in 2021 and more than 12,000 people died as a result of a benzodiazepine-related overdose.[2]

If you develop an addiction to benzodiazepines, you will likely require comprehensive treatment and ongoing support to stop using these drugs and avoid relapse. This guide will explain how benzodiazepine addiction begins and how it is treated.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are a group of commonly prescribed sedative medications used to treat a variety of medical and mental health conditions, including:

  • Panic disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Alcohol withdrawal

According to 2021 research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 25 million people over the age of 12 reported using a prescription benzodiazepine in the previous year.[3]

Some of the most widely abused benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, and doctors generally prescribe them for short periods to limit the risk of dependence. But many people misuse benzodiazepines or take them recreationally, meaning without a prescription. Benzodiazepine misuse may include:

  • Taking medication prescribed to someone else
  • Using prescription medication to get “high”
  • Taking the drug differently than prescribed–taking it in higher doses, taking it more frequently, or ingesting it in a different method than your doctor told you to

While benzodiazepine abuse can cause desirable effects like euphoria and sedation, people may also take benzos to counteract the unwanted effects of stimulant drugs like cocaine or to relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are considered generally safe for short-term use when taken exactly as prescribed. But benzodiazepines can cause unwanted side effects that become more significant when people misuse them.

Benzodiazepine side effects include:[4]

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Slurring
  • Blurry vision
  • Vertigo
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive or erratic behaviors

Benzodiazepine is possible but rare. However, if a person mixes benzodiazepines and other drugs that suppress central nervous system activity, they would be more likely to have a deadly overdose.

Understanding Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction

Benzodiazepines are addictive, and misusing them increases the risk of developing dependence. Long-term use can lead to tolerance–meaning that a person needs to take higher doses of a substance to the desired effects, primarily sedation and euphoria. This cycle of misuse and tolerance can result in addiction.

Some of the signs of benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Using more of the drug–larger or more frequent doses or for a longer period–than prescribed
  • Wanting to stop using the drug but feeling unable to do so
  • Using a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from using the drug
  • Experiencing intense cravings for the drug
  • Neglecting hygiene, hobbies, and responsibilities at home, work, or school because of drug use
  • Using drugs in dangerous situations, such as driving or having risky sex under the influence
  • Continuing to use despite knowledge of the risks or adverse effects on your health, relationships, or other areas of your life
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you cut back or stop using the drug

A loss of control is one of the defining characteristics of drug addiction. People who develop an addiction usually require the support of a professional benzodiazepine rehab program to overcome addiction and avoid relapse for the rest of their lives.

Benzodiazepine Detox: The First Step of Recovery

If you develop a physical dependence on benzodiazepines and suddenly stop taking them, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms as your body and brain adjust to the absence of these drugs.

Symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Severe cravings
  • Delirium
  • Seizures

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin to develop within a few hours of your last dose of benzodiazepines. People who have taken high or frequent doses of benzodiazepines are more susceptible to dangerous withdrawal symptoms like delirium and seizures.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are often so uncomfortable that people may relapse–meaning they use drugs again after a period of abstinence–to stop them.

Seeking treatment from a medically-supported benzodiazepine detox center significantly increases your chances of having a safe, complete withdrawal. People in a benzodiazepine detox program receive the constant treatment, supervision, and support necessary to avoid relapse and minimize discomfort. Treatments include medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, emotional support, and holistic therapies for comfort.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment is available in several levels of care in residential and outpatient settings. Many people start out in an inpatient benzodiazepine addiction treatment program and move on to other types of treatment as their recovery progresses.

Before beginning benzodiazepine rehab, a doctor or addiction professional will assess your needs and recommend a course of treatment. Comprehensive addiction treatment programs use evidence-based and holistic therapies to help people understand and overcome their addiction’s physical, behavioral, and emotional aspects. Treatment plans typically include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Mental health treatment
  • Medications
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Holistic therapies like exercise, mindfulness, massage, nutrition support, and more

After completing a benzodiazepine addiction treatment plan, people must follow an aftercare plan that helps them stay active in recovery. This may include living in sober housing, attending 12-step and other support meetings, and staying up-to-date with all medical and mental health appointments.

Find Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction in Florida Today

At Mandala Healing Center, we inspire healing in our patients through compassionate care. Going beyond the conventional approach of benzodiazepine detoxification, patients at our facility are inspired to fully heal in an environment designed to nourish their entire being.

Clients are taken on a journey of healing through complete immersion into evidence-based clinical modalities, multifaceted alternative therapies, and expert medical management, allowing them to fully detox and recover from benzodiazepine addiction. Through a program of care designed to encourage change, a foundation is created that allows clients to find their higher purpose and reclaim their lives.

If you or a loved one are suffering from benzodiazepine addiction or would like to learn more about your rehab options, please reach out to our dedicated admissions counselors today.


  1. National Library of Medicine: Benzodiazepine Use and Misuse Among Adults in the United States, Retrieved April 2023 from
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of prescription drug misuse in the United States?, Retrieved April 2023 from
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Retrieved April 2023 from
  4. National Institutes of Health (NIH): Benzodiazepines, Retrieved April 2023 from