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Benzodiazepine Addiction

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

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Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Benzodiazepine drugs are used to treat a variety of physical and psychological ailments in the United States. As central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines are known for their muscle-relaxing and anxiety-relieving characteristics.

These medications have useful medical properties and are usually a fairly safe treatment for anxiety. However, the calming properties that make benzos such important medical tools also make them highly addictive and potentially dangerous in some cases.

Intentional abuse of prescription benzodiazepines is fairly uncommon in the general population. Some people combine the medication with alcoholopioids or illicit drugs to increase its effects, but this can lead to dangerous or even fatal outcomes due to central nervous system depression. Benzo abuse on its own also heightens the risk of dangerous effects, including dependence, addiction and overdose. Additionally, people who misuse benzodiazepines also have a higher risk for developing cognitive problems over the long term.

Benzodiazepine overdose fatalities in Florida are a significant problem, with the most common culprit being alprazolam (Xanax).

Benzodiazepine Abuse Facts and Statistics in Florida

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed and abused drugs in Florida. Statistics about benzo use in the Sunshine State include:

  • Xanax is the most frequently abused benzodiazepine in Florida as well as the United States.
  • Around 600,000 benzodiazepine prescriptions are dispensed monthly in Florida.
  • More than 500,000 Floridians receive a prescription benzodiazepine every month.
  • Almost two-thirds of Floridians who take benzos are female.
  • Most Floridians who receive a prescription benzo are over the age of 55.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that affect the central nervous system to ease the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions. Overall, benzodiazepines are similar in how they affect the brain. However, different types contain different potencies, durations of action and receptor site attractions. This explains why some benzodiazepines work better than others in treating particular conditions.

Commonly prescribed medications within the benzodiazepines drug category include Valium and Xanax, which are some of the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications in the United States. Physicians may prescribe a benzodiazepine for medical conditions like:

Some people take benzos without a prescription to experience sedating and calming effects, which is considered drug abuse. Benzodiazepines have also been used as date rape drugs. They have the ability to distinctly impair and even eliminate functions that would allow someone to resist sexual aggression or assault. The drug is usually added to alcohol-containing drinks in powder or liquid forms and can be hard to taste.

Types of Benzodiazepines

All benzodiazepines have certain characteristics in common; for example, they are all central nervous system depressants and Schedule IV controlled substances. However, each drug has certain factors that make it unique among other benzodiazepines.

Generic nameAlprazolamClonazepamDiazepamLorazepamChlordiazepoxideTemazepam
Route of administrationOral solutionFast-acting tabletsLong-acting tabletsOrally disintegrating tabletsTabletsOral solutionTabletsRectal gelOral solutionTabletsCapsulesCapsules
Common usesAnxietyPanicSeizuresPanicAnxietySedationSeizuresAlcohol withdrawalAnxietySedationSeizureAlcohol withdrawalAnxietySleep
Peak effectWithin one to two hoursWithin one to four hoursWithin 1.5 hoursWithin two hoursSeveral hoursWithin 1.6 hours
Duration of actionUp to 11 hoursUp to 12 hoursVariesVariesVariesVaries
Half-lifeUp to 16 hours for long-acting tablets, up to 12.5 hours for other formulationsUp to 50 hoursUp to 50 hoursUp to 20 hoursUp to 30 hoursUp to eight hours

Are Benzodiazepines Addictive?

Benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances, meaning they carry the risk of abuse, dependence and addiction. Further, these drugs have been chronically abused for decades and cause thousands of drug overdoses each year.

Signs of Benzodiazepine Abuse

At normal, prescribed doses, benzodiazepines relieve anxiety and sleep problems for people with diagnosed medical conditions. Benzos are usually well-tolerated medications with a few mild side effects, such as drowsiness or dizziness. These side effects may be much more pronounced with increased doses.

Signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Euphoria
  • Problems concentrating or thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Depression

Signs of chronic drug abuse can be seen through changes in appearance and behavior that disrupt relationships and work performance. These can include:

  • Spending time with a different social group
  • Not caring about appearance
  • Worse performance at school or at work
  • Missing school or work
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Getting in legal trouble
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Problems with family members and friends

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

At the Orlando Recovery Center, benzo addiction treatment typically begins with a medical detox that helps wean clients off the drug in a supervised environment. This is followed by rehabilitation, which provides a full continuum of care ranging from inpatient treatment to long-term aftercare.

If you or someone you love needs treatment for a benzodiazepine addiction, the Orlando Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable admissions representative and learn more about programs that can work well for you.


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