Benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders can be treated together and often result from long-term benzo use. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short, can lead to physical and mental health issues taken long-term. Therefore, close management of these medications is required to prevent addiction. Typically, benzos prescribed for short-term usage are effective means of treatment. The problem lies in patients and prescribers not following the proper protocols to keep benzo users safe.

What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders can be a dangerous combination. Therefore, understanding benzos are essential for a complete education of those dangers. In short-term dosages, Benzos treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, muscle tension, and some types of sleep disorders or insomnia. However, this medication is a central nervous system depressant to control severe symptoms. The following list includes commonly prescribed benzodiazepines:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Dalmane (flurazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)

Medication management protocols must be adhered to with these drugs. When combined with alcohol or opioids, overdose can occur. Benzos with methadone are used in detox programs from stimulant intoxication to ease the withdrawal effects. In conclusion, benzo addiction and mental health disorders have a dangerous relationship if not monitored very closely by professionals.

Benzo Side Effects

Benzo addiction and mental health disorders affect each other in the effects that these drugs are produces in the brain. For instance, benzos control the fear response experienced in anxiety disorders. Addiction occurs when short-term use turns into long-term use, resulting in addiction. As a result, a complicated relationship occurs between treating mental health disorders with volatile drugs. Also, symptoms of withdrawal tend to present as the opposite of the therapeutic effects of benzos. These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • High body temperature and sweating
  • In about 20% to 30% of cases, grand mal seizures

Long-term usage of benzos leads to tolerance and dependence. Benzo addiction and mental health disorders occur when used longer than two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms will occur three to four weeks from the initial dosage. Those who take benzos over the long term must be under medical supervision for a slow withdrawal.

Effects of Benzos on Mental Health

Benzodiazepine addiction and mental health issues are adversely affected by the effects of this type of medication. Benzodiazepines are responsible for depressing the central nervous system. Therefore, when depression or anxiety disorders are present, benzos can increase vulnerabilities to depression. Finally, a danger exists for those already depressed who are addicted to benzodiazepines to become addicted to alcohol, which can lead to suicidal thinking. In addition, 17 million people reported any mental illness, substance abuse disorder, or dual diagnosis. (SAMHSA 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

  • Mood Disorders: including depression, there is no detailed research to prove benzos are a cause of these mental illnesses. Long-term use of benzos can produce depressive symptoms or induce depression if there is a personal vulnerability. In addition to benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders, those who take alcohol, in addition, are at risk of overdose or death. High doses of benzos could lead to mood swings and hostile or erratic behaviors. Benzodiazepine addiction and mental health mood disorders can lead to suicidal thoughts. Experts believe that antidepressants are effective treatment options for mood disorders.
  • Anxiety Disorders: can be treated with benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders, such as anxiety, present a greater risk of abuse of additional substances. Alcohol and opiates used in conjunction with benzos in anxiety disorders are highly hazardous. In addition, benzos taken long-term can lead to a worsening of symptoms.

The following symptoms occur with benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders:

  • An increased frequency of anxiety or panic attacks
  • A high risk of isolating behaviors and social anxiety
  • Increased physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, and hyperventilation
  • Increased feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression
  • Difficulty coping with lifestyle, relationships, and work situations
  • An inability to regulate emotions and feelings

Find Treatment for Benzo Addiction and Mental Health

Simultaneous experience of benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders is a dual diagnosis. When addiction and a mental health disorder occur, detox is the priority upon entering treatment.  However, the physical symptoms can be extreme when withdrawing from benzos. Therefore, medically monitored detox prevents severe symptoms from causing discomfort. Finally, after detox is complete, the recommended treatment plan can begin.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may also improve outcomes in comorbid benzodiazepine addiction and mental health issues. Learning positive and healthy coping mechanisms, targeting sources of negative thoughts, and learning to identify triggers of anxiety and depression add to a successful treatment plan. New holistic therapies used in conjunction with traditional therapies have proven to be very successful in preventing relapse and forming healthy lifestyle habits.

The Effects of Benzodiazepine Addiction and Mental Health in West Tennessee

We can address the effects of benzodiazepine addiction and mental health disorders for those living in West Tennessee at Detox West Tennessee. Our professional experience treating dual diagnosis, addiction, detox, and acquiring sober and healthy lifestyle skills are available now. Reach out to us for information, immediate assessment, or evaluation, and start a detox program as soon as possible.