Problems maintaining a healthy sleep schedule? Are you feeling a bit anxious? No worries, there’s a pill for that! It seems as though doctors and medical experts across the nation prescribe incredibly potent medications as their first means of treatment rather than looking for the root of the problem. That’s not to say all doctors nationwide are doing this, but based on the overwhelming number of those addicted to prescription drugs, it’s hard not to assume it’s the case a lot of the time.
In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that 92 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were dispensed from pharmacies all across the United States. The most common benzodiazepine was Xanax with 38 percent of all prescriptions, while clonazepam came in second at 24 percent, and lorazepam with 20 percent of all benzo prescriptions. The same study found nearly 50 percent of patients who were prescribed the prescription drug took them longer than two months, which is much longer than they should. In most cases, benzos should never be used for longer than two weeks based on their addiction potential.
Benzodiazepines are most often used to treat anxiety, which is a condition that affects 18.1 percent of the population. While they’re highly effective in helping with panic attacks and overcoming anxiety in the moment of an attack, it’s not advised to continue using them for more than two weeks at a time unless you’re specifically instructed to by your treating physician.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 660,000 adults and 181,000 children have severe mental illness in Broward County, north of Miami-Dade county. Broward County also witnessed more deaths by suicide in 2016 than neighboring Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Unfortunately, Florida is ranked last in per capita spending on mental health, meaning most people struggling with anxiety disorders will likely seek chemical relief before getting to the root of their problem.
For those who have become either tolerant to or chemically dependent on benzodiazepines and are ready to stop, it’s vital to understand how these drugs affect your body when you stop. If you’ve been using benzodiazepines for a couple of weeks and followed the instructions provided by your primary care physician, you won’t likely endure severe withdrawals. However, they will instruct you how to taper and wean yourself off safely.
If you’ve been abusing benzos and by taking more than prescribed, using them longer than prescribed, or ingesting them in a fashion that’s reckless like smoking or snorting, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal. You may be at a point where tapering at home with instructions from your doctor isn’t enough. In this case, benzodiazepine treatment in South Florida might be your best option.
Whether you’re new to the area, lived here your whole life, or want to get help at a treatment facility in South Florida, there are options available to you. Many people move to South Florida for more than its exceptional weather and vast cultural experiences. The region boasts some of the highest-quality treatment centers in the world. Where you find great treatment, you’ll also find an excellent recovery community that can help you each step of the way.
Below we’ll take a look at how benzodiazepines work, why they’re dangerous, and how treatment can change your life.
How Do Benzodiazepines Affect the Body?
When used as prescribed, benzodiazepines can be a life-changer for those struggling with sleeplessness, severe anxiety, or seizures. Those who struggle with this condition don’t produce enough gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring chemical in the body that induces relaxation and sleep. When the nervous system is overactive, achieving rest or calm is impossible, which is where benzodiazepines come in.
Benzodiazepines were designed with the distinct purpose of stimulating GABA receptors in the brain to produce more than it typically would. The result is sedating, relaxing, and potentially addicting because of the euphoria it might also produce. Naturally occurring GABA transmitters are responsible for various motor and cognitive functions, so the medication has intense effects on the body.
Although benzodiazepines have their use in society to treat anxiety and seizures, many people start taking more than they should, or even worse, using them in conjunction with other depressants like opioids or alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an estimated 16 percent of individuals who overdosed on opioids also had benzos in their systems at the time of death. This shows the inherent dangers and how the drugs affect the body adversely.
The Problem with Benzodiazepine Prescriptions in South Florida
According to the same study listed above, the number of adults who filled benzodiazepine prescriptions between 1996 and 2013 rose dramatically by 67 percent from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. Again, if these drugs weren’t effective, they wouldn’t be prescribed in such vast numbers.
However, they’re intended for short-term use due to the potential of chemical dependency and addiction. One of the primary problems with benzodiazepine prescriptions is a person will hide behind the fact they were prescribed by a doctor and refuse to believe they’ve become addicted.
Prescription drugs have blurred lines regarding addiction, despite being as addictive as illicit street drugs. Another issue is that even when you use them as prescribed, the chances of becoming addicted are still high. Our bodies all react differently to what we put in them. For example, one person who takes high doses may be able to stop with minimal withdrawal symptoms, while someone who uses small amounts as prescribed could experience significant symptoms. We all react differently, meaning benzodiazepine treatment is necessary.
Getting Benzodiazepine Treatment in South Florida
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is among the most dangerous of all drugs, with alcohol being the only exception. For that reason, doing the process alone can put your life in grave danger. For this reason, your doctor will strongly advise you to seek benzodiazepine treatment. The first step to treat acute withdrawals would be medical detox. This round-the-clock treatment setting in South Florida will help you mitigate potential dangers that could present themselves during this time.
When you have successfully removed all traces of the benzos from your system and doctors consider you safe, you will have many options to decide. If you’ve become addicted to benzos, medical detox won’t be enough to save you from relapse. You must consider further treatment to help establish the root cause of your addiction. Whether it’s residential or outpatient, you’ll take part in therapies that will teach you to cope with your drug cravings and emotions.