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BENZODIAZEPINE FAQs

Why is it dangerous to use benzodiazepines with alcohol?

Mixing drugs, whether they are legal drugs or illegal drugs, have numerous detrimental effects physically and psychologically. A standard method of drug use involves the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines. Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in the United States, and alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. However, small amounts of alcohol act as a stimulant, but as you continue to drink, you will feel the sedative effects. Alcohol has a significant impact on the central nervous system, and heavy alcohol use is associated with numerous adverse effects. Millions of Americans are users of alcohol, which includes heavy drinking and binge drinking.

Benzodiazepines make up a broader category of medications and are widely prescribed throughout the nation. These drugs represent one of the most often prescribed drugs in the United States. Benzodiazepines are also a central nervous system depressant and can have strong sedative effects. Some of the common brand names include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, and Restoril. Prescription benzodiazepines are not meant for long-term use, but millions of Americans use these drugs for longer than required. When benzos are abused; however, they are often not the primary drug of choice and are often abused in conjunction with other drugs. The most common drug used with benzos is alcohol, and most overdoses resulting in hospital room emergency visits are because of this combination.

Addicts use benzos and alcohol together because it enhances the effects of one of the drugs. Most drug users are under the impression that using prescription medications with other drugs is safe, such as using alcohol with prescriptions or illicit drugs. Alcohol is readily available and sold throughout the United States and easily purchased by those of age. People who struggle with an alcohol abuse problem experience enhanced psychoactive effects from benzodiazepines. When mixing two central nervous system depressants, the action results in the enhancement of the effects of both drugs. The effects of both drugs are increased significantly, compared to the use of either drug alone. There is a significant increase in overdose when two CNS depressants are mixed. An overdose on either drug is severe and even life-threatening. Overdose can cause significant organ damage and brain damage due to a lack of oxygen as both drugs suppress breathing.

When benzos and alcohol are used together, the amount of alcohol needed to cause an overdose is significantly reduced. Alcohol is also metabolized faster in the body and metabolized first before the benzos, which means benzos remain in the body for longer. The combination of these drugs also causes an increased reduction in cognition, decreased physical reactions, increased side effect-potential and an increased potential for unpredictable side effects. The unforeseen side effects of using benzos and alcohol together are the most significant risk and one that leads to overdose resulting in death.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Detox and Rehabilitation

Combining benzodiazepines with other drugs is not uncommon, but it is dangerous. Countless addicts that enter detox and rehabilitation struggle with polydrug use, which is abusing multiple drugs at once. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines. It is estimated that every day more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. However, between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled a benzo prescription increased by 67%. Most of the addiction involving benzodiazepines begin with a prescription that is taken longer than needed or misused.

Rehabilitation for benzodiazepine addiction should be well-rounded and involve proper detox and residential or outpatient treatment. The first phase of treatment should involve a medically supervised detox. When you become physically dependent on a drug, it means your body cannot operate normally without it. Withdrawing from benzos is not easy, and withdrawal management with the use of medication helps ease and control withdrawal symptoms. Someone can experience withdrawal symptoms even after one month of use with a small prescription.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on a variety of factors like the current dose, how long you have been taking them, and whether you take more than one type of benzodiazepine. Also, it depends on if other drugs are being abused. Medically supervised detox should not be considered the only approach to treatment, and addiction requires counseling or therapy. The next phase of treatment for benzo addiction should involve residential or outpatient treatment. Long-term rehabilitation programs are the best option, but an addiction assessment can help a family determine what is needed. Outpatient treatment is also effective but may not be the right fit for every person struggling with addiction.

Sources- https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids

Benzodiazepine Addiction Family Intervention

Someone who is in denial about their addiction and refuses help would need a professional family intervention. The purpose of a family intervention is to help the addict get treatment and help the family regain control of their lives. Family intervention requires planning, and working with a professional interventionist is a good choice. Certified interventionists guide a family through intervention while also helping them address their own issues.

An addiction interventionist helps the family prepare for the intervention, stage the intervention, and guides the family through what to do when their loved one leaves rehab. Family intervention works, and it benefits the addict and their family in similar ways. Benzodiazepine addiction impacts people in different ways. Some benzo users become dependent because of long-term prescription use, whereas others become addicted because of prescription misuse and abuse. Professional intervention could help in both circumstances where someone is unwilling to get the help they need to become healthy.

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