Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
According to the NIDA, “Usually, benzodiazepines are not prescribed for longterm use because of the risk for developing tolerance, dependence, or addiction.” However, many people still abuse benzodiazepines and even those prescribed one of these medications may start to abuse it. Therefore, benzodiazepine treatment is highly necessary when an individual who is unable to stop taking benzodiazepines realizes that the drugs are causing issues in their life.
Benzodiazepine addiction treatment usually starts with detox. The patient is encouraged to take their time during detox and to not leave or stop the process before they are completely free of their dependence on benzodiazepines. In most facilities for benzodiazepine addiction treatment and detox, the patient is slowly weaned off the drug, given smaller and smaller doses whenever possible.
However, this does not mean that the patient is cured of the addiction. After withdrawal is over, the patient must attend formal addiction treatment which, for benzodiazepine addicts, mostly consists of behavioral therapies, as there is no FDA-approved medication that treats benzodiazepine addiction. The patient will usually be prepared for this transition in detox, and often, both treatments are done together where the patient is gradually tapered off the drug while attending therapy sessions as well.
Therapy and other behavioral treatments are incredibly beneficial in benzodiazepine addiction treatment. One reason why is because benzodiazepine abusers are more likely to have co-occurring mental disorders (like anxiety, depression, bipolar, and sleep disorders), and therapy is a treatment that can take on multiple issues of these types. In addition, benzodiazepine abusers often are polydrug abusers (and also need treatment for alcohol, cocaine, and barbiturate addictions).
The NIDA states, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on modifying the patient’s thinking, expectations, and behaviors while increasing skills for coping with various life stressors, also has been used successfully to help individuals adapt to discontinuing benzodiazepines” (NIDA 2). CBT is one of the most successful treatment types for all kinds of addiction syndromes, and it can be especially beneficial to those who actively want to stop abusing benzodiazepines and other substances.
Other behavioral therapies available in most benzodiazepine addiction treatment centers are:
- Contingency management
- Family and relationship counseling
- Group counseling
- 12-step approach
In many facilities, additional treatments are made available to patients who need them. For example, a patient who lost their job during their benzodiazepine abuse period will need help finding a new one, and many facilities have vocational therapy and interview skill classes to help them find a new field. Other holistic treatments and beneficial treatments of this type may include:
- Exercise classes
- Nutritional classes
- Art therapy
Benzodiazepine addiction causes many problems for not only the individual who abuses the drugs but for their friends, family members, and sometimes even acquaintances as well. And, since there is an “increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol,” benzodiazepine abuse and addiction can be extremely dangerous too (NIDA 1). Seek treatment immediately for a benzodiazepine addiction, and begin to feel like yourself again.