Benzo Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment for Benzo Abuse

Benzodiazepine-class medications are often used to treat anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and social anxiety. Lorazepam, also known by the brand name Ativan, and other short-acting benzodiazepines are prescribed for panic attacks and other acute bouts of anxiety. Long-term use of benzodiazepines, like lorazepam, can lead to dependence and addiction.

Addiction to benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, can be challenging to treat. Misuse of any substance, whether obtained legally or not, can severely impact a patient’s mental and physical health. Keep reading to learn how to recognize and treat benzo addiction.

Treatment Services for Benzo Addiction

At The Haven Detox-New Jersey, we offer detox and rehab for benzodiazepine addiction. Benzo addiction treatment includes a stay at a detox or rehab facility, counseling, medical support, medication management, and holistic therapies.

When someone has a benzodiazepine addiction, it’s important to provide them with the support they need to get through the withdrawal process. Our expert medical staff takes into account the unique needs of every patient to give them the support they need.

Starting with benzo detox and proceeding to evidence-based rehab treatment, The Haven Detox-New Jersey helps patients stabilize while monitoring their withdrawal process. Our staff makes withdrawal as comfortable as possible. You can learn more about our New Jersey drug treatment services by calling (856) 565-3102.

Symptoms of Benzo Addiction

The symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction vary, much like any other substance use disorder. Benzo addiction can deteriorate your cognition and require therapy sessions to help you overcome “brain fog.” A benzo addiction worsens over time, so timely treatment is important.

Get professional addiction help if you or someone you care about displays any of the following symptoms:

  • Irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Sedation
  • Communication issues
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain
  • Forgetfulness

The long-term effects of benzo addiction include the following severe psychiatric conditions and physical symptoms that can cause great distress and danger:

  • Paranoia
  • Concentration problems
  • Impaired thinking
  • Isolation
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
When to Seek Treatment…

When you feel like you need benzodiazepines in order to function, you have developed a dependence on this drug. Doctors recommend not to take this drug for more than two to four weeks. If you are using benzos differently than as prescribed by your doctor, it may be time to seek treatment.

Overcoming benzodiazepine addiction alone can be not only difficult as well, but dangerous. Call our specialists for more information at (856) 565-3102.

If A Loved One Needs Help…

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers. Extended use can cause dementia and other health ailments. If you are worried a loved one may be addicted to benzos, schedule a time to discuss your fears with them.

During your intervention, provide a strategy for treatment. Don’t make them feel it’s too late or make statements that can disrupt their motivation to recover. By encouraging treatment out of love instead of punishment, your loved one is more likely to accept help.

Be cautious about how you talk to your loved ones about getting help, and approach them with care. Contact our facilities for support at (856) 565-3102.

Causes of Benzo Addiction

Benzodiazepines can become highly addictive when used in large amounts or for long periods of time. Treating anxiety and depression gets complicated as the drug disrupts other aspects of life when they need more to achieve the same effects, risking overdose.

When addiction to benzodiazepine-classified drugs worsens, individuals may justify their use by citing its prescription status. However, if used against prescription or a tolerance is developed, addiction is already forming. Several factors can transform a prescription drug into an addictive drug. These factors are as follows:

Social Pressure

Social pressure is the main reason behind addiction, as peer pressure can encourage a person to take benzodiazepines recreationally. Around 64 percent of young people ask their friends and family to obtain prescription drugs like benzodiazepines.


When you have serious addiction or mental illness patterns within your family, you may be likely to have depression or another disorder and get addicted to drugs due to a genetic predisposition. The American Psychological Association states that the chances of getting an alcohol or drug addiction due to genes are as high as 50 percent. Genetics alone does not doom you to a life of addiction. Recovery is possible, even if addiction is in your  genes.

Family History

More than just genetics, if a parent or sibling has struggled with addiction in the past, you are more likely to suffer from an addiction. This is primarily due to unhealthy behaviors being modeled as normal, such as taking benzos to relax every day after work. The family culture can encourage drug use beyond what is prescribed by a doctor.

Addictive Potential

The addictive potential of the drug itself may be enough to create an addiction. Benzos have a high addictive potential due to their tranquilizing effects.

The symptoms of mental health disorders are often treated with benzodiazepines, but after some time, when a person feels a bit relieved by their sedation, they may use them as a coping mechanism. The potential for addiction makes an individual start using benzodiazepines more than the recommended limit, leading to benzo abuse.

Benzos deeply affect your central nervous system, and benzo abuse can even lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. Benzodiazepine dependence worsens over time with severe withdrawal symptoms when a person attempts to stop taking the drug after long-term use.

Risk Factors for Benzo Addiction

Benzos have a sedative effect, making you feel relaxed. Most people who use benzodiazepines say they get sleepy quickly after using them. Drowsiness and decreased anxiousness are side effects. Benzodiazepine tranquilizers are also likely responsible for reducing serotonin levels.

Benzodiazepines produce these effects because gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) inhibits activity in specific brain regions that are crucial for emotional processing, memory retention, respiratory control, and logical reasoning. Brain damage can occur with long-term overdoses of benzos.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally created in the brain. Dopamine is released into the brain when we take part in activities like eating and exercising. Benzos flood the brain with dopamine to stimulate relaxation. When people become addicted to benzos, this flood of dopamine becomes the new normal level of dopamine in the brain, creating tolerance and producing withdrawal symptoms upon stopping. People tend to take higher doses and constantly use benzodiazepines because they seek the same “high” feeling.

To put it another way, benzos can produce a strong and pleasurable high. When this medicine is used regularly, the body develops tolerance against it, and people tend to use it more and more, leading to addiction.

Drug Availability

Benzos are not available over the counter but are legal prescription medications, so many people use them for their sleep disorders or other mental illnesses. Benzodiazepines have a sedative effect and are often prescribed for short-term use. Patients feel sleepy and less tense, and their muscles relax while on benzos. Due to the high rates of prescriptions, benzos are frequently stolen and sold on the street or traded among friends, making the drugs easily accessible. Research shows that around 12.5 percent of the population has been diagnosed with benzodiazepine use disorder.

Lack of Supervision

When it comes to benzodiazepines, people sometimes try to self-medicate their unidentified mental health problems. They may try benzodiazepine drugs at a party and discover it helps with their anxiety. However, without dose monitoring by a professional, what started as medication can turn into an overdose.  When there is no medical supervision for your drug use, you can overdose easily, even while trying to treat a mental health or medical condition.

Peer Pressure

Many teenagers tend to try prescription drugs for the very first time because their friends have offered and motivated them to use them. Peer pressure is not only a problem for teenagers. Both children and adults can fall victim to peer pressure. In adults, this can look like friends who have a benzodiazepine prescription encouraging you to try one for your anxiety without first consulting a doctor.

Timeline for Benzo Addiction Recovery

Full recovery from benzodiazepine use may take several months. Benzos should be tapered carefully to avoid seizures and other severe withdrawal symptoms. It may take four to six weeks to withdraw from low to medium doses of benzodiazepines. The recovery time depends on the severity and strength of the benzo addiction.

People in recovery need tools to help them stay off the drugs after the withdrawal phase. Such initiatives usually include therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention programs.

Along with treatment, The Haven Detox can help with recreational activities and mindfulness meditation to help you manage your mental health without the use of drugs.

Effects of Benzodiazepine Addiction

There are many health issues associated with benzodiazepine addiction. The sedation it causes can alter the brain, making you feel relaxed for a time but leading to memory loss, concentration issues, and other serious problems like brain damage.

Effects on Safety

When individuals are on high doses of benzos, they get into trouble due to blurred vision and sedation, and they are more likely to have accidents. The odds of an accident in a car, for example, can be doubled when a person is under the influence of benzodiazepines.

Effects on Relationships

Benzodiazepine addiction can cause concentration difficulties, brain fog, and withdrawal from family and friends. Addiction also leads people to act uncharacteristically, like lying and stealing to support the addiction. Because relationships thrive on communication and honesty, around 40 to 50 percent of relationships can’t survive an addiction.

Effects on Employment

Benzodiazepine use can lead to consequences on your employment, ruining your career. Not only will your performance at your workplace be affected because of the benzo use, but you may also start to have behavioral issues due to the presence of “brain fog.” A person’s ability to think clearly is undermined when they are influenced by benzo addiction.

Effects on Health

There are many implications of benzo use on one’s health as it interferes with body responsiveness, leading to severe paranoia, hallucinations, and negative thoughts—even depression. Long-term use can lead to cardiac dysrhythmia, among other health effects. Upon stopping benzo use, people may experience seizures, delirium, and insomnia. This is why a controlled detox under medical supervision is necessary.