Benzodiazepine Addiction Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers quality services and support for adolescents, adults, and senior adults who are struggling with benzodiazepine addiction. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of benzodiazepine addiction treatment.

Understanding Benzodiazepine Addiction

Learn about benzodiazepine addiction

Benzodiazepines, which are commonly referred to as benzos, are medications that are frequently prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Benzos are also used in legitimate medical circumstances as muscle relaxants and to ease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Some commonly prescribed benzos are Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium. When prescribed by a doctor and used as directed, benzos can be extremely beneficial. Unfortunately, these drugs are often misused, which can produce a variety of negative effects, including addiction.

Benzos work by suppressing the central nervous system, which helps the user feel more calm, relaxed, and focused. Many people who abuse benzos do so to achieve that sensation of sedate euphoria.

Once you have become addicted to benzos, it can be extremely difficult to end your use of these powerful substances on your own. However, benzodiazepine addiction is a treatable condition. With the right type and level of professional care, you can achieve long-term recovery.


Statistics about benzodiazepine addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have reported the following about benzodiazepine use and abuse in the United States:

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for benzodiazepine addiction

Your risk of developing a benzo addiction can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Being impulsive
  • Having a family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Being female
  • Being around others who abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Being antisocial
  • Being prescribed benzos at an early age

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction

When used as prescribed, benzos can help you to feel less stressed, less anxious, and more confident. However, benzo abuse and addiction can lead to a variety of distressing experiences. The following are among the more common signs and symptoms that may indicate that a person is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse or addiction:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Visiting several doctors in hopes of illicitly acquiring multiple benzo prescriptions (often referred to as “doctor shopping”)
  • Social isolation
  • Losing interest in things one once enjoyed
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Trying to borrow or steal benzos that have been prescribed to someone else

Physical symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Imbalance
  • Poor coordination
  • Rapid, involuntary eye movement

Mental symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Finding it hard to pay attention
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Periods of emotional detachment


Effects of benzodiazepine addiction

Chronic benzo abuse can have a profound negative impact on many parts of a person’s life. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a benzo addiction, it’s imperative to seek help as soon as possible. Common effects of benzo addiction include the following:

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Overall decline in physical health
  • Respiratory depression
  • Onset or worsening of mental health concerns
  • Strained or ruined personal and professional relationships
  • Drop in performance at work or in school
  • Financial strain
  • Other forms of substance abuse
  • Legal problems
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation

When you seek effective professional care for benzo addiction, you can reduce your risk for outcomes such as the ones listed above. Getting help for benzo addiction will also allow you to begin to heal from any past damage that you incurred as a result of your benzo use.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have benzodiazepine addiction

If you struggle with a benzo addiction, you may also have an increased risk for developing the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Anxiety disorders

Effects of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal & Overdose

Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal and the potential impact of benzo overdose

Effects of withdrawal: When you become addicted to benzos, your body adapts to the presence of this substance. If you then attempt to end your benzo use, your body may respond with a variety of distressing symptoms. This experience is known as benzodiazepine withdrawal. The following are common benzo withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Hand tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Brief hallucinations

Effects of overdose: Overdosing on benzos can be fatal. If someone you know has been using benzos and displays any of the following effects, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately:

  • Extreme dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sedation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slow, weak breaths

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • The Jason Foundation