You may have heard about the opioid epidemic, which is a crisis of misuse and abuse of opioids. While benzodiazepines aren’t opioids, they may also lead to addiction, overdose, and in some cases, death. This is referred to as the benzodiazepine epidemic.
Before shedding light on this country-wide problem, it’s important to know what benzodiazepines are and how they work.
What are benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a category of drugs considered sedatives. They work by calming the central nervous system and reducing abnormal excitement in the brain. Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are all different types of benzodiazepines. They are often prescribed to reduce anxiety or help people sleep.
Because of their calming effects, people misuse benzodiazepines. They may take too many pills, become addicted to them, or combine them with other dangerous substances, such as alcohol or opioids. Some people misuse benzodiazepines by crushing them and snorting them to feel high.
Benzodiazepines are considered a class IV control substance, meaning they have been determined to lead to abuse or addiction.
Facts on the abuse and misuse of benzodiazepines
In the last few decades, benzodiazepine use has increased. And so has addiction and overdoses. Here are a few more facts and statistics that demonstrate the benzodiazepine epidemic.
- Over 30 million Americans reported using benzodiazepines.
- Taking benzodiazepines with opioids increases the chances of overdose.
- 16 percent of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines.
- Benzodiazepines have the potential to become addictive.
- Withdrawal symptoms occur in 15 to 40 percent of the cases and can take weeks or months to pass.
- Benzodiazepine use without a prescription is the most common type of misuse of the drug.
Why is benzodiazepine abuse on the rise?
Forty million adult Americans battle anxiety. It’s one of the most common mental health conditions. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Ativan, are safe and effective at treating anxiety. That’s why many Americans turn to benzodiazepines to help them feel better.
Experts also believe that the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to benzodiazepine addictions and overdoses. Joblessness, isolation, and sickness brought on anxiety in new patients and made some people’s anxiety and depression worst. The 2020 pandemic also increased insomnia and sleep problems.
This led to more people seeking medication – both illegally and legally – to help alleviate their anxiety and depression. In fact, one of the most common ways people misuse benzodiazepines is taking them without a prescription.
Skyward Treatment Center’s approach to benzodiazepines
Ending the benzodiazepine is a group effort. It will take awareness and education about benzodiazepines, including how they work and become addictive. It’ll take effort from healthcare providers, public health officials, and the government.
Skyward Treatment Center provides treatment to help people detox from and quit prescription drug abuse, including abuse of benzodiazepines. With both outpatient and inpatient treatment options, we cater to each person’s unique needs.
We also offer same-day and 24/7 admissions, so you or a loved one gets the help they need right away. To learn more about our drug treatment, call 713-815-4471 or complete our online form.