In the United States the motto ‘bigger, better, faster’ is the driving force for most people. There is unparalleled pressure to have the most money, the biggest house, the nicest car, be the smartest, the best athlete and just in general the best of everything. All of this chasing the American dream causes stress, anxiety and panic attacks in many. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S. with over 40 million adults diagnosed with it. Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines, i.e. benzos, to help people deal with their anxiety, stress, phobias, insomnia and panic attacks. Benzos bring instant relief for their prescribed symptoms but they also create an addiction that is harder to break than opioids.
The Rise in Benzo Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) the number of prescriptions writhed for benzos has increased 67% between 1996 and 2013. Panic attacks and anxiety can be debilitating and there is no one profile of a sufferer. Many celebrities have started talking about their struggles with acute anxiety and many of them turn to benzos to treat it. Benzos, more commonly known as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin, are glorified in rap songs and in movies and TV. Taking a Xanax bar can quickly alleviate all your problems, but it doesn’t take long for it to become an addiction. They are in the drug class of tranquilizers and they calm the brain down while flooding it with dopamine producing a feel-good effect. Users say that it takes away all the feelings and emotions that are bothering you helps escape the everyday stressors of life.
How Addiction Happens
A prescription for benzos is meant to be for the short-term and not to be taken everyday. The feeling produced by the drug makes it highly addictive and it is extremely hard to stop which creates a dangerous cycle of abuse. The withdrawal from benzos is severe and worse than detoxing off of opioids or heroin. In fact, stopping cold turkey causes such severe withdrawal symptoms that doctors advise patients to wean themselves off slowly. In most instances, detox from a drug takes about a week, not so with benzos. Withdrawal symptoms ca last anywhere from a few months to a year. As the high wears off users feel like they are in a constant state of detox so they take another to stop the extreme feelings of anguish.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Benzos
Withdrawing from any drug is hard and takes resilience and determination. Stopping benzos is twice as hard and symptoms hit hard. The severe withdrawal symptoms from benzos include: extreme shaking, seizures, nausea, headaches, sweating, muscular pain, irritability, insomnia, panic attacks and increased stress and anxiety. Even when use is slowly tapered off, symptoms still appear. This is what makes it so difficult to stop, the withdrawal is so intense that users take another bar or pill to end the pain. Health care officials and emergency rooms across the country report patients being admitted to the hospital for overdoses or withdrawal because of the dangerous seizures often experienced.
Multiple Drug Use
Drugs like Xanax and Valium are usually not taken on their own but taken in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol. Several celebrities have recently overdosed by mixing Xanax with other drugs like fentanyl or heroin. Benzos are just as deadly as opioids and even more so when taken with other drugs. Overdoses involving benzos quadrupled between 2002 and 2015. In 2015 there were 8,791 deaths involving benzos, up from 1,135 in 1999.
Xanax, in particular, has been celebrated by artists in the genre of SoundCloud rap with many rapping about Xan, getting tattoos of Xan bars and even one naming himself Lil’ Xan for his love of the drug. Lil’ Peep, a well-known SoundCloud rapper OD’d last November on Xanax laced with fentanyl. Hoirse before his death he uploaded videos of himself on Instagram dropping Xanax bars into his mouth. His death has acted like a wake-up call to others in that genre but it is still an epidemic that’s gaining speed like a freight train.
Long-term use of benzos has been shown to cause cognitive impairment and emotional stunting. Users forget things they once knew or forget how to perform day-to-day tasks. Other side effects include: lack of coordination, confusion, blurred vision, tremors, headaches, diminished reaction time, lack of focus and slowed thinking. While not everyone who is prescribed benzos becomes addicted, it is still a highly addictive drug and should be taken with caution. Even those taking for therapeutic reasons without addictive personalities can easily find themselves addicted to them.
If you think someone you know is abusing drugs or alcohol, contact National Screening Centers in Houston, they provide drug analysis to give you results that are 100% accurate. They are performed at our convenient locations and results are delivered quickly. For more information visit National Screening Centers for our location and hours.