Over the past five years, OARS has worked with mostly patients who have an opioid use disorder. Through our experience we’ve have learned that many of our patients develop a co-dependence to other substance use disorders as well.
According to the CDC, 9,711 people died from benzodiazepine overdose in 2019.
Benzodiazepines are prescription medications that are used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, muscle tension, and insomnia. They are generally prescribed for short-term relief of symptoms. Benzos slow down the nerve activity in your brain and the rest of the central nervous system.
Benzodiazepines were first developed in the late 1950’s with Chlordiazepoxide / Librium® being the first to be marketed in the US in 1960 as an alternative to barbiturates that had a higher risk profile. During the initial development process thousands of other benzodiazepine and benzodiazepine-like chemicals were synthesized and studied but only a few found their way to become FDA approved prescription medications.
When taken in high dosages or when taken with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol, muscle relaxants, or opioids, serious adverse consequences occur, including death. The severity of the consequences depends on several factors including (1) dosage, (2) tolerance, (3) weight, (4) age, (5) metabolism, (6) genetics, and (7) contestants.
Benzos are highly addictive and habit-forming when used regularly for longer than what the doctor has prescribed.
In the short-term, abuse of benzos can result in:
- Mental confusion
- Short-term memory loss
- Lack of motor control
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Slow breathing
- Muscle weakness
In the long-term, abuse of benzos can result in:
- Extreme drowsiness and slow reflexes
- Mood swings
- Erratic behavior
- Impaired judgment
- Chronic memory deficits
If you think your loved one has a dependency on benzodiazepines, look for signs such as nausea and vomiting, loss of coordination, extreme drowsiness, difficulty breathing or breathing stopped completely, and pale skin and blue lips and fingernails.
Treatment for dependency on benzodiazepines, which OARS now treats, includes:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT focuses on learning new and drug-free ways to cope with stress in life. It relies on recognizing reactions to environmental or emotional cues, stopping the negative impulsive response, and adapting with a healthy alternative.
There are currently no approved medications for benzodiazepines, but we are using off-label treatment in addition to the above approved treatment.
If you have any questions about our treatment options or want to learn more about getting into treatment at OARS, call us at 724-912-6277. We’re here to answer any questions you have to get help for you or your loved ones.