Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction

Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. They work by slowing down the brain’s activity, which ‌helps to calm a person down. While benzodiazepines can be helpful for some people, they can also be addictive and lead to dependence if not taken as prescribed. Knowing the signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine use can help you get the help you need if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.

Understanding Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a group of medications used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They work by binding to receptors in the brain and increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA. This leads to a calming effect that can help to reduce the symptoms of these conditions. Benzodiazepines are generally safe and effective when taken as directed. However, they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. They can also be addictive, so it is important to take them only as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Commonly Prescribed Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed drugs in the United States, with more than 50 million prescriptions written each year. Some of the most common benzodiazepines include:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)

Benzodiazepine Dependence

When used regularly, benzodiazepines can cause tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Benzodiazepine dependence occurs when the brain becomes reliant on the drug in order to function properly. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms — such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures — when the drug is discontinued. Treatment for benzodiazepine dependence typically involves a tapering schedule to slowly reduce intake of the drug over time, as well as behavioral therapy to help manage symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction

While these drugs can be effective at treating the conditions they are prescribed for, they also come with a risk of addiction. Symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction include cravings for the drug, difficulty stopping use despite negative consequences, and continued use despite physical or psychological problems caused by the drug.

Other symptoms associated with benzodiazepine abuse and addiction include:

  • Blurred vision. Abusing benzodiazepines can cause blurred vision because the medications cause muscles in the eye to relax, making it difficult for the eye to focus. In some cases, benzodiazepines can also cause double vision.
  • Drowsiness. Benzodiazepine abuse can cause drowsiness because of the way the medication affects the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells, and they play an important role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. When benzodiazepines bind to the brain’s GABA receptors, they increase the amount of GABA in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve cell activity, and it is known to cause drowsiness.
  • Poor judgment. One of the most significant dangers of benzodiazepine abuse is poor judgment. When under the influence of benzodiazepines, people are more likely to take risks and engage in risky behavior. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even death. In addition, benzodiazepine abuse can also impair cognitive function and decision-making ability, making it more difficult for individuals taking the substance to stay safe.
  • Weakness. When taken in large doses or combined with other drugs or alcohol, they can cause extreme drowsiness and even unconsciousness. In some cases, benzodiazepine abuse can lead to weakness, collapse, and even death.
  • Unexpected mood changes. When benzodiazepines are abused, they can cause an imbalance of GABA levels, leading to symptoms such as irritability, aggression, and mood swings. One way that benzodiazepine abuse can cause mood swings is by affecting the brain’s neurotransmitters. Additionally, benzodiazepines can cause changes in brainwave activity, which can also lead to mood swings. Finally, benzos can cause physical dependence, and when someone is going through withdrawal from benzodiazepines, they may experience extreme mood swings.
  • Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs. Many individuals addicted to benzodiazepines try to combine them with other substances in order to increase the high they experience. Unfortunately, this can often lead to serious health consequences, including overdose and death. Mixing benzodiazepines with other substances is especially dangerous because it can magnify the effects of both drugs, leading to impaired judgment, motor skills, and cognitive function. In some cases, combining benzodiazepine use with alcohol or other depressants can even result in coma or death.

Long-Term Effects Of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction can lead to serious health problems, including liver damage, respiratory depression, and an increased risk of accidents and injuries.

When taken in large doses or for extended periods of time, benzodiazepines can cause a number of serious health problems, including:

  • Liver damage. One of the most serious potential side effects of long-term benzodiazepine use is liver damage. Liver damage from benzodiazepines can occur gradually, and it may not be detected until it is too late. Symptoms of liver damage include fatigue, nausea, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Respiratory failure. While benzodiazepines are generally considered safe when used as directed, they can cause serious side effects when taken for long periods of time. One potential complication of long-term benzodiazepine use is respiratory failure. This occurs when the muscles responsible for breathing become too weak to function properly. Respiratory failure can be fatal if not treated immediately.
  • Seizures. Seizures are a neurological condition that can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness, and even death. Benzodiazepines increase the risk of seizures by depressing the activity of the brain and nervous system.

In addition, benzo addiction can lead to psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

Let Us Help You Regain Control

Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders by slowing down the brain’s activity. While benzodiazepines can be helpful for some, they can also be addictive and lead to dependence if not taken as prescribed.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to benzodiazepines, it is important to seek help right away. Contact us today if you or a loved one are ready to regain control of your life and break free from addiction. We are here to provide support every step of the way.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

qEEG/Brain Mapping

Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients’ brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.


This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

Spravato Therapy

We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)

Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

Individual Therapy

Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

Group/Family Therapy

Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space.

Contact StoneRidge Centers

5940 E. Copper Hill Dr. Ste B & E, Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314

We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.