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Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Illinois

Benzo addiction treatment help in Illinois

Benzo is one of the most commonly prescribed depressants in the U.S., with over 30.6 million adults using the drug every year.

Despite being a controlled substance with needed prescriptions, benzo addiction has become prevalent across the country. According to the CDC, emergency visits and deaths attributed to benzo addiction have spiked between 2019 and 2020.

If you or someone you know is struggling with benzo addiction in Illinois, our comprehensive guide will help you stay well-informed about risk factors, side effects, and signs of the sedative’s drug abuse.

What Is Benzo?

Benzo, formally known as benzodiazepines, is a class of depressants used to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and muscle spasms. They do so by slowing down your brain’s nervous system, essentially sedating patients.

As a controlled substance in the U.S., benzos, also informally referred to as downers, are only given through prescriptions. They’re highly regulated drugs because abusing them can pose dangerous effects.

How Benzos Work

As a sedative, benzo triggers your central nervous system’s gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) circulation. GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows your brain down and blocks certain signals from entering your nervous system.

Benzo allows the neurotransmitter to bind with receptors in your brain and spinal cord, causing the calming effect associated with the drug.

Benzo Classifications

Pharmaceutical companies classify benzos into two prime categories: strength and duration of action. In terms of strength, some benzos are more potent than others. For instance, a 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg dosage of clonazepam holds the same effects as 15 mg to 20 mg of flurazepam.

As for the duration of action, the drug has fast-acting and slow-acting types. The latter typically lasts a few hours, while the prior can provide prolonged results and last multiple days.

Overall, these classifications are necessary when prescribing each medical ailment. For example, if someone suffers from a seizure, a fast-acting, more potent benzo drug will be more suitable to administer.

Common Benzos

Here is a list of common benzos:

  • Clonazepam: Sold under Klonopin®, this benzo treats anxiety, seizures, and agitation.
  • Diazepam: Commonly prescribed as Valium®, it targets muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. This type of benzo is also used during surgeries as a pre-anesthetic.
  • Alprazolam: Popularly sold as Xanax®, the drug is commonly prescribed for those diagnosed with panic and anxiety disorders. It’s also administered to premenstrual dysphoric disorder patients.
  • Lorazepam: This class of drugs can include medication like Ativan® and Loreev®. It targets anxiety, seizure, and insomnia patients. Plus, the drug is also given to people undergoing chemotherapy who experience nausea and vomiting symptoms.

How Is Benzo Abused?

Benzo is abused through different methods, such as being crushed and snorted. Patients may also take the drug intravenously. The sedative is usually taken along with other opioids, like cocaine and heroin, by those suffering from addiction.

It’s also commonly mixed with excessive alcohol intake. Despite the drug’s dangerous effects, cases that only take benzos without alcohol or opioids rarely cause fatal reactions.

Nonetheless, the drug’s abuse potential remains a critical matter. Repeatedly taking benzos will increase your tolerance for it, developing dependence. In other words, your body will need it to function as usual.

Due to this risk factor, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 labeled all benzo packages with warnings of misuse.

What Are the Effects of Benzo?

When taken as prescribed for the initial few weeks, benzos should produce little to no dangerous side effects to patients. Even though the drug has standard calming effects on all brains, its reactions can differ depending on factors like dosage, duration of use, and drug classification.

Overall, the most common effects studied for benzos include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Calmness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Shaking
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Dry mouth

Why Is Benzo Addictive?

In 2010, the U.S. witnessed a soaring increase of over 186,000 new benzo addiction cases. 

Nowadays, the sedative addiction has become more prevalent, with over 1.8 million adults aged 26 years and older suffering from it.

Its addiction potential is generally higher in vulnerable groups, such as those with high levels of anxiety. This need for the drug primarily comes from its euphoric effects.

Benzos increase your brain’s dopamine levels and create long-lasting synaptic adaptations in your mesolimbic reward system. Subsequently, this causes the habitual behavior of overconsuming the drug.

Risk Factors

While risk factors alone don’t point to conclusive evidence over why benzo can be addictive, they offer essential insight to identifying vulnerable groups.


If you have a first-degree relative who suffers from drug addiction, you’re more likely to develop similar patterns of dependence.

This genetic factor comes from the inherited amount of dopamine. Those suffering from benzo addiction likely have higher dopamine levels. Inheriting the higher-than-average amount of the neurotransmitter can make you more susceptible to developing drug addiction.


Those suffering from benzo addiction are more likely surrounded by environments that push them towards abusing the drug. Their household may reflect high stress levels and domestic violence. Statistically, women with a history of domestic violence are nine times more likely to abuse drugs.


The physical causes of benzo addiction primarily stem from the physiological dependence on the sedative drug. As you continue using the drug, you’ll need more of it to experience the same euphoric effects.

Signs of Benzo Addiction

If you or someone you know is suffering from benzo addiction, you can identify it through various signs. You’ll likely notice behavioral, psychosocial, cognitive, and physical effects of benzo misuse. They can include:

  • Doctor shopping
  • Desire to remain alone
  • More respiratory infections
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Slow reaction time and thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Are Women More Susceptible to Benzo Addiction?

Benzos are often prescribed more frequently to women than men. Nevertheless, women are just as likely to misuse the sedative as men.

In terms of addiction patterns, women are more likely to misuse the drug as a means to cope. Overall, more research is needed to target sex differences in benzo addiction to further understand the susceptibility of benzo misuse in genders.

Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal

Physiological dependence on benzos will lead to withdrawal symptoms after cutting out the drug in your system. You can experience these symptoms anywhere between three to four days and two weeks after stopping intake. 

If you take short-acting benzos, withdrawal symptoms can appear as soon as four hours after your last dosage. They can include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscular stiffness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations
  • Flu-like pains
  • Panic attacks
  • Higher risk of suicidal ideation

How Long Does Benzo Withdrawal Last?

Benzo withdrawal can last between 10 and 14 days. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be prolonged. This is particularly true if those suffering from benzo addiction are taking other opioids and alcohol alongside the sedative.

Going through benzo withdrawal is exceptionally difficult and is best done in a controlled detox facility, especially since the symptoms can be dangerous.

Effects of Benzo Overdose

If you’ve taken a higher dose of benzo than prescribed or mixed it with other drugs and alcohol, you risk overdosing. Symptoms of benzo overdose can include the following:

  • Hindered coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Hypotonia
  • Agitation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Nystagmus
  • Hallucinations

Benzo Addiction Treatment Options

Fortunately, several addiction treatment options for benzo addiction are available in Illinois. You can opt for treatments like inpatient and outpatient care. You’ll need to begin with a detox program before the core care method.

During the main care treatment, you’ll likely be subject to therapies, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Contingency Management (CM). Here’s a deeper dive into the treatment process.

  • Detox: This process begins with stopping the use of benzo. Consequently, it deals more with managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inpatient Care: With inpatient care, you’ll be staying inside an addiction treatment center. The round-the-clock care method offers a closer eye on your recovery process while providing more intensive therapy sessions.
  • Outpatient Care: Outpatient care is less intense since you’ll be staying at home, but must attend individual and group therapy appointments. It’s highly suitable for those who have work or school commitments, as well as a supportive house environment.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): CBT stresses reshaping your thinking pattern to focus less on negative thoughts. It emphasizes developing more effective coping mechanisms.
  • Contingency Management (CM): CM deals more with positive reinforcements. For instance, you can reward yourself for staying sober or passing successfully through your withdrawal phase.

To Conclude: Getting the Help You Need

Benzo addiction can garner long-term effects, such as an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Starting your recovery journey now is critical to avoid these serious issues down the road.

If you or someone dear to you is going through benzo addiction, don’t hesitate to contact the Illinois Treatment Center. Our center offers a wide range of facilities that’ll cater to your personal requirements. Multiple programs like the intensive outpatient program and relapse prevention plan can push you a step closer to full recovery.

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Published on: 2024-02-29
Updated on: 2024-05-10