Benzodiazepines are a group of depressants including Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax that are used as sleep medication, in seizure preventions, and to relieve muscle spasms and anxiety. Like most depressants, long-term use of the drug increases both tolerance and dependence, leading to ever-increasing dosages in order to obtain the same level of effect. Abuse can also cause amnesia, disturbing dreams, and irritability, and when combined with alcohol or other depressants or narcotics such as heroin or cocaine, can quickly lead to coma and death.
The treatment for benzodiazepine addiction is not as common a program as heroin or even hydrocodone treatment. Studies suggest that despite the hundreds of millions of benzodiazepine prescriptions written yearly, relatively few patients self-increase their dosages or seek the drug out beyond what is necessary, but addiction can develop, even when dosage instructions are followed.
Benzodiazepine addiction treatment relies on detoxification and inpatient rehab to combat the symptoms of addiction and abuse in a patient. During detox, doctors will gradually taper the dosage of benzodiazepine for the patient, which helps to circumvent any severe effects of withdrawal, which tend to be more intense versions of the symptoms of abuse. After the detox process is complete (which can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months), the patient is transferred to a rehab center where they undergo further medical treatment and therapy for any lasting psychological dependencies on the drug. Co-occurring disorders may also be diagnosed and are further examined at this time, as they can be significant factors in determining whether a patient will relapse once released. Support networks are also initiated to allow the patient a safe haven after release if they are in danger of relapse.