Causes & Symptoms of BenzovAddiction

Since 1957, Azure Acres Treatment Center has given hope to individuals struggling with benzo addiction and its lasting effects. Azure Acres provides residents high-quality alcohol and drug abuse treatment near Santa Rosa, California.

Understanding Benzos

Learn about benzo and substance abuse

Benzodiazepines are a group of psychoactive substances that are most often prescribed to those who are suffering from symptoms related to panic, anxiety, and/or insomnia. Also known as “benzos,” these substances are central nervous system depressants and can also be used to treat those who are afflicted with seizures or severe muscle pain, or who require medical assistance to cope with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Some of the most commonly prescribed medications containing benzodiazepines include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (containing diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam). The effects of benzodiazepine use include feelings of serenity, sedation, and relaxation. While these effects are beneficial to those who require these medications and are being monitored by a prescribing professional, they are also attractive to those who are looking to self-medicate or obtain a recreational high. No matter the reasons behind why one starts abusing benzos, doing so can be extremely dangerous. In addition to the many immediate dangers that come with benzo abuse, the chronic abuse of medications containing this substance can also cause dependency to develop. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that dependence on benzos is known as sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder.

Luckily, however, with the correct treatment, many individuals who were previously stuck in a cycle of dangerous benzo abuse can get the help they need to support a life of recovery.


Benzo addiction statistics

Medications containing benzodiazepines are some of the most frequently prescribed medications in the country, with more than 50 million prescriptions being written yearly. The National Center for Biotechnology Information evaluated a study conducted in 2008 that showed 5.2% of American adults between 18 and 80 obtained a prescription for benzos within that year, with women receiving them at twice the rate than men.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that over 30% of drug-related emergency room visits nationwide were because of benzo abuse. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that the 12-month prevalence of sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder is 0.2% within the country.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for benzo addiction

An individual’s risk for abusing benzos or developing sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder can be impacted by a number of factors, including:

Genetic: The APA reports that genetic factors have a major tie to the possible development of a disorder involving benzos. The likelihood of one developing sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder will become more prevalent as one goes from adolescence into adulthood.

Environmental: A critical environmental risk factor for the abuse and possible dependence on benzos is access and availability. Medications that contain benzos are readily available through prescription within the United States. This widespread abuse means that these medications can also be obtained illegally.

Risk Factors:

  • Impulsivity or novelty-seeking temperament
  • Having alcohol use disorder
  • Having access to benzodiazepines
  • Being female
  • Early use of benzodiazepines

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of benzo addiction

The signs and symptoms below are some of the most common indicators that an individual is either abusing benzos or has developed sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Lying or being otherwise deceptive about activities
  • Using prescribed medications contrary to the prescribing physician’s directions
  • Borrowing or stealing medications
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Visiting several doctors in attempt to get multiple prescriptions

Physical symptoms:

  • Coordination and motor skill problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors in hands
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Irregular breathing

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Poor judgment
  • Problems focusing or concentrating
  • Diminished inhibitions
  • Paranoia
  • Retrograde amnesia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety


Effects of benzo addiction

Continued, untreated benzo abuse can cause a number of dangerous symptoms to develop, including:

  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Vision problems
  • Family discord, including separation or divorce
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Damaged or destroyed interpersonal relationships
  • Poor job performance, possibly leading to job loss and unemployment
  • Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration
  • Depression
  • Financial distress
  • Confusion and disorientation

Co-Occurring Disorders

Benzo addiction and co-occurring disorders

Those who have developed sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder might also be at risk for struggling with the co-occurring conditions listed below:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of benzo withdrawal and overdose

Effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal: When an individual grows dependent on a benzo, trying to stop or curb his or her abuse can bring on a number of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Agitation
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Panic
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tinnitus
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain

Effects of benzodiazepine overdose: When an individual consumes more benzos than his or her body can handle, an overdose has occurred. Anyone who displays the symptoms listed below after abusing one or more benzos should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Hallucinations
  • Irregular heart rate, including cardiac arrest
  • Dramatic drop in body temperature
  • Delirium
  • Double vision
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Impaired balance and motor functions

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I have been in and out of treatment for years and could not remain sober for more than a couple years sometimes no more than 60 days. I attended groups and one on one therapy with my counselor there and this time something magical happened for me there. Azure Acres saved my life -- check this place out if you are looking for treatment!

– Former Patient