Can Someone Have an Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction?

Can Someone Have an Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction
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Millions of Americans experience anxiety and are prescribed anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines. However, anti-anxiety meds must be prescribed carefully, and those who take these medications should do so only with full knowledge and awareness. That’s because it’s possible for someone to develop an anti-anxiety medication addiction.

Today, let’s dive deeper into this topic and explore how to help yourself or others under the grips of anti-anxiety medication addiction.

What Are Anti-Anxiety Meds?

Anti-anxiety medications are medications prescribed to individuals with anxiety disorder or to treat related symptoms.1 Most anti-anxiety medications are benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos.” These pharmaceutical drugs can treat moderate to severe anxiety, as well as symptoms and conditions like:

  • Panic attacks
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Withdrawal symptoms from CNS/central nervous system depressants such as alcohol

Most benzodiazepines are available in tablet or pill form for oral consumption. These Schedule IV drugs are highly regulated, so taking them without a prescription is illegal. Some examples of common benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Halcion

Even though benzodiazepines can be very effective, they can also be dangerous and addictive under the right circumstances. Because of this risk, many doctors are wary of prescribing anti-anxiety meds unless there is a good reason to do so. They may only prescribe these medications to individuals who try other forms of treatment for their anxiety, like meditation, exercise routines, and individual or focused therapy with a licensed counselor.

Are Anti-Anxiety Medications Addictive?

Yes, they can be. That’s because benzodiazepines bind with GABA receptors, special neurons in the brain. Put simply, anti-anxiety medications slow down overactive brain functionality.2 This can relieve mental stress while also inducing a euphoric or alcohol-like high in the user.

Because many individuals with anxiety disorder feel constant stress or paranoia, they feel great relief when they take anti-anxiety medication. This can cause them to take a greater amount or higher dosage of their chosen benzodiazepine than they are prescribed.

If left unchecked, this can cause tolerance to the benzodiazepine, causing the user to require more and more of the drug to see the same effects.3 Given enough time, anti-anxiety medication can become very addictive.

Unfortunately, a benzodiazepine overdose can be very medically dangerous. It can slow one’s breathing and heart rate, causing serious injury or even death. Benzodiazepines can also shift brain neurochemistry, causing mental and physical dependencies and related withdrawal symptoms if a user does not take the drug regularly enough.

Who is at Risk of Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction?

Anyone can be at risk of anti-anxiety medication addiction. However, those who are prescribed these medications by a doctor are at the greatest risk, especially if they are not told how to take them responsibly and carefully.

For example, someone may be prescribed anti-anxiety medication to treat their anxiety disorder symptoms. If their doctor does not provide them with enough information they could end up taking more than the recommended dosage for the first time. When they do this, they discover that they need higher and higher dosages of benzodiazepines to relieve their anxiety symptoms.

Furthermore, family members or those who do not have anxiety could be at risk of anti-anxiety medication addiction. For example, if someone with anxiety disorder leaves their medication out in view of someone with substance abuse disorder, the second individual may take the anti-anxiety pills on purpose.

Signs of an Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction

The long-term use of anxiety medications can lead to increased tolerance of the drugs and addiction in the end. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know what to look for in yourself or others so you can quickly treat anti-anxiety medication addiction.

Common signs of an addiction to anxiety medication include:

  • Taking a higher dosage of a benzodiazepine or other anxiety med than prescribed – this can be intentional or accidental
  • Getting more medication through unlicensed or unsanctioned methods, like black market dealers
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don’t get benzodiazepines after a certain amount of time
  • Feeling off, tired, or overly anxious until the medication is taken
  • Being unable to control how many pills or tablets you take
  • Having other aspects of your life, like your job or personal relationships, suffer because of your focus on benzodiazepines

What to Do if You or a Loved One Has an Anti-Anxiety Medication Addiction?

Don’t give up hope if you or a loved one has an anti-anxiety medication addiction. This kind of addiction can be treated with the assistance of knowledgeable facilities like Clear Life Recovery.

Anti-anxiety medication addiction treatment may involve inpatient or outpatient therapy and rehabilitation. For example, at an inpatient rehab program, you or the addicted individual will be:

  • Given the tools they need to develop healthy habits going forward
  • Be prevented from acquiring benzodiazepines or other medication except under medical supervision
  • Learn how to form better thought patterns to prevent relapsing in the future
  • And more

Furthermore, many individuals who become addicted to anti-anxiety medication are taught different ways to treat their anxiety symptoms. For example, exercising regularly, such as walking, running, swimming, or practicing yoga, can reduce physiological and mental stress across the board.

Alternatively, a rehab supervisor or counselor may teach someone addicted to anti-anxiety meds how to speak to trusted friends and family members when they feel anxious. These approaches may be tried before progressing to a different type of chemical or pharmaceutical medication.

Anxiety Medication Addiction Treatment with Clear Life Recovery

As you can see, it’s definitely possible to have an anti-anxiety medication addiction. But whether you or a loved one has an addiction, you can trust that Clear Life Recovery will help you back to a healthier state.

Our knowledgeable, licensed counselors can help you overcome the symptoms of anti-anxiety medication addiction, as well as help you overcome your anxiety symptoms that led to the addiction’s development. With our treatment programs, you’ll receive the holistic support you need to feel better than ever. Contact us today to learn more.