Treatment Center Orange County Discusses Benzodiazepines & Polysubstance Use

Treatment Center Orange County Discusses Benzodiazepines & Polysubstance Use

The headlines are filled with stories of overdoses and deaths related to Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines[1] used concurrently with other drugs or alcohol. Taking benzodiazepines together with other drugs is known as polysubstance use. It can be dangerous whether the medicines are prescribed by a physician or obtained in different ways. The use of these medications in large doses or in combinations that are not directed by a physician can lead to substance use disorder, overdose, or even death. Clear Life Recovery, Treatment Center Orange County, has the support you need to receive the education and treatment to avoid or health from benzodiazepine polysubstance use.

A Common Problem: Benzodiazepines & Other Substances

We can, unfortunately, attribute quite a few high-profile deaths to the combination of benzodiazepines and opioids (fentanyl, heroin, and oxycodone). These include Prince, Tom Petty, Heath Ledger, Lil Peep, and countless others. Approximately 1 in 8 adults, or 12.6% of the population, report the use of benzodiazepines in the past year. We can deduce that celebrities are not the only people at risk of overdose and death from the potentially deadly combination of benzodiazepines and other drugs.[2]

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that professionals label as nervous system depressants. This means they slow down messaging between your brain and nerves that regulate breathing and other vital functions. Physicians prescribe benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, and other conditions.[3] Because they are so effective for treating certain conditions, prescriptions are written at approximately 66 million doctors’ appointments annually in the United States.[4] For some people, benzodiazepines bring relief when other medications are ineffective.

Benzodiazepines and Your Body

Benzodiazepines increase a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA in the brain. GABA is an amino acid that blocks specific brain signals and decreases activity in the central nervous system.[5] This is one reason why they work so well and help people with anxiety and other conditions feel calm, relaxed, and able to sleep.

As with all medications, there can be some side effects of using benzodiazepines. These include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration[6]

Long-term use can lead to physical dependence and substance use disorder, especially when used with opioid medications, alcohol, or other depressant medications. There is a fine line between the therapeutic use of benzodiazepines and abuse.

Use of Benzodiazepines with other Drugs

About one-third of benzodiazepine prescriptions are often given to clients along with a prescription for opioids.[7] According to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, the risk of overdose increases five times in the first 90 days of receiving prescriptions for benzodiazepines along with opioids for the first time.[8] Even after the first 90 days of concurrent use, there is an increased risk of addiction, overdose, and death when using benzodiazepines along with other central nervous system depressants like opioids and alcohol.

Benzodiazepines are often considered a party drug and obtained through illegal means. Young people, ages 18 to 25, were the largest group found to misuse benzodiazepines, especially Xanax. People often mix benzos into dangerous cocktails with alcohol and other drugs in party environments. Often, these party mixes are contaminated or laced with fentanyl, with deadly consequences. [9]

The rate of deaths from benzodiazepine overdose is about 3 per 100,000 people annually and has outpaced the rate of benzodiazepine prescriptions. About ⅓ of all overdoses involve benzodiazepines.[10] These overdose deaths are rarely intentional and are sometimes a result of contaminated products obtained through non-medical sources.

When to Seek Help from a Treatment Center Orange County

How do you know when benzodiazepines are a problem, and it is time to seek help? Following is a list of warning signs that it is time to seek treatment with a doctor or a mental health provider:

  • Taking prescription medications for reasons other than prescribed
  • Using medications more often or in higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking benzodiazepines with other medications that a physician did not prescribe for you
  • Taking benzodiazepines with alcohol or other depressants
  • Obtaining benzodiazepines or other medications illegally
  • Using benzodiazepines or other substances for recreational purposes or to get “high”
  • Poor personal and work relationships due to drug use habits
  • Consistently needing more benzodiazepines for relief of symptoms

Clear Life Recovery, Treatment Center in Orange County

There are many reasons why people start using helpful medications and drugs in harmful ways. Whether benzodiazepine abuse results from the misuse of legally prescribed medications or illegal street use, holistic, individualized treatment is necessary to heal and prevent abuse, overdose, and death.

The dedicated professionals at Clear Life Recovery use a holistic and personalized approach combining therapy with outdoor activities to help clients make lasting changes in their lives. Whether you seek residential or outpatient care, treatment center Orange County can help you on your road to recovery from polysubstance use. Contact Clear Life Recovery today for help.