Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this guide, we want to talk about the effectiveness of benzodiazepine treatment, the likely possibility of developing addiction and dependence on prescription benzodiazepines, and what to do if you (or someone you love) find yourself addicted.
Table of Contents
Benzodiazepines And PTSD
Those who experience PTSD may be looking for ways to help them cope. People living with PTSD experience vivid and disturbing thoughts and dreams and have flashbacks to a very traumatic event. Some patients do not know how to work on their problems in a healthy way effectively, and many people turn to substances to self-medicate. While in the past, it was believed that benzos could help those who have PTSD because they could relieve the anxiety and insomnia that usually accompanies PTSD.
However, recent studies have shown that it can cause further harm to the patient. Benzodiazepines and PTSD are not a good mix, as the drug effects can negatively impact the recovery process for PTSD. Benzos are meant to be a short-term treatment for anxiety and insomnia, but dependency and addiction are high risks for those who use them for PTSD and long periods.
Self-medicating can be very dangerous. It is also crucial that people using benzos for PTSD seek help when the problem is noticed. Addiction can be a difficult thing to go through. Rehab centers are here to help you work through both addiction and mental health-related issues. No one should go through this alone.
How effective are Benzodiazepines for PTSD?
Well, let’s look at an effective form of treatment for PTSD, talk therapy. Talk therapy is where the patient can express all of their emotions to a therapist and come to terms with what happened to them. On the other hand, Benzos can help a patient escape their thoughts and feelings, which is counterproductive when treating PTSD.
Addiction can also occur within people who use benzos over a long period, as they are meant to be a short-term treatment for things such as insomnia and anxiety. It is recommended for people who have been diagnosed with PTSD to stay away from the long-term use of benzos as they are not an effective way to cope with the symptoms of PTSD.
Benzos have been proven to be ineffective in dealing with PTSD and can cause further damage to the patient. The longer the patient keeps their emotions hidden from other people and even themselves, the worse the condition.
When a patient stops taking benzos, all of those suppressed feelings and memories rise to the surface, and sometimes it can feel as though it’s back to square one.
For those who use or abuse substances, Benzos are sought after for their quick-acting highs. People who have PTSD may look for ways to avoid their emotions and hide what they are truly feeling. Dealing with these scary emotions can be challenging and intimidating, which is why rehab centers work hard to make sure that the recovery process caters to all aspects of the patient.
When a patient suffers from addiction and mental health disorders, both need to be treated while in rehab. Different treatments can be applied to the patient simultaneously, such as trauma-focused psychotherapies for PTSD or other mental health concerns and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat a benzos addiction.
Check Out This Informative Video on Benzodiazepine Dependence
What Are Benzos?
Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos,” are a group of medications that can make people feel calm, relaxed, and sleepy. They have soothing effects that work to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and certain types of seizures.
Benzos should be used as a short-term treatment for these conditions as long-term use can cause dependency or addiction. Benzodiazepines and PTSD are ineffective, as benzos make patients want to escape or ignore their problems, while PTSD requires patients to face and talk about their feelings and emotions.
Some commonly used benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, and Restoril. Benzodiazepines can be associated with hostility, irritability, and disturbing dreams. They also slow down the nervous system and may cause sleepiness. Many benzodiazepines can cause addiction if abused or misused.
There are many withdrawal effects associated with these drugs, ranging in severity. Some people use these drugs to try and deal with PTSD or other mental health conditions. However, benzodiazepines are ineffective when treating PTSD, and using benzos for PTSD can worsen some situations.
Benzodiazepines relax the body by reacting with the neurotransmitter GABA, making it more active. These drugs can be addictive, even for those who use them with a prescription. People may build a tolerance for the drug. Physical addiction and psychological dependency are risks associated with misusing and abusing drugs such as Xanax and Valium.
Signs of benzodiazepine addiction are failure/inability to reduce or stop using benzodiazepines, unable to function without them, and requiring higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Experiencing withdrawal effects is also another sign of dependency or addiction to benzodiazepines. Withdrawal effects can range in severity depending on which drug is being abused, but some common symptoms are anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity, and physical tremors.
While addiction to these substances can be scary and intimidating, no one has to go through this addiction alone. Rehab centers can provide detox resources for patients who require it. The detox process will be supervised by medical professionals within a clinic and may be prescribed medications to help the withdrawal symptoms.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) occurs after someone experiences something traumatic, such as sexual assault. Symptoms of PTSD can include built-up emotions, vivid flashbacks and dreams of the recurring and disruptive event, and numbness towards things you once enjoyed. Most people naturally recover from trauma, but those who do not and continue to experience unhealthy emotions and behaviors towards the event may be experiencing PTSD. To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must experience any of the following for a month or more: A re-experiencing symptom, an avoidance symptom, two reactivity symptoms, and two mood symptoms.
Those who have PTSD should seek help from medical professionals and start treatment as soon as possible. Patients can help relieve some symptoms and pains associated with PTSD in therapy. Talking through these emotions and the event can help the patient understand and understand what happened. Their therapist can help them overcome the negative feelings the patient may be feeling that only contribute to the flashbacks and other PTSD-related symptoms. Many medical professionals agree that benzos for PTSD are an ineffective way of treatment.
There are a few symptoms that are key in identifying PTSD within an adult. These symptoms must be present for the treatment of PTSD to start. These symptoms include re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, reactivity symptoms, and mood symptoms. Re-experiencing symptoms make the victim feel like they are experiencing the event again and can include:
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
Avoidance symptoms occur when the patient refuses to talk about what happened. They even avoid thoughts about the event, which prevents them from fully recovering or letting anyone help them through the healing process. These patients may avoid places, things, and people that remind them of the event. Reactivity symptoms include behaviors such as:
- Being startled easily
- Feeling tense
- Difficulty sleeping or coping with normal, daily activities
- Experiencing unprovoked angry or emotional outbursts
The final symptom that is common for those experiencing PTSD is mood symptoms. These symptoms affect the emotions and feelings of the victim, like forgetting key details about the event, having negative emotions and thoughts about themselves or the world, feelings of guilt or blame, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed by the victim.
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Benzodiazepines should only be taken as instructed by your doctor. Abuse of these substances can be painful and even lethal in some circumstances. Those experiencing withdrawal effects or addiction symptoms should seek treatment from a rehab center near them. Some commonly abused benzodiazepines and their dangers include:
- Xanax is the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States and is prescribed to people who suffer from anxiety disorders. Xanax can be a safe and effective medication if the patient uses the drug correctly and as instructed by their doctor. Those who misuse Xanax or use it without a prescription are at risk of forming a dependency or an addiction. Xanax for PTSD can be dangerous and can cause more problems for the patient and their recovery process.
- Klonopin can be used to lessen the effects of anxiety and stress on certain patients. Addiction is a risk when misusing Klonopin and can cause the brain to stop the production of feelings of relaxation. The only way the patient can experience these feelings is when taking Klonopin. When abuse of Klonopin occurs, the user may experience dizziness, confusion, and numbness. Klonopin for PTSD should be avoided as this is not an effective treatment for this health condition.
- Valium is an anti-anxiety drug that has sedative and calming effects when taken. If this drug is abused, then a physical addiction can occur. An emotional dependency may also be a risk. Withdrawal effects of this drug are similar to other substances, such as excessive sweating or a severe craving for the substance.
- Ativan is a drug that can treat anxiety disorders. It enhances the activity of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Those who have not been prescribed this medication or neglect follow prescription instructions may develop an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include heart palpitations, cramps, vomiting, mood swings, and anxiety. These side effects are why people need to follow the instructions and directions of their doctor.
- Restoril can be used to treat insomnia since it has soothing effects. It can also be used to treat anxiety and seizures, like many other drugs classified as benzodiazepines. This drug can be abused, and withdrawal symptoms include irritability, convulsions, and panic attacks.
Getting Help For PTSD And Benzo Addiction
Those suffering from an addiction to benzos and PTSD should seek treatment at a rehab center as soon as possible. Benzos have been known to make PTSD symptoms worse and make the recovery process that much more difficult. Benzos are drugs that have sedative effects, such as feelings of being calm and drowsiness. People with or without a prescription for benzos can become dependent or addicted to them fairly easily.
These drugs are commonly abused for how fast their highs kick in and the drug’s ability to make them forget and escape their life problems. However, this is not an effective way of treating PTSD. Those who have PTSD are encouraged to seek professional mental health help and experience talk therapy.
Patients can communicate their feelings and emotions to a therapist who can help them recognize aspects of themselves or their life that they need to work on to get better.
People who have PTSD are at higher risk of abusing benzos because they are looking for coping with the condition’s symptoms. Some patients may even be prescribed the medication, but many medical professionals agree that they should be avoided for this type of treatment. Withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity, and physical tremors can be painful and even dangerous in some circumstances.
It is not recommended to try and detox alone. Medical professionals should supervise detoxification, especially if the patient requires medical detox, which needs medication. If a patient is using benzos for PTSD, that should be the main focus of the rehab center to ensure a fully rounded recovery process.
Addiction should not be something someone goes through alone. Many people care about your recovery and want to see you live a happy, sober life—Call (888) 906-0952 for more information on how benzo addiction and PTSD can be treated at a rehab center.