What Are the Signs of Benzo Addiction?

What Are the Signs of Benzo Addiction?

Benzo addiction happens when a person develops a dependence on benzodiazepine drugs. This group of medications is one of the most commonly prescribed in the United States. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify common signs of benzo addiction for early intervention and treatment.

What Are Benzos?

Benzos are commonly prescribed as calming sedative medications. People suffering from anxiety, insomnia, panic disorders, and seizures may be prescribed benzo medications. These drugs are classified into two groups by how long-lasting their effects are:

  • Short-acting: Versed, Halcion, Xanax, Ativan
  • Long-acting: Librium, Valium, Klonopin

While these drugs can provide calming and relaxing effects to ease the above-listed symptoms, misusing them can quickly become an addiction. For this reason, benzo medications are often only prescribed for short-term use. However, misuse of these prescription drugs is incredibly prevalent. There are many instances of overdoses and overdose deaths related to benzo use. Knowing the warning signs of this type of substance addiction is important to avoid adverse outcomes.

Warning Signs of Benzo Addiction

People who misuse benzo medications may display concerning behaviors such as drowsiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, lack of physical coordination, loss of speech functions, and more. Some of these symptoms may come as minor side effects when people take benzos at the correct dosage. However, when these symptoms become severe, they are telltale signs of benzo addiction.

Benzo addiction can also lead to a range of mental health problems, including mental confusion, irritation, extreme mood swings, and disorientation. The more severe these symptoms become, the more likely the individual is to be struggling with dependence on these medications.

Behavioral Changes With Benzo Addiction

On a behavioral level, this type of addiction may increase a person’s tendency to engage in compulsive and risk-seeking behaviors. When they are preoccupied with the drug and its euphoric effects, they can lose rational judgment. Some people may visit different pharmacies to obtain multiple benzo prescriptions.

Like with other substance addictions, benzo addiction tends to result in denial and deception. People may lie to family members about their drug use habits. They may steal or even commit crimes to obtain the drug. While under the influence of benzos, people may have memory lapses and not remember actions or risks taken during that time.

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Like all substance addictions, benzo addiction can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly ceasing benzo use may cause muscle pain, cramps, sweating, anxiety, seizures, and even suicidal thoughts. These effects may cause individuals to relapse or avoid stopping altogether. Furthermore, a return to benzo use after a period of abstinence puts people at great risk for overdose.

Another danger is mixing benzos with other substances, including alcohol or opioids. People who misuse benzo drugs tend to feel the effects of these substances more quickly. Mixing substances is a highly dangerous behavior that may lead to overdose and casualty.

Warning Signs of Benzo Overdose

Benzo overdose has become a major public health problem. A common method of benzo use includes crushing and snorting pills. This method often allows individuals to take higher doses more potently. Additionally, they may combine benzos with other substances.

When a benzo-related overdose happens, the symptoms include extreme drowsiness, confusion, decreased reflexes, respiratory depression, and even coma. First responders to benzo overdose situations can administer an antidote, flumazenil, to treat these overdose symptoms.

Seeking Medical Care for Benzo Addiction

If an individual suspects that someone has a benzo addiction or has overdosed, they should call 911 for immediate assistance. They can bring any pill containers found so that medical professionals can determine the severity of the situation.

To diagnose benzo addiction or overdose, health professionals will conduct a series of tests and evaluations, including blood samples, chest x-rays, drug screens, and interviews. Family members should work closely with medical providers to provide data on family and personal medical history.

Emergency medical staff usually follow a strict procedure to intervene with benzo overdose. For example, if the drugs were taken within the last one to two hours, they may be able to flush them out of the individual’s system. However, if drugs were taken within the last four hours, medical staff may recommend a single dose of activated charcoal, which will prevent the body from absorbing benzo medications.


Benzo addiction needs to be treated by professional methods. Depending on the severity of the individual’s dependence, residential and outpatient detox programs, and therapies may help. To reverse the drugs’ harmful effects on the body and brain, health professionals will design a treatment plan which includes a range of treatment methods to achieve healing. Beneficial treatment modalities include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), 12-Step programs, and other holistic methods for brain healing.

People recovering from benzo addiction need a lot of support from family and friends, even after they complete treatment and transition home. This is because addiction can cause cognitive decline and relapse risks. When a loved one is on benzo medications, family members can monitor its use so that dependence can be prevented.

Early detection and intervention are essential for any substance addiction. Given the prescription drug addiction epidemic, it is important to stay informed. People who use benzo medications need support and accountability. Families should work with mental health specialists and recovery experts to support their loved ones. If you are looking for a team of experts in addiction recovery, Laguna Shores Recovery is here. We offer both traditional and holistic therapies. We have a thriving alumni program to help you balance all aspects of your life. At Laguna Shores, we customize treatment plans to include self-care and time management skills for healthy life balance, detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Call (866) 774-1532.