Benzodiazepine addiction treatment

Benzodiazepines

From the early days people are constantly seeking for a better means to cure depression, soul pain, insomnia, panic attacks, and obsessive disorders. For that purpose people used alcohol, later the salt of bromine, and then the derivatives of barbituric acid. In the mid of the 1960-s the new group of medications, the benzodiazepines, was synthesized. Since then they are widely used in modern medicine.

Benzodiazepines, tranquilizers, anxiolytics are very helpful medications. 

Anesthesiologists often include benzodiazepines in preparations for anesthesia and, moreover, benzodiazepines are the key component in modern anesthesia protocols. Benzodiazepines reliably protect a heart from increased level of adrenaline and for that reason they are widely used in cardiology. Benzodiazepines also are very effective for treatment and prophylactic epileptic seizures. The emergence of benzodiazepines has given a breakthrough in the treatment of neurotic reactions, panic attacks, insomnia, tics, and obsessive disorders.

Benzodiazepines are very effective. It is enough to take one or two pills to alleviate anxiety, worries, fear, palpitations, feeling short of breath and etc. The problem is that as soon as the effects of benzodiazepines have gone all the unpleasant symptoms of unsolved problem return.  We all know that analgesics help us in case of a toothache, but they cannot replace the dentist.  All tranquilizers work almost the same way.  They reduce symptoms, relieve pain, but they don’t solve the problem, they don’t eliminate the cause of the disease.

Benzodiazepine addiction

benzodiazepine addictionThe drug addict feels secure being under drug influence.  He creates the stocks of drugs at home, at work. Every time he goes out he checks if he has enough drugs on him, because even a thought about being left without drug protection makes him panic. This condition is called dependence.

The need of constantly growing doses of drugs to achieve the desired effect, to create a condition of psychological comfort is a key symptom of any drug addiction. Addiction on benzodiazepines is not an exception.  Regular intake of benzodiazepines stimulates the protective mechanisms in our body. Accelerated metabolism is meant to speed up the process of drug elimination. Usually after two, three weeks of continuous intake of benzodiazepines a person starts noticing that the drug which worked so well before doesn’t work properly for him now.  Naturally, to achieve the former desirable effect he has to increase the dose. The race begins. The result of which is that even after taking a dose of benzodiazepines, which is, as a rule, 5-10 times higher than recommended, the person does not feel well.  Growing tolerance leads to a situation when use the fast-acting and powerful benzodiazepines, such as Alprazolam (Xanax), Midazolam (Dormikum, Flormidal) Flunitrozepam (Somnobene, Rohypnol) becomes dangerous. There always is possibility of altered reactivity, when the effects of the drug may be unexpected and out of control. For example, after taking the large dose of sedatives, the dependent can’t sleep, but on the contrary becomes restless, agitated, and panic.

Consequences. 

Unfortunately, even after a short period of time (3-4 months of continuous use), the adverse effects of benzodiazepines addiction become evident. The new, previously unknown negative features are getting fixed in personality, gradually turning into stable behavioral patterns.  It isn’t rare when addicted to benzodiazepines people become cruel, aggressive, and unable to control their behavior.

There is a widely known case in medical and juridical practice when a woman under influence of Halcion (group of benzodiazepines. Upjohn Company) committed the brutal murder of her own mother during domestic argument, although she had never been prone to aggression before. Detailed medical, psychiatric and pharmacological investigation proved that her behavior was seriously affected by the taken Halcinon. She couldn’t control herself at the moment of committing the crime. When additional extensive investigations showed the same disastrous effects of Halcion on human psycho in many other similar cases, the drug has been removed from the market.

Impaired memory capacity,  decreased alertness and emotional dullness regularly interspersed with the loud outbursts; sleep disorders including excruciating insomnia; impaired coordination, hand tremor, urinary incontinence, hot-cold flashes, frequent short breath attacks, fits of arrhythmia and tachycardia, the high risk of  epileptic attacks are the signs and consequences  of benzodiazepine addiction.

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment

Benzodiazepine treatment begins with gathering information about the patient. The most important diagnostic moment is to find out the cause of appealing to drugs, why the patient began taking benzodiazepines. There are two categories of patients suffering from addiction on benzodiazepines

  • ·Patients who have coexisting mental disorders with propensity to panic attacks, fears, neurosis, depression, emotional liability, but who have never had problem with drug addiction.
  • ·Patients who have or had experience with other addictive substances and use benzodiazepines either to enhance the influence of other drugs and alcohol or to reduce the withdrawal symptoms from these substances. The patients from this group are often characterized by inclination for multiple drug addiction with deep personality drug impairment and serious internal organ disorders.

Blood counts, biochemical tests, MRI, ECG allow us to assess the physical state of the patient.  With the help of EEG we detect the disturbances in bioelectric activity of the brain.  Testing patients with the use of special psychometric scales we evaluate the level of anxiety, depression, craving for drugs, memory capacity, concentration ability, cognitive functions of the patient.

From the first hours of hospitalization the patient receives therapy aimed to abate the withdrawal syndrome. Usually, the first 3-4 days of benzodiazepine treatment are needed to give the brain time to "rest", to create a sufficient deep inhibition in disturbed zones of the brain. Effective pharmacological therapy combined with the modern technology in form of NET (Neuro Electrical Therapy) provides the desirable therapeutic effect. N.E.T. therapy stimulates the production of natural endorphins and inhibitory neurotransmitters.  Use of anti-seizure medications protects the patient from possible muscle contractions, myoclonus, epileptic attacks. Neuromethabolics with sedative component, GABA agonists, and vitamins accelerate recovery of the central nervous system. Good quality sleep is insured by the use of medications with hypnotic effect from different pharmacological groups. 

Detoxification from benzodiazepines usually takes about 7-10 days and allows the patient to overcome the physical dependence safely and comfortably.

After completion of detoxification, the measures aimed to achieve mental stability, to reduce craving for benzodiazepines and anti-relapse therapy are crucial.  The new techniques in means of normalizing the mediator "storm" in patient's brain, such as NET therapy or deep magnetic stimulation also contribute to recovery.  When the patient's condition is stabilized, he learns how to live without pharmacological "crutches."  Transpersonal therapy and medical hypnosis reinforce the rejection of use of benzodiazepines both on consciousness and sub consciousness level.

The phase of out-patient treatment involves the implementation of our recommendations: lifestyle changes, avoidance of provocative situations, receiving maintenance therapy, regular check-ups.

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