The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to face issues with unemployment, homelessness and food insecurities, on top of worries about the rapid spread of illness throughout their communities. Amid all these uncertainties, doctors have increasingly prescribed a class of medications called benzodiazepines to their patients who report struggling with anxiety.
While benzodiazepines can provide a temporary, short-term solution to anxiety and related issues, they carry a significant risk factor of addiction. If you’re currently using tranquilizing medication, or considering asking a doctor if it would be right for you, you should be aware of its dangers.
How Do Benzodiazepines Work?
Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” are available under familiar brand names like Valium, Xanax and Klonopin. These drugs produce a calming effect by depressing the central nervous system.
Doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines to patients dealing with issues such as anxiety, sleep disorders, panic disorders and seizures. While these drugs may help provide temporary relief for these problems, users can quickly develop a dependency on their medication.
Benzodiazepines produce euphoric feelings that make them highly addictive, even if you take them precisely as prescribed. That’s why they’re on the federal government’s list of controlled substances.
Warning Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you or someone you care about has been using benzodiazepines to manage COVID-19-related anxiety, what are some red flags of addiction you should be aware of?
- Having cravings for benzos when you aren’t using them
- Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you try weaning yourself off the medication
- Requiring increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects
- Continuing to use the medication, even if it starts interfering with your relationships and responsibilities
- Spending lots of time thinking about how and where you’ll get your next dose, and feeling tense and worried if you run out
- Taking benzodiazepines to feel “normal”
Drug-Free Ways to Manage Anxiety
It’s understandable to feel more anxious than usual when you’re under a near-constant barrage of bad news about the rising death tolls and the risk of asymptomatic spread. Instead of taking potentially dangerous, addictive prescription benzodiazepines, get your anxiety under control with drug-free techniques like these.
- Exercise: Physical activity encourages the release of feel-good chemicals that provide a natural mood boost. After even a brief workout, you’ll have more energy and enthusiasm to tackle life’s challenges.
- Nutrition: Plenty of foods, like dark chocolate and fatty fish, can help you feel better and stave off symptoms of depression.
- Digital detox: The constant negativity of the news cycle is enough to weigh anyone’s spirits down. To combat this, you can avoid the news and social media for a set period. Disable alerts on your phone, or even ask a family member to hide your devices somewhere for your specified time.
- Breathing techniques: If you feel anxious or panicky, take a few deep breaths to slow down. Deep breathing is a meditative practice that can help you feel more relaxed.
How to Get Help for a Benzodiazepine Addiction
Don’t let drug abuse rob you of your relationships, health and livelihood. With the proper treatment, you can learn to overcome a prescription drug addiction and rediscover your fulfilling, healthy life. To learn more about holistic substance abuse treatment at Vista Taos, reach out to us today.