The third group of highly addictive prescription medications is comprised of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are also known as “minor tranquilizers” due to their sedating effect. Unlike the stimulant medications discussed above, benzodiazepines work in the body as CNS depressants. Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia, although they are often prescribed for other conditions as well. Three of the most addictive and most widely prescribed and abused benzodiazepines are as follows:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
These drugs are popular because they have a very calming, relaxing effect. For someone feeling highly anxious or having a panic attack, there is a desperate desire for fast relief. Benzodiazepines can provide that. They are also very beneficial for individuals struggling with insomnia, especially those who find it hard to relax or “shut off” their busy brain when they try to fall asleep.
Because of these effects, it is very easy to become psychologically dependent upon them. Unfortunately, it’s also very easy to build up a tolerance for them. If taken for prolonged periods, many people find that they need increasing amounts of drugs in order to get the same benefit. This easily leads to the vicious cycle of addiction.
Because these medications suppress the central nervous system, they can be especially dangerous if taken in high doses or combined with alcohol or other CNS depressants.
Benzodiazepines can have serious and even deadly withdrawal effects if stopped abruptly rather than tapered gradually after prolonged use or dependence.
If you have been taking or are thinking about taking any of these prescription medications, it’s absolutely essential to use considerable caution. The potential for dependence and drug addiction is especially high with each of these drugs. While they all serve an important purpose and can provide significant benefits for those who truly need them, developing an addiction is something you definitely want to avoid.
If you have any history of substance abuse or addiction or suspect that you might be vulnerable to addiction for any reason, talk to your doctor about alternative medications, alternative therapies, and lifestyle changes that may help provide many of the same benefits. Medication is often the easiest and fastest way to alleviate things like intense physical pain or intense feelings of anxiety, while other approaches may take more time.
However, relying on a pill to fix a problem, especially on an ongoing basis, is rarely the best long-term solution. Learning other ways to manage chronic pain, anxiety, sleep problems, or ADHD symptoms will not only give you a greater sense of control over your life but may also be far more effective in the long run, and without unpleasant side effects or the risk of drug addiction.
That being said, if you’ve become dependent on your medication or are using it in ways not prescribed (e.g., taking higher doses or taking it more frequently than instructed), you may need addiction treatment. If you continue on your current path, the problem will only escalate as time goes on. Contact a drug addiction treatment center or specialist today to discuss whether or not you need treatment and the best options if you do.