Need Help? Call Us 24/7

Benzodiazepine Misuse

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a class of prescription anti-anxiety medications that are extremely addictive when used long-term and outside the bounds of their prescribed dosage. When used, benzos attach to GABA receptors in the body and produce an extremely calming effect. Because they produce a tolerance so quickly, users who may have been prescribed a small dosage for their anxiety quickly find that they need more to experience the same effects.

National Statistics

In the United States, it is estimated that almost 31 million people use prescription benzos. This does not include those who find their drugs outside the bounds of legal use.

  • Of the people who are prescribed benzodiazepines, 17% misuse them.
  • Almost 2% of people with prescriptions develop a benzo abuse disorder.
  • When it comes to total benzo misuse, only about 20% of people who do end up abusing this medication get it from a prescription. The rest receive it from friends, family members, or others.
  • 90% of benzo-related overdose deaths from 2019-2020 also involved synthetic opioids.
  • Benzos were also involved in 17% of all overdose deaths in the US from 2019-2020.
Effects of Benzodiazepine Misuse

Signs of Misuse

Though users typically seek the calming effects of benzos, when overused at a higher dosage, individuals may experience side effects, such as:

  • Slowed reaction time
  • Loss of motor control
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Increased fatigue or drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Problems with remembering things
  • Aggression
  • Intense feelings of depression
  • Hallucinations of paranoia

Symptoms of Misuse

Benzodiazepine abuse is much harder to detect in someone, especially if they have been prescribed Xanax or Klonopin. When it comes to drugs like this, individuals may jump from doctor to doctor for new prescriptions. Other symptoms of benzo use include:

  • Being unable to cut back on the dose
  • Using opioids or alcohol alongside their medication even when warned about possible interactions
  • Increased anxiety when benzos are not in their system
  • Experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms

Long-Term Effects

Because benzodiazepines directly impact cognitive functioning, especially after long-term use, they can pose several health complications and effects that someone may struggle with for their whole lives. Along with concentration and memory problems, loss of coordination, and amnesia, users may struggle with:

  • Permanent cognitive deficits
  • Depression
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Dementia
  • Increased number of car crashes
  • Hip fractures

Benzodiazepine Overdose

Benzodiazepine overdose is a critical condition that needs to be addressed immediately, especially since most people who overdose on benzos were also using opioids. Because both drugs cause sedation, using them at the same time can cause someone to become unconscious. Other overdose symptoms are slurred speech, confusion, impaired mental status, coma, respiratory depression, or death.

Live Another Day

Stories of Benzodiazepine Recovery

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Withdrawing from benzodiazepines can be a dangerous process, especially if someone has been using them for an extended period of time. It can cause death, making this a drug that often requires medical attention for detoxing. Withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on various factors. At the end of the day, it is best to utilize any medical services available to ensure this process is completed as safely as possible.

Symptoms of benzo withdrawal include:

  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Increased and Intense Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Tremors or Shaking
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Weight Loss
  • Aches and Pains
Yoga Therapy

Treatment For Benzodiazepine Abuse

Around 40% of people who abuse benzos report that they also suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition, such as anxiety. In an effort to self-medicate, especially if they have not received an official diagnosis or prescription for benzos, individuals may abuse this medication. Addressing those underlying conditions is critical if a person wishes to treat their substance abuse.


Clients may be prescribed SSRIs or non-addictive sleep aids in order to help treat conditions that may have led to the initial abuse. Other treatments that may be used in a benzodiazepine addiction treatment program are:

  • Yoga. Practicing yoga on a routine basis can decrease overall stress and anxiety. It also improves mood and the mind-body connection.
  • Meditation. This is another great way to reduce anxiety.
  • Group Therapy. Meeting with other individuals who are struggling with the same types of substance abuse or mental illnesses can help a person not feel so alone during this process. Making meaningful connections and building relationships is a key factor for any person in recovery.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a helpful evidence-based tool that addresses problem thoughts and emotions and how those then become problem behaviors. This type of therapy can rewire the brain and lead clients down a better avenue of thinking.

National Benzodiazepine Resources

Narcotics Anonymous

Provides locations of meetings and also has several resources for individuals who need them.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Because benzo and alcohol withdrawal are extremely similar, it may also help to attend an AA meeting near you. This website is the national directory.

Live Another Day

Find Support Near Me

Browse the top-rated rehab centers for drug and alcohol addiction by state.

About Our Helpline’s helpline is a private and convenient solution for individuals seeking treatment for addiction or mental illness.

Calls to our helpline (all non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) will be answered by Recovery Advisors, American Addiction Centers, or one of our verified local treatment partners. Calls are routed based on geographic location.

Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. In some cases, Live Another Day charges our verified partner a modest cost per call, which helps us cover the costs of building and maintaining our website. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor ultimately selects.

For more information on Live Another Day’s helpline, as well as our selection process, mission statement, and staff, visit our About page.

If our helpline is unable to assist you, we recommend browsing our state-by-state listings of the Best-Rated Rehab Centers, reading our resource guides, or visiting