Veterans Addicted to Benzodiazepines

It makes perfect sense why veterans often struggle with PTSD and benzodiazepines. After fighting overseas for America’s rights and freedoms, veterans from all military branches are ready to be home with their families. The time they spend in a foreign country, away from all of the comforts of home, undoubtedly makes a lasting mental impact that will stay with them. Exposure to any number of things during their time in the military can create mental health disorders among military members.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common mental disorders among veterans. Standard prescriptions for treating PTSD in veterans are called benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are sedatives that help with sleep, anxiety, and seizures. These sedatives work inside the body to bring waves of calm, tranquility, and relaxation, which can relieve the symptoms of PTSD.

Nonetheless, addiction to benzodiazepines is treatable. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines, seek treatment immediately. We are here to help you end your suffering. Call us today at (405) 583-4390 to speak with an expert. Our addiction specialists are available by phone to connect you with a rehab center that fits your needs.

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Continue reading if you, or some you know, maybe suffering from an addiction to benzodiazepines. If you need more information then please contact us to talk to a specialist.

Veterans, Benzodiazepines, and Addiction


Benzos are depressants, or sedatives that treat insomnia, PTSD, anxiety, and seizures. Tranquilizers are a type of medicine under names like:

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Restoril
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan

Typically, these medicines are prescribed for use on an as-needed basis, which opens the doors to overdose without specific dosage instructions.  Xanax is a popular benzo for veterans that is often overused and often prescribed by doctors to treat symptoms of PTSD. Benzos intended to replace barbiturates, meprobamate, and glutethimide, which were the older drugs used to treat insomnia and anxiety.

So, can Xanax treat PTSD? It can be used to alleviate symptoms of PTSD but is ultimately ineffective for real treatment.

Tranquilizers and sedatives were considerably safer to use than the

previous medications since their introduction in the 1960s.

Benzos bring relief and rest to patients by introducing a calm and euphoric effect on the brain and body. Klonopin high, clonazepam high, valium high are common. Sedatives work by forcing any hyperactivity in the brain or body to slow down and relax. Of course, these medicines are safe under short-term use. However, it is unclear to patients how

quickly these sedatives take root in the body.

 

In as little as four weeks, a patient can become addicted to benzos, such as Xanax. So, in one month of prescription sedatives, a patient could be facing withdrawal

symptoms if they stop taking it.

 

Manipulating the Brain

Benzos work by manipulating different receptors in the brain that are responsible for our reactions, such as fight or flight, to force the body to calm down and relax. Dependency is the repetitive manipulation of those receptors that creates an expectation inside the brain’s reward system over time. Likewise, continued use of benzos to feed the brain’s dependency is called addiction.

 

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters slow down activity around the active receptors in the brain, causing the mind and body to experience calm, relaxation, and sleepiness. Neurons become relaxed, reducing all activity in the brain and central nervous system. Euphoric relaxation can

quickly become addicting to those who experience restlessness, anxiety, or are in a constant state of fear.

Veterans Addiction to Benzodiazepines


Long-term use of prescription medication always has the potential for substance use disorder. Sedatives like Xanax are effective in short-term increments, generally not to exceed four weeks of use. Putting limitations on medicine dosage to prevent the substance from creating a new “normal” inside the brain is necessary. The use of benzos over long periods teaches the mind a new muscle memory and behavioral expectations. Additionally, these medication dosages are on an as-needed basis. Self-dosing medicine of any kind can cause an overdose and accelerate dependency.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) will exhibit physical and mental signs before mutating into an addiction. Reliance is a severe sign of addiction, as users feel they can no longer function without it. Benzos effects fade so quickly; the user might even believe that their initial diagnosis is why they feel so sick if they miss a dose or stop taking it. However, the sickness and pains they feel are withdrawal symptoms. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), addiction is officially diagnosed when the patient takes more than prescribed, cannot or will not cut back doses, and shows withdrawal symptoms.

Additionally, age has a lot to do with the degree of risks. For instance, benzos use in older veterans displayed an increased risk of falling, car accidents, and confusion compared to younger patients. Dementia is a likelihood in addicts, and the risk for developing it increases with age and longevity of substance use disorder. Moreover, benzos affect memory and equilibrium, which can cause confusion and physical imbalance. Do not suffer alone. Call our experts today if you need more information about getting treatment for you. 

What does the VA prescribe for PTSD or Anxiety?

Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Restoril are all benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” prescribed to treat PTSD. However, benzo’s dynamic effects wear off quickly, leaving the veteran to take a medicine that doesn’t work to avoid benzo withdrawal symptoms. Benzos are addictive and are causing overdose deaths, dependency, and mental deterioration with long-term use.

Veterans who have a prescription for benzodiazepines due to their PTSD receive instruction on how to take these medications, like Xanax for PTSD or Klonopin for PTSD,  which causes continual brain function trauma and accelerating dependency. Similarly, veterans are dependent and addicted to sedative medication that does not help the symptoms of PTSD, as initially prescribed. Now, benzodiazepine use keeps the withdrawal symptoms at bay. Veterans have fought hard enough; addiction to a faulty medication is dangerous, potentially fatal, and avoidable. Veterans should only take benzodiazepines on a short-term basis and review other forms of treatment for PTSD before taking these sedatives. Veterans deserve a higher quality of care

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a patient has SUD or addiction, the withdrawal symptoms range from mild to vicious. Addiction happens when the patient refuses to or is incapable of not taking the medication, regardless of warnings or damage. This refusal is not obstinance, but the brain’s reaction to having certain chemicals withheld. Responses tend to be irritated, aggressive, violent, or even suicidal.

Benzo addicts have a high likelihood of suicidal tendencies and self-harm. In extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can be as severe as forming a psychosis or convulsion. 

 

Look for signs such as:

  • Increased tolerance (taking more than prescribed or for longer)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to do anything
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol use while taking medication
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tensions
  • Blurred vision
  • High pulse rate

In extreme cases, if you or someone you love is experiencing seizures or hallucinations while on benzo’s, you must go to the emergency room immediately. 

PTSD and Benzodiazepines


PTSD, by itself, is a risk for mental disorders like dementia. Treatment for PTSD and benzos addiction causes a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders that are cognitive damaging. Military veterans are often on twenty-four-hour details, in anxiety-inducing situations, and suffer from adaptability issues once returned home. A military member’s life is filled with insomnia, stress, anxiety, adaptability, and work-life balance issues before being deployed overseas. When servicemen and servicewomen come back from deployment, some things occur that cannot be spoken about, which leaves the veteran to feel isolated and alone.

 

Benzos are designed for short-term use when these veterans need long-term solutions. Therapies, counseling, and safer medications need to be administered to the men and women who sacrifice so much for America’s freedoms. The daily life of a military member, plus deployment to overseas, must be considered before prescribing short-term medicines for long-term use. Overdose deaths are avoidable deaths. The suicide rate for veterans climbs every year, and these men and women deserve a higher degree of care in their treatment. 

Other Conditions

As with all medications, it is imperative to make a full medical history before taking potent sedatives. Pre-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, alcoholism, mental health disorders, heart or lung complications, or hormonal imbalances can elevate the risk of addiction and internal damage. In an otherwise healthy patient, addiction can damage receptors and transmitters in the brain. In a patient with pre-existing conditions, addiction to benzos can cause increased or accelerated damage and cause instability in other areas of the brain. 

 

Additionally, the patient is at an even higher likelihood of addiction if irritability or aggressive behaviors are prevalent before taking sedatives. Long-term benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include aggressive behaviors, a pre-existing tendency for elevated anger issues can cause explosive reactions that can be dangerous. If you are suffering from addiciton, please reach out to us today. Our experts can help you fight through the addiction. 

Statistics of Venterans and Benzodiazepines


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2015, almost nine thousand patients died of an overdose that involved benzos. Amid the opioid crisis, those statistics have only risen from there. Before the drug epidemic, less than twelve hundred overdose deaths were related to benzo use. The same department concluded that there was a sixty-seven percent increase of overdose deaths related to benzos from 1996-2013, topping out at 13.5 million benzo-related overdose deaths.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the opioid crisis was responsible for more than forty thousand overdose deaths in 2016.

 

Dr. Anna Lembke

Dr. Anna Lembke is the Chief of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. In an interview with NBC News, she spoke to reporters about the dangers of benzos and that the deaths should be causing a uproar…but isn’t.

Medical students, residents, and even doctors in practice don’t recognize the addictive potential of benzodiazepines. There’s been all this awareness on opioids but very little focus on benzodiazepines, and yet people are dying from them.”

Dr. Anna Lembke discusses further with NBC news that these quick interactions between doctors and patients are part of the problem. Medications like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium are fast-acting medicines that doctors prescribe to patients who need relief fast. The immediate response to the patient’s pain feels like a win to both doctors and patients. Dr. Anna Lembke explains that tolerance leads to a higher dosage, which causes withdrawal symptoms to become more painful with each higher dose. Benzos are easy to sink into but incredibly challenging to get out of.

 Dr. Anna Lembke offers advice for patients who are seeking treatment:

  • Ask your doctor about all treatment options
  • Ask your doctor to fully explain any risks
  • Never suddenly stop taking your prescriptions
  • Be honest with your doctor about any medications you are taking.
  • Parents, some benzos can be purchased online. Talk to your kids about drugs, health, and safety. Even small doses can be fatal.

Moving Forward


Post-traumatic stress disorder is highly prevalent among military veterans. Veterans who come back from deployment with PTSD have often been prescribed benzos for symptom management or treatment. Benzos are for short-term relief of significant symptoms of PTSD like insomnia and anxiety in veterans.

 

According to Dr. Anna Lembke, doctors are often prescribing fast-acting medications to patients who are in desperate need of fast-acting relief. This dismissal of patients’ needs is adding to the ongoing drug crisis but is causing several thousand benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths annually. No patient should be dismissed so quickly, but America’s veterans have already fought the fiercest battles, they deserve to come home and be at peace.

 

PTSD and benzos addiction are treatable for veterans. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines, seek treatment immediately. Addiction specialists are available by phone to connect you with a rehab center that fits your needs.

 

Finally, veterans should only take benzos on a short-term basis and review other forms

of treatment for PTSD before taking these sedatives. Veterans deserve a higher quality of care. However, if you are suffering from addiction and feel like there is no hope, call today. We can help you overcome any addiction with the help of our wonderful addiction specialists. Don’t hesitate, you are worth it. Call (405) 583-4390. Seeking help is just the first step.

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