Benzodiazepines (benzos) is a class of medications typically prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and muscle tension. Benzos such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium and other anti-anxiety medication are designed for short-term use, usually a few weeks or months, since they are highly addictive. “After four to six months, they generally stop working which is typical of any addictive substance. Users develop a tolerance needing more and more to get the same effect,” Alban wrote in Natural Alternatives to Xanax, Ativan, and Anti-Anxiety Drugs.

Mixing opioids with benzos increases the risks of health complications and damages the liver, heart, and induces labored breathing. This toxic combination can also have negative effects on emotional stability and mental well-being.

According to Britta Starke, program director for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Outpatient Treatment at UNC, a common pattern is using marijuana first and then benzos when the high from marijuana wears off. She recommends a more natural way to cope with stress and emotions, which is mindfulness. This includes meditation, yoga, and deep breathing techniques, or “20 minutes a day of just relaxing and chilling and getting grounded,” Starke said. Even just walking the dog for 20 minutes has a “far more long-term effect in reducing anxiety than taking Xanax,” Nagem wrote in Benzodiazepine Overdoses are Part of a Quiet but Deadly Drug Crisis.

Opioids and benzos are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Some patients take more of the drugs than prescribed to get high. Benzos enhance the effects of opioids, which increases the risk of abuse and addiction. Mixing any two drugs together will increase the probability of hurting yourself or others and can result in fatalities.

Each prescription medication has a warning label indicating the harmful effects they have when mixed with other medications or alcohol. Most painkillers are safe and effective when taken appropriately or as prescribed. Prescription pain medicine mixed with benzos can cause serious drug interactions and increase the risk of stomach bleeding, heart attack, stroke, or impaired breathing.

All drugs have side effects whether over-the-counter, prescription, or recreational. With the right treatment and support from loved ones, you can overcome addiction to benzos. Read warning labels, know the side effects, and ask a doctor or pharmacist about adverse interactions.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, get help today. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started:310-881-9151

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