You’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but now you’re feeling an anxiety attack coming on because you’re worried about the medications your doctor prescribed. As you sit there thinking about how they will make you feel and the warning labels, which include words like “addiction,” your heart begins to pound in your ears.
The doctor wasn’t clear. Or were they? You can’t remember. Are these anxiety medications addictive? Are you at risk? How will you know if you do develop an addiction? Because it’s going to happen to you, right? It’s always you.
Relax! That’s the anxiety talking. Take some deep breaths because we have answers, and you’ve got this. Seriously.
What are Benzodiazepines?
According to Drugs.com, benzodiazepines are combined with special neurons called GABA receptors, and they are included in popular anxiety meds such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.
The GABA receptor, when combined with neurons, is meant to slow down the overactive functions of the brain and create relief from mental stress – anxiety. Benzodiazepines are habit-forming, which is why anxiety medications containing this drug are considered addictive.
When abused, you might feel a buzzing sensation much like that of drinking alcohol. Depending on the medication you were prescribed, and the number of benzodiazepines found in the medications will determine its effect.
You’ve probably heard of Xanax. It’s one of the most common medications used to treat anxiety. Heed caution if you’re using this medication because it can be highly addictive when used long-term.
Only take Xanax as prescribed. You may experience slurred speech or loss of coordination and disorientation after one to two hours. It should remain effective for up to 12 to 15 hours.
When you stop taking Xanax, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal that include tremors, fatigue, and impaired coordination. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction before taking it.
If you’ve been prescribed Valium, you won’t have to take as many doses per day versus other medications because it lasts longer than other benzodiazepines in its category.
It’s easy to get addicted to Valium because of the “normal” feeling it provides. Over time, your brain may not be able to function normally without the drug, causing you to crave more until you’re taking as many as 40 to 60 pills a day.
If you become addicted, the withdrawal symptoms are so intense that you’ll want to take even more of the drug so you can feel “normal” again. It’s important (and best) to properly manage Valium withdrawal with qualified supervision.
Ativan is classified as an “intermediate-duration drug,” and due to its high potency, it’s usually prescribed for no more than four months at a time.
You should never take more than is prescribed, nor should you take it any longer than directed. If you do, you’ll be abusing the drug and risking a physical and/or psychological dependence. When taken as prescribed, Ativan should begin to show its full effects within two hours and stay in your system for 10 to 20 hours.
If you become addicted to your meds, talk to your doctor immediately and seek qualified substance abuse and addiction treatment.