Rehab Solutions for Veterans Benzodiazepine Substance Use Disorder
Benzodiazepine has been prescribed to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to control anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Historically, doctors prescribed it for older veterans or those taking other sedatives, but it’s now known that the risks outweigh any short-term relief. Chronic use of this drug is harmful as it can lead to abuse and dependency.
The VA/DoD Practice Guidelines for PTSD discourages using benzodiazepine for PTSD treatment, and recent studies are showing that benzodiazepine is ineffective in the treatment and prevention of PTSD. When it is used, specific problems can develop, including:
- Increasing severity of addiction
- Worse psychotherapy results
- Substance use disorder
What Is Benzodiazepine?
Benzodiazepine is a drug that makes the user feel relaxed. It’s part of a class of drugs that provide calming and sedative effects. It works by depressing or decreasing excitatory activity in a person’s central nervous system. Doctors use it for general anxiety and panic disorders like PTSD, but it is also used to reduce seizures and muscle spasms and relieve insomnia.
There are several prescription drugs in the benzodiazepine family, including:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
When Treatment for Benzodiazepine Substance Use Disorder Is Necessary
Benzodiazepine quickly relaxes and sedates an individual, which is why it’s often used as a short-term solution for panic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety. Problems begin as the person takes benzodiazepine regularly. The body gets used to it and begins to build up tolerance. As this happens, the user needs a higher dose of benzodiazepine to get the same effect.
Dependency is different than a substance use disorder, but it is usually present in clients who are addicted to benzodiazepine. Dependency refers to needing the drug while a benzodiazepine substance use disorder is when an individual takes the drug compulsively, with no regard for its harmful effects. Once a dependency has developed, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their dosage or stop taking it.
A substance use disorder typically occurs with the use of other substances such as opioids or alcohol. This is because benzodiazepine enhances the euphoric feeling of these other drugs. It can alleviate insomnia brought on by using stimulants and alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with some drugs.
When benzodiazepine is combined with opioids, the risk of overdose increases as opioids and benzodiazepine both suppress breathing and cause sedation. They also impair one’s cognitive functions.
Both benzodiazepine and alcohol depress the central nervous system. When used together, they lead to significant impairment and oversedation. Alcohol is involved in one out of every five benzodiazepine-related deaths. It is also seen in roughly 25% of emergency room visits related to benzodiazepine substance use disorder.
Veterans Benzodiazepine Rehab
Once a benzodiazepine addiction has developed, rehab is necessary for recovery. Withdrawal is the first stage of benzodiazepine rehabilitation. This is when the body goes through the process of adjusting to no longer having the drug. The body reacts negatively at first. This is because it has come to rely on benzodiazepine to function properly.
The very issues that a person starts taking benzodiazepine for can become rebound effects. A rebound effect is a symptom that matches the original reason for taking the drug. This includes seizures, insomnia, and other mental health issues.
Rebound effects that people with a benzodiazepine substance use disorder often experience include the following:
- Extreme sleeplessness
- Panic attacks
To prevent or lessen the severity of these rebound effects, it’s best to find medical assistance. With a veterans benzodiazepine rehab program, doctors and nurses monitor clients and can offer symptom-blocking medications if necessary.
Is Veterans Benzodiazepine Rehab Always Needed?
Rehab is an important part of recovering from a benzodiazepine substance use disorder. Addiction lasts a lifetime, but it is possible to manage it long after you take that last dose. Enrolling in rehab allows you to learn the proper way to cope with your illness. You should be able to live addiction-free after participating in a complete and extensive rehab program that focuses on your psychological and physical recovery.
Veterans Benzodiazepine Rehab Options
Anyone who struggles with a benzodiazepine substance use disorder should seek professional treatment, but this can be overwhelming. People are often unsure what they should look for in a recovery facility. Not every rehab center is the same, and recovery plans within each rehab center vary. The facility one chooses should offer a full treatment program that provides clients with a large selection of treatment options to ensure the effectiveness of the program.
Treatment options should include the following features.
- Evaluation and diagnosis
- An individual recovery plan
- Detox and withdrawal
- Inpatient and outpatient programs
- Individual, group, and family therapy sessions
- Sober living aftercare
- Alternative therapy solutions
What to Expect
Once a person decides to participate in a treatment program, the first stage of recovery is to evaluate the level of care necessary. This evaluation will uncover any other disorders that need to be addressed in addition to benzodiazepine dependency.
After the initial evaluation, detoxification begins. This gives the body time to remove the benzodiazepine from its system. Side effects start one to two days after the last dose. They can continue for up to four weeks, but this varies from one person to the next. Once all traces of benzodiazepine are cleared from the body, detoxification is complete.
Taking advantage of veterans benzodiazepine rehab is the best way to complete detoxification. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Trying to do this at home alone can cause a relapse because of the strong cravings you’ll have during the first few weeks. A benzodiazepine rehab center will have a highly trained staff there for you that’s able to administer medications if needed, and they’ll monitor your withdrawal in a safe environment that makes you feel comfortable.
Inpatient treatment is a form of veterans benzodiazepine rehab that removes you from harmful environments and bad influences that may interfere with your recovery. During your time in rehab, you’ll interact with doctors, nurses, and therapists while living in the facility. You’ll have the benefit of 24-hour care, which means someone is always there to help you with any lingering withdrawal symptoms or strong cravings. Typically, this treatment plan lasts 30 to 45 days, but the actual time you spend in inpatient care depends on you and the severity of your substance use disorder.
Inpatient rehab is among the most intense parts of a drug treatment program. While this isn’t always required, many clients participate because it often results in a stronger recovery.
Outpatient treatment is similar to inpatient programs, but you don’t have to live at the facility full time. You can remain at home and continue your daily responsibilities like work and school. You can remain with your family and friends as long as they provide a supportive environment.
Even though you aren’t living at the facility, veteran benzodiazepine rehab continues. Because each client has an individualized treatment plan, the length of outpatient care can vary. You can expect to have meetings with counselors in one-on-one or group sessions. During this part of your rehab, you’ll be making plans for your aftercare and continuing any medications used to help with withdrawal symptoms.
Aftercare refers to any ongoing treatment that a client receives after recovering from their substance use disorder. Once initial sobriety is reached, aftercare helps keep you sober.
As with any chronic illness, you’ll need to have access to doctors and therapists for the ongoing care of your substance use disorder. Without continued care, you’ll become ill once again. Anyone diagnosed with a benzodiazepine addiction will require continued care to manage their disorder and maintain sobriety.
Since each person’s substance use disorder is different, the root cause of the addiction and its triggers vary. An effective aftercare program is tailored to your specific needs.
These programs consist of anonymous meetings with others in similar situations. How much information you choose to reveal is voluntary. You can attend as many or as few meetings as you need. There will be times when you need more support. That is the main idea of 12-step meetings.
You’ll receive support and advice from others that have been in your shoes. The camaraderie provides a safe and encouraging environment that helps you find the strength you need to continue with your sobriety. As you begin this program, you’ll be given a series of steps to work your way through. The goal is sobriety, along with a feeling of pride in your accomplishments.
Other Aftercare Resources
Aftercare is less hands-on than the direct help you received during other stages of your rehab. Once you are safely through your treatment program, you’ll still need encouragement, help, and advice on how to remain sober from counselors, therapists, and social workers. This is where aftercare takes over.
Clients who have completed their treatment program will often experience ongoing issues related to their substance use disorder. They can face obstacles such as finding a job, securing housing, and handling legal issues. These hurdles can be stressful, and stress is a huge trigger for addiction. Aftercare provides clients with the following help so that they can live a less stressful, drug-free life:
- Legal advice
- Career counseling
- Long-term support during life transitions
- Substance monitoring
- Case management
- Academic support
- Financial planning
How Long Does Veterans Benzodiazepine Rehab Take?
The actual time for benzodiazepine rehab full recovery is difficult to determine. Clients vary in height, weight, age, and level of dependency. All of this factors into how long the treatment process takes, just like it determines how long each step of the process will take. Expect your rehab to take several months if you go through all of the steps:
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab
Not all clients need every one of these steps.
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for a benzodiazepine substance use disorder. You can have a full recovery and remain sober, but it’s a lifelong process. You’ll continue to work on your sobriety throughout your life.