Benzo addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction can come about quickly and without much warning. Many people first start taking benzos with a valid prescription for a condition such as insomnia, anxiety, or panic attacks. Benzo addiction can develop in as little as a few weeks, even when you have followed your prescription properly. Learning to recognise the signs and dangers can make all the difference.

Benzo addiction

What are benzos?

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are prescription drugs used to treat anxiety, panic, and other mental health disorders. Benzos are central nervous system depressants that slow down activity in the brain, making you feel calm and relaxed.

How does benzo addiction develop?

Benzos work by increasing the availability of a chemical messenger called GABA. It inhibits other chemical messengers, disrupting communication between different regions of your brain. This slows down your brain and body, reducing stress, anxiety, and panic.

These effects on the brain make benzos very addictive. This is partly due to people wanting to chase the feelings of calmness and euphoria it brings, but also down to the fact that the brain quickly became dependent on benzos to maintain normal GABA levels.

Using benzos increases dopamine levels in the brain and motivates you to take the drug again. Repeated use reinforces this sense of motivation, and you develop strong cravings for benzos. This can then lead to faking prescriptions or even buying street benzos, which can be cut or mixed with unknown substances.

What Underlies benzodiazepine Addiction?

Addiction is usually driven by underlying issues, such as mental illness or experiences of trauma. Substance abuse is often an attempt to cope with emotional distress. If this issue is left unaddressed, it can cause addictive behaviour to restart even after years of abstinence.

Recognising benzo addiction

Some signs and symptoms to look out for in yourself include:

  • Benzo use becoming the priority in your life
  • Neglect of home and work responsibilities due to benzo use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit benzos
  • Trying to stop using benzos but being unable to
  • Continuing to use benzos despite any negative consequences

Benzo addiction - man experiencing withdrawal

This list is far from exhaustive and addiction can take many different forms. If you have any concerns about your benzo use, speak to us for expert advice.

What are some different types of benzos?

Xanax button

Xanax (Alprazolam)

Xanax is a short-acting benzo with a half-life of around eleven hours. You usually feel the effects of Xanax within an hour, and they tend to peak one to two hours after taking the drug.

Xanax (Alprazolam) →

Ativan button

Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan has a slightly longer half-life than Xanax, averaging around twelve hours. You can find Ativan in tablet or liquid form. Ativan usually has a slower onset than Xanax, but the effects tend to last for a couple of hours longer.

Ativan (Lorazepam) →

Valium addiction

Valium (Diazepam)

Valium (also known by the name Diazepam) is a long-acting benzo with a much longer half-life than Xanax or Ativan, averaging about forty-eight hours.

Valium (Diazepam) →

Klonopin button

Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Klonopin is a medium-acting or long-acting benzo with a shorter half-life than Valium but a longer half-life than Xanax or Ativan.

Klonopin (Clonazepam) →

Understanding enabling behaviours

Loved ones with good intentions may accidentally enable someone’s benzodiazepine addiction.

Enabling behaviours can include:

  • Helping someone to acquire benzos
  • Offering them financial support
  • Hiding their addiction from others
  • Calling in sick for them at work if they are ill from benzo abuse
  • Taking on their responsibilities

While it can be difficult to take a step back, it’s important to remember that benzo addiction is a mental health condition that requires medical support to overcome. If you find yourself doing any of the above, we advise that you put in boundaries and instead encourage the person you are worried about to seek help through benzodiazepine rehab.

Overcoming benzo addiction

At Linwood House, we’re here to make the benzodiazepine recovery process as easy as possible for you. Our expert team can answer your questions and talk you through your next steps.

Our treatment plans teach you the skills you need to overcome benzodiazepine addiction while helping you to heal from within. Contact us today to make the change.

Frequently asked questions

Can one die of benzodiazepine addiction?
If you take too many benzos or mix them with other substances, including alcohol, you could overdose. Benzo overdose happens when your respiratory system is depressed to dangerous levels, causing slow breathing, heart rate, coma or death.
Which benzo is the most addictive?
All benzodiazepines have the potential to lead to addiction, but some are more addictive than others. Clonazepam is a powerful benzo that produces strong feelings of euphoria, leading people to take more of it to chase this high. Benzos like alprazolam, however, act very quickly and have a short half-life. This can push people to take it more frequently than is safe, increasing their chances of developing an addiction.
Librium addiction can be a devastating condition, but it is far less recognised than other substance use dis… More
close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

03301 736 751 
Contact Button Contact us
Phone Button Helpline