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The Problem of College Benzodiazepine Abuse
Benzodiazepines are a highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs that are commonly abused in the United States. Benzodiazepines, also called “Benzos,” “Downers,” and “Tranks,” are responsible for claiming the lives of 38,329 Americans in recent years. College Benzodiazepine abuse is a major part of this problem. Over 5 million college students have overdosed on prescription drugs—31% due to Benzodiazepine abuse.
College Benzodiazepine abuse can fly under the radar because Benzos are easily accessible from doctors and other students with prescriptions. For example, Xanax is currently the most prescribed medication in the United States. Benzodiazepines are intended to ease severe anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures, but they are often abused for their euphoric affects which are said to mimic those caused by alcohol. Even worse, students often combine Benzodiazepines with alcohol , Opioids, or other drugs for a more intense high; however, mixing drugs in this manner is extremely dangerous, and can even be fatal.
Benzos can be short-acting, intermediate, or long-acting. Short-acting Benzos like Ativan impact the individual for 10 to 20 hours, intermediate Benzos like Librium function for 10 to 60 hours, and long-acting Benzos like Valium work for 20 to 70 hours. Most Benzodiazepines can be legally prescribed despite the high addiction risk, including:
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Effects of College Benzodiazepine Abuse
Certain Benzodiazepines, in particular Xanax, are some of the most abused substances on college campuses. College Benzodiazepine abuse rates have risen by over 400% in recent years, and the number of students abusing these drugs increases daily. Students turn to Xanax and other Benzos to soothe their minds from heartbreak, reduce panic attacks, ease inner tension, recover from trauma, relax muscles, and eliminate pre-test nervousness and overall stress. However, these medications are highly addictive, and those who abuse them can develop a deep dependence in a short period of time.
College Benzodiazepine abuse can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, including:
- Muscle Weakness
- Loss of balance
- Breathing problems
- Slurred speech
- Changes in sleep
- Adverse reactions with other drugs
The time period that these side effects last depends on whether or not the student has used a short-acting, intermediate, or long-acting Benzo.
College Benzodiazepine Risk Factors and Signs of Abuse
As a parent, a friend, or a roommate of a college student suspected of abusing Benzos, you may see a variety of behaviors including:
- Loss of interest in life or hobbies
- Loss of control over Benzo use
- Having mental health disorders like anxiety
- Nausea and dizziness
- Mental confusion
- Increased fatigue
- Impaired coordination
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Having unexplained financial problems
- Hanging out with a new crowd
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College Benzodiazepine Abuse and Mental Health
There is often a connection between mental health and substance abuse. Students with mental health conditions are much more likely to have a substance use disorder. A student who suffers with anxiety, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder might be prescribed a drug like Xanax and abuse it in an attempt to “self-medicate.” Tragically, self-medication is one of the most likely ways to develop a Benzo addiction. Even worse, substance abuse, especially of Benzodiazepines, typically worsens the symptoms of the mental health condition the user was originally trying to combat, leading to a cycle of increasing substance abuse and worsening mental health.
How Treatment Can Help College Benzodiazepine Abuse
Since college students are in a transition between high school and the professional “real world,” it is important that they are in their optimal mental and emotional space. Connecting to a treatment provider will help them take control of their futures.
Once students attend rehab, they can talk to recovery staff and get treatment for underlying emotional/mental disorders. If left untreated, the pain and frustration of emotional and mental trauma and conditions may encourage further exploration of other harmful drugs in the future.
In addition to treatment for core issues, individuals can benefit from medically-supervised detox. Conducting at home detox poses many risks and can even be fatal. Rehabs will offer individuals medication with the guidance of knowledgeable personnel as they recover. Students in recovery can also connect with college-aged support groups, and find ways to build and maintain relationships. Contact a treatment provider today to discover your treatment options.
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