Benzodiazepine tolerance is an early indication of benzodiazepine addiction. The most commonly shared characteristic in chemical dependency is high tolerance to the DOC (drug of choice). Benzodiazepine tolerance is often dismissed far to casually as a side effect of the drug. But just because benzodiazepines are prescribed for legitimate medical reasons and by a doctor, does not in any way dismiss the fact that tolerance is the enemy and addiction is the battle.
As tolerance develops the higher the risks become for both adverse effects and severe adverse withdrawal effects. As the individual adjust dosage over time to get the same “tranquilizing”effects. The more offset the chemical balance becomes that the brain is always working to maintain to function. The longer that tolerance effects that normality the higher the consequences of the change in neurochemistry. Far too often benzodiazepines are prescribed quite liberally when there is no exit strategy and only after the effects of tolerance has sparked the addiction cycle.
- If you were told that benzodiazepine addiction could likely occur in two months.
- If you were told that the anxiety related condition will more than likely get worse.
- If you were told withdrawal can likely bring extreme anxiety related symptoms.
- If you were told withdrawal can include additional symptoms such as seizures, psychosis & death.
- If you were told that you could likely have a chronic addiction for the rest of your life.
It is doubtful that so many people would want to take so much risk let alone see an increase of over 10 million additional prescriptions since 2004.
The truth is that benzodiazepine dependence is an acceptable society term and marketing tool for what is really benzodiazepine addiction.
The Monster’s Name is TOLERANCE!!
Almost everyone with a chemical dependency shares a high tolerance as the almost universal truth about addiction. Tolerance can take years to develop, but if it is fed long enough, it grows into a monster.
Slowly and over time the mind compensates the neurochemistry to defend against what is essentially a long-term poisoning. The chemical (drug) that is introduced directly effects this impossibly complex system in ways we can’t hope to understand, at least not in todays technology. So the individual with chemical dependency appears to “crave” the chemical they are missing.
However, it is the delicate balance of infinitely complex chemicals, reactions and neurons that makes up our neurochemistry. Which is in constant struggle to fight the toxic onslaught of the long-acting poison to it. The increase in dose adjustment creates more imbalance or “craving”. This in turn creates the need for higher dose adjustment due to tolerance to achieve the same effect. This promotes still more imbalance or “craving”, which increases tolerance, and so on.
As time goes by the individual can take tremendous amounts of a substance, still be high-functioning and still need more. At some point most reach a level of toxicity that is a fine line between life and death, and to the world the individual seems quite insane. At some point the drug becomes an intrinsic part of brain neurochemistry and the years of abuse have forced the entire system out of balance and out of control.
When the brain is not in equilibrium it sends out a message that say’s “feed me” which is close to what a “craving” is. The brain is just doing it’s job and when the outside source that is providing for chemistry is unreliable, the brain takes action to be in balance and things go very wrong. This is what outwardly appears as “drug seeking behavior” and those behaviors are dependent on the DOC (drug of choice) and what the power of that imbalance or “craving” is to the individual.
Slowly and over time the mind compensates the neurochemistry to defend against what is essentially a long-term poisoning. The chemical (drug) that is introduced directly effects this impossibly complex system in ways we can’t hope to understand, at least not in todays technology. Through it all the individual only wants to again feel the way they felt, when they fell in love with the feeling that the drug provided them. The drug after all is effecting the same neurochemistry that makes up the ability to love and the individual has been in a very long relationship with the DOC (drug of choice). On top of that the chemical becomes a part of the individual and we all have to love ourselves a least a little, to survive. If this imbalance in brain chemistry continues uninterrupted the drug becomes the primary love in life, indeed life itself for some. It is after all for many, at some point needed for the individual’s very survival. Without the interaction of that drug on the individuals brain chemistry withdrawal begins. Which, depending on the drug, can be a matter of life and death.
Eventually tolerance get so extreme that some use high-risk delivery systems and/or take drugs in combination. Ask anyone in recovery from chemical dependency and if they are telling you the truth, the amounts that can be taken are enormous. Once this process has started and unless something intervenes to stop it, it is a free fall to addiction. This is a place of internal misery that can not be described to anyone that does not endure it and can take years or decades to play out.
Tolerance, the Bottom and Relapse
The “bottom” is the point at which an individual can’t take another moment and gets help or likely dies. They must at this point stop the use of the drug and in doing so they face withdrawal. When the individual stops or slows down the intake the brain neurochemistry takes abrupt action to normalize. Withdrawal is the process of this equilibrium and in most cases, the higher the tolerance the more the withdrawal effects are felt. Withdrawal severity is dependent on the chemicals used. With some chemicals (drugs) it can be as mild as a slight headache, irritability or nothing at all (marijuana) with others (alcohol and benzos) withdrawal effects can include; delirium, psychosis, seizures, coma and death.
Once the individual has gone through the withdrawal process, which varies depending on the chemical (drug). The brain has found some version of equilibrium but the neurochemistry will never again be the same. The brain can still send out a message to “feed me” (crave) at anytime and for the rest of the life of that individual (less over time). This is especially true for extreme emotional events which can elicit a “craving” from nowhere. Our neurochemistry changes with our moods so an individual can never really be sure what “triggers” a craving. When it gets combined with an intangible sense of loss, a lost love affair, a relationship that took years to develop. You have an addiction that lasts a lifetime and all the complications it involves.
Relapse is very common and the numbers of 5% – 15% success reflect this more than almost anything else. During relapse the individual adds the DOC (drug of choice) back into the neurochemistry and the monster of tolerance again raises it’s ugly head. In very short order tolerance is as enormous as it was before but the neurochemistry has changed just enough to make the normal dose lethal to many and cause instant self-destruction to many more. The enemy is the monster called “tolerance” and it must forever remain unfed and dormant or the battle of addiction will be lost.
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