How Do I Know If I’m Dependent on My Anxiety Meds?

How Do I Know If I’m Dependent on My Anxiety Meds?When severe panic attacks, anxiety, or depression affect your everyday life, prescription medication may be the best solution. Many people successfully try counseling and psychotherapy before exploring with their doctors whether anti-depressants or anxiety medications could help resolve some of their issues. This is because with the use of prescription medication comes valid fears and questions. What if I become addicted? How much can I rely on medication without becoming dependent, psychologically, or physically?

While prescription medications for anxiety and other mental health issues can help resolve troubling issues, they also come with side effects and health risks. It is important to keep in mind that medications are not a solution in and of themselves, and risking addiction to perpetuate temporary relief is not the answer to deep anxiety or depression issues. Sometimes it is difficult to know if you have become physically dependent on anxiety medications, but familiarizing yourself with the specific medication, the risks involved, and where the lines between medical use and drug abuse occur can help you avoid dependence and addiction.

Where Does Prescription Drug Abuse Begin?

Benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety, are the most frequently prescribed addictive medications. Because of their addictive potential, they are intended for short-term treatment lasting from two to four weeks. Some people see the line between drug use and abuse as being rather blurry. They know they need medication for anxiety or depression, but what does “drug abuse” technically mean? What are the signs that they are relying too heavily on medications?

Any time that someone with a prescription medication increases the amount or frequency of doses without consulting a doctor is abusing the drug. While in most cases medications are safe to take according to a physician’s advisement, sometimes patients become dependent even when they follow a prescription. A few signs of dependence on anxiety medications include the following:

  • You have used benzodiazepines or tranquilizers long-term
  • You have increased your doses
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication (such as insomnia, increased anxiety, sweating, tremors)
  • The medication is less effective than before
  • You always make sure you have a supply of pills
  • You do not feel “normal” without them

How to Avoid Addiction

While dependence and addiction are inherent risks of using prescription medications to treat anxiety, they are not unavoidable. A few suggestions to lessen the risk of dependence and addiction to benzodiazepines include the following:

  • Learn about other treatment options – Trying therapy, exercise, or enacting life changes to reduce anxiety could solve the problem rather than treat it temporarily, nullifying the need for medical treatment. Talk to your doctor and therapist about other options before choosing to medicate for anxiety.
  • Familiarize yourself with that particular medication before using it – The more you understand about the right way to take medication, how long it takes to work, the side effects, and the potential for addiction, the smaller the possibility of developing unhealthy habits.
  • Follow the prescription – One of the most basic pieces of advice is to follow the prescription. Even if it seems to not be working or causes unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor before increasing or decreasing your dose. This is the best way to avoid dependence that can lead to addiction.
  • Talk to a doctor before deciding to quit medication – Do not stop taking your medication in the middle of treatment or take it inconsistently out of fear of addiction. This could induce withdrawal symptoms or cause other dangerous side effects.

Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription medication, call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your treatment options. We are available 24 hours a day to help you come back from your addiction and achieve lifelong recovery. Please call today.