Each year, 70 million Americans battle with sleep disorders that take a toll on their daily lives. Drowsiness is a problem that plagues individuals in more than one way, and statistics have shown that drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities a year, and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States. While the likelihood of injury in this nature from sleep deprivation is statistically low, the immediate benefits of sleep help long-term. Restful sleep allows for the body to help fight off disease and sickness while also helping improve one’s mental health.
The most common sleep disorder affecting Americans is insomnia. Insomnia is the state of habitual sleeplessness. With that, one-third of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night of seven to eight hours. This could lead to a plethora of problems, including decreased productivity at work.
Another common and, in some cases, debilitating disorder is anxiety. Anxiety is classified as the most common mental health illness and affects 40 million adults. These problems as mentioned previously can all create serious problems in a person’s life, and seeking out ways to negate this is a top priority.
Over the years, doctors and scientists have created hundreds of medicinal sleep aids that have varying effects. In the early 19th century, barbiturates were developed and sold in the U.S. as potent hypnotics to combat sleep and anxiety problems. Throughout the 1960s, the negative attributes of these drugs became increasingly evident, and benzodiazepines, another category of popular drugs, was developed with the hope of taking the adverse side effects away. Benzos are extremely popular drugs, but they share some of the side effects that have become associated with barbiturates.
Estazolam is a popular benzodiazepine used in the treatment of sleep disorders, anxiety, and seizures. Unfortunately, this drug carries a significant risk to your health. It can lead to a chemical dependence that could be followed by addiction.
What is Estazolam?
Estazolam is a drug used in the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders. This drug is available by prescription only from a licensed physician. It is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines and is used for its anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and hypnotic effects. In some cases, it is also used as a muscle relaxant. In the broader picture, estazolam is in a category of central nervous system (CNS) depressants along with barbiturates, alcohol, and other sleep medications. Drugs in this category work by depressing excitability of the nervous system. This, in turn, causes you to relax cognitively and physically.
The issue that arises with depressant drugs is that they can cause several adverse effects. These include tolerance, dependence, addiction, and depression. Because of these undesirable characteristics of estazolam, it is often used as a short-term solution to these medical ailments. It has been shown that after four weeks of benzo use, dependence and addiction can become prevalent. For those reasons, it is not suggested to use benzos for any longer as a means for treatment. When becoming tolerant, it can actually magnify the issues you were originally treating and make them worse.
What makes this drug so beneficial for sleep problems is that it has a medium onset of action and a medium duration of action. Typically, faster-acting benzos are more prevalent for abuse, but still, estazolam can be abused for its intoxicating properties. When used in high doses, it can be similar to the buzz alcohol produces.
The most common effects of estazolam include relaxation, dizziness, euphoria, loss of coordination, poor motor functions, loss of balance, and sleepiness.
Heavy use of the drug significantly increases your likelihood of becoming addicted or causing a fatal overdose. It is not recommended to take more than prescribed.
What are the Signs of Estazolam Addiction?
If you or a loved one has been using estazolam recreationally, and you fear the onset of addiction, there are outward warning signs that can distinguish this for you. Drug abuse can remain hidden for a short time, but after extended use of the drugs, it becomes increasingly difficult to hide.
If You are Worried About a Loved One’s Estazolam Use, Some Signs That Could Indicate a Dependence or Addiction are:
- Strange sleep patterns
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies
- Failing performance at work or school
- Loss of coordination
- Lying about drug use
If you have been consuming benzos for an extended time and wonder if you’re developing a substance use disorder, there are signs to indicate this. First and foremost, if you have developed a tolerance, this is the first sign of a developing addiction. If you realize that your initial dose is no longer effective and that you require more and more for desired effects, this is a sign of tolerance.
As a tolerance begins to grow, you can become dependent on the drug. This will cause you to feel uncomfortable symptoms if you stop using the drug or even cut back from the dose. Dependence affects communication pathways in the brain, and your nervous system becomes reliant on the drug. With this, it will halt production of natural chemicals, and with cessation of use can create unpleasant or dangerous effects.
Dependence does not automatically translate to addiction, but this is the transition toward addiction. Addiction is defined as the continued use of a drug despite clear consequences. If the lines become blurred and you find yourself stealing to support the habit, this could be a clear cut sign of the early stages of addiction.
What is Involved in Estazolam Addiction Treatment?
Estazolam addiction, if left untreated, can pose serious health risks to the user. While addiction is a severe and sometimes fatal disease, the latest research and medications have made it more treatable, netting positive results. Like most benzodiazepines, estazolam runs the risk of presenting dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Treating the addiction should begin with medical detox. Detox is the highest level of care in the continuum of treatment. This is also known as a medically managed intensive inpatient treatment that offers 24 hours per day of supervised medical care. You will be treated with medications that help alleviate and manage symptoms of withdrawal.
Upon completion of detox, your team of doctors will work with you to develop a medical plan that highlights your unique therapy requirements, the type of treatment you will receive, and a relapse prevention plan. These are subject to change if you don’t respond as anticipated, and the staff will adjust your plan accordingly.
Depending on your needs, you could be placed in either an inpatient residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program. Residential treatment will have you living on-site for up to 90 days, whereas outpatient will have you attending regularly scheduled therapy sessions throughout a given week. This is a more popular option for those with responsibilities they cannot put aside, such as work or school.
In addiction treatment, you will receive personalized care that is aimed at addressing the root of your addiction. This will be done by implementing several different therapies allowing you to build coping skills, basic human functions, and tools to help deal with triggers accordingly. Behavioral therapies are most commonly utilized in preventing relapse.
How Dangerous is Estazolam?
Individuals often perceive prescriptions given by doctors to be safe; on the contrary, however, these can hold a high risk of being dangerous. Misuse and abuse can lead to addiction, overdoses, and withdrawal symptoms that are deadly if not addressed properly. When estazolam is abused, it produces effects similar to those of alcohol, and you may feel drowsy and have impaired judgment. This can lead to accidents that could be fatal, depending on the circumstance.
In some cases, individuals use benzos in conjunction with other drugs such as opioids or alcohol. Mixing these substances causes a stronger high, but it comes at a cost. Combining potent drugs can depress breathing to the point of suffocation, which can cause coma, brain damage, or death. It is never recommended to combine drugs without a doctor’s consent.
CNS depressants have the added risk of causing deadly withdrawal symptoms. Because of their effect on GABA in the brain, the central nervous system does not function as highly. When you suddenly stop using estazolam, your body will go into overdrive to compensate for what the drug produced. This can lead to seizures, anxiety, panic, tremors, and in severe cases, delirium tremens (DTs), which can be deadly without intervention.
Estazolam Abuse Statistics
- 5.2% of U.S. adults between ages 18 and 80 used benzodiazepines in 2008.
- You are twice as likely to get into an accident when driving on benzos.
- In 2015, nearly 9,000 overdose deaths were caused by benzodiazepines.