Patients addicted to barbiturates and benzodiazepines should not attempt to stop taking them on their own. Withdrawal symptoms from these drugs can be problematic, and—in the case of certain CNS depressants— potentially life-threatening. Research on treating barbiturate and benzodiazepine addiction is sparse; however, addicted patients should undergo medically supervised detoxification because the dosage they take should be gradually tapered. Inpatient or outpatient counseling can help individuals through this process. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on modifying the patient's thinking, expectations, and behaviors while increasing skills for coping with various life stressors, also has been used successfully to help individuals adapt to discontinuing benzodiazepines.
Often barbiturate and benzodiazepine abuse occurs in conjunction with the abuse of other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. In such cases of polydrug abuse, the treatment approach should address the multiple addictions.
This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.
Please note: After September 2013 all NIDA Research Reports will be offered online exclusively. Orders for printed hard copies must be received by August 15, 2013.
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.