Nitrazepam Addiction Explained
Nitrazepam – also known by many tradenames including Mogadon (see below for other brand names) is a hypnotic drug in the benzodiazepine class with the chemical formula C15H11N3O3, which has been available to the public since 1965. It is available in tablet form for oral consumption.
A class-C controlled substance in the UK (illegal to possess without prescription) with sedative (calming), anticonvulsant and amnestic (inducing forgetfulness) properties, alongside its medical uses nitrazepam is a commonly abused recreational drug – despite the fact that, like other benzodiazepines, is known to be habit-forming, and withdrawal from it can be deadly.
Trade names for nitrazepam
Nitrazepam is the generic name for a drug which is sold around the world under a variety of trade names, including Alodorm, Apodorm, Arem, Insoma, Insomin, Mogadon, Nitrados, Nitrazadon, Nitrosun, Nitravet, Ormodon, Paxadorm, Remnos, Epam and Somnite.
What is nitrazepam used for?
Nitrazepam is most commonly prescribed for the short-term relief from severe, disabling anxiety and insomnia. It is also used as an anticonvulsant, sometimes deployed in the treatment of epilepsy if other medications have been ineffective; it is known to be particularly effective in the treatment of West syndrome, an age-dependent epilepsy typically striking the very young.
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What is Nitrazepam Addiction?
How addictive is nitrazepam?
All benzodiazepines are potentially habit-forming, and nitrazepam is no exception – indeed, some authorities consider it to be one of the more addictive benzodiazepines (though a ranking of this kind is necessarily subjective). It is recommended that treatment with nitrazepam should not continue for more than 10 consecutive days, whilst patients taking it for more than two weeks consecutively should be completely re-evaluated. Dependence can occur within one month.
Neurological mechanism of nitrazepam dependence
Dependence is a phenomenon whereby an individual consuming a substance – in this case, nitrazepam – over a period of time becomes accustomed to a certain level of that substance in their system. The brain and body of someone developing nitrazepam dependence then adjust accordingly to the presence of nitrazepam, and become reliant upon it in order to function normally – and when nitrazepam is withdrawn from the system (for instance, if the dependent person suddenly stops taking it) the system malfunctions and responds by behaving anomalously in the form of various potentially unpleasant and dangerous symptoms which together comprise what is known as withdrawal syndrome.
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Nitrazepam Dependence, Tolerance and Addiction
The phenomena of dependence and addiction described above are closely related, though distinct: addiction is, strictly speaking, a psychological phenomenon, whilst dependence is primarily physiological. Related to both is tolerance, which is the process by which an individual becomes used to consuming certain quantities of a substance and as their system adjusts (as with dependence) they require more and more of that substance in order to achieve the same desired effect. In other words, someone taking nitrazepam for the first time will likely feel the effects much more strongly than someone taking the same dose after having consumed nitrazepam regularly for several weeks.
Recreational Use of Nitrazepam and Abuse Potential
As noted above, because of the pleasurable effects produced by nitrazepam it is often consumed recreationally. Recreational nitrazepam users often take the drug in significantly greater quantities than recommended by doctors, and may attempt to consume the drug by routes other than oral consumption (for example, by grinding up and sorting it). Nitrazepam has a high potential for abuse unless taken strictly in accordance with the instructions of a prescribing doctor.
Causes of nitrazepam addiction
The precise causes of addiction are not yet fully understood; medical science has not yet established why one person may fall victim to addiction while another, in very similar circumstances, may not. However, it is known that both environmental and genetic factors can play a part, and that – in the case of nitrazepam specifically – anybody consuming it for more than a few weeks is at severe risk of developing a physical dependence to nitrazepam, while psychological addiction can develop even more quickly.
Risk factors for nitrazepam abuse
- Genetic: a family history of substance abuse and addiction, and/or mental health issues, is known to be one of the most prominent risk factors in the development of nitrazepam addiction.
- Environmental: significant environmental risk factors for nitrazepam abuse include the experience of trauma and/or very difficult life events; associating with a peer group in which nitrazepam abuse is commonplace; and taking nitrazepam over a longer period or in high dosages than recommended by the prescribing physician
Co-Occurring Disorders with Nitrazepam Addiction
Because of its role in treating certain mental health disorders, nitrazepam is frequently an element of cases of dual diagnosis (the occurrence of substance abuse disorders alongside other mental disorders). Dual diagnosis typically makes treating an addiction a much more complicated prospect, and specialist expertise is usually required.
The Effects of Nitrazepam Addiction on Brain Neurotransmitters
Nitrazepam acts upon certain receptors in the brain associated with GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS), responsible for reducing the excitability of neurons throughout the CNS – in other words, having a calming effect on the brain and central nervous system. Benzodiazepines including nitrazepam effectively increase the efficiency of GABA.
Nitrazepam addiction, and especially withdrawal, can greatly disrupt the normal functioning of GABA and related processes, giving rise to numerous unpleasant symptoms; it is possible, though not yet fully proven, that long-term nitrazepam abuse of the sort which typically results from addiction may well have permanently damaging effects upon the brain, including upon GABA receptors.
Health Risks with Nitrazepam Addiction
Addiction to any substance can have a very deleterious impact upon an addict’s physical and mental well-being because of the degradation of life quality, and mental and emotional stress, which typically accompanies it. In the case of nitrazepam addiction specifically, numerous health risks may manifest, outlined below.
Nitrazepam Abuse Signs and Symptoms
As is the case with any addiction, it may be difficult to spot nitrazepam abuse if the affected individual wishes to try to conceal their condition (as is often the case with addicts struggling with the stigma and shame associated with addiction). Nonetheless, some signs and symptoms which may be evidence of nitrazepam abuse include:
- depressed mood
- impairment of memory
- impairment of motor functions
- hangover feeling in the morning
- slurred speech
- decreased physical performance
- numbed emotions
- reduced alertness
- muscle weakness
- double vision
- unpleasant dreams
- rebound insomnia
Nitrazepam Overdose Explained
As with all benzodiazepines, consuming more nitrazepam than your system can process effectively brings forth the danger of overdose, which can be fatal. Anyone observing any of the following symptoms in someone who is known to have consumed nitrazepam should immediately contact the emergency services, and apply first aid if trained:
- impaired balance
- slurred speech
- hypnotic state
- paradoxical reactions
- cardiovascular depression
- respiratory depression
- comatose state
Cost of Nitrazepam Addiction to Families and Society
Addiction is a factor in numerous family break-ups, thanks to the great toll it takes on family members who have to witness their loved ones’ turmoil and health issues, and to deal with the ramifications of any negative behaviour which the addict may display. Meanwhile, nitrazepam addiction comes at a great cost to society, especially in the form of the millions of pounds spent on addiction treatment by the NHS, and the deployment of police and other resources to deal with actions of addicted individuals.
Teen nitrazepam abuse and addiction
Young people frequently seek out nitrazepam and other benzodiazepines for recreational use as a result of their comparative ubiquity and low cost, and that recreational use sometimes evolves into abuse and addiction. If you know a young person who you believe may be abusing or addicted to nitrazepam, contact an addiction specialist.
What to do if a loved one is struggling with nitrazepam addiction
if someone you love is addicted to nitrazepam, your first impulse may understandably be to confront them and to take action; however, you could do more damage than good. Get in touch with an addiction specialist to explain your concerns and to find out the best course of action.
What to Do if You Need Help to Detox
Withdrawal from nitrazepam can be very dangerous, and even fatal. You should never try to detox without medical assistance, regardless of how urgently you wish to overcome your addiction. Instead, speak with your GP and/or an addiction specialist about how to detox safely from nitrazepam.
Withdrawal from nitrazepam, as with any benzodiazepine withdrawal, can be extremely unpleasant and – as noted above – dangerous. However, if you have developed a dependence to nitrazepam, it is very likely that you will have to go through withdrawal as part of your detoxification process; fortunately, though, some of the worst symptoms may be alleviated somewhat with certain medicines.
Symptoms of withdrawal
Every case of nitrazepam addiction is unique, and so is every instance of withdrawal – but, of course, many commonalities may be found. Some of the most frequently observed withdrawal symptoms include:
- concentration problems
- rebound insomnia
Some withdrawal symptoms associated with other benzodiazepines which may also manifest during nitrazepam withdrawal include:
- numbness/tingling of extremities
- hypersensitivity to light, sound, and smell
- perceptual distortions
- appetite loss
- stomach cramps
- panic attacks
- short-term memory loss
Duration of withdrawal
Withdrawal from nitrazepam dependence usually lasts between a fortnight and a month, with symptoms peaking in acute withdrawal (starting around three days after the last consumption of nitrazepam, and typically lasting for a week). This is only a rough guide, however, and any individual case of withdrawal may vary from this timeline. Some individuals may go on to develop a condition known as protracted or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, with certain withdrawal symptoms lasting months or even years.
Why You Should Contact a Professional for Detox
It cannot be stressed enough: benzodiazepine withdrawal can kill. Do not attempt to go through detoxification from nitrazepam by yourself; instead, contact your GP and/or an addiction specialist about how best to go through the process, and what medical assistance you may be able to obtain.
Nitrazepam Addiction Treatment
There are now various specialist facilities treating benzodiazepine addiction across the UK. Addiction treatment typically consists of two phases: firstly, detoxification and withdrawal – with medical assistance; and secondly, therapy. Various other elements may also be applied.
Therapy for Nitrazepam Addiction
Therapy is fundamental to addiction treatment: only therapy can reveal and address the psychological causes of addiction, as well as providing a recovering addict with relapse prevention strategies. Addiction therapy is provided in a great number of different models and formats, and in settings including one-to-one and group.
Nitrazepam Abuse Detox Process
Different facilities may offer different detoxification processes, and one patient’s requirements may differ from another’s (for example, some people may be asked to taper down their nitrazepam consumption before beginning detox proper; others may be unable to take certain medications during detox). Get as much information as possible from the relevant doctors ahead of attempting any detox process, so you are well aware of what to expect.
Possible complications in nitrazepam rehab
Once again, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be fatal. So as to minimise the chance of any possible dangerous complications during rehab, it is imperative that you are totally honest with your doctors about the nature and extent of your addiction, and your medical history. Failure to be candid could cost you your life.
Nitrazepam Relapse Prevention
Avoiding relapse over the long-term is fundamental to recovery; it is an ongoing process, and one which can be made easier with tours and defence mechanisms learnt in therapy (for example, during rehab) and by attending self-help groups and counselling at least during the early phases of your recovery. If, however, you nevertheless find yourself relapsing, do not despair: the occasional relapse does not mean that you have failed in your recovery and that you will certainly descend once again to addiction. People do make mistakes; the important thing is to learn from them. Speak with an addiction specialist about preventing relapse, and how to cope with it if it does occur.
Nitrazepam Addiction Statistics
- Each year in the UK, doctors write over 12 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines.
- More than 400 people died in England and Wales in 2016 as a result of benzodiazepine abuse.
- Over 250,000 Britons have currently been taking benzodiazepines for a period longer than that which was advised by their doctors.
- A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that nearly 8% of Britons have misused benzodiazepines at some point.
- More than 40% of people taking nitrazepam for over six weeks will become addicted.
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No addict can be helped until and unless they’re prepared to acknowledge their condition. Addiction can cause great shame and guilt – these emotions need not get in the way of your path back to happiness.
Get help today
A range of high-quality facilities across the UK are now providing treatment to nitrazepam addicts, and countless individuals are now in recovery and enjoying their lives to the full. Do not let another day go by in which addiction dominates your life and continues to cause you pain: get in touch with your GP or an addiction specialist today.
Take control of your life – get started on the road to recovery
Do not let your nitrazepam addiction determine the course of your future, regardless of the impact it has had on your past. Help is out there: reach out for it today, and take back control of your life. Calling your GP and/or an addiction specialist will be your first step on the road back to happiness.
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