Benzodiazepines are a type of sedatives usually prescribed for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety, panic disorders, muscle pain, and even alcohol withdrawal. Some of the most common benzos include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. Although legal, the number of persons addicted to benzodiazepines has tripled from 1998 to 2008. The problem is that building a tolerance to the drug can be extremely easy, and it usually happens without the patient even realizing.
Benzodiazepines withdrawal can be a complicated and painful process. While everyone will experience it differently, one thing is certain: reaching out for help can vastly improve their lives and speed up the recovery process.
How Strong Will Withdrawal Be When I Quit Taking Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines withdrawal can be an uncomfortable and dangerous process. A lot of different factors can interfere with rehabilitation, such as the length of the addiction, the dosage amount, pre-existing health problems, and co-occurring conditions.
Withdrawal can last anywhere from 24 hours to a few days or even a few months. Symptoms usually peak around week two, after which they begin to subside slowly. If left unmanaged, withdrawal can become difficult to control.
What Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to help reduce anxiety, prevent panic disorders or improve sleep. But when people become addicted to them, the withdrawal process can produce similar effects to what they were trying to treat in the first place. Here are the most common benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms.
- Irritability and Emotional Outbursts
The main role of benzodiazepines is to produce a calming effect and slow down the functions of the body. As a result, when someone stops using benzodiazepines they remove the chemicals that used to calm them down. Now, they have to deal with a series of emotions they cannot control, such as obsessive and irrational thoughts, hyperactive behavior or even rage or hysteria.
- Concentration and Memory Problems
Like previously mentioned, benzodiazepines will slow down body functions, and that includes the production of transmitters with a stimulating effect as well. We are talking about transmitters that are crucial for everyday tasks and that are related to coordination, memory, or basic reaction times. Without these transmitters, people can feel like even the smallest tasks, such as speaking, writing, or walking are difficult to perform.
Aches, pains, soreness, and muscle stiffness are some of the most difficult symptoms to endure. The body physically suffers, and people commonly report intense pain in the neck area, shoulders, arms, or legs. Patients can also experience muscle spasms, twitching, and tremors.
Patients that take benzodiazepines usually report sleeping a lot more than usual. However, it’s been shown that most of the time, they are not able to enter the REM cycle, necessary for the brain to function correctly. When people give up benzodiazepines, they also reintroduce the REM cycle in their sleep pattern. As a result, they may wake up several times per night and experience more intense dreams and nightmares.
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are also quite common for those who interrupt benzodiazepines. If a patient took the drug to help with anxiety issues, abstinence would make them even more vulnerable than they were before. Some of the symptoms include shakiness, cold sweats, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, or paranoia.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Last the Longest or Show up Later?
Withdrawal symptoms can range in intensity and duration from person to person and depend on many factors. There have been cases when benzodiazepine users experience prolonged withdrawal that lasted several months or even more. These symptoms manifested themselves in the form of sleeping issues, chronic anxiety, and depression.
Can I Detox Faster from Benzodiazepines If I Go to a Detox Facility?
While there is no evidence that undergoing treatment in a detox facility will reduce treatment time, receiving care in a proper place can be the stepping stone towards an easier recovery. Seeking support is important especially in the early stages, and can help prevent a relapse.
What Detox Meds Are Available to Help Manage the Symptoms?
Most addiction treatments focus on behavioral therapy, group and individual counseling, and other types of therapies to help the patients manage their symptoms. However, for severe benzodiazepines withdrawal, some doctors can prescribe phenobarbital, anticonvulsants, sedating antidepressants, or antihypertensive medication. Patients can only take these meds under the strict supervision of professionals.
If you experience any withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines, the first and most important thing anyone should do is consult with a doctor about it or reach out to a recovery center to find out what the next steps should be. It’s best not to take any chances and make sure you are in good, professional hands.