Benzodiazepines Withdrawal

Withdrawing from Benzodiazepines Treatment and Statistics

Globally, benzodiazepines are the most frequently prescribed class of drugs. These drugs act as minor tranquilizers, and can even help people in a medical detox facility recover from alcohol addiction. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for people who are anxious before minor surgeries or dental procedures. They can help people with insomnia, and panic and anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines can be given to people suffering from muscle spasms, and even for OCD. For people who are experiencing delirium from alcohol or hypnotic sedative withdrawals, benzodiazepines are the first-line of treatment.

Benzodiazepines have been around since the mid-1960s, and are an older class of drug, so their side effects, interactions, and contraindications are well known. Benzos are not safe for pregnant women or the elderly. While the drugs, when taken correctly, are beneficial and effective for a variety of conditions, they can be addictive and habit-forming. Benzos are not given to patients long-term since the chances of tolerance and addiction are high with these drugs. But, people who’ve gotten a legitimate medical prescription can become addicted by taking too much of the medication or getting it on the street.

Despite their initial effectiveness, tolerance to benzodiazepines can happen quickly, and it’s incredibly difficult for someone to stop on their own. Long-term medical complications can result from a benzodiazepine addition, such as the worsening of underlying psychological issues, and impulsivity, irritability, aggression and suicidal tendencies can develop in an individual with a benzo addiction. Signs and symptoms of addiction that family and friends need to watch out for are the following:

  • Mood swings and mood changes
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor judgment and impulse control
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with coordination
  • Doctor shopping
  • Asking for or stealing other people’s benzodiazepine prescription
  • An inability to stop or cut back despite adverse consequences or the desire to do so
  • Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs to get a high or desired effect
  • Legal, financial, and relationship problems
  • Denial and anger

People with a high tolerance and addiction to benzos are at increased risk of overdose, either intentionally or accidentally. Signs of an overdose include extreme confusion, slurred speech and blurred vision, mental impairment, loss of coordination, slowed or troubled breathing, coma, and death.

Also, withdrawal symptoms are painful and potentially dangerous. People with a benzo addiction who want to quit need support from friends and family and the supervision and help of doctors and trained therapists and counselors. Stopping on their own is potentially dangerous and not as effective as undergoing medical detox and staying in a rehab facility. The following article will cover withdrawal symptoms and what someone can do to get help for a benzodiazepine addiction.

What’s the timeline for benzodiazepine withdrawal?

Benzo withdrawal symptoms happen in three distinct phases – early, acute, and protracted phase. The early phase can begin as soon as 24 hours after the last dose of medication was taken. Symptoms will peak around the two week or acute mark and can linger in a protracted phase for months.

People who’ve been abusing the drug for a long time or who’ve taken large doses of the drug can experience long-term symptoms that can last for years after they’ve managed to quit benzodiazepines. But, getting help from a medical detox facility can significantly reduce the chances of experiencing long-term withdrawal symptoms.

What physical problems and discomforts arise during benzo withdrawal?

Most people who’ve been prescribed benzodiazepine medication for anxiety or insomnia, but then go on to abuse it and become addicted, will experience a rebound effect once they stop taking benzodiazepines. A rebound is a worsening of an initial medical condition, such as insomnia or anxiety. Rebound insomnia is incredibly difficult to endure and hard to treat, but doctors can alleviate some of the discomforts in a medical detox facility.

Physical symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches, pains, and stiffness
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Tremors
  • Seizure

Long-term use of benzodiazepines and sudden withdrawal can increase the risk of serious medical complications. People can experience dangerous tremors and seizures. Without quick and proper medical treatment, they can fall into a coma and die.

What are the psychological issues someone can experience during benzodiazepine withdrawal?

  • Anxiety
  • Sensory distortions
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Problems regulating mood

Up to 10% of people who recover from a benzodiazepine addiction will go on to experience protracted symptoms. These include mood problems, depression, anxiety, and tingling in the lower extremities. Without therapy and treatment, these people are at increased risk of relapse or forming another drug addiction to cope with these symptoms on their own.

Is it safe to quit benzos cold turkey or at home?

No. Someone with a benzodiazepine addiction should not attempt to quit cold turkey or without medical supervision. The risk of experiencing tremors and deadly seizures is high if someone stops suddenly. Also, withdrawal symptoms can become protracted without medical help when undergoing withdrawal. It’s much safer and more effective for people to quit benzodiazepines under medical supervision. If dangerous medical complications occur, doctors are immediately available to deal with them quickly and effectively.

What is safe for benzodiazepine detox?

Doctors can prescribe short-term sleep aids to help patients with rebound insomnia. Also, patients can take anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers while in detox. Having access to safe, legal medication can lessen the chances of someone experiencing dangerous medical complications or relapsing.

At home, people hoping to recover from benzo addiction do not have access to medical treatment. They’re also at increased risk of developing depression or having a seizure. Furthermore, in medical detox, doctors can help patients safely wean off benzodiazepines by either giving them ever-decreasing doses or the drug or giving them a replacement medication to lessen withdrawal symptoms.

What is not safe for benzodiazepine detox?

It is not safe for patients to be left alone when trying to recover from addiction. They can experience a seizure, coma, or death. Also, people may try to alleviate their symptoms with other drugs or alcohol. This dramatically increases the chances of them experience adverse health complications. Also, people recovering from addiction are at risk for depression, and suicide.

What happens during the benzodiazepine withdrawal process?

First, patients who enter a facility are assessed for any underlying physical health problems, comorbid mental health conditions, and polydrug use. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, their health profile, and how long they’ve been abusing benzodiazepines will determine how long they need to be in a detox facility and also what medications they can take to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Since benzodiazepine withdrawals last a long time, patients may need to stay in detox for several weeks. During detox, the drugs are entirely cleansed from their system.

Once someone has safely undergone detox and the drugs are cleared from their system, it is in this state that doctors and therapists can most accurately assess them for comorbid mental health problems, or if they are at-risk of developing an episode of depression. More than half of people who enter drug rehab have an untreated mental health condition, but it’s hard for doctors to accurately determine if the drug abuse caused the mental health condition, or if someone abused drugs to self-medicate their mental health disorder.

But in rehab, patients can begin to safely and effectively work with trained therapists and social workers to manage their mental health disorder. People in recovery for benzodiazepine addiction can work with their counselors and support team to craft an ongoing treatment plan. Having access to mental health workers and a tailor-made treatment plan can significantly reduce an individual’s chances of relapse. Also, if a relapse does occur, doctors and therapists can swiftly deal with it if a plan is in place for the patient.

Every person who goes through medical detox and rehab is unique. Their particular life circumstances, health profile, and how long they’ve been addicted will all determine how much time they need to spend in detox or rehab. Rehab facilities are equipped to handle a multitude of mental and physical health issues and can offer patients numerous, effective treatment methods for their problems.

Patients have the option of receiving one-on-one therapy, group, or family support. Patients can also take advantage of multiple on-site facilities and amenities which they can’t have access to if they attempt to detox at home. Group sports, games, and relaxation therapies are available at modern, progressive rehab centers across the country.

In a rehab facility, people in recovery are surrounded by trained counselors and patients who are going through the same struggles. There is a sense of camaraderie and purpose in a rehab facility that patients can’t find on the outside.

Staff is available at rehab facilities to work with insurance companies for treatment, and most rehab centers offer payment plans or financing for those who qualify. Regardless of a person’s ability to pay or their method of payment, treatment and help for benzodiazepine addiction are available. Please speak to a licensed rehab counselor today and get help for a benzodiazepine addiction before it’s too late.