Benzodiazepines are prescription medications often used to help treat different stress-related problems including insomnia, epilepsy, alcohol withdrawal, and anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines are often referred to as “benzos” and are highly addictive if not taken as prescribed or if taken for prolonged periods of time. Some common brand names of benzodiazepine include:
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
Benzo withdrawal is a series of feelings and effects that happen when your brain and body are trying to get rid of the drug from your system. You may even crave it, which in return could send your body into shock. Severe withdrawal symptoms can occur when you suddenly stop taking this medication. This is because the drug affects neurotransmitters. Benzodiazepines create an impression on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. However, these receptors are not supposed to react to synthetic GABA stimulants, such as benzos. In this case, the brain begins to think it does not need to create real GABA and relies on the benzodiazepine instead. So, when you stop taking benzos, your body is suddenly without the chemical it needs. When this occurs, your body begins withdrawal from the drug.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal
Because benzodiazepines leave an equal impression on your brain and body, the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms also affect both your mind and body. The seriousness of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the length of benzodiazepine abuse, dosage, and how you consumed the drug. Your physical dependency level and emotional addiction can also play a huge factor in the seriousness of your withdrawal symptoms. Some of the emotional and psychological symptoms include:
- Memory loss
Physical symptoms include:
- Decreased vision
- Flu symptoms (body aches, headaches, and sweating)
- Heart tremors
- Muscle pain
- Severe stomach pain
- Slurred speech
- Trouble sleeping
- Vomiting and nausea
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline and Duration
Individuals who have abused benzodiazepines may respond differently to detox. Some individuals will only detox for a few weeks, while others may experience detox for months. Every addict advances at their own speed and should not be rushed during this process. A typical withdrawal timeline from benzos includes:
- First 3 Days – During the first three days of benzo detox, your system will try to rid the benzos from your body. Some users may experience benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms within six hours after stopping use. You may begin to experience trouble sleeping, vomiting, or nausea.
- Days 4 through 7 – You should be over the worst part of detox by now. The symptoms you experienced within the first three days may begin to decrease. However, your cravings for the drug may continue, and you may still feel tired.
- Days 8 through 14 – During this time of your detox process, you may start having psychological symptoms, including irritability and anxiety, along with some physical symptoms. You may even have insomnia or unwanted dreams when you sleep.
- Days 15 through 28 – The symptoms you endured during the second week of detoxification may still be present or come and go at times, but by now any benzos that you consumed in the past should be out of your body.
A general way most addicts begin the detox process is with tapering. Tapering allows you to wean yourself off benzodiazepines slowly. This form of detox is often recommended by drug addiction professionals; this way the drug is removed from your body in safe amounts each week. Quitting cold turkey can send your body into a fatal shock. Also, by tapering the quantity of benzodiazepine in your body, your withdrawal symptoms may not be as severe.
Another way some addicts detox from benzos is quitting cold turkey. Quitting cold turkey means you suddenly stop taking the medication altogether. This form of benzo detox can have many adverse side effects and may not be as beneficial as the slow taper approach. By stopping this drug suddenly, you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The sudden onset of withdrawal symptoms can prevent your success if you are unable to handle them effectively.
The safest way to detox is through a rehab facility. At a detox rehab facility, patients work closely with drug addiction professionals to build a customized addiction treatment plan to start their recovery process. At Serenity Acres, we have many different programs to help you successfully recover from benzodiazepine addiction, including inpatient, intensive, and outpatient treatment.
Benzo Detox Process
It is advisable to complete a benzodiazepine detox program under the supervision of medical professionals with addiction experts’ proven safety procedures. The experienced addiction medical staff at Serenity Acres presents patients with some of the best assets that are required to detox successfully. At Serenity Acres, detoxification from benzodiazepines includes:
- Assessments: For patients to begin the detox program from benzodiazepine, experienced addiction professionals assess the patient, medical requirements, and form of addiction. Also, since different variables influence the detox process, the assessment is vital, and the information given to the staff helps create a recovery plan specific to the patient’s needs.
- Detoxification: An addict’s body is filled with toxins because of substance abuse. Rehab is a person’s natural process of removing these toxins from the body. Detox can be difficult, and the symptoms associated with rehab can be severe. With an existing addiction problem, addiction treatment professionals can reduce the severity of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome symptoms.
- Aftercare: Once treatment has been completed, and the treatment team believes the patient is healthy, they can be moved to aftercare. During this stage, the transition to a healthy lifestyle begins. This includes how to use the strategies taught in treatment and apply them in their everyday living. Continued therapy meetings are often necessary, depending on the patient’s needs.
If you or a loved one is living a life of addiction and are ready to begin a clean and sober life, reach out to Serenity Acres to begin your detox process.