Benzo Addiction Treatment: Cause, Withdrawal Symptoms, Risk, Detox, & Importance after Care

What is Benzo Addiction?

Benzo addiction is a disease that makes a person compulsively use benzos even though the drugs are harming their health and well-being. Quitting benzos suddenly can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Rehab helps people safely stop taking these drugs.

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. They’re also used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and to sedate patients before surgery. When used as prescribed by a doctor, the drugs are safe and effective. However, using benzodiazepines for other purposes can cause benzo addiction and other serious health problems [1].

Benzodiazepines That Can Cause Addiction Include:

  • Ativan (Lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (Clonazepam)
  • Librium (Chlordiazepoxide)
  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)

Addiction is another term for a severe substance use disorder. It’s a disease of the brain that causes repeated drug use despite negative consequences. A person with a mild benzodiazepine use disorder may be able to stop using benzos on their own, but quitting the drugs abruptly can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Quitting with assistance from a health professional is safer. A person with a severe benzo addiction requires professional treatment and support to quit using the drugs. With the right balance of therapy, support, and effort, recovery from benzo addiction is possible.

Recovery from Benzo addiction starts with Benzo detox
Recovery from Benzo addiction starts with Benzo detox

Benzodiazepine Dependence

Benzodiazepine dependence is different from benzo addiction because addiction develops only in some people.

When a person takes benzodiazepines for multiple days or weeks, the brain adapts to the presence of the drugs. As a result, it begins to depend on the drugs to function. Benzo dependence is the state of relying on benzo to feel normal.

As dependence develops, the brain starts to require larger doses to feel the same effects. Requiring more significant amounts of a substance is an adaptation called tolerance. For example, when someone dependent on a benzodiazepine stops taking the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

You can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms by slowly tapering off the drugs. After a person decreases their dose for a few days, their tolerance drops, becoming less dependent on the substance.

  • Sweating
  • Panic Attacks
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Seizure

People who are addicted to benzodiazepines are unable to wean off the drugs on their own slowly. The disease disrupts their judgment, self-control, and motivation. But addiction professionals can help people with severe benzo addiction safely taper.

Why Benzodiazepines Are Addictive

Like other addictive drugs, benzodiazepines cause a dopamine release. Dopamine is a chemical that contributes to how we feel happiness. Over time, these drugs change the way the brain releases dopamine. This affects the way the person feels pleasure from all activities. As a result, people addicted to benzodiazepines can sometimes feel happy unless they take high doses of the drugs.

Addiction also affects the motivation system in the brain. The brain associates the substances with happiness and causes cravings that motivate the person to take the drugs. Withdrawal is another component of Benzo addiction. People who try to quit the drugs on their own are rarely capable of making it through withdrawal. Instead, the symptoms are typically so uncomfortable that people return to the drugs for relief.

Benzos can also be addictive because they temporarily relieve specific mental health issues. For example, some people self-medicate with benzos to ease anxiety or sleep problems. The drugs can temporarily treat these ailments, but long-term use can make people believe they have to have the substances to feel less anxious or sleep.

Benzodiazepine Risks

When used as prescribed, benzodiazepines usually address associated medical conditions with little risk. The most common side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness and feeling hungover. They may also cause confusion, poor concentration, dizziness, slurred speech, and low blood pressure [2].

People under the influence of benzos have an increased risk of being involved in accidents. Someone who doesn’t know how to react to prescription drugs should avoid driving a car or operating machinery.

Elderly individuals sometimes experience breathing difficulties while on benzos, and they may be at a higher risk of falling. Benzos can also cause congenital disabilities when taken by pregnant women.

Benzodiazepine overdoses are rarely fatal unless the drug is combined with another substance of abuse. It’s risky to combine benzodiazepines with alcohol, opioids, or other depressants. When combined, the substances can make a person pass out and stop breathing because depressants slow respiration.

The drugs are also used in some sexual assaults. In addition, slipping a benzodiazepine into a person’s drink can render them unconscious.

Recovering From Benzo Addiction

Patients taking benzodiazepines should talk to their doctors about a discontinuation plan before taking the drug and before quitting the drug. Quitting benzos abruptly can cause fatal side effects. Medical professionals can help patients slowly taper off prescription drugs to avoid severe side effects.

Individuals who are dependent or addicted to benzodiazepines should seek medically supervised detox. Clients in rehab for benzo addiction slowly taper off the drugs while receiving 24/7 monitoring.

Detox from benzos can last weeks or multiple months depending on the severity of the addiction and the type of benzodiazepine the person has been on. Some benzodiazepines stay in your system longer than others.

Rehabilitation centers are the best resources for people trying to overcome benzo addiction. Rehabs provide safe environments for recovery, teach clients to live without drugs and provide treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders or other types of addiction.

Benzo Withdrawal And Detox

Benzo addiction is treatable with the help of medically assisted treatment programs with detox to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.
Benzo addiction is treatable with the help of medically assisted treatment programs with detox to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.

Benzo addiction treatment usually starts with a gradual detoxification process. If a person has been taking high levels of benzos for longer than eight weeks, it’s critical to wean them off the drugs slowly to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Muscle Twitching and Tremors
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Headache
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Dizziness and Lightheadedness

Inpatient Detox: The safest and most comfortable way to detox from benzos is with medical supervision. Inpatient detox is usually warranted when a person takes large doses of benzodiazepines for a long time. During inpatient detox, you’ll be closely monitored, and you may receive medications to help alleviate symptoms.

Benzodiazepine Rehab

Once physically stable, you can transition to the next phase of treatment. While everyone’s treatment plan is unique to their needs, most people attend a combination of group and individual therapy and counseling.

During rehab, you’ll learn more about the roots of addiction and develop tools to help you cope with cravings and avoid relapse.

Rehab is available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, depending on the severity of your addiction. The length of treatment may also vary, depending on your situation, but successful treatment typically requires weeks or months.

Inpatient treatment is often most effective because it allows people to focus 100 percent on their recovery without disrupting their routine.

Outpatient therapy provides the same types of treatment and counseling but enables clients to return home every night. That way, they may keep up with work and other personal responsibilities while receiving treatment.

Individuals do best in outpatient therapy when they have a strong support system to help them recover.

The Importance Of Aftercare

While relapse from drug addiction is common, participating in aftercare programs increases your chances of staying sober after you’re done with structured treatment.

Aftercare programs reinforce healthy lifestyle choices and stress coping mechanisms. They can also help you recognize relapse triggers and minimize the damage if you do end up relapsing.

Some people choose to enter sober living after they graduate from rehab. In these drug-free group living environments, they can gently ease back into the demands of regular life.

Others may choose individual counseling. Many people in recovery also attend 12-step group meetings for continued support and encouragement. Meetings are usually free and readily available — and studies have demonstrated one-year abstinence rates of 80 to 90 percent when individuals attend self-help group meetings or other types of weekly continuing care after finishing formal treatment.

Benzo Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Quitting benzodiazepines cold turkey is complex and can cause severe or life-threatening reactions. The safest way to come off benzodiazepines is via a slow taper or a monitored detox. After you’re stabilized, rehab can provide you with the tools you need to conquer your addiction.

We Level Up Treatment Center is here to help you overcome Benzo addiction safely and comfortably.
We Level Up Treatment Center is here to help you overcome Benzo addiction safely and comfortably.

At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through Benzo addiction and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.