Benzos, also known as benzodiazepines, are sedatives commonly prescribed for the management of anxiety and insomnia. When used therapeutically, they are effective at treating these conditions, but many people abuse them for their calming and euphoric effects. Chronic benzo abuse can lead to dependence and addiction. This is one of the most dangerous drugs to withdrawal from, making medically professional benzo detox essential.
A benzodiazepine, or benzo, is the name of a class of drugs used to treat a range of conditions. Conditions commonly treated with benzos include insomnia, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even alcohol withdrawal. These substances act on the GABA receptors in the brain, to produce a very calming effect. In fact, dependence can develop in as little as a month.
Side Effects Of Benzo Detox
Short Term Side Effects
- Impaired Coordination
- Vision Problems
- Feelings of Depression
Long Term Side Effects
- Possible Dementia
- Physical Dependence
Side Effects of Withdrawal
- Muscle Cramps
Types Of Benzodiazepines
There are many different benzodiazepines on the market. Doctors may prescribe one over the other for various reasons. Perhaps their clients have seen more success for one over the other, or the formulation of specific benzo is known to meet a particular client’s needs better. Here is a list of the different types of benzodiazepines with their generic and brand names.
- Alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat)
- Estazolam (Prosom – discontinued brand in the US)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax – discontinued brand in the US)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
The most significant risk of using benzodiazepines is potentially overdosing. With a propensity for developing a tolerance, the longer someone takes benzodiazepines, the greater dosage they will likely need to take to achieve the desired effect, and the greater the risk of overdosing. As a sedative, benzos cause breathing to slow. In turn, less oxygen is passed through the lungs to the brain and the rest of the body. When a dose too great is taken, breathing slows to the point of being potentially fatal.
Mixing Benzos & Other Sedatives
The risk of overdosing on benzodiazepines increases significantly when taken with certain other substances. Specifically, mixing benzos with other forms of sedatives can be deadly. In addition, substances such as alcohol and opioids also slow the breathing of a user. However, when these substances are taken together, the dosage required of each importance to reach lethal levels is significantly lowered.
Benzo Detox & Withdrawal
As mentioned above, benzodiazepine detox can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. However, proper care can reduce the likelihood of developing these symptoms and ensure a safe detox process. Typically, this means that the individual detoxing will be weaned off of the substance gradually, depending on their biology, dosage, and frequency of use, the time it takes to tapper off will vary.
Symptoms Of Withdrawal
The withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines are physically and emotionally painful and can even be life-threatening if the user stops “cold turkey.” Those with a history of taking higher doses or taking the substance for a prolonged time have the worst withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are highly variable and often come and go. They may vary in severity and frequency throughout all phases of the withdrawal process.
The most common benzo withdrawal symptoms, often called “rebound” symptoms, usually manifest within 1-4 days of discontinuing use, depending on the benzo used, the amount of use, and the frequency. These symptoms typically last up to ten days and include:
- Sleep Disturbances
- Increased Tension
- Panic Attacks
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Excessive Sweating
- Heart Palpitations
- Muscular Stiffness or Discomfort
- Mild to moderate changes in perception
- Hand Tremors
In addition to withdrawal symptoms, benzo detox most commonly also brings on rebound symptoms. Rebound symptoms are the return of symptoms that may have been present at the start of taking the medication, and the symptoms may be heightened for a few days. This may include insomnia, anxiety, and stress. However, as the body regulates through the detox process, these symptoms will likely subside or reduce.
Duration of Withdrawal
The half-life (time spent in the body after consumption) of a benzodiazepine varies by brand. Withdrawal symptoms from shorter-acting benzos begin sooner than those from longer-acting ones because it takes a shorter amount of time for the drug to leave the user’s system.
The first signs of withdrawal usually start within 6 to 8 hours for shorter-acting benzos and 24 to 48 hours for longer-acting benzos.
Short-acting benzos are notable because of the intense and severe withdrawal symptoms people experience when they quit taking them. Long-acting benzos cause less intense withdrawal symptoms, and it takes longer for symptoms to start.
Taking benzos more frequently, in higher doses, in more potent forms, and for a prolonged time, all increase the duration of withdrawal. In cases of mild addictions, it may take as little as seven days to overcome withdrawal symptoms. Other issues can take up to three months as the user is slowly weaned off the drug to prevent life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Timelines For Benzo Detox
Much like detoxing from other prescription drugs, benzo withdrawal timelines can differ from case to case. For someone who was using short-acting benzos, withdrawal symptoms may begin to present themselves in as little as 6 to 8 hours. However, if a longer-acting benzodiazepine was used, it could be 24 to 48 hours before symptoms are observed. Withdrawal symptoms typically last about four days. Rebound symptoms may last about 2-3 days from when they begin.
First 6-8 hours
The first signs of withdrawal, typically anxiety and insomnia, may emerge within several hours after stopping use. This depends on how long it takes for the substance to leave the system. Withdrawal symptoms usually appear in 6-8 hours for those taking short-acting benzos.
Rebound anxiety and insomnia peak after a couple of days. During this time, intense discomfort from insomnia and increased pressure are joint. Other symptoms that peak during this time are increased heart and breathing rate, sweating, and nausea. In addition, people who used longer-acting benzodiazepines start feeling the first signs of withdrawal during this time.
The symptoms of withdrawal typically continue for at least 10-14 days before fading away completely. The withdrawal symptoms tied to longer-acting benzos begin to peak during this time, eventually fading within 3-4 weeks from the quit date.
People who are heavily dependent on benzodiazepines may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal symptoms, also known as PAWS. These are random periods of sharp withdrawal symptoms months after quitting. Tapering down benzo use with the help of a doctor can prevent PAWS.
A Holistic Approach to Benzo Detox Addiction Treatment
Benzo addiction can have social and psychological effects on those who struggle with it. Some may find these effects to be the most significant difficulty they face. However, for others, it is the physical effects that are the scariest. When one stops taking benzodiazepines without tapering off, severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and even death can occur. For this reason, professional treatment at a medical detox facility is critical. Once the benzo detoxification process has been safely completed, then an individualized treatment plan is developed. During treatment, individuals who have struggled with benzo addiction will learn skills and tools to help them stay off of these drugs and lead a better life. Possible levels of care include PHP, IOP, and outpatient treatment for benzodiazepine addiction.
If you or someone you love struggles with an addiction to Ativan, Valium, or other forms of benzodiazepine, get them the help they need and deserve. It is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. Contact our team at Level Up Lake Worth to get started today!
At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through benzo detox and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors 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.