Benzodiazepine Withdrawal: Does it Require Benzo Detox?
Most people who are addicted to benzodiazepines need benzo detox. Although these medications are widely used to treat anxiety disorders, they are also highly addictive. People who are addicted to benzodiazepines develop a tolerance and a physical dependence on the drug they take. As a result, when they stop using they experience withdrawal symptoms. Whether a person abuses their prescription or buys these drugs legally on the street, the withdrawal symptoms alone make it difficult to quit.
Benzo detox is recommended for most people for two main reasons. The first is safety. Some withdrawal symptoms are severe and complications may emerge. On the other hand, the mental anguish that comes with benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms is terrifying. Many people find it difficult to complete the detox process without professional help. Instead, medical detox ensures the safety and support needed to overcome benzodiazepine addiction.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are mentally and physically painful to endure. With certain substances, such as benzodiazepines, these symptoms can lead to serious complications and potentially fatal situations. However, withdrawal symptoms differ from person to person. For example, people who have a long history of chronic substance abuse will suffer more extreme withdrawals. This applies to benzodiazepine withdrawal as well.
During benzo withdrawal, people may experience any or all of the following symptoms.
- Panic attacks
- Heart palpitations
- Problems concentrating
- Memory loss
- Muscle aches
- Hand tremors
- Suicidal thoughts
Since benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, are prescribed to treat mental health conditions related to anxiety, many people who stop using these drugs experience rebound symptoms. This includes anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and panic attacks. All of these symptoms are difficult to overcome without the help of a professional benzo detox. In addition, seizures, psychosis, heart palpitations, and more are all extremely serious health problems. In these cases, it is dangerous to try and detox if you are not in a qualified medical facility.
The duration of benzodiazepine withdrawal varies depending on which medication a person abuses and how long they have been addicted to it. Shorter acting benzos (Xanax, Halcion, etc) may produce withdrawal symptoms much sooner than longer-acting ones (Valium, Librium, Klonopin, etc). As a result, withdrawal symptoms begin anywhere from 6 to 48 hours after consuming the last dose. A person’s regular dosage, the potency of the drug, and co-existing health conditions all contribute to how long benzodiazepine withdrawal lasts.
Typically, peak symptoms occur between the first and fourth day of withdrawal. During days 1-4, people experience sweating, nausea, racing heartbeat, increased anxiety, and more. Unfortunately, benzodiazepine withdrawal lasts a fairly long time. Many symptoms don’t begin to fade until after day 10. Even after acute withdrawal is over, people who are dependent on benzodiazepines sometimes experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). PAWS can last up to a month or more – involving lingering, but less severe, withdrawal symptoms.
Medications Used in Benzo Detox
Benzo detox usually involves medications and a slow taper off of the drug. Tapering down refers to reducing the dose given or giving a person a less potent benzodiazepine medication. This method differs from person to person but is considered the safest route for benzo detox. As a result, most people will taper off of benzos using decreasing doses of Valium or Klonopin. These medications help keep withdrawal symptoms manageable and safe.
In addition to a benzo taper, there are some detox medications that further help relieve withdrawal symptoms. Two medications that are helpful during benzo detox are flumazenil and buspirone.
Flumazenil is normally used in the event of a benzodiazepine overdose. However, it is also known to help reduce benzo withdrawal symptoms. Although the drug blocks the effects of benzos, it attaches to receptors in the brain that minimize withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, the drug forces benzodiazepines to leave the body, so it can assist in rapid detox.
Lastly, buspirone is prescribed for people who suffer from anxiety disorders but have a history of substance abuse. The drug isn’t addictive, but it does help reduce anxiety and insomnia. Buspirone takes at least two weeks to take effect, so people may begin taking it during benzo detox to help deal with the effects of PAWS.
Benzo Detox in Palm Beach
The first step in treating most addictions is detox. During benzo detox, all traces of the drugs are removed from the body. Sadly, the effects of withdrawal produce difficult and sometimes fatal complications. Instead of going at it alone, people who are dependent on benzodiazepines should check into a benzo detox in Palm Beach.
Supervising physicians are available 24/7 during inpatient benzo detox. These professionals ensure that patients are as safe and as comfortable as they can possibly be. In the event of complications, such as seizures or suicidal behaviors, a medical professional will be ready to intervene.
Medically supervised benzo detox allows patients to stay safe and healthy while they begin their journey to recovery. Although medical detox reduces withdrawal and the chance of relapse, it is only the first step. After all, only going through detox usually isn’t enough to lay the foundation for lasting sobriety. As a result, many people attend an addiction treatment program after completing benzo detox.
If you or a loved one is ready to overcome addiction, contact Comprehensive Wellness Centers today to learn about your detox and treatment options.
Medically Reviewed: June 2, 2022
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.