Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs, with an estimated 5.5% of the U.S. population holding a prescription. At the same time, benzo drug use and abuse has risen, as hospital visits and overdose indicate that even prescription users have consistently used the drugs in a riskier way over time. Benzos, or benzodiazepines, are a psychoactive drug with sedative and hypnotic properties, as well as a high risk of addiction and substance dependence. As a result, even long-term prescription users are often physically dependent on the drugs and must detox in order to stop using.
Detox is the process of controlling withdrawal to facilitate a safe recovery, either from prescription use or abuse and addiction. All three often overlap, because benzodiazepines including Xanax, Valium, Flurazepam, and others are highly mentally and physically addictive, meaning that any long-term user will likely require detox and may require additional benzodiazepine addiction treatment.
At Beginnings Treatment Center in sunny Orange County, California, our professional team is trained in diagnosing and treating benzodiazepine dependency. With licensed staff on hand to treat symptoms, manage progression, and help the client through the emotional and physical process of benzodiazepine detox, we offer the perfect safe place to recover from benzodiazepine dependence.
Benzodiazepines interact with the GABA receptors in the brain, changing how the brain processes and uptakes gamma-Aminobutyric acid which contributes to mood regulation, happiness, depression and anxiety regulation, and serotonin reuptake. When you stop taking benzodiazepines, the reduced GABA in the brain dramatically affects the body, causing a wide range of symptoms including seizures, cold and flu symptoms, and strong psychological side-effects.
Having professional support and monitoring throughout this process is crucial to withdrawing safely. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal if usage is stopped suddenly with grand mal seizures happening in 20% or more of all cases.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Panic and anxiety attacks
- Nausea (sometimes vomiting, inability to eat)
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Insomnia or sleep problems
- Hallucinations and psychosis, especially feeling movement on or under the skin
- Irritability and mood swings
While the risks of benzodiazepine withdrawal are quite high, managing your symptoms in a detox facility will ensure that you detox safely and quickly so you can move on to recovery.
While your exact benzodiazepine detox timeline will depend on the drug you are using, its half-life, and your length and duration of use. Many people experience drug use and withdrawal differently, and your own experience and withdrawal symptoms may be different than the standard. For this reason, Beginnings Treatment Centers always creates a personalized detox program for our patients, updating it as progression and symptoms appear, to ensure that every patient receives the best possible care.
6-12 Hours – Most users begin to experience withdrawal symptoms after the first 6 hours when using short-acting benzodiazepines. These typically include cravings, anxiety, and insomnia, which will appear and continue to worsen over the duration of the detox period. For longer-acting benzodiazepines, these symptoms may not appear for up to 4-5 days after the final dose.
1-5 Days – Patients experience profuse sweating, panic and anxiety, may experience nausea and headaches, and will likely struggle with insomnia and sleeping. Most are irritable and have mood swings and may be violent. Some patients are at risk of seizures and psychosis or hallucinations. These symptoms typically peak after the first 4-5 days and
5-15 Days – Withdrawal symptoms typically plateau and then begin to taper off, typically lasting for at least 2 weeks for most patients. Longe-acting benzos will begin to peak at this time, with a plateau about 3-4 weeks from the final dose.
PAWS- Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS is a protracted form of benzodiazepine withdrawal, where symptoms last up to months after the final dose. PAWS occurs most frequently in users with a long history of drug use, especially those who are very heavily dependent and taking large doses. PAWS can occur several months after quitting, creating strong and lengthy withdrawal symptoms.
Rebound – Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and insomnia. Those quitting the drug may feel rebound disorder during the first 2-3 days of detox, during which time anxiety and insomnia may come back more strongly than before.
Tapering benzodiazepine use is the most common and safest way to cut a high dose of benzos without long and protracted withdrawal symptoms. Tapering is often used prior to detox or during a longer detox to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, prevent grand mal seizures, and reduce the chances of PAWS. Here, you may be given increasingly smaller doses of your drug under your doctor’s supervision or given a weaker benzodiazepine, such as Klonopin or Valium instead of a longer-acting drug.
The tapering process may take up to 10 weeks before you are ready for full benzodiazepine detox.
Most people are recommended to taper off most benzos over a period of 6-10 weeks before going into complete detox. However, you may also be given medication which will help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, so you can detox safely, even from a relatively small dosage of benzodiazepines. Treating benzodiazepine addiction is often more difficult simply because benzodiazepines are one of the most common drugs used in detox.
However, the most common drugs used to treat benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
Typically prescribed to patients with a co-occurring anxiety disorder or a history of substance abuse. Buspirone reduces the emotional and mental side-effects of withdrawal but will take 2-3 weeks to take effect.
Flumazenil is used to block the effects of benzodiazepines, making it primarily useful for treating patients who are under outpatient care or who are at a risk of relapse. Flumazenil may relieve some withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepine detox is the process of safely taking you through physical dependence. This is an important step in addiction recovery, because it’s often the most difficult step to move past. With dangerous side-effects of detox and strong anxiety, many people eventually relapse to alleviate symptoms when they attempt to quit benzos on their own.
However, depending on your situation, simply getting clean may not be enough. Benzodiazepines are mentally and physically addicting, and they often create mental dependence. Here, users feel that they need the drug to make it through and may even begin to give themselves panic attacks or anxiety because they don’t have the drug. Others are also addicted to benzodiazepines because the drug makes them feel good, feel less, or more able to function, may abuse benzos with alcohol to enhance the effects of both, and may need behavioral therapy to move past the psychologically addiction.
While some people can detox from benzodiazepines and go back to their life without relapse, most need some form of therapy, counseling, and behavioral therapy to tackle the mental and psychological aspects of dependence.
Beginnings Treatment Center offers a beautiful inpatient detox center located in sunny, Orange County, California. With an experienced professional team including licensed nurses and therapists, Beginnings offers comprehensive physical and mental support for your well-being during recovery. Our staff offers compassionate and empathetic care, and we truly care about your recovery.
Your recovery is important and you shouldn’t have to worry about your insurance. Fill out our form and we’ll help you determine if your insurance provider covers your benzodiazepine addiction treatment at Beginnings.
Most insurance programs will cover part or all of the cost of both detox and addiction treatment.
We believe that each patient under our care is unique. People come to drug-use for a variety of reasons, ranging from long-term prescription use to deep-rooted emotional and mental problems. Our focus on offering individual and personalized care is designed to help each individual receive the best treatment for their needs so that they move out of detox and into recovery with the best possible prognosis for recovery. This includes full treatment for dual diagnosis, where individuals have co-occurring mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, which can greatly complicate recovery. Our trained professional staff is experienced and available to offer the full support you need for recovery.
If you or a loved one is dependent on benzodiazepines, Beginnings Treatment Center is here to help. Our beautiful detox facility is equipped with everything you need to recover safely, in comfort, and with dignity, and we are here to help.