Benzo Withdrawal and How Benzo Addiction Treatment Can Help
Prescription drugs can be both a blessing and a curse. While they are great for taking away pain, relieving symptoms, and saving lives, they can also do the opposite when taken for too long or in very high quantities.
As you regularly take drugs with addictive qualities like benzodiazepines (benzos for short), your body adapts to the drug and gets used to it, treating your altered brain chemistry as the new “normal”. Your body will begin to expect the drug, and as long as you keep providing it, you likely won’t suffer ill effects during usage. However, ending your brain’s supply can send it into a panic that triggers a possibly life-threatening benzo withdrawal, including a variety of uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms.
What Are Benzos and Why Are They Prescribed?
Benzos are a prime example of drugs that can change your life – for better or worse. They work by increasing the efficiency of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which slows the electrical impulses of the brain to provide a calming effect. Over time, this can trick the brain into believing that it doesn’t need to produce as much GABA. Instead, the brain is now relying on the benzos to do most of the work. Once you stop taking the drug, the levels in your brain are low and need time to adjust back to normal – leading to benzo withdrawal.
Benzos are commonly prescribed as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan, and are often used to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and more. Unfortunately, the relaxing effects of the drugs are highly addictive and can lead to benzo addiction over time – especially when abused.
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to kick the addiction and get off of benzos with some assistance. When it comes time to stop taking them (or you run out), you’ll want to seek benzo addiction treatment so that you can safely taper off the drug and minimize the effects of withdrawal.
The Effects of Benzo Withdrawal
Like most withdrawals, benzo withdrawal is neither fun or enjoyable and when experienced without medical supervision, it can also become life-threatening. There are a variety of symptoms that can occur with varying levels of intensity depending on the dosage of the drug your body is used to and how suddenly you stop. These include:
- Enhanced Anxiety
- Trouble Sleeping
- Panic Attacks
- Loss of Concentration
- Nausea & Vomiting
While there is no definitive timeline for when symptoms may arise, the beginning of noticeable physical changes often begin within 24-48 hours, depending on the specific drug taken and its dose. This will likely involve anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, and other more minor effects.
Within the first week, the more serious symptoms like tremors, vomiting, hallucinations, and seizures can begin to spring up. These symptoms peak at around 1.5-2 weeks of withdrawal before they begin to recede. This is the most dangerous time of the benzo withdrawal process due to possible falls or injuries from seizures as well as becoming a danger to yourself from hallucinations, intense anxiety, or depression.
Overall, you can expect the withdrawal process to span anywhere from a week to a month, making it even more crucial that you don’t try to stop benzo use alone!
Why Choose a Benzo Addiction Treatment Facility?
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this harrowing process alone. The key to effectively getting off of benzos is to go slowly – something not everyone is able to or qualified to do alone. The truth of the matter is that in cases of abuse or long-term usage, there are going to be withdrawal symptoms that come up if you imprecisely attempt to wean yourself or try to stop cold turkey. Fortunately, there are addiction treatment services and medically supervised withdrawal options available that can help you to safely and effectively end benzo use.
The process of beginning recovery at a treatment facility will likely begin with an evaluation to determine the level of abuse and the best way to go about treatment. The beginning of treatment is often referred to as “detoxing”, where they can help you to wean off of the drug by monitoring usage and decreasing dosage until you reach a safe stopping point. They can also provide other medication to ease the withdrawals and minimize the impact & severity of the symptoms and keep you safe in case of complications as the process progresses.
Along with helping you through the withdrawal process, treatment centers are also crucial for developing skills and teaching tools to prevent relapse. They can provide or direct you to ongoing recovery services like counseling or recovery groups to help you find healthy ways to cope without the use of drugs.
Ready to Stop Benzo Use
If you’re tired of letting benzos affect your life, you’re not alone. There’s no better time than now to seek treatment, and with the help of the experts at SpringBoard Recovery you can get the help you need. With friendly and knowledgeable staff, you’ll be in good hands from start to finish and can focus on your recovery. There’s no shame in getting help, and with benzo addiction treatment you can begin to take control of your life again.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/prescription-medicines
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262809
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/benzodiazepine-withdrawal-4588452
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/benzo-withdrawal
- WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-9824/xanax-oral/details
- WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/benzodiazepine-abuse#1
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-withdrawal-how-long-does-it-last-63036
- HelpGuide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/panic-attacks-and-panic-disorders.htm
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
- Rethink Mental Illness: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/medications/benzodiazepines/