What is Benzodiazepine Detox?
For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical Benzodiazepine Detox may be required first. If you have co-occurring severe substance abuse case please contact us before beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services vary. Please call us to learn more.
When someone becomes highly dependent on a benzodiazepine, withdrawal symptoms will likely occur when one tries to quit or significantly decrease the number of benzodiazepines in their body. Withdrawal from this medication may be complicated and may result in various consequences. Going into benzodiazepine detox is highly recommended but should be done in a facility where fully trained and experienced professionals can ensure safe treatment and recovery.
Benzodiazepines or “Benzos” are highly addictive drugs and are prescribed for use for the short term only. They are usually prescribed no longer than 2 to 4 weeks, longer than the prescribed period may cause physical and psychological dependence. During this stage, an individual develops tolerance to the effects of the drug and requires to consume higher than usual doses of benzodiazepines to achieve its desired effects.
Benzodiazepines are depressants or sedatives which doctors prescribe to alleviate feelings of anxiety, help with insomnia or other sleep disorders. They have several properties that make them useful in a lot of clinical situations hence they are some of the most commonly prescribed medications.
Doctors may recommend using benzodiazepine for the following medical conditions:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Seizure control
- Muscle relaxation
- Inducing amnesia for uncomfortable procedures
- Given before an anesthetic (such as before surgery)
Recently, prescribed rates for Benzodiazepines have increased. As a result, abuse has seen a significant uptick.
Types Of Benzodiazepines
There are many different benzodiazepines on the market. Doctors may prescribe one over the other for several reasons. Perhaps their patients have seen more progress for one over the other, or a specific benzo formulation is known to better meet a client’s needs. Furthermore, here is a list of the different types of benzos 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)
Benzodiazepines alter the activity of the neurons that trigger stress and anxiety reactions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved them for the treatment of:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
- Panic disorder
The type of benzodiazepine will determine the potential uses. Doctors may also prescribe these drugs off-label for various other conditions and issues, including:
- Other sleep disorders
- Tic disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- To manage alcohol withdrawal
They may also use them in preparation for some medical procedures.
What Causes Benzo Addiction?
Like other drug addiction effects, benzodiazepines cause a dopamine discharge. Dopamine is a chemical contributing to how we feel pleasure. Over time, these drugs alter the way the brain releases dopamine. This affects the way people feel euphoria or happiness from all activities. As a result, people addicted to benzodiazepines can sometimes feel happy unless they take large doses of the drugs.
Addiction also alters the motivation system in the brain. The brain correlates the substances with happiness and causes cravings that drive the person to take the drugs, and withdrawal is another part of benzo addiction. People who attempt to discontinue the drugs on their own are seldom able to make it through withdrawal. Instead, the symptoms are usually so painful that people return to the benzos for relief.
Benzos can also be addictive because they momentarily alleviate specific mental health issues. For example, some people self-medicate with benzos to mitigate anxiety or sleep difficulties. The drugs can temporarily manage these illnesses, but long-term use can make people think they have to have the drugs to feel less troubled.
Benzo Addiction Symptoms
Although benzodiazepines have a calming effect, they are highly addictive, and a person who abuses them faces a host of symptoms. Some of the physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse include:
- Blurred vision
- Poor judgment or thinking
- Doctor shopping
- Asking friends, family, colleagues, and/or classmates for their benzodiazepine pills
- Wanting to cut back on the volume of abuse but not being able to do so
- Mood changes
- Risk-taking behaviors, such as driving after abusing benzodiazepines
- Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs
Benzodiazepine Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may manifest both in those that have abused the drug, and those that were prescribed the drug but have used more than 2 to 4 weeks.
A sudden stop in the usage of benzodiazepines is not advised as this could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that may potentially be fatal. Severe symptoms occur in individuals who have been using high doses of benzodiazepines for a long period of time. The sudden reduction or stoppage of use of benzodiazepines may cause the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Panic Attacks
Rebound anxiety may also occur upon reduction or stoppage of use of benzodiazepines. Benzos are often prescribed to treat anxiety, withdrawal from benzos could likely increase symptoms of anxiety. Even those who have used benzodiazepines for leisure, or those who did not use them for anxiety, may become anxious and feel restless after withdrawing from the drug.
Properly Managing Your Withdrawal Symptoms With Benzodiazepine Detox
Various techniques may be recommended to help you manage withdrawal symptoms during the benzodiazepine detox period. As stated earlier, sudden stoppage of using benzodiazepine is not recommended as this could lead to severe health complications. This is the reason why the drug is recommended to be taken in reduced doses over a period of days, weeks, or months, depending on your level of dependence.
While tapering off the use of benzodiazepine, a substitute drug may be used. Benzodiazepine substitution involves the use of another benzodiazepine-type drug but one that is less potent than the one your body has been dependent on. The dose of the harmful drug is being reduced while the other is increased until your body gets used to justify the less harmful drug.
Other medications may also be used to provide comfort and relief during the withdrawal period. These medications may address symptoms of anxiety which is associated with the withdrawal from benzodiazepines, or it could help control or eliminate your craving.
Substance Use Disorders and Detoxification
Substance use disorder may be any or both: a physical addiction and a psychological addiction. Benzodiazepine Detox is recommended to counter and terminate this addiction. Detox is the body’s way of flushing out the substance, the toxins, that have accumulated inside you. When you decide to stop using the substance, your body removes the toxins and begins to heal naturally. During the detox process, withdrawal symptoms may manifest.
Benzodiazepine Detox will typically involve a gradual reduction of your medication or, in some cases, a substitute drug being provided to reduce the dose of your current medication as we have mentioned earlier.
Some medications that doctors use to help terminate your dependence from short-acting benzodiazepines to longer-acting and safer alternatives, and help keep you from having severe withdrawal symptoms are the following:
- Klonopin: often prescribed to treat anxiety, short-term insomnia, and mental symptoms associated with substance withdrawal.
- Librium: typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders and treatment of withdrawal symptoms in acute alcoholism.
- Valium: used for the treatment of seizures, anxiety, muscle spasms, and withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.
Other medications that are commonly prescribed to provide relief from the symptoms of withdrawal during benzodiazepine detox include:
- Flumazenil: primarily used to reverse a benzodiazepine overdose, it is also used during Benzodiazepine Detox to help reduce the symptoms associated with withdrawal. This is because it can block the effects of the benzos by attaching to the same receptors in the brain.
- Buspirone: Buspirone is a non-addictive drug that relieves the symptoms of anxiety resulting from substance abuse withdrawal.
Psychological Interventions during Benzodiazepine Detox
During benzodiazepine detox, certain psychological interventions may be used to avoid discomfort and to lessen its severity. Such interventions may include the following:
- Motivational Interviewing: Is a form of intervention that strengthens the individual’s motivation and commitment to change his behavior and readjust to life without the substance he has been dependent to.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions. During this intervention, you will be taught how to deal with your emotions and help develop healthy ways of handling stress.
- Group Therapy: Group therapy sessions are used so that you can learn from others who are either going through a similar situation or have already managed to withdraw from benzodiazepines.
After a successful benzodiazepine detox, and overcoming withdrawal, the rehabilitation process can begin. This stage involves a series of psychotherapeutic counseling and 12-step-therapy to help identify the root of the problem.
Sometimes, there are deep-rooted issues that have led to addiction and these should be properly addressed to help you regain a substance-free life. You will need to learn how to change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that drive your behavior.
Family therapy may be an important part of your recovery as it helps your family understand your situation and repairs the issues that may have arisen because of your substance use. It could also identify issues in the family that led you to addiction. Individual and group counseling sessions may be advised. This could be the perfect chance for your family to get involved in your recovery.
Overcoming your addiction to benzodiazepine is crucial to allow you to take control of your life once again. However, the process of your treatment and recovery may be uncomfortable, even overwhelming at times. If you want to turn your life around, WeLevelUp can assist you to achieve a substance-free life.
We offer science-based Benzodiazepine Detox and treatment programs developed by our dedicated and well-trained professionals to help you recover in the safest possible way, and with fewer complications. Contact us now and let your road to recovery begin with us.
Reclaim Your Life With Benzodiazepine Detox
Benzo Addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this disease starting with a Benzodiazepine Detox treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Brett, J., & Murnion, B. (2015). Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Australian prescriber. (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (www.fda.gov/)