What Is Benzodiazepine Detox?
In most alcohol and drug addiction treatment, detox is the first stage that an individual in recovery will encounter. Here, medical professionals administer treatment to help the body physically recover. During benzo detox, drugs are removed from the body, along with any harmful toxins.
Although detox typically spans one or two weeks, the severity of addiction, the volume of substances, and how frequently drugs are used determine how long it takes to complete benzo detox. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be incredibly challenging. As a result, it is not uncommon for those attempting to detox to experience a relapse within twenty-four hours of starting the process.
Safe and Comfortable Benzo Detox is a Must
As benzo withdrawal can cause life-threatening symptoms in extreme circumstances, medically supervised detox is strongly recommended. Not only does this reduce the risk of relapse, but it increases the chance of long-term recovery.
Medical benzodiazepine detox is suitable for those detoxing from benzos and other central nervous system depressants. Essentially, medical detox includes going through the withdrawal process under the supervision of healthcare professionals in a treatment facility.
The main concern for doctors is preventing severe symptoms such as seizures, as they can lead to permanent brain damage or, in some cases, death. However, medically assisted detox allows health professionals to monitor a client’s vital signs and provide medical intervention if necessary.
Why are Benzodiazepines Prescribed? How Does Addiction Happen?
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed by medical professionals to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizure disorders. However, taking benzos such as valium, Klonopin, or Xanax, can lead to serious health complications, especially when taken over a prolonged period.
Irrespective of whether benzodiazepines are prescribed by a medical professional, benzo addiction can affect anyone, with a physical dependence developing within as little as four weeks.
After continued use, the body adjusts to the presence of benzos, causing many people to feel unable to function without them. In turn, a resistance to the drug develops, meaning a higher dose is needed to acquire the desired effect.
Once resistance develops, those taking benzos often increase the dose without consulting a medical professional, leading to benzodiazepine abuse and addiction.
When an individual becomes addicted to benzos, professional treatment, such as medical detox, is needed to treat the associated symptoms. Typically, this is available via inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.
Tapering Down Benzo Use
In a medically supervised benzodiazepine detox, health professionals will work with each person to create an individualized treatment plan. They consider the client’s medical and personal history and review the number of benzos they consume and the length of time they have been doing so.
Sometimes, medical professionals prescribe other benzos to help clients taper down benzo use. Although this is not for everyone, doing so can make detox and withdrawal symptoms less intense. Diazepam (valium) and clonazepam (Klonopin) are often prescribed during benzo detox because they are long-acting and less potent than other drugs.
Although a medical benzo detox is beneficial, some people attempt to go cold turkey and cease using benzos altogether. However, medical professionals always advise against this due to the risks. Instead, they suggest exploring different treatment providers and finding a treatment program that works.
By tapering off benzo consumption slowly, the body has a chance to remove benzos gradually, meaning uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are generally less intense, as is the case for most substance abuse detox.
What Are Withdrawal Symptoms Like With Benzodiazepine?
Withdrawal symptoms from benzo detox are particularly uncomfortable compared to symptoms often encountered when withdrawing from alcohol and other drugs. Those with a long history of benzo use or higher doses generally have more severe symptoms.
Although they differ from person to person, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
Some people report experiencing far more severe withdrawal symptoms in addition to these. The worst cases of benzodiazepine withdrawal may involve:
Due to how these symptoms can impair a person’s physical and psychological health, it is essential to remember that medical help is available to support benzo detox and withdrawal.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline
Before commencing benzo detox, those hoping to recover from a drug addiction should consult with a certified addiction professional.
As noted above, symptoms vary from person to person, as do the severity. In addition, the length of time an individual experiences symptoms does too. However, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are generally worse on the second day of detox and reduce or stop after one week. In some instances, they can last longer.
During benzo detox, some people also experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), whereby they experience ongoing mental, emotional, and physical symptoms often for months after completing benzodiazepine withdrawal. Here, the quality of aftercare support is paramount.
We have shared a typical timeline below to offer greater insight into what can be expected during benzo withdrawal.
Day 1 to 3 – Symptoms can begin within six hours of starting benzodiazepine detox for some. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common at this stage as the body starts to detoxify. Difficulty sleeping is also common in the first three days.
Day 4 to 7 – Withdrawal symptoms may begin to reduce, but cravings are often still present. The most intense benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms have generally passed by this point, although people may experience extreme exhaustion.
Day 8 to 14 – Psychological benzo withdrawal symptoms are present by this stage and are sometimes coupled with lingering physical symptoms. Insomnia and nightmares can arise, as can anxiety and irritability. These symptoms can include panic attacks and suicidal thoughts in more extreme cases. After fourteen days, people have generally completed the acute withdrawal phase.
Day 15-30 – There may still be intermittent withdrawal symptoms in the later withdrawal phase, often called the protracted withdrawal phase. However, by now, all drug traces should have left the body. Some people may experience PAWS which are generally short periods of strong withdrawal symptoms months after quitting. Tapering off drug consumption with the help of a doctor can usually alleviate PAWS, as well as the worst withdrawal symptoms.
The above highlights some of the withdrawal symptoms typically encountered, but it does not offer a complete list. This is because a more specific timeline for withdrawal depends on the type of benzo used and whether it is short-acting or long-acting.
Alprazolam and lorazepam, among others, are short-acting benzos that leave the body much faster than long-acting benzos. This means withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as eight to twelve hours after the last consumption of the drug.
In contrast, benzos such as clonazepam and diazepam are long-acting, and they generally have a lower risk of intense withdrawal symptoms. However, this depends on other factors, including dose and frequency of consumption. People detoxing from long-acting benzos may not experience symptoms until one or two days after taking the drug.
Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for mental health conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and insomnia as they can help people sleep and address symptoms of GAD.
When a person stops consuming benzos, an increase in anxiety and insomnia can be common, as can feelings of intense restlessness. These experiences of increased anxiety or restlessness are called the rebound effect. Rebound effects from benzo withdrawal typically happen in the later withdrawal phase and last for two to three days.
It is essential to distinguish the difference between withdrawal symptoms and rebound effects. The rebound effects are the return of symptoms that a person struggled with before benzodiazepine use began. In contrast, withdrawal symptoms begin as the body tries to return to functioning without benzos.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
Irrespective of how committed a person is to their addiction treatment and sobriety, PAWS can play a significant role in relapse. The symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and even distressing and can feel like an emotional roller coaster for some, negatively impacting their recovery.
Although the above is true, it is crucial for those in recovery to be patient, practice self-care strategies, and communicate openly with family members about their feelings. Understanding the symptoms of PAWS and putting healthy coping strategies in place is the best way to prevent relapse.
Exercising, eating healthily, and avoiding triggers can also contribute to long-term sobriety and reduce the impact of PAWS.
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction Port Saint Lucie
Those who struggle with benzo addiction often suffer from underlying mental health conditions and, in some cases, other addictions.
Detox itself is rarely enough to result in long-lasting sobriety, and so some people opt for inpatient treatment after their medical detox. There, they stay at a treatment facility. Others may prefer outpatient options, where they can receive therapy without compromising their daily schedule. Following detox, those in recovery are also encouraged to join support groups.
Irrespective of the treatment option chosen, it is important for those looking to overcome their addiction to understand the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal that may be encountered even after the withdrawal phase.
Alcohol and substance abuse treatment can be daunting, but treatment centers offer holistic and flexible options.
After detox, it is important to create coping mechanisms and responses to triggers. This can be done with medical assistance from mental health professionals, either in a residential treatment center or an outpatient center. This also provides an opportunity for those in need to seek treatment for a mental illness.
Various forms of therapy can support long-term addiction recovery and lasting sobriety, such as:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT effectively helps many people in recovery as they identify unhelpful and harmful thoughts and behaviors that could hinder their progress. Working with mental health professionals, CBT encourages clients to manage their problems, change negative thought patterns, and alter the way they think. Unlike other talking therapies or treatments, CBT aims to help people deal with ongoing problems that they may face daily.
Trauma therapy – Unlike other therapies, trauma therapy helps people identify unprocessed trauma. Over half of the population will experience a traumatic experience in their lifetime. While not all people will seek therapy and support, it is important to know the profound effect of trauma. As trauma can contribute to the development of addiction, there are specific treatment plans available to help people recovering from an addiction deal with past trauma. This dual approach to addiction recovery is effective in supporting lasting sobriety
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