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Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Symptoms
It must be noted that for long-time abusers of benzos, abruptly ending their use will do more harm than good. Benzodiazepines withdrawal should start with reducing the doses gradually; otherwise, the withdrawal symptoms may be as severe as grand mal seizures or even delirium.
Benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms vary based on the type and dosage of medication, the abuser’s age, physical build, and the duration of abuse. Besides, for drugs with short elimination half-lives and short-acting types, symptoms may appear as early as 6-8 hours of the last use.
Furthermore, these symptoms may last for days, or in the case of long-acting drugs, they may continue for weeks. This is also one of the primary reasons you need to get the treatment for benzodiazepines dependence from a certified medical professional.
Withdrawing from benzos can be a difficult, even dangerous process. You can expect to feel anxious and on-edge for several weeks. You might feel irritable and hypersensitive to everything around you. Insomnia is also common. During the first week, you can also expect physical symptoms like headaches and hand tremors.
Most of the withdrawal signs are easy to manage by gradually reducing the dose, causing the symptoms to become milder with time and disappear in waves. However, for persons who were on benzos for more than 6 months, sudden cessation can lead to grand mal seizures, delirium, etc. It is also one of the main reasons why should get proper help from medical professionals.
And, it does not take a long time to show withdrawal symptoms. You may be taking the medication as prescribed by your doctor; still, you can exhibit withdrawal signs after just one month. For long-time users, about 40% of them can display moderate to severe symptoms of quitting suddenly. The rest will face mild symptoms of benzo withdrawal.
Factors Affecting Your Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms List
Benzo withdrawal insomnia or other symptoms and their severity can be associated with various factors like:
- The drug dosage
- The period which you have been taking it
- Whether you are consuming more than one kind of benzo
- Are you using just benzos or is there polydrug abuse?
- If taking other drugs, are there any sedatives?
- Are you trying to quit more than one benzo at the moment?
Benzodiazepines mechanism of action differs for each kind of drug. So, for a specific drug, benzodiazepine withdrawal protocol will vary from the same for others. For example, Xanax or Ativan (alprazolam and lorazepam), which are short-acting drugs can disappear from your system faster than other kinds, within approximately 8-12 hours. In comparison, long-acting drugs like Klonopin (clonazepam) stay for a longer time in the body, meaning, it maybe 2 days or more before benzo withdrawal syndrome can set in.
Benzo withdrawal symptoms timeline may go up to several weeks or even months for chronic users, per the American Psychiatric Association. This period is called the protracted withdrawal stage, which is seen in up to 25% of long-term abusers. But here, the symptoms will be much milder.
Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Timeline
1 – 4 Days
- Panic attacks
5 – 19 Days
- Racing pulse
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry retching
Months – Years
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Visual disturbances
- Sensory perceptual changes
- Grand mal seizures
Rebound Anxiety and Insomnia
Since benzos are mainly given to treat people with insomnia, anxiety, and other related disorders, quitting the drug can bring back the symptoms of such issues. This phase is known as rebounds. The rebound effects may last for 2-3 days, but the main difference between these and withdrawal signs is that rebound brings back the original symptoms that existed before starting the benzodiazepine use. On the other hand, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is just your body coping with the absence of the drug.
Some Shocking Statistics
- About 10-25% of people that are chronic benzo users experience protracted withdrawal (withdrawal syndrome lasting for several months).
- Per studies, 12.5% of American adults (nearly 30.5 million people) use benzodiazepines.
- Over 95% of hospital admissions are due to the overdose caused as an effect of addiction to benzodiazepines.
- American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that every year, around 50 million benzodiazepine prescriptions are written by doctors in the U.S.
- National Surveys on Drug Use and Health used patient tracking information to confirm that the majority of people using benzos take them to relieve tension or for relaxation.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Management Warnings
If benzo withdrawal treatment is not handled properly, there could be very grave consequences. People that quit the drug without a gradual taper may face life-threatening conditions like benzodiazepine withdrawal seizures. In addition, you may experience delirium and hallucinations that can make you lose touch with reality, where you cannot separate what’s happening in front of you and your dreams.
Although benzo withdrawal death is very rare, some patients may need to get enrolled in an inpatient rehab facility for 24/7 medical monitoring and psychological support. This way, they can stay in touch with their doctors during the detox procedure and get help for urgent medical needs, if the situations demand it.
Based on your condition and how you are handling the withdrawal phase, your doctor may recommend reducing the doses or stopping it altogether. During your benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment, you may receive remedial medication to combat the adverse effects.
For individuals that have a complicated history of negative withdrawal effects, such as patients with mental illnesses, seizures, or other substance abuse issues, an inpatient setting can be more beneficial. These patients may see a reemergence of underlying medical problems with more severe psychiatric symptoms, including:
- OCD symptoms
- Severe anxiety
- Panic attacks
- PTSD symptoms
- Self-destructive thoughts
- Suicidal tendencies, etc.
Besides, nursing mothers or women who are currently pregnant or planning to be should talk to their OBGYN or psychiatrist if they are about to start taking benzos because its use or consequent withdrawal during pregnancy comes with some risks.
Coping And Relief
Some drugs are suitable to taper by yourself, while benzos are not on that list. Sometimes, in severe cases, it is possible to have the most adverse benzo withdrawal symptoms, i.e., death. The best approach to handle withdrawal is to seek a doctor’s assistance. They can help taper down the drug dosage under medical supervision.
This process may take a few weeks or extends to several months, depending on your condition and how you are coping. Before starting the tapering, your doctor may switch you to yet another benzo to counteract the comedown effects of withdrawal.
Long-acting benzos like Diazepam may be used for dose tapering of short-acting benzos that usually complicate things. For each individual, the tapering process is different, based on their current dose and circumstances. Tapering periods may range between 2 weeks and less than a year.
It is natural to display some withdrawal signs after every dose reduction, and doctors may slow down their approach. However, in any case, they may not reverse the process.
Benzodiazepines Addiction Treatment Options
In order to treat your benzodiazepines dependence issues, the medical professionals would like to know why you started the drugs in the first place.
This information is crucial because, for conditions like psychiatric illnesses, your mere inclination for quitting may not be enough. To treat the withdrawal symptoms and manage your condition, you will need an alternative plan.
Whatever your reasons and however severe your benzodiazepines addiction may be, the treatment plan must encompass healthy detox from the drug use and long-term rehabilitation solutions to heal your emotional distress. In addition, if you abuse alcohol or opioids you may require a comprehensive substance abuse treatment.
An unsupervised rapid detox can lead to serious and sometimes, potentially life-threatening consequences. A medical detoxification plan, along with counseling and support groups can help you with the prevention of relapse in the future.
Benzo Detox Medications
During the detoxification process, healthcare professionals advise you to use some remedial medications while simultaneously cutting down the doses for benzos. These medicines can help you better manage your benzo withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the most popular ones are:
Buspirone can be prescribed to people with past substance abuse and suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. It does not have a high potential for physical dependence and can help relieve withdrawal effects associated with your emotions.
There is just one drawback of using buspirone, which is you can feel its effects only after 2 or 3 weeks. So, it is better to start taking buspirone before tapering begins.
In case there is a benzo overdose, flumazenil can be administered. It will help block the negative effects of long-acting benzos and their withdrawal symptoms. Flumazenil works by attaching itself to your brain’s pleasure centers that get affected by benzos.
You can expedite the detox phase by forcing benzos out of your body rapidly. However, this rapid detox may carry some downsides; so, you must proceed with caution.
Find the Nearest Benzodiazepines Addiction Treatment Today
For long-lasting sobriety, you will need to heal in a temptation-free environment. While there may be many rehab centers, you must find competent and trustworthy dedicated specialists. Look on our website to find the best drug rehabs near you that offer treatment for benzodiazepines addiction.