Risks of Benzodiazepines Abuse: Withdrawal and Detox

If you’re attempting to end your relationship with benzodiazepines like alprazolam, diazepam, or clonazepam, for example, the withdrawals symptoms can be severe. This is especially true for users who may have become extremely dependent or have pre-existing health issues. Some of the more serious withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepine can include episodic seizures or extreme psychosis that can become progressively difficult to control and even life-threatening.

Ideally, those who are looking to overcome a benzodiazepine addiction should seek help from a drug treatment program that offers medically-assisted detox and other services that ensure a safe recovery process. In this article, we will take a closer look at what benzodiazepine detox entails and what users can expect as they work toward overcoming their addiction.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

For those who may not be familiar with benzodiazepines, they are a class of medications known as tranquilizers and are among the most commonly prescribed medications in America. These medications, which include Valium and Xanax, for example, are prescribed to help patients overcome legitimate health problems like anxiety and insomnia; however, when they are taken without a prescription or in a manner that is not prescribed by a physician, the probability of becoming addicted to these drugs increases considerably.

The primary contributors to benzodiazepine addiction include the medication’s toxic effects and widespread availability. In 2016, benzodiazepines were responsible for more than 360,000 hospital emergency room visits due to overdose, according to U.S. News and World Report. Additional signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal may include:

  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of focus

It is also important to note that combining benzodiazepines with other prescription medications or alcohol can intensify withdrawal symptoms and, in extreme cases, may trigger delirium tremens, a condition characterized by the sudden onset of confusion that can last for two to three days. Also, studies show that the effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal can vary in intensity from person to person. The same can also be said for withdrawal duration as well.

Medication-Assisted Benzodiazepine Detox

To help patients cope with the severe symptoms that come with benzodiazepine withdrawal, many drug treatment facilities offer medically-assisted detox to slowly taper patients off of benzos over the course of a few weeks or months. Of course, the medication prescribed as part of a medically-assisted detox is determined based on the specific benzodiazepine the patient was taking. For example, if a patient is taking a benzodiazepine with a short half-life like Ativan, for example, most physicians will prescribe a medication with long half-life like Klonopin to help ease severe withdrawal symptoms. Along with Klonopin, some of the more commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Carbamazepine
  • Valproate
  • Phenobarbital
  • Clonidine
  • Trazodone

Although these medications are effective, it does not mean that patients are out of the proverbial woods as most will continue to experience withdrawals in some capacity. Mindful of this fact, most drug treatment programs will monitor their patients throughout the detox process to help minimize complications.

What Does Detox Entail?

For those who may not be familiar with the term, detox is a natural process that occurs once an individual has stopped consuming the drugs or alcohol it has grown accustomed to receiving and begins when the body starts to rid itself of these substances. Unlike coming off of other drugs, medically-assisted detox is critical when it comes to ending one’s relationship with benzodiazepines as the withdrawals symptoms can be not only distressing but also very dangerous.

Also, those who abuse benzodiazepines often do so while consuming alcohol, which makes it even more important for them to seek treatment in a facility that offers medically-assisted detox. To that point, there are a variety of benefits that come with detoxing under the watchful eye of mental health professionals including:

  • The severity of the addiction is closely evaluated.
  • Vital signs are monitored throughout the detox process.
  • Medications are prescribed to help with discomfort and prevent seizures.
  • Patients can slowly taper down from benzodiazepines in a controlled environment.

What Happens After Detox?

While detox is a critical step, patients will also have to be able to adjust to leading a life that doesn’t include drugs or alcohol. The most recommended programs following detox include:

Outpatient treatment – These weekly programs, which include group, individual, or family counseling sessions, are designed to help patients adjust to a life without drugs or alcohol.

Residential treatment – This is a temporary housing facility that addresses the primary needs of patients seeking to end their addiction with benzodiazepines and other drugs by focusing on the patient’s mental health, problems with substance abuse, and behavioral problems.

Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as talk therapy, psychotherapy is administered by counselors, psychologists, or therapists as a means of helping patients identify the factors that may have contributed to their addiction and how to avoid them once they have completed recovery.

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is used in many drug treatment programs as a means of helping patients recognize that there is a nexus between negative emotions and the potential for relapse. The lessons learned in CBT ensures that patients are equipped to better cope with these emotions without feeling compelled to start using again.

In summation, overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines can be challenging, but it is possible as long as you have the right mindset and seek professional help. It’s important to choose the facility that is right for you. Novo Detox offers personalized medical detox services tailored to each individual. Contact us for more information.

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