Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a class of medications that are usually used to treat anxiety. While they are effective, some short-acting benzodiazepine medications (Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium) are addictive and could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly after prolonged use.
While some patients are prescribed benzodiazepines by their physicians for a long period of time causing dependence, most get it from a friend or relative, and some buy it on the street.
Benzodiazepines cause dependence in ways like opioids. The abuse of benzodiazepines causes a dopamine surge by inhibiting the function of specific neurons in the brain that is responsible for preventing excessive dopamine levels. They do this by limiting or controlling the firing rates of dopamine-producing neurons.
Benzodiazepines are also used to spike the high from opiate abuse. When benzodiazepines are mixed with opiates, Narcan (opioid overdose reversal medication), is sometimes ineffective in reversing an opiate overdose. More than 30% of opiate overdoses involve benzodiazepines.
When benzodiazepines are stopped abruptly, it can cause withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty in concentration, dry wrenching and nausea, some weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain, and stiffness.
When coming off of high doses of benzodiazepines, seizures and psychotic reactions are a distinct possibility.
What are the withdrawal risks, and how to treat?
Due to the risks involved with benzo withdrawal, it is not advisable to suddenly stop benzodiazepine use without medical supervision. Treatment facilities experienced in benzodiazepine withdrawal management are the safest settings for the treatment of benzo withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal requires pharmacological intervention.
The most common medication used to help individuals with benzodiazepine withdrawal is Librium (long-acting benzo), which needs to be titrated based on individual needs. Psychosis and the potential to get seizures needs to be addressed with other medications.
Appropriate treatment of benzodiazepine withdrawal can relieve the patient’s discomfort, prevent the development of more serious symptoms, and prevent cumulative effects that might worsen future withdrawals.
At the Center for Network Therapy, we have been detoxing individuals off of benzodiazepines successfully for many years.
If you are looking for a high-quality benzodiazepine treatment program, you have come to the right place. Please call immediately if you or a loved one are experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.