What are Benzos?
In recent years, the opioid epidemic has received notable attention in the media. On the positive note, medications such as Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and help people. On the other hand, prescribed benzos take a heavy tall. The number of drug dependencies and even fatalities from prescription drugs is increasing every year.
Surprisingly, these are the most prescribed medications in the United States. Physicians often prescribe Benzodiazepine for a long period of time, even though it causes dependence. Outpatient prescriptions increased dramatically in recent years, and sadly also the extreme addiction and overdose cases.
In fact, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1,999 to 17,030 in 2017. A combination of Benzodiazepines and opioids resulted in 30% of the deaths. At the Center for Network Therapy, we are dedicated to helping people recover from substance abuse and return to their productive roles in their family, workplace, and community.
Benzodiazepine medications prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, seizures. It’s a popular type of tranquilizer medication. Extremely addictive drugs in the benzodiazepine family are Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium.
While working on the central nervous system, the medicine produces muscle relaxation and lowers anxiety levels. Popular for the short calmness effects and desired relaxation, benzodiazepine medications are addictive and could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly after continues usage.
Dependence on Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines cause dependence in similar ways to opioids. The pills are frequently taken with alcohol or other medications. For example to spike the high from opiate abuse. This abuse is very dangerous and can end in overdose. Benzodiazepines are also known as date rape drugs in order to make sexual assault easier.
If you or your loved ones are taking benzodiazepines more than prescribed, please be aware of the following overdose symptoms:
- Body Weakness
- Blurry vision
- Breathing difficulty
- Dysarthria (slurred speech)
- Coordination loss
As sedative hypnotics, Benzodiazepines work on the central nervous system. The drug slows down brain activity while producing relaxation. After an extended term of usage, it doesn’t take much for the body to depend on the drug. Usually, when doctors notice drug abuse signs, they stop giving prescriptions. Most people that develop dependence, continue buying the drug while paying the street value for it. When stopping abruptly withdrawal symptoms begin to occur, in worst scenarios resulting in seizures.
What are the Withdrawl Symptoms and Risks?
When usage of benzodiazepines is stopped abruptly after dependency has been developed, the person using/abusing benzodiazepines can experience intense unpleasant physical reactions. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty concentrating, dry wretching and nausea, palpitations headache and muscular pain.
The intensity of these symptoms depends on the duration and frequency of drug intake. Unlike withdrawal from opiates, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous as it can result in seizure, or even stroke. Most of these withdrawal symptoms usually last between 10 and 14 days, but increased anxiety can last until medication assisted detoxification is instituted.
When stopped abruptly, Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can develop.
- Anxiety and tension
- Concentration difficulty
- Hand tremor
- Insomnia and sleep disturbance
- Irritability and increased tension
- Muscular pain and stiffness
- Nausea and vomiting some
- Panic attacks
- Weight loss, palpitations
Coming off of high doses of benzodiazepines can cause severe conditions such as seizures and abnormal psychotic reactions.
There are many complications and risks involved in benzo withdrawal. If you developed a dependence, please don’t stop without medical supervision. At CNT, treatment facilities experienced in benzodiazepine withdrawal management. Our team of addiction treatment professionals has been detoxing individuals off of benzodiazepines successfully for many years. The safest settings for the treatment of benzo withdrawal require medical assistance and pharmacological intervention.
Librium is the most common medication used to help individuals with benzodiazepine withdrawal. This medicine must be given based on individual needs and conditions. Along the side of medical treatment, rehabilitation facilities support psychological discomfort through individual and group therapy.
At CNT, Outpatient Detox programs are designed to prevent any physical or psychological complications. Your comfort is also highly important. Our trained and certified staff addresses the individual requirements of each patient.
Duration of the withdrawal symptoms
There’s no specific period regarding how long the benzo withdrawal symptoms last. Each individual experiences the withdrawal differently. However, the intensity and period of the withdrawal process might depend on factors including:
- Length of benzos dependence
- Amount of drugs consumed
- Other drugs abused
- Type of benzos abused
- Method of abusing the drug
- Underlying mental or health issues
- Phases of benzo withdrawal
- Early phase
This phase might begin a few hours or days after stopping to take the benzos and it might stay for a few days. During the early phase of benzo withdrawal, you might experience anxiety and insomnia. This happens because the brain tries to rebound to a life free from drugs.
The symptoms that the benzos could suppress might come flooding back. The best solution is to get benzo detoxification to lessen the chances of this rebound effect.
This phase begins a few days after stopping to take benzos and it’s where the bulk of the withdrawal symptoms happen. These symptoms might include:
- Blurred vision
- And many others
In the acute phase, specific medication is recommended to manage some of the symptoms. You might even begin to have suicidal thoughts. Therefore, it pays to join a rehab center with therapy and support groups to help you diffuse those complicated emotions. The symptoms in this phase might last for about two weeks to several months.
In this phase, you might experience symptoms that might happen randomly without warning. These might include:
- Prolonged anxiety and insomnia
- Tingling arms and legs
- Cognitive deficits
- Muscle twitches
The solution is to visit a reliable rehab center where to get medical detox which might include therapy sessions and counseling. This is very helpful to help in managing symptoms during the protracted phase of benzo withdrawal. About 10 percent of patients might experience the symptoms for several months or years.
There’s no timeframe for the benzo withdrawal period. Luckily, professional caregivers in a rehab center can significantly help lessen the intensity and duration of these symptoms during detox. Benzo withdrawal is only possible with medical supervision. This will ensure that the benzodiazepines are removed safely from your body.
How to address withdrawal symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines start within 24 hours of stopping use abruptly. One should never attempt to quit benzodiazepine use/abuse cold turkey by themselves, as withdrawal from benzos can cause seizures or stroke.
Another danger is the patient may ingest large quantities of benzodiazepines in order to obtain instant relief from withdrawal symptoms when they become unbearable. This could result in overdose or even death. It is highly recommended that the person enter a detoxification program to not only obtain relief from withdrawal symptoms but also to wean off of benzodiazepines in a safe and effective manner.
How Medically Monitored Detox can Help?
Detoxification is the most acute phase of treatment for substance use disorders. In this phase, withdrawal symptoms and cravings are addressed through medication and the benzodiazepine-dependent patient is physically stabilized and put on alternate medications that also mitigate the chances of experiencing seizure or stroke. They are then weaned off the medications gradually, while ensuring the patient is comfortable at all times. Relative to treatment modalities, it is preferable to seek treatment on an outpatient basis as it allows the patient to learn to remain sober in their living environment while in treatment itself.
There are a few outpatient, or ambulatory detox programs in New Jersey, but Center for Network Therapy (RecoveryCNT.com) is generally considered to be at the top of the heap. Our medical director is recognized nationally as a leading addiction specialist and referenced by multiple media outlets – online. print, television and radio. She not only pioneered the outpatient detoxification model, she also proved it to be safe and effective.
At the Center for Network Therapy, we follow a unique “network therapy” approach, where, with the patient’s permission, the immediate family is also involved in treatment. Physicians and nurses conduct a detailed psychosocial assessment and provide non-judgemental support throughout the outpatient detoxification program.
For more details about our detox facilities, please call us today.
Dr. Cidambi is a leader in addiction treatment and innovator of safe and effective ambulatory (outpatient) detoxification level of care for alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, and suboxone. Prior to founding the Center for Network Therapy, she completed her residency in Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at NYU/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Due to the successful detoxification program, Dr. Cidambi was featured frequently by media outlets, including NPR, CBS, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.