Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are most commonly used to treat anxiety, but they are also used to address insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and some other conditions. Medications such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin) fall under the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Although they are highly effective in treating conditions they are intended for, it must be prescribed with caution and consumed as per the physician’s instructions. Individuals abusing opiates also abuse benzodiazepines simultaneously in order to spike the high they get from opiate abuse. If used for extended periods of time patients may develop a dependency on benzodiazepines because they are highly addictive.
The pleasurable sensations that make addictive drugs disastrously attractive for vulnerable individuals happens when dopamine levels in the brain’s reward area surge suddenly. Benzodiazepines work by inhibiting neurons that normally prevent excessive dopamine levels by down regulating the firing rates of neurons that produce dopamine, causing a dopamine surge. Such dopamine surges are temporary events, but when used repeatedly, addictive drugs cause long lasting changes in the reward system when used for a longer period of time.
What are Withdrawal Symptoms?
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.
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 psycho-social assessment and provide non-judgemental support throughout the program.
For more details about our detox facilities, please call us today.