Benzodiazepines or benzos are a class of drugs used to treat anxiety and other panic disorders. There are multiple types of benzos that are used for different cases and individual needs. However, these drugs can be dangerous, causing harmful Benzo withdrawal symptoms.
While benzos have multiple medical uses, they are also listed by the DEA as a schedule 4 substance. This is because they have a high propensity for abuse and addiction. Due to this, people across the United States are struggling with benzo addiction.
Benzos cause euphoria, relaxation, and sedation. It is for this reason that people take benzos. When they experience these effects, they continue taking them to continue experiencing those “feel good” effects.
Due to how addictive benzos are, and how quickly dependence to them forms, withdrawal is a concern for most. When you stop taking benzos, severe withdrawal symptoms occur, making it very difficult to stay stopped. Benzo withdrawal symptoms are dangerous.
How Dependency Forms
People take benzos in two ways, either prescribed by a doctor, or illicitly off the street. When someone takes benzos for more than a couple days, dependency forms.
Benzos react with the GABA receptors in the brain, which is what causes the relaxing, anxiety relieving effects. As people continue to take the drug, the body and brain become reliant on the drug to function.
Over time, tolerance forms. This means that people must take more of the drug to experience the same effects. As tolerance builds, so does physical dependence. This often leads to addiction; an inability to stop taking the drug.
Stopping Benzos Cold Turkey
Benzo dependence forms quickly. When someone stops taking benzos after a dependence is formed, withdrawal symptoms set in. Withdrawal begins as quickly as 6 hours after a dose of benzos.
Symptoms can vary depending if the user is taking Alprazolam, lorazepam or diazepam. These are all different types of benzodiazepines. Alprazolam is a short acting drug and is usually considered the most dangerous. This is due to its high potency.
Lorazepam and Diazepam are longer acting, meaning they take longer to be absorbed by the body. They are not as potent as alprazolam.
The beginning symptoms are severe anxiety, coupled with cravings for more of the drug. Over time, symptoms worsen, until the dependence is broken. This usually takes around a week but can last up to three weeks.
Stopping benzo use on one’s own is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted. Medical care is advised for anyone trying to stop taking benzos.
During this time, there is also a higher risk of overdose. When tolerance falls off, people will often take their normal dose expecting to experience euphoria and relaxation. Unfortunately, a lowered tolerance combined with a high dose of benzos is a recipe for overdose.
Many people will also try to treat their acute withdrawal symptoms with other drugs like alcohol or opiates. This also heightens the risks of withdrawal. When combined with benzos, the risk of overdose is far greater as well.
First 48 Hours of Withdrawal
The first 48 hours of benzo withdrawal syndrome are uncomfortable. They include symptoms of severe anxiety, panic attacks, sweating, and chills. Cravings for the drug are compulsive and overwhelming.
Mental health issues can also appear during this time. Since benzos treat anxiety and depressive issues, stopping use can cause these issues to surface.
Days 3-5 of Withdrawal
Days 3-5 of benzo withdrawal are regarded as the most uncomfortable. This stage is also very dangerous. Headaches, panic attacks, body aches, and other uncomfortable side effects usually occur. Seizures, loss of consciousness, and difficulty breathing are also possible.
For this reason, it is always recommended to detox in a medical facility. Medical facilities can also alleviate withdrawal symptoms with a tapering down of the benzos. This is done by reducing the dose over the course of a few days so that people can stop using safely.
Days 5 and Onward
During day 5, symptoms may start to be less intense. Cravings will still be severe. There is still a high chance of seizures during this time. Insomnia may also start to fade during this time.
Benzo addiction should never be treated at home. Acute withdrawal symptoms from benzos are extremely dangerous. Permanent health issues can occur from seizures and overdoses. Benzo withdrawals are considered to be the most dangerous.
Dangers of Benzo Withdrawal
Benzo withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening. If you or someone withdrawing from benzos experiences an inability to think rationally, seizures, or becomes unconscious, medical attention is necessary.
Avoiding medical treatment for benzo withdrawal can be costly and even deadly. Long term health issues can occur as well.
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Overcoming Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
After the fifth day of withdrawal, symptoms tend to become less intense. This varies from person to person depending on the length of use and drug taken.
Unfortunately, even those that start to feel better can still be at risk. People can experience a seizure from withdrawal even weeks after stopping use. The headaches, insomnia and overall discomfort may also continue for weeks.
These continued and dangerous withdrawal symptoms usually cause people to continue using. The cravings that continue during this time are also severe and difficult to overcome.
Medical Detox Benefits for Benzo Withdrawal
The dangers of benzo withdrawal alone should be enough to convince most people they need a medical detox and treatment. However, there are continued benefits to a medical detox.
Medical detox programs can make the withdrawal process comfortable. Medications are used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and medical supervision and therapy ensures safety and growth.
Additionally, cravings are treated with medications and alternative therapies. We at The Recovery Team offer a full treatment program for benzos and benzo withdrawal.
Beyond a detox program, longer term treatment is always recommended. Multiple therapeutic modalities can be utilized to help treat benzo addiction. A combination of medical detox, long term treatment and 12-step support groups is a recipe for success in overcoming benzo addiction.
Trying to stop taking benzos can feel impossible. The withdrawal symptoms are severe and feel like they will never end. Thankfully, we have a full continuum of care to treat benzo addiction.
Our experienced staff know how to treat benzo addiction and relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you are struggling with a benzo addiction, your best course of action is to seek medical treatment.
Without treatment, it can seem impossible to find a way out. Options are available for even the most severe cases, as well as those just looking to stop taking a medical prescription.
Our staff is available 24/7 to discuss substance abuse treatment options and walk you or a loved one through this process. Call us today at (800) 817-1247
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