Getting Past The Withdrawal Phase
Its also a good idea to be prepared for an extended withdrawal process. In fact, full resolution of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can take up to 6 months or more. The acute phase lasts anywhere from 7 to 90 days, while post-acute withdrawal syndrome can last up to two years. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Moderate to severe depression
- Burning sensations going through the brain
- Muscle twitching
Though the withdrawal symptoms related to benzodiazepines can be difficult, this addiction is certainly not impossible to overcome. In fact, tens of thousands of people have kicked their benzo addiction, going on to lead healthy, happy and decidedly sober lives and you can be one of them.
How Do Benzos Work In The Brain
Benzodiazepines work by increasing the activity of GABA in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and anxiety levels. They can cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly.
There are two ways to gradually reduce the dosage of benzodiazepines:
1) Tapering Gradually reducing the dose over a long period of time
2) Cold turkey Stopping abruptly with no tapering
If you want to get off benzos, you need to find the right dose of benzo withdrawal medication. This will help to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for you to withdraw from benzos. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is a difficult process that should be done with the help of a medical professional. There is no safe way to detox from benzos without medical supervision.
What To Do If You Recognize The Signs Of Benzo Addiction
If you recognize the signs of benzo abuse or abuse of any substance, you may be wondering what to do next. It can be difficult, particularly if the person denies they have a substance abuse problem. However, if youve observed them over a period of at least weeks and noticed something in their behavior that indicates theyre on benzos, you should talk to someone else to see if they share your perspective. You may also be able to speak with a health care provider who can provide a screening.
At that point, you can reach out to an addiction treatment center like The Recovery Village or another licensed substance abuse professional and discuss the next possible steps, including treatment and rehab options that may be available.
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Addicted To Benzos: Treatment Options
The onset of addiction when it involves benzodiazepine prescriptions is often quick and unexpected. After three to four weeks of regular use, a person will likely experience withdrawal, which means theyve become physically dependent on the drug.
If you or a loved one is addicted to benzos, its important to evaluate individual needs and seek immediate recovery assistance from well-established treatment care centers. For many Americans experiencing benzo addiction, medical detox is the first step in recovery. Medications may be used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, which can help prepare an individual for the next stage of treatment.
Stabilisation And Maintenance Therapy
Some patients are reluctant to consider ceasing their benzodiazepine and are at high risk of relapse or harm. A harm reduction strategy may be more appropriate for this group. This involves using a long half-life substitute to prevent intoxication and withdrawal phenomena, and allowing the patient to engage in holistic treatment of their dependence, before slowly reducing the dose.
Patients who may need maintenance therapy are those who are on a high diazepam equivalent dose, have a range of aberrant drug-related behaviours and have a chaotic social setting or unstable psychiatric diagnoses. Patients who are alcohol or drug dependent may also benefit from this approach.23 These people are often difficult to manage and should be referred to a specialist addiction service. To support management in rural and remote settings, health professionals in all states and territories have access to 24-hour phone support services.24
Patients on maintenance therapy may eventually reach a period of stability in which withdrawal to a lower dose or abstinence may be considered. High-risk patients or those with unstable medical conditions or a significant seizure history may benefit from admission to an inpatient service for stabilisation or withdrawal.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Benzodiazepine Addiction
It can be difficult to recognize benzo addiction due to the drugs widespread availability and status as a legal prescription drug. While someone may begin taking benzodiazepines on a prescription basis due to it being medically necessary, it can be easy to become addicted to and abuse the drug. This makes it especially important to make yourself aware of the signs and symptoms that someone you love is abusing benzodiazepines. Common signs of benzodiazepine abuse include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory problems
Over time, users of benzodiazepines will develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning that they will need to consume more and more benzos in order to achieve the effect theyre seeking. Its common for users to take their benzodiazepines with alcohol to achieve an even greater effect, but this can increase the risk of overdose. Alcohol and benzos operate on the same parts of the brain, so when theyre combined, these pathways are doubly affected.
Recover From An Addiction To Benzodiazepines At Soledad House
In a word, yes. Recovery from a benzos addiction is absolutely possible. However, its a challenge. Thats why medical professionals strongly recommend seeking out addiction programs.
In Soledad Houses womens addiction treatment program, patients have access to:
- Individual, group, and family therapy in
- Sober living options
- Narcotics Anonymous or 12-step meetings
- Exercise therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
What are benzos holding you back from? If you or someone you love struggles with benzodiazepine addiction, seek help and you can find out. Contact Soledad House in San Diego to overcome addiction with the help of evidence-based treatment plans. Call to embark on a journey to your sobriety.
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The Committee On The Review Of Medicines
The Committee on the Review of Medicines carried out a review into benzodiazepines due to significant concerns of tolerance, drug dependence, benzodiazepine withdrawal problems, and other adverse effects and published the results in the British Medical Journal in March 1980. The committee found that benzodiazepines do not have any antidepressant or analgesic properties and are, therefore, unsuitable treatments for conditions such as depression, tension headaches, and dysmenorrhea. Benzodiazepines are also not beneficial in the treatment of psychosis. The committee also recommended against benzodiazepines for use in the treatment of anxiety or insomnia in children.
The committee was in agreement with the Institute of Medicine and the conclusions of a study carried out by the White House Office of Drug Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse that there is little evidence that long-term use of benzodiazepine hypnotics are beneficial in the treatment of insomnia due to the development of tolerance. Benzodiazepines tend to lose their sleep-promoting properties within 3â14 days of continuous use, and, in the treatment of anxiety, the committee found that there was little convincing evidence that benzodiazepines retains efficacy in the treatment of anxiety after 4 months of continuous use due to the development of tolerance.
Finding Individualized Treatment For Benzodiazepine Abuse
If you believe that your loved one is abusing benzodiazepines, and they exhibit any of the signs, it may be beneficial to understand different treatment options before approaching them about their behavior. At Vertava Health Massachusetts, formerly Swift River Rehab, we provide individualized treatment programs for people who struggle with benzodiazepine and addiction. Critical components of benzodiazepine addiction treatment often include medically supervised detoxification, counseling with various behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatment. Reputable treatment centers will ensure that each individuals circumstances are taken into account, including any co-occurring disorder that may be present, to ensure the best chance at a successful recovery.
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Exhibiting Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Once someone has developed a tolerance to the effects of benzodiazepines, they will not be able to stop taking the medication without exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance to certain benzodiazepines usually occurs in individuals who have abused the substance for six months or more. After abusing benzodiazepines for this amount of time, the substance can cause both chemical and physical changes to the brain. To ease symptoms of withdrawal, most healthcare professionals recommend individuals gradually reduce the amount they take until the dose is small enough that they will not feel any discomfort when they discontinue the medication. Withdrawal symptoms are typically worse when someone abruptly stops taking high doses of short- to intermediate-acting benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- muscle pain and cramps
- suicidal thoughts
Medically supervised detoxification is always recommended for individuals who wish to stop taking benzodiazepines and do not want to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Addiction specialists can devise a tapering schedule to gradually reduce the dose and mitigate most, if not all, withdrawal symptoms.
Can I Take My Benzodiazepines Overseas
Benzodiazepines are a controlled drug. Controlled drugs mean that there are legal controls that must be followed.
If youre leaving the UK with benzodiazepines, you should be able to prove theyre yours with either a:
- prescription, or
- letter from your doctor.
Other countries have their own import laws for prescription medicine and controlled drugs.
You could get a fine or go to prison if you travel with medicine that is illegal in another country. You can check with the embassy of the country youre going to before you travel. You can find contact details for embassies here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/foreign-embassies-in-the-uk
You can email the home office at for more advice on leaving the UK with controlled drugs.
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How To Prevent Benzodiazepine Addiction When Taking Benzodiazepines
As with any prescription medication, it is vital that you follow as closely as possible the instructions of the prescribing doctor with regards to the duration of the course and dosages consumed. Doing so should prevent the development of dependence and addiction. However, it is possible that you may be more susceptible than the average user to benzodiazepine addiction, so even when following your doctors instructions it is vital that you report any unpleasant side-effects, and especially any symptoms which may be associated with withdrawal, to your doctor immediately.
Never consume benzodiazepines other than in accordance with a doctors instructions. If however you do choose to abuse benzodiazepines recreationally, doing so regularly over a period of more than a few days greatly increases the likelihood that you will develop dependence and addiction.
So What Are The Signs Someone Is Addicted To Benzos
First, lets look at the overt physical signs someone is addicted to benzos. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland , these can be categorized by both the dosage and the effects . The short-term effects of low to moderate doses include: impaired motor coordination drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue impaired thinking and memory confusion depression altered vision slurred speech, stuttering vertigo tremors respiratory depression nausea constipation dry mouth abdominal discomfort loss of appetite vomiting and diarrhea. The short-term effects of higher dosages can include: extreme drowsiness slowed reflexes mood swings hostile and erratic behavior and euphoria.
Because benzos can stay in the body and accumulate in fatty tissues, the long-term effects may take days to manifest. However, those can include: impaired thinking, memory, and judgment disorientation confusion slurred speech and muscle weakness and lack of coordination.
Other signs someone is addicted to benzos include :
- Wanting to stop or reduce the amount of benzos youre taking and being unable to do so
- Feeling as if you cant work, relax, sleep or function without them
- An increased tolerance to benzos, meaning you have to take more or stronger doses to get the desired results you once did
- You suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them, including anxiety , depression, hypersensitivity, physical tremors and an inability to sleep disturbances.
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Do Benzodiazepines Affect Other Medications
Tell your doctor about any medicines youre taking before you start to take benzodiazepines. This includes any supplements or herbal medicines you take.
Benzodiazepines can react with other types of medication and cause more side effects such as extra tiredness or low blood pressure. Medication that can react with benzodiazepines includes:
What Are Benzodiazepines Used For
You may be offered benzodiazepines for the short-term relief of severe anxiety. You shouldnt be prescribed them for long-term relief.
Antidepressants are sometimes offered as treatment for panic disorder.
You may be offered benzodiazepines:
- when you first start taking antidepressants, or
- if you dont respond to antidepressants.
Benzodiazepines can be used to treat insomnia. Insomnia means that you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
You should only be offered benzodiazepines to treat insomnia if its severe, disabling, or causing you a lot of distress.
They should only be offered for short-term use.
Acute alcohol withdrawal
Long-acting benzodiazepines are used to help with the effects of acute alcohol withdrawal.
You should stay in hospital during withdrawal if you have severe alcohol dependence. Withdrawal without medical support can cause dangerous side effects such as seizures.
For more information see our webpages on the following:
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Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms Medications And Addiction Treatment
What Are Benzodiazepines? Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are central nervous system depressants commonly prescribed to manage a variety of conditions, including anxiety, panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and …
DrugAbuse.com is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers . We are here to help you understand your addiction treatment options
How Do Benzos Work
To best understand how benzo addiction happens, who is at risk, how quickly addiction happens and how long it lasts, we first need to understand how benzos work.
The exact mechanism of benzos is not clearly understood, but what we do know is that benzos enhance a neurotransmitter in the brain called Gamma Aminobutyric Acid .
GABA is known as the calming and relaxing neurotransmitter. It works by decreasing activity in your nervous system. When GABA levels rise, you will experience feelings of physical and emotional relaxation and sedation.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Benzodiazepines Addiction And Withdrawal
It is important to note that because of the stigma associated with addiction and the desire felt by the great majority of addicts to hide their condition, it may not be possible to identify addiction even in someone who has struggled with the condition for a long time.
Any addiction can have an extremely damaging effect on an individuals life prospects which may be evident by numerous signs, including : frequent intoxication changes in behaviour and character changed peer groups, habits and preoccupations worsened financial and living circumstances decreased professional and academic opportunities impaired relationships with friends and loved ones secrecy and deceit physical and mental health issues including depression alienation and isolation criminal activity altered sleeping and dietary patterns reduced levels of hygiene and care in appearance loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities general apathy regarding future prospects.
What Are The Health Risks
Being addicted to benzos can pose many health risks. Even when used as prescribed, benzos are known to trigger substance use disorder . In particular, people who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse are more likely to develop a dependency to these prescriptions. What are some of the health risks?
Benzodiazepine abuse can trigger the following mental and emotional changes:
The study published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1990 concluded that up to 80% of those taking the drugs would experience withdrawal upon cessation. In 2010, the Veterans Health Administration recommended against benzodiazepines as a treatment for PTSD due to its high propensity for abuse.
Additionally, benzos, like intoxication, can slow a persons reaction time, significantly impairing their ability to drive. This has been linked to an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
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Getting Help For Benzodiazepines Addiction
An addiction to benzodiazepines can have extremely damaging effects on your physical and mental health and many other aspects of your life. Fortunately, however, in recent years the medical understanding of the condition has grown significantly more sophisticated, and there are now numerous treatment options available across the UK for anyone suffering from a benzodiazepine addiction.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
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Signs Of Benzo Addiction
When taken in large doses or in combination with alcohol and/or other drugs, Xanax can be dangerous. Those who combine it with alcohol can experience respiratory failure or worse because both substances depress the central nervous system. For that reason alone, those who take benzodiazepines of any type should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery, as the sedation can impair the users ability to operate those things safely.
If you take benzodiazepines, you likely already know its effects, and the idea of operating machinery while under the influence may seem like a no-brainer. However, perhaps there are other issues that have begun to reveal themselves that make you question whether you have a problem.
Chances are, if youre asking yourself this question, theres a warning light going off in your brain. Perhaps you dont want to admit it maybe youre frightened of doing so but somewhere in your head and heart, youre beginning to suspect that things are getting out of hand. Lets take a look at some signs and symptoms that may help you with a firm conclusion: