Benzodiazepines and Their Effects
Benzodiazepines are a group of man-made drugs that are used to treat medical conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders, or seizures. They work by causing depression of the nerves in the brain which results in drowsiness or sedation.
“These drugs may work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of nerves in the brain and increases the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine, reducing brain activity.” (Ogbru, 2019)
Benzos can be very addictive and habit-forming because they make people feel so good. It is also difficult to stop using them once a person starts because they have extremely uncomfortable withdrawals, that can be potentially life-threatening.
Inland Detox can help with benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal. Our team of professionals is specialized in detox care and residential treatment for benzos and many other drugs.
Symptoms of Benzo Use
- Impaired vision
- Risk-taking behaviors, such as driving after abusing benzodiazepines
- Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other substances
- Doctor shopping
- Mood changes
- Poor judgment or thinking
- Asking friends, family, colleagues, and/or classmates for their benzodiazepine pills
- Wanting to cut back on the amount used but not being able to do so
Will my Benzo Withdrawal Ever End?
For most people who stop using benzos, the benzodiazepine withdrawal will be a long and lengthy process. Often, people continue to experience uncomfortable symptoms for months or even years.
“Withdrawal from normal dosage benzodiazepine treatment can result in a number of symptomatic patterns. The most common is a short-lived “rebound” anxiety and insomnia, coming on within 1-4 days of discontinuation, depending on the half-life of the particular drug. The second pattern is the full-blown withdrawal syndrome, usually lasting 10-14 days; finally, a third pattern may represent the return of anxiety symptoms which then persist until some form of treatment is instituted.” (Petursson, 1994)
Someone who is experiencing a substance abuse problem may wonder what it means to go through detoxification or “detox”. The first step in addiction treatment is usually the detox phase, the process in which you clear your system from any drugs or alcohol and remain sober. In the case of substance abuse, the detox phase refers to the period that it takes the body to metabolize or process any drugs or alcohol that are currently in a person’s system.
At Inland Detox we treat detox patients and meet every client’s individual and specific needs. We offer services to a variety of different clientele and provide the treatment they need in order to safely detox and transition to the next level of care, for whatever that may be.
Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal
The symptoms of withdrawal can be quite painful. Some of these symptoms include:
- Poor concentration and memory
- Irritability and agitation
- Blurred vision
- Racing heart
- Muscle tension and aches
Consider a Slow Taper of Using Benzos
An option to consider is to slowly reduce the dose of benzodiazepines that a person uses gradually decrease the amount, which can make the transition easier and withdrawal symptoms milder.
“Unless the patient is elderly, it is helpful to switch to a long-acting benzodiazepine in both withdrawal and maintenance therapy. The dose should be gradually reduced over weeks to lower the risk of seizures.” (Brett and Murnion, 2015)
Going through detox in a detox treatment facility can help a person manage their symptoms more easily and have round-the-clock care in case anything goes wrong or is too challenging.
Timeline of Withdrawal of Benzos
There is no specific timeline for how long it will take someone to withdrawal from benzos. There are many factors that affect how long it will take including the length of time it was used, dosage or how much was taken, other medical conditions, type of benzo used, or abuse of other drugs or substances.
“The duration of weaning depends on tolerability and the starting dose. While not specifying a withdrawal period, most studies in primary care have found that gradual withdrawal over at least 10 weeks is successful in achieving long-term abstinence.” (Brett and Murnion, 2015)
Other short-acting benzos including Valium or Xanax have a shorter half-life which means a person may experience withdrawal symptoms quicker and for a longer period. Another factor is how the drug is taken. For example, if it is taken orally, it will affect a person in a different way than if it is crushed up and snorted. Ingesting a pill will create a less intense “high” as well as will have a slower onset of withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of Overdose
If benzos are taken in high doses, they can cause serious side effects, some of which could be life-threatening.
Some of the side effects include
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
Chronic drug abuse will display different symptoms such as changes in appearance or other behaviors. Along with this, chronic benzo use will cause symptoms such as anorexia, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, or weakness to occur. These are similar to the reasons why people begin using them in the first place.
Treatment at Inland Detox
At Inland Detox, we understand that effective and successful treatment takes into consideration not just the client’s choice of substance, but their physical, psychological and social well-being. As a drug and alcohol detox facility that embraces our client’s comprehensive needs, Inland Detox is able to help a wide spectrum of clientele get the individual treatment they need to effectively get through detox and transition to their next level of care. Your length of stay at Inland Detox will be co-determined by clinical staff members and by you.
Detox is not a substitute for a comprehensive benzodiazepine addiction treatment program that can last up to 90 days at the residential level. Our treatment team will work with you to create an individualized discharge plan which includes further levels of care to provide you with all the tools you need to begin your journey through recovery into a life free from drugs and alcohol.
Transitioning from abuse of benzodiazepines to living drug-free is difficult because the withdrawal symptoms are so severe. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction to benzodiazepines, please call Inland Detox at (888) 739-8296.
Brett, J and Murnion, B. (2015, Oct. 1). Management of Benzodiazepines Misuse and Dependence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/
Ogbru, O. (2019, Nov 12). Benzodiazepines: Types, Side Effects, and Addiction. https://www.medicinenet.com/benzodiazepines_sleep-inducing-oral/article.htm#what_are_the_uses_for_benzodiazepines
Peturrson, H. (1994, Nov) The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7841856/