Clinically verified by
Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, MD, MS
Am 3. September 2022
Benzodiazepines, or "benzos," are one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. AccordinglyNational Institute on Substance Abuse, “16% of opioid overdose deaths were also associated with benzodiazepines in 2020”.
Many of those developing aAddiction or dependence on this substanceThey did this due to exposure to prescription drugs. Anxiety-related issues are the leading cause of mental health problems in the United States. Benzodiazepines are routinely prescribed for conditions ranging from mild anxiety and treatment-related insomnia to full-blown panic attacks. Some concerned healthcare providers are even putting thoseRisk of addiction to prescription benzodiazepinesalong with the opioid crisis. Substance users may be unaware of the risks of such a commonly prescribed drug.
Over the past decade there have been multiple reports of celebrity deaths related to the presence of benzodiazepines, underscoring the cultural prevalence of benzodiazepine use. In many documented drug overdose cases, opioids are present along with benzodiazepines, highlighting thisDanger of mixing benzodiazepineswith other sedatives.
The ease of developing an addiction to benzos lies in the way this substance affects the brain. After ingestion, receptors in the brain are signaled to bind to the chemicals, inducing a feeling of relaxation and sleepiness. The result is a sense of calm and well-being for the user. However, since an external substance induces the process, over time the brain can learn not to respond to stress by producing its chemical relaxation response. This causes the user to feel like it is impossible to function properly without continued exposure to benzodiazepines as they find that their anxiety levels have stopped decreasing naturally. This level of biological dependence can be experienced in just onematter of weeksafter the first dose.
Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
Initialwithdrawal symptomsof benzodiazepines can include sleep disturbances and a general feeling of anxiety. As withdrawal progresses, the addicted user may experience severe symptoms, including nausea, retching, muscle aches and cramps, poor concentration, memory loss, irritability, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and tremors.
Severe cases of benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to emergency hospital admissions. In addition, the experience ofgrand mal seizurescan accompany withdrawal and lead to coma or even death. Recent studies have included several reports of deaths as a result of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
That has been establishedcertain types of benzodiazepinesIt is more likely to produce these withdrawal symptoms, adding to the severity and duration of the experience. In general, withdrawal symptoms from shorter-acting benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan begin within a few hours. However, it can take several days for withdrawal symptoms to set in from long-acting benzodiazepines such as Valium and diazepam.
The first symptoms ofbenzo withdrawalSymptoms such as insomnia and nausea usually last one to four days. After this time, the more distressing symptoms, which can include seizures and psychosis, usually last one to two weeks. The final stages of physical withdrawal occur after this intense phase and are similar to the initial symptoms. This reduction in physical dependence can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Recovery from the psychological and emotional symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can take much longer than the physical symptoms. Former benzo users may experience bouts of atypical and unpredictable behavior, report depression, and tend to give a lower overall quality of life rating. These psychological withdrawal symptoms persist for several months after stopping the drug, and sometimes the experience of discomfort leads patients to resume the habit of using benzodiazepines.
A smaller percentage of former benzodiazepine users will experience what is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). With PAWS, withdrawal symptoms can last for several years. In these cases, multiple factors are believed to contribute to the long-term symptoms. The former user may not have the necessary tools to deal with stress and relies on the substance to maintain stress, prolonging the experience of anxiety. Effects on the user's ability to store and access memories can be adversely affected by prolonged use of benzodiazepines, resulting in the inability to use learned coping techniques. And in some cases, benzodiazepines can refuse to leave the nervous system quickly.
Reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms
Substance abuse treatment programs are available to help a recovering person reduce the physical discomfort experienced during a benzodiazepine detox. Several medical treatment options are available, including benzodiazepine reduction and replacement methods. Treatment drugs can be given orally and intravenously, including antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
RobustDetox Treatment ProgramsIt will also contain components that address the psychological and emotional concerns that may arise during the process. Appropriate treatment programsdrug psychotherapyThey are most effective in reducing relapses of benzodiazepine abuse. This makes sense given the many psychological factors associated with withdrawal from this drug.
In addition to providing immediate support for withdrawal issues, a detox treatment provider can help the person in recovery develop and coordinate an ongoing support planpsychiatric services. With local resources, the option of abstinence from benzodiazepines can be achieved with the convenience of outpatient services. Because of the potential for long-lasting negative effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal, a coherent long-term maintenance sobriety plan offers the recovering user the best chance of success.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to benzodiazepines or other substances, contact Ascendant today. OurSubstance abuse treatment programcan provide you with the support you need to begin your journey of recovery.
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- National Institute on Substance Abuse. benzodiazepines and opioids. National Institute on Substance Abuse. Published April 21, 2022. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
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- Donepudi M. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome: presentations and management in the emergency department. emDOCs.net – Education in Emergency Medicine. Published August 23, 2017. Accessed September 3, 2022. http://www.emdocs.net/benzodiazepine-withdrawal-syndrome-presentations-emergency-department-management/
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Author of medical content
Amanda Stevens, BS
Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. He graduated magnum cum laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in social service. As a person recovering from an eating disorder, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such asinfinite rest,restoration of the oceans,The treatment of heights,The welfare of Epiphany,New water recovery,Gallus Detox,separate recovery,Absolute awakening,achieve well-being,Recovery-Updateand youth psychiatric centerPunto-Basis-Akademie. In her free time, she enjoys learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices and enjoying being a mother to a beautiful daughter.
Last medical examination on September 3, 2022