Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription medications that typically address conditions like trouble sleeping, panic attacks or anxiety. They work by depressing the central nervous system. Since these drugs are addictive, trying to quit can lead to a benzodiazepine withdrawal.
How a Benzo Addiction Develops
An addiction to benzodiazepines can develop for a number of reasons. No one who takes benzos is immune to the risk of a physical and chemical dependence on the drugs.
Benzodiazepines are, essentially, a form of tranquilizer. They slow the body and the brain down. Over time, the body begins to crave this state of being. If individuals stop taking benzodiazepines, the body rebels in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
An addiction can happen to anyone, including those who take benzos that a medical professional prescribes. It’s more likely, however, among those who take the drugs illegally. This might mean taking larger doses than the prescription recommends, or it might mean buying benzos from an illegitimate source. Lying about symptoms to get a prescription or mixing benzos with alcohol is also dangerous and increases the chance of addiction.
Duration of a Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Typically, a benzodiazepine withdrawal is longer in duration than withdrawal from other types of drugs. However, there are many factors that impact the duration of withdrawal symptoms. The specific drug an individual was taking, the dosage, addiction history and personal health can all be factors that make a difference in duration.
Benzodiazepines are a vast class of drug, and the type of drug will play a role in determining how long withdrawal lasts. Those who take extended-dose benzos may experience a longer withdrawal period. This is because of the half-life of each type of drug and how the body withdraws from each variety.
Of course, the dosage is also a factor. People who take larger amounts daily struggle with symptoms for longer. Those who have been abusing benzos for many years will also be in withdrawal for longer than those who have only been using benzos for a few months.
On average, withdrawal from benzodiazepines takes two or three weeks. Symptoms can begin to appear in as little as 24 hours after the last dose. Then, they grow in strength for several days or even two weeks. Symptoms begin to taper off after that, but they can hang around for several weeks or even months.
Physical Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal
A withdrawal from benzodiazepines may be longer than average, but it has fewer physical side effects than other drug withdrawals. Typically, patients in a detox can expect to struggle with symptoms such as tremors, migraines, involuntary muscle twitching and heart palpitations.
Psychological Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal
Generally speaking, the psychological and emotional withdrawal symptoms tend to be more pronounced for those addicted to benzodiazepines. Mental health issues are common, with depression and anxiety being the two disorders that patients most often report.
Since doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and depression, these conditions can reappear during withdrawal. They may seem worse than before, but this isn’t a permanent condition.
Treatment After Withdrawal Ends
Addiction treatment is about more than just withdrawing from benzodiazepines. It also has to include learning how to cope without these drugs in the future. Treatment programs can help patients adjust to life without benzodiazepines.
Some helpful treatments and therapies can include:
- Individual therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Yoga or fitness therapy
- Holistic pain management techniques
Understanding the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal may be the first step in making a lifelong change for the better. At Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, Arizona, you can make strides toward the sober, healthy life you’ve dreamed of. Call 866-954-0524 to begin your custom approach to recovery.