November 20, 2023

Benzo Detox: Symptoms, Treatments, & Medication

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Detoxing from benzos is a process that involves eliminating the substance and its toxic metabolites. Long-term use or misuse of benzodiazepines (benzos) can trigger both physical and psychological dependence on these drugs.

When someone who is dependent on benzos discontinues usage, withdrawal symptoms can manifest, spanning from the resurgence of distressing psychological symptoms to physical reactions like nausea and diarrhea. While withdrawal side effects are not typically life-threatening, they are best handled with the oversight of medical professionals. Read on to discover how to detox from benzos as safely and comfortably as possible with the most effective benzo detox protocol.

Benzo Detox Symptoms

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Discontinuing benzodiazepine medication is associated with a range of benzodiazepine detox symptoms. The duration and presentation of benzo withdrawal symptoms depends on factors such as the specific benzodiazepine used, the duration of usage, and individual variations like overall health status.

These symptoms arise due to physical dependence on the drug, which makes it challenging for the brain to readjust to functioning in its absence and resulting in uncomfortable detox symptoms.

Most benzodiazepines detox symptoms present within 24 hours and can last from a few days to several months. The duration of these symptoms is contingent upon the duration of use and the strength of the benzodiazepine. Prolonged withdrawal is not an uncommon occurrence in such cases – this is clinically described as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome).

Common withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Gastrointestinal issues

In some cases, individuals may encounter more severe withdrawal symptoms, some of which could be life-threatening – hallucinations, fever, psychosis, rapid heartbeat, and seizures, for instance.

For those planning to discontinue benzodiazepines, seeking medical guidance and support is imperative. Under the supervision of a medically assisted drug detox program, the withdrawal process can be managed in a manner that prioritizes safety, minimizing the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and potential complications.

Benzo Flu

Benzo flu, otherwise described as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, refers to a cluster of symptoms that may occur when someone abruptly reduces or stops taking benzodiazepine medications. This condition is characterized by an array of physical and psychological symptoms that resemble flu-like sensations.

image of man representing benzo flu

Benzo Detox Treatments

How to treat benzo withdrawal, then? The first phase of treating a benzodiazepine addiction involves detox. Improper detoxification can result in dangerous complications, and abruptly quitting cold turkey could prove fatal. This means that the presence of a supervising physician is crucial to monitor for potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures and suicidal behavior.

In cases of untreated withdrawal from these substances, a tonic-clonic seizure may occur in up to 30% of individuals, according to DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

A medically supervised detox ensures the safety and well-being of individuals during the process of achieving sobriety. This approach minimizes the intensity of withdrawal, subsequently reducing the likelihood of relapsing into benzodiazepine use. The duration of detoxification can last for months, according to the specific drug taken and the length of usage.

Tapering benzodiazepine dosage is a common practice during medical detoxification. This method involves a gradual reduction in dosage or the prescription of a weaker benzodiazepine. The strategy indicated is based on the severity of the substance use disorder and the type of benzo abused.

Valium (diazepam) or Klonopin (clonazepam) are often utilized for detoxification from benzodiazepines due to their long-acting nature and milder potency than other benzodiazepines. These drugs aid in managing withdrawal symptoms while the individual gradually decreases their dosage.

Benzo Withdrawal Medication

While many people taper off benzos until it is safe to quit, certain medications can streamline benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment. Some benzo withdrawal treatment medications include:

Buspirone

Those with a diagnosis of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and previous substance abuse history are often prescribed buspirone. This drug does not induce dependence and may mitigate the emotional impacts of withdrawal. The drawback, though, is that buspirone typically takes two to three weeks to take effect. During the tapering process of benzodiazepine doses, patients in detox may begin taking buspirone.

Flumazenil

Primarily utilized for treating benzo overdoses, flumazenil can help in reducing the withdrawal symptoms triggered by long-acting benzodiazepines. Flumazenil binds to the same brain pleasure centers as benzos and it can disrupt their effects and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. It may also be employed for rapid detoxification, as it aids in expelling benzos from the system. That said, exercise caution when using this drug for rapid detox, as it can potentially exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxification alone seldom lays the groundwork for sustainable, long-term sobriety. Many people opt for an inpatient rehabilitation program that includes benzodiazepine detoxification, as it provides an environment free from distractions and temptations, conducive to the recovery process. Alternatively, those with mild benzodiazepine addictions might opt for outpatient detox instead of committing to an inpatient rehabilitation center. Outpatient care enables individuals to receive treatment without disrupting their daily routines. Here’s how you can get help for issues related to benzo abuse.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to find benzo withdrawal treatment

Call Addiction Hotline Today to Get Treatment for Benzo Detox

If you need benzo withdrawal help today, call Addiction Hotline for immediate assistance.

Benzodiazepines can be highly addictive, even when used as prescribed. If you are dependent on this class of medication, you will benefit from a supervised medical detox. Call Addiction Hotline in confidence at any time of day or night. Speak with an experienced professional who can help connect you with detoxification facilities throughout California.

Benzo addiction also typically requires ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment following detox. We can provide referrals to treatment providers and addiction specialists throughout the state to help you engage with appropriate benzo rehab.

If you want help fighting benzo addiction but you don’t know what to do next, call 855-701-0479 right away.

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