Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as ‘benzos,’ are a class of sedative drugs commonly used to treat anxiety. The drug is also used to treat seizures, insomnia, depression, and alcohol withdrawal. Due to the sedative effect of these drugs and their addiction-forming chemical properties, they are abused frequently. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2019, 16 percent of overdose deaths resulting from opioids involved benzodiazepines. These are prescription drugs, meaning the majority who take them have a medical reason to do so but can develop a disorder from overuse and not following doctor’s orders. Benzos are normally consumed orally.

However, some individuals may try to smoke, inject, or snort these substances. They are also commonly referred to as ‘candy, downers, sleeping pills or tranks.’ When the overuse of benzos occurs, a detox may be needed to stop your addiction. 

Signs of Benzodiazepine Abuse

Signs of Benzodiazepine AbuseBefore we get into the detox process of Benzos, it’s important to note the signs of benzo abuse. There are two ways to best prevent addiction. One of those is abstinence, but the most important is spotting and addressing patterns of drug abuse. So, what signs do you need to watch out for, whether that be yourself or a loved one? The major one is acting out of the ordinary. Benzos create a calming effect, so if someone is constantly appearing somewhat drunk or out of it while on this drug, it could be a sign of abuse. Let’s look at mental signs of abuse:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Emotional numbness
  • Fuzzy thoughts
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired memory
  • Losing one’s inhibitions

If you notice this, it is time to start the detox process and quit immediately. It’s recommended to get help from a medical professional. We will cover why that is so important later on in this expert guide. Now let’s look at physical changes you need to keep an eye out for in benzo abuse:

  • Altered vision
  • Changes in breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor reflexes
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sedation
  • Speech problems
  • Vertigo
  • Unexplainable drowsiness
  • Withdrawal symptoms 

It’s also important to make sure that your medications are locked up if you are worried about a family member—many of the prescription drugs that are abused come from loved ones. Also, keep in mind the dangers associated with misusing prescription drugs. It goes beyond just addiction, overdose is a major danger of benzodiazepine abuse. These types of drugs are also frequently abused with other drugs or alcohol, leading to the increased risk of an overdose.

Detox From Benzos

A medically assisted Benzodiazepine detox center is important to do when stopping the use of benzos. Detoxification is the physiological and/or medicinal removal of toxic substances under the close supervision of medical professionals. The withdrawal symptoms associated with detox can be a physically and emotionally taxing process, along with a lot of pain. Quitting cold turkey isn’t advisable; without any medical intervention, the most severe symptoms could be life-threatening.

Choosing a benzodiazepine detox center will help make those withdrawal symptoms bearable while putting patients in the right mindset to become clean and sober. A major concern with benzodiazepine withdrawal is seizures. These seizures could even lead to permanent brain damage or be fatal. Choosing a professional Benzodiazepine detox center allows you to be monitored throughout the detox process along with medication to help minimize symptoms. 

Benzodiazepine Brand Names That Require Detox

As we mentioned above, benzodiazepine is a class of sedative drugs. There are many brand names for benzodiazepines that may work differently, including how fast they start working, how long they work for, and for what they are most commonly prescribed. Let’s take a look at the brand name list:

  • Valium and Tranxene may start working within 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Xanax and Klonopin intermediate onsets action, and both are more of the familiarly abused benzodiazepines
  • Serax has a slow onset 
  • Ativan intermediate onset of action
  • Tranxene, Versed, Halcion is short-acting agents with durations of actions from 3 to 8 hours long
  • Xanax, Ativan, Promson, Restoril have durations of action of 11 to 20 hours
  • Librium, Klonopin, Valim, Dalmane, and Quepam are long-acting agents with a duration of acting from 1 to 3 days.

Any addiction or overuse of any of these drugs requires detox. It’s also important to note, although most benzodiazepines are used interchangeably, the drugs listed above are also used for different conditions. 

  • Anxiety Disorders- Xanax, Librium, Tranxene, Valium, Ativan, Midazolam 
  • Seizure Disorders- Klonopin, Tranxene, Ativan, Onfi, Valium
  • Insomnia- Prosom, Dalamne, Doral, Restoril, Halcion
  • Muscle Relaxation- Valium
  • Alcohol Withdrawal- Librium

One of the most popular benzodiazepine drugs that are most commonly abused is Xanax (alprazolam). Some interesting facts surrounding Xanax, according to Google Trends, the term ‘Xanax’ has nearly doubled in internet searches since 2004. In 2012 more than 49 million prescriptions were written for it, making it the second-most prescribed psychoactive drug that year. The DEA says Xanax is one of the top 3 prescription drugs being diverted into the black market. These statistics go to show just how addictive these types of drugs can be. But, these types of drugs can also be deadly. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug-involved overdose in 2019, that is including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. 

How Long Does Benzo Detox Take?

Benzo detox length is determined by several different factors. Stopping the intake of any type of benzo may result in very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. How long symptoms last can be determined upon:

  • How long the medication was used for 
  • How heavily it was abused
  • Genetic Factors 
  • Whether other medications are used to help in detox
  • Anxiety problems 

Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

Benzo withdrawal symptoms may vary in severity. However, they are expected to begin within 24 hours after last use, with symptoms lasting from a few days to possibly a few months. With benzo’s withdrawal, there are three phases, each with an estimated timeline.

Early or Immediate Withdrawal Phase:

These first withdrawal symptoms are sometimes known as rebound symptoms. They occur shortly after a person stops taking benzos. A person’s withdrawal symptoms will often depend on the half-life of the drug. For example, Xanax is a short-acting drug, so symptoms may come on faster than a long-acting drug like Valium.

When in the early stages of withdrawal, a person may notice the symptoms of the condition they were treating with the drug returning. If you were prescribed benzo for anxiety, you might notice that anxiety coming back or getting worse when you’re off the drug. Using a professional Benzodiazepine detox center may provide you with practices like drug tapering or using other drugs to help ease withdrawal pain and symptoms, making it more manageable.

Acute Withdrawal Phase

The acute withdrawal phase will begin after initial withdrawal symptoms. That will take a few days. These symptoms may last from 5 to 28 days, with some even lasting longer. One will find that the majority of withdrawal symptoms will occur within this phase, making it one of the most difficult phases of detox. However, when in a Benzodiazepine detox center, a medical professional will be there to help with the pain and monitor your symptoms. 

Protracted Withdrawal Phase

Protracted Withdrawal PhaseAfter the acute withdrawal phase, many of the symptoms will subside. However, there could be some lingering side effects; this is known as the protracted withdrawal phase. These types of symptoms are often known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These could last up to 12-months long, causing these symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Mood swings

These types of symptoms are more psychological than physical. However, they should still be taken seriously as they affect a person’s quality of life. Be aware, these symptoms could appear with warning and be hard to handle alone. That’s why it’s recommended to be in some sort of supportive counseling, therapy, or medication to help manage these protracted withdrawal symptoms to help improve quality of life.

There are also continuing care programs like residential rehabilitation or partial hospitalization program (PHP) for a former user to continue their long-term recovery. These types of programs are more intensive and provide the essential care needed for certain individuals. 

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of benzo withdrawal can vary. Generally, these drugs are not intended for long-term use. While some symptoms can be mild, there is the possibility of more severe symptoms affecting one physically and psychologically. 40% of people who take a form of benzos longer than 6-months have reported moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. We already mentioned a few of the symptoms one may experience in withdrawal stages, but let’s take a closer look. 

Physical Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal

  • Physical aches/pains that range from constant to severe
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hyperventilation
  • Constant sweating
  • Weight Loss
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Grand mal seizures

Relapse may also be common along with these symptoms. A person may experience extreme cravings for drugs to sedate them and give them that familiar feeling. 

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms of Benzo Treatment

The psychological impact benzos can have on a user can be hard to cope with alone. Users who have a history of severe mental illness will need an inpatient setting when detoxing to help combat benzo addiction. Even if there is no history of mental illness, benzo withdrawal is dangerous and requires an inpatient setting. Quitting benzos could lead to underlying psychiatric symptoms that are worse than they were before; these could include:

  • Abnormal sensations, such as the feeling that bugs are crawling on the skin
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Panic attacks 
  • trouble concentrating
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Detachment from reality
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Insomnia

You may experience even more psychological symptoms such as:

  • OCD symptoms
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Severe anxiety
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Depression leading to suicide

How to Detox from Benzos

How to Detox from BenzosDetoxing from benzos properly is extremely important to do properly because withdrawal can be deadly and painful, as you may have noticed from reading the withdrawal symptoms above. Choosing the proper detox center can help that from happening. Highly trained professionals can protect a person from the risk of withdrawal symptoms and provide a safe space for users to get clean and live a life of sobriety. Let’s take a look at the overall detox process when choosing a professional. 

Check-In and Evaluation

The first step once arriving at the Benzodiazepine detox center, it’s clinical professionals will take a thorough evaluation. This step will allow a professional to know how severe the addiction is and where you may be within the withdrawal process. Your mental health will also be determined since many patients with a benzo addiction suffer from a co-occurring disorder such as; anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc. 

Customized Benzo Detox Plan

Once the evaluation is completed, it’s time to create a treatment plan that is tailored to fit the specific patient’s comfort level and individual needs. Withdrawal symptoms range from person to person. So, detox plans will not be the same for everyone. No matter what, though, a professional detox center will create a plan that helps you and supports you. Your detox could include therapy sessions to identify problems during recovery while also providing medications depending on the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

Medical Stabilization 

Once the benzo detox plan is created per individual, it’s time for medical stabilization. This will include therapies and medications that will be used to create a safe withdrawal experience. 

Post-Detox Recovery

The last step, but not the ‘final step’ in this recovery process, is finding a treatment program once detox is completed. Users should go to a rehabilitation center, whether it’s inpatient or outpatient, to finish committing to recovery. Avoiding relapse can be done by post-detox recovery. There are plenty of viable options, including counseling to help during post-detox recovery.

Reach Out For Help 

If you or a loved one needs to find a Benzodiazepine detox center or a rehabilitation center, reach out to us here at Pathfinders Recovery Center. We are committed to finding each person a place that fits their specific needs. We are experienced and determined to help anyone take that first step in the recovery of detox and the step of rehabilitation. When it comes to a strong addiction like benzos, it’s important to find the right place that suits you and that recovery process; Pathfinders can do it for you, so reach out today and let’s get you better.


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