Benzodiazepine or benzo addictions are responsible for far greater loss of life than many may realize. Recent data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that as many as 10,000 people lost their lives to benzo overdose in 2019. While not as high as the overdose rate linked to opioids, it still accounts for a significant portion of the overall drug-related overdose deaths for 2019. Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed by medical and mental health providers alike. Often, because these drugs are legally obtained from a provider, people do not consider the highly addictive and potentially dangerous nature of benzo abuse and misuse.
What are Benzos?
Benzos are prescription medications used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to help patients struggling with anxiety and panic disorders effectively manage symptoms. For some, benzos may be used to help with seizure disorders, sleeping disorders (such as insomnia), and chronic muscle spasms. For someone looking to safely and successfully overcome an addiction to alcohol, benzos are sometimes incorporated into a medically assisted treatment program at an alcohol use disorder rehab.
Benzodiazepines belong to a class of drugs known as sedatives or tranquilizers. Many familiar drugs belong to the same category, including Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax. When used as prescribed, benzos are safe and highly effective as part of a mental health, medical, or addiction treatment plan. However, similar to other potentially addictive prescription medications such as opioids, the desirable effects of benzos can quickly become addictive even when the medications are used appropriately.
Are Benzos Addictive?
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants meaning they work within the central nervous system to produce intense feelings of sedation and relaxation. For someone who experiences chronic pain, panic, seizures, anxiety, or complex alcohol withdrawal symptoms, these feelings of relaxation and pain relief are a highly desirable and often beneficial component of their treatment. Yet, when you use benzos, it is possible to become addicted to both the symptom relief and the sensations produced by the drug. Addiction to benzos can occur within a matter of weeks, so a treatment program that utilizes benzodiazepines is generally limited to no more than 60 days.
Symptoms of Withdrawal from Benzos
Once dependency or addiction has developed, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using benzos. Withdrawal (or detox) symptoms can make overcoming a benzo addiction challenging and even dangerous without the help of a benzo treatment program.
Benzo withdrawal symptoms typically occur in stages. The first stage, early withdrawal, generally begins within six to twelve hours after the last dose. This stage will last between one and four days and is often accompanied by symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and other mild to moderate symptoms. In general, the withdrawal symptoms experienced during early withdrawal are the opposite of what one was taking the drug to suppress.
The second phase of withdrawal is acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal is the most difficult phase and often includes the most intense and challenging to manage effects. Common withdrawal symptoms experienced during acute withdrawal may include weight changes, memory problems, concentration difficulties, seizures, hallucinations, stomach problems, anxiety, difficulties sleeping, panic, muscle spasms, diarrhea, mood swings, and overwhelming cravings to use. Suicidal thoughts and potential self-harm may also occur during acute withdrawal. This stage typically lasts up to two weeks; however, it can last for several months in some circumstances.
The third stage, protracted withdrawal, only impacts a small percentage (approximately 10%) of people. For these individuals, benzo withdrawal symptoms may persist for several months or years after stopping use. Comprehensive medical and ongoing mental health treatment can help safely and effectively manage protracted withdrawal.
Benzo Detox Center in Malibu, CA
Detox, like addiction, is a process uniquely experienced by each person looking to overcome addiction. The symptoms and the severity of symptoms will vary widely from person to person based on the severity of their addiction and various other factors. Detoxing from benzos without comprehensive medical support can be dangerous as some withdrawal symptoms may lead to dangerous medical complications.
During benzo detox, you can expect to experience a range of symptoms. While some will inevitably be mild and effectively managed without significant intervention, others may be far more challenging to overcome without support and guidance from a benzo detox center in Malibu, CA. Seeking help at a medically supervised program ensures you will have access to medical and mental health support to help you navigate the most challenging detox symptoms.
If you would like to learn more about how Rise in Malibu can help you safely detox from benzos, and begin working towards lasting health and wellness, reach out to our Malibu, California admissions team today.