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How to Safely Detox From Benzos

Overcoming Benzodiazepine Addiction

Addiction to benzodiazepines can happen to anyone. These kinds of medication can help treat anxiety disorders, insomnia or even seizures. However, they’re usually for short-term use only. When people use them longer, physical dependence or even addiction can develop in as little as four weeks. At this point, they must seek a treatment facility specializing in substance use, like Diamond House Detox.

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Continued use of benzos, like Valium, Klonopin or Xanax, can lead to serious health complications. Addiction starts to affect every aspect of someone’s life, from their work to their personal experiences. Even though quitting benzos can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, this is essential to recovery and living a life free from substance abuse.

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What Are Withdrawal Symptoms Like With Benzodiazepine?

Withdrawing from benzodiazepines is a physically and emotionally taxing process, with a variety of painful symptoms. If someone stops using benzos cold turkey and without any medical intervention, the most severe symptoms can even become life-threatening. People with a long history of use or who have been taking higher doses of a benzodiazepine will have the worst withdrawal symptoms. When someone is withdrawing from benzos, they will experience symptoms including:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tremors of the hands
  • Physical tension
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stiffness and muscle pain
  • Drug cravings

Some people experience much more severe symptoms alongside the common ones listed above. The worst cases of benzodiazepine withdrawal may involve:

  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Increased risk of suicidal ideation

Another element to consider is the “rebound effect.” Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines primarily to address the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and to help people with insomnia sleep. When someone stops taking them and enters detox for benzos, they are likely to experience an increase in anxiety and develop feelings of intense restlessness.

It’s essential to distinguish between the rebound effect and the symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms appear as the body struggles to adapt to functioning without benzodiazepines, whereas the rebound effect is a return of symptoms that someone struggled with previously.

Estimated Withdrawal Timeline

While there is no definitive time frame for benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, individuals can expect this estimated timeline:

  • Early or immediate withdrawal: Early withdrawal or rebound symptoms occur soon after an individual stops taking benzodiazepines. While your exact withdrawal reactions will vary, the symptoms you were using benzodiazepines to treat may start returning. By tapering, you can make early withdrawal symptoms more manageable.
  • Acute withdrawal: Acute withdrawal typically begins within a few days, though it may last for several months. Most withdrawal symptoms occur during this phase.
  • Protracted withdrawal: While most symptoms subside after acute withdrawal, there may still be lingering side effects. Some protracted withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, depression and anxiety.

Why Does Quitting Benzos Lead to Benzo Withdrawal?

Benzos can cause you to develop a physical dependence, which is when your body becomes overly reliant on the drug to function normally. As you try to break your addiction, you will begin experiencing benzo withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts without the drug.

Which Benzos Require Detox?

Many drugs have a half-life, which is how long the drug takes to reduce to half of its original amount in your system. Benzos with a shorter half-life tend to require a more significant detox process and are more likely to lead to relapse. There are three different types of benzos, each with a different half-life:

  • Short acting: Short acting benzos like triazolam have a half-life of one to five hours.
  • Intermediate acting: Intermediate acting benzos such as alprazolam have an average half-life of 12 to 40 hours.
  • Long acting: Long-acting benzos like diazepam have an average half-life of 40 to 250 hours.

What Is Medically Assisted Detox?

Medical detox refers to the process of eliminating substances of abuse from the body under the close supervision of medical professionals. Withdrawal can be challenging to get through, and the assistance of a medical team makes it bearable for clients with substance use disorder to get clean and sober. With benzodiazepines, the primary concern is preventing seizures, as they can lead to permanent brain damage or even be fatal. During medical benzodiazepine detox, professionals will monitor your vital signs and prescribe you medication, as necessary, to minimize your symptoms.

While detox medications may not completely eliminate benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, these effects will be less severe than detoxing without these medications.

How Long Does Benzo Detox Take?

benzo detox timeline

The first thing many clients want to know is how long a benzodiazepine detox takes. That depends on the specific drug you are taking, and whether it is short- or long-acting. Short-acting benzos include alprazolam and lorazepam. These leave the body more quickly, with withdrawal symptoms beginning as soon as eight to 12 hours after last use.

Benzos like clonazepam are long-acting, and people detoxing from these may not start experiencing symptoms until one or two days after cessation. A variety of other factors affect how long withdrawal and detox take, including:

  • How long you have been taking the drug
  • The dosage you have been taking
  • Your particular body type and composition
  • Genetics
  • Prior anxiety disorders
  • The types of medication used in your personalized detox plan

The initial wave of withdrawal symptoms managed by medical detox is the acute withdrawal phase. With short-acting benzodiazepines, symptoms usually peak on the second day of detox and start to improve around the fourth or fifth day. Longer-acting benzos can prolong the acute withdrawal phase for one to two weeks or more.

Around 10 to 25% of people experience protracted withdrawal, where symptoms fluctuate for several months. Continued support during this period is essential for lifelong sobriety. Typically, protracted withdrawal does not last longer than a year.

How to Detox From Benzos

Individuals who know they have a benzo addiction often have a hard time quitting because they’re scared of the detoxification process. They may have attempted to give it up on their own, and then relapsed once withdrawal symptoms started kicking in. That’s why detox programs are crucial to anyone who’s serious about detoxing from benzos. Medically supervised detoxification, like that provided by Diamond House Detox, is the safest way to get benzos out of your body’s system.

Our certified addiction professionals monitor all clients 24 hours a day to ensure they go through the process as comfortably as possible, but no two clients are the same. That’s why we establish an individualized substance abuse treatment plan on day one to ensure a successful recovery.

What to Expect

The first step of addiction treatment is to withdraw from the drug, which you can complete at an inpatient rehab facility. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for weeks or months. After the detox stage, you will begin tapering — slowly reducing your drug usage over time. The final step is maintenance, which can last several months to help you obtain a drug-free life.

Common Fears About Benzo Detox

Seeking help for benzo abuse is not an easy decision, and it is normal to have fears about detox. Some common concerns about benzo detox include:

  • Fear of withdrawal symptoms
  • Fear of failure
  • fear of admitting you have a problem

Can I Detox From Benzos at Home?

Benzo withdrawal is dangerous and requires medical supervision, making it a bad idea to detox from benzos at home. Even if you do not experience severe withdrawal symptoms, trying to detox in an unmonitored environment can cause you to harm yourself or experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms From Benzodiazepines Last?

Benzos are not for long-term use, and withdrawal symptoms can generally start in as little as three weeks after your last dose. The longer you take the drug, the greater the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

Is Benzo Withdrawal Permanent?

Benzo withdrawal is not permanent, and your symptoms will subside over time. You may also enter protracted withdrawal, which is when symptoms last 12 months or more.

How Do You Neutralize Benzodiazepines?

Your treatment method for neutralizing benzodiazepines will vary depending on when and how many drugs you’ve consumed:

  • If you took benzos within the last one to two hours, you may be eligible for gastric lavage. This procedure involves pushing large quantities of water into your stomach to wash out the remaining benzo fragments.
  • If you took benzos within four hours of seeking help, you may receive activated charcoal to prevent your body from absorbing the drug.
  • If you have severe benzo poisoning, you may be eligible for prescription drugs like flumazenil, which reverses the sedative effects of benzodiazepines.

What to Expect During Medically-Assisted Detox

As soon as you arrive at Diamond House Detox, you will have a medical and substance use assessment completed by staff. This step allows us to figure out how severe your addiction is and where you are in the withdrawal process.

We can also determine your mental health at this point, as many clients with a benzo addiction suffer from a co-occurring disorder. That means they are living with addiction alongside a psychiatric issue, such as an anxiety disorder, PTSD, depression and more. Once our mental health professionals complete their evaluation, we will be able to create a treatment plan tailored to fit your comfort level and individual needs.

he first aspect of the treatment process is to get your system clean of all benzodiazepines. Our detox center staff is well-acquainted with the withdrawal process and will be with you every step of the way, monitoring and offering support. Although some experience symptoms within a few hours of quitting benzos, most begin to feel the side effects of withdrawal within one to four days. Unfortunately, depending on your level of addiction and benzodiazepine use, severe symptoms can continue for 10 to 14 days or even a few weeks. No matter how serious your withdrawal side effects are, our staff will do what they can to make you as comfortable as possible.

Depending on your individual preference as well as our psychiatric evaluation, your detox could include therapy sessions to help identify problem areas to focus on during the recovery process.

Finding a treatment program after detox is a vital next step. We’re committed to your continued success, which is why we recommend all our guests seek out rehab, counseling or another form of treatment to help you avoid relapse. These professional and compassionate settings give you the help you need to identify stressors that may have led to your addiction and to learn skills to deal with them so you can continue a life of sobriety.

Detoxing From Benzodiazepines in Combination With Other Drugs

Often, benzodiazepine addiction occurs in conjunction with abuse of other drugs and alcohol. For example, physicians prescribe benzodiazepines alongside opioids in 33 to 50% of cases. This combination is highly dangerous, and nearly a third of opioid-related overdose deaths involve benzos. If you have abused other drugs with benzos, medical detox is even more crucial, as different drug combinations may have unpredictable impacts on the withdrawal process.

Dual-Diagnosis Benzodiazepine Treatment

Many people who become addicted to benzodiazepines after receiving a prescription have diagnosable anxiety and frequently suffer from other mental health disorders. When someone has both addiction and a mental illness, they have a dual diagnosis, and it requires a different approach designed to address both disorders concurrently. Someone with a dual diagnosis can undergo medically assisted detox while participating in one or more types of therapy to work on their underlying mental health conditions and provide a strong foundation for the rest of their treatment and recovery.

Steps to Take After Detox

While detoxifying from benzodiazepines is vital in treating addiction, it is only the first step. Getting clean is a notable achievement, but you must follow it up with rigorous treatment to begin and sustain long-term recovery.

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Stabilization is one of the most critical parts of recovery. The stabilization period is when people put theory into practice when it comes to managing drug cravings, coping with triggers and learning how to deal with any mental health issues they may have. A residential stabilization program offers participants a drug-free environment where they can focus on transitioning back to independent life and creating a solid plan for doing so. Entering a stabilization program directly after completing detox offers clients the best environment for beginning recovery.

Therapy is how people learn about the roots of their addiction and how to address their thoughts and behaviors in healthy ways. However, therapy is not a one-stop shop, and anyone can benefit from continued therapy after detox and residential treatment. A variety of addiction therapies can allow you to keep improving your mental health and strengthen your recovery. Here are three examples.

  • Art therapy: When it’s hard to talk about or even identify complex emotions, it’s sometimes more effective to express yourself through the medium of art.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT is invaluable in helping people identify illogical and harmful thoughts and behaviors, so they can change them for the better.
  • Trauma therapy: Unprocessed trauma is a frequent contributor to the development of addiction, and requires treatment for the best chance at sustained recovery.

People struggling with benzodiazepine addiction frequently withdraw from their friends and family. It’s hard to talk to people who don’t understand the pain and fear of addiction, so many people stop altogether. However, anyone willing to do the work to beat addiction and change their life deserves compassion, and support groups can be a powerful way to get it. Some trusted addiction support groups include:

Participating in a support group helps you connect with others in a genuine, open manner without having to worry about judgment. You can find encouragement, form supportive relationships and get advice on what works and what doesn’t in recovery.

Don’t Detox Alone, Turn to Diamond House Detox

Many people with a benzo addiction attempt to go through the detox process on their own. Not only can this be hazardous to their health, but most end up relapsing because of the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting and getting clean. That’s why you need a professional treatment center like Diamond House Detox.

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We offer the safest and most effective method to get benzodiazepine out of your system. Plus, our Northern California facilities located in the Sacramento area provide a private and luxurious inpatient treatment environment that supports the recovery process for you or your loved one. Contact us today to learn more.

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