Benzodiazepine Detox

Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that depresses the central nervous system, but what is a benzodiazepine and what are they used for? They are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, but can also cause an intense benzodiazepine withdrawal when discontinued.
Also known as “benzos”, these drugs are very commonly prescribed in the United States. Some of the more well-known brand names of benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. The main difference is that these different benzodiazepines stay in the body for different lengths of time.
Although benzos are often used for legitimate purposes, they are very easily addictive. They are typically abused for their relaxing and euphoric effects, but the withdrawal and detox is extremely painful. Benzodiazepines are very helpful in treating different mental health disorders, like anxiety and seizures. The downfall is that they can cause serious physical dependence and a necessary benzodiazepine detox.
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Types of Benzodiazepines and Uses

There is a huge argument regarding Ativan vs Xanax vs Klonopin, also known as “mothers little helper” due to its use among parents. Alprazolam and generic benzo names are used in replacement for the words Xanax or Ativan.

  • Diazepam: Also known as Valium. Fast onset, begins working within 60 minutes. Duration of 1 to 3 days.
  • Clorazepate: Also known as Tranxene. Begins working within 30-60 minutes.
  • Oxazepam: Known as Serax. Has a slow onset.
  • Lorazepam: Also known as Ativan. Duration of 11 to 20 hours.
  • Alprazolam: Known as Xanax. Intermediate onset. Duration of 11 to 20 hours.
  • Clonazepam: Known as Klonopin. Same onset as Alprazolam.
  • Clorazepate: Also known as Tranxene. Short-acting agent. Lasts 3-8 hours.
  • Triazolam: Known as Halcion. Short-acting agent. Lasts 3-8 hours.
  • Clonazepam: Also known as Klonopin. Duration of 1 to 3 days.
Benzos used for anxiety disorders include:
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Chlorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Diazepam (Valium): Can also be used for help with muscle relaxation
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
Benzos used for seizure disorders include:
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clobazam (Onfi)
  • Diazepam (Valium)

Benzos used for Insomnia:

  • Estazolam (Prosom)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Quazepam (Doral)
  • Tmazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
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Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

The risks of detox from benzodiazepines are withdrawal symptoms, but also death. Common side effects associated with benzodiazepines include:
  • Sedation
  • Feeling dizzy or weak
  • Unsteadiness
  • Transient drowsiness
  • Feeling depressed
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Feeling irritable
  • Confusion
  • Feeling irritable
  • Aggression
  • Excitement
  • Memory loss

Alternatively, common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, trouble sleeping, restlessness, muscle tension, and irritability. Less common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include nausea, blurred vision, night terrors, depression, tremors, twitching, or spasms. Rare benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, seizures, ringing ears.

The risk of withdrawal seizures will be higher when a higher dose is used. Post-acute withdrawal from benzos is also possible, which is why customized detox planning for benzo drugs is essential.

Addictive Properties of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines all cause physical dependence. After a month of daily benzodiazepine use, you will feel withdrawal symptoms if you decide to wean off of it. This is because the addictive properties are extremely high. The process of benzodiazepine detox can be painful both physically and emotionally.
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Benzo Tolerance

Tolerance to benzos can easily develop. Usually, anticonvulsant and hypnotic muscle relaxants generate a faster tolerance, sometimes even before a few weeks. There is evidence that after four months of continued benzodiazepine use, the drugs will lose their anxiolytic properties. This is concerning because it means you are addicted and need the drugs to avoid withdrawal.

Withdrawals from Benzodiazepine Drugs

Without the help of a medical professional, a benzodiazepine detox is extremely painful. Suddenly stopping the use of benzodiazepines can produce seizures, tremors, muscle cramping, vomiting, and sweating. It is not comfortable.
In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, you need to taper your dose of benzodiazepines. Doing this slowly and with a medical professional can ensure that this is done properly.Typically every week or month, your dose will decrease, eventually resulting in no use of benzodiazepines.
An example of tapering off benzodiazepines might start at 4mg daily, and eventually move down to 3.75mg. Alternatively, it could mean you begin at 1mg, and taper down to .75mg. You should always follow a schedule and slowly reduce your medication. This will help you to avoid negative withdrawal symptoms.
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Importance of Medical Detox Measures

Going through a medical detox means that you will go through many stages, but a lot safer. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on a few main factors. For example, the dose you have been taking will determine how bad your symptoms will be. It will also depend on how long you have been taking it and if you have any other abuse issues. If you happen to take more than one benzodiazepine, then your withdrawal symptoms will most likely be much worse.

Dual Diagnosis and Benzos

Dual diagnosis is when someone is diagnosed with both a mental health problem as well as an addiction. This means that because benzodiazepines are often used to treat different mental illnesses, many people who have anxiety and panic attacks also develop a benzodiazepine addiction.
Although typically benzo use provides the user with a relaxing feeling and relief from mental health problems, it can take a turn for the worse. Especially for people who have anger problems, OCD thoughts, and PTSD. The relief due to the sedative effects of drugs is major, but simply not enough.

Stopping the use of benzos when suffering from dual diagnosis means a common onset of depression, anxiety, OCD symptoms, PTSD, and obtrusive thoughts. This is when it is essential to go to dual diagnosis treatment.

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Drug Interactions with Benzodiazepines

All benzodiazepines are sedatives, but when combined with other medications they can cause serious complications. For example, alcohol, narcotics, tranquilizers, or barbiturates will intensify the effects of the drug.
Both Alprazolam and Diazepam slow the elimination of drugs in the liver, which means that they can slow down the process of other drugs, leading the user to use more. Reduced elimination is dangerous, and can result in increased blood concentrations, greater side effects from benzodiazepines, as well as overdose in serious situations.
Antacids also can reduce the rate of absorption of benzodiazepines. Avoiding this reaction is important, therefore antacids and benzodiazepines should be taken several hours apart.

Getting Treatment for Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine detox is the process of going to treatment and reducing the use of the drug. Typically in serious situations, a benzodiazepine detox is treated with intravenous benzos injected into the body. During benzo detox treatment, Diazepam is often used because it works more slowly, and over a longer period of time.
Despite this, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be avoided as long as all benzodiazepines are tapered off. This also means that the medication will need to be slowly decreased. As you do this in treatment, the withdrawal symptoms will appear to be less, and there will be less chance for seizures as well.
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Cost of Benzodiazepine Treatment

The cost of benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment can range. In some cases, there is free treatment due to insurance, but typically benzodiazepine treatment will come at a higher cost for inpatient treatment, and lower cost for outpatient treatment.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is sometimes referred to as residential treatment. This is because you willbe required to live in the facility during your treatment. It is the highest level of rehab services for patients who have been diagnosed with benzodiazepine treatment. Usually, inpatient drug rehab programs include medical detox as well as mental health services.
Typically inpatient treatment for substance abuse begins with an understanding of your situation. Your medical, mental, and chemical use history will be used to design a drug rehab plan for you.
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Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment for benzodiazepines does not require you to live in the treatment center. Instead, you are able to visit the center on your own time. This can be around two to five days per week and for a few hours each day. It can be extremely helpful for those who need to maintain regular responsibilities at the same time as going to treatment.

Getting Help is Possible with South Shores Recovery

Benzodiazepine treatment centers can help you with long-term recovery from benzodiazepines. They can also aid with managing anxiety without benzos and steps to take after detox. Regardless of if you have a mental health condition and became addicted, or became addicted in another manner, there is hope. Contact us today at South Shores Recovery to get healthy today.