Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a type of central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Benzos are frequently abused, given their status as a common prescription drug, and are either hoarded, imported, or otherwise maliciously distributed for reasons other than those prescribed. Normal benzodiazepine intake results in a mild sedative effect, but excess usage can result in much more dangerous and unintended side effects, ranging from impaired balance to respiratory depression or coma in severe cases. The benzo withdrawal timeline is long and painful, especially in cases of quitting cold turkey after months or years of using benzos.
Like many other prescription drugs, benzo overdoses and fatalities have roughly quintupled over the last two decades, a statistically significant portion of which seem to be suicides. For that reason, emphasis on both physical and mental assistance remains core to our treatment plans. Clients who choose Promises Behavioral Health can access various addiction treatment programs, including our benzo detox center. Depending on your needs and circumstances, treatment can be done inpatient or outpatient, so don’t hesitate to contact us at 844.875.5609.
What Is Benzo Withdrawal?
Doctors are usually hesitant to prescribe benzos because long-term use increases the risk of dependence and addiction. That being said, the drug is prescribed to treat exceedingly common mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder, panic attacks, epileptic seizures, and insomnia with exceptional results. The depressant works by binding the brain’s GABA receptors. As a result, bound receptors create a euphoric, calming, or sedative effect. Withdrawal symptoms begin to develop when the person suddenly stops taking the medication after prolonged use or goes through medically-assisted detox.
Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
Common benzodiazepines include alprazolam, lorazepam, and diazepam. On the street, benzodiazepine drugs taken for non-medical purposes go by names like Benzos, Ladders, and Downers. Regardless of the name, the following unpleasant symptoms may occur as the drug leaves the body during benzo withdrawal:
- Panic attacks or anxiety
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Heart palpitations
Less common but severe symptoms, including seizures, psychosis, and hallucinations, may occur in cases of severe addiction.
How Long Does Benzo Withdrawal Last?
The benzo withdrawal timeline depends on several factors, including:
- Dosage amount
- Method and frequency of use
- Length of time taking benzodiazepines
- Type of benzo used or abused
- Underlying disorders or mental health problems
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs at the same time
No matter risk factors, usage, or dose, help is available for benzo withdrawal and recovery. Learn more about how to enroll in a benzo detox program by calling 844.875.5609.
Benzo Withdrawal Timeline
Acute withdrawal symptoms generally last 7 to 10 days for those with mild addiction. People who take high doses of benzos for a long time may take several weeks or months to withdraw completely. The experience is similar for those taking long-acting benzo. The long-acting tablet, capsules, or liquid have a longer “half-life” than the short-acting medications.
The first withdrawal signs typically begin within 6 to 8 hours after the last dose for shorter-acting benzos. It can take around 1 to 3 days for longer-acting benzos.
- Days one to three: At this stage, the body and brain try to adapt to being without the drug. The person may experience nausea, vomiting, or difficulty sleeping.
- Days four to 7: Strong cravings may develop and persist as initial symptoms begin to subside. It is normal to feel exhausted during this time.
- Days eight to 14: Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia may accompany the physical symptoms.
- Days 15 to 28: The drug should be entirely out of the body by now. Mental and emotional symptoms present in the second week may continue to persist.
Benefits of Benzo Medical Detox
Detox is the first stage of addiction recovery. It is necessary to stop physical dependence on benzo. However, going “cold turkey” (suddenly halting drug intake with no outside assistance) is strongly discouraged, either for severe discomfort and/or lack of accountability.
Withdrawal and detox at an accredited addiction treatment center means getting professional care and support as you gradually wean off the drug. The worst effects of withdrawal can be mitigated to the point where detox is significantly easier than doing so alone. Both their physician and therapist will monitor patients to ensure the process runs smoothly. This might also include medication-assisted therapy to help reduce the duration and intensity of your symptoms during medical drug detox.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment at Promises
A primary goal of mental health therapy is to give clients the resources they need to manage their own addiction for the rest of their lives. Clients are always encouraged to follow up with inpatient or outpatient behavioral therapy. Other long-term services are available to help you manage protracted withdrawal symptoms, which can last for months or even years. These programs include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Holistic therapy
- 12-step support group
- Non-12-step support groups
- Family therapy
Promises Behavioral Health is an addiction treatment center in Nashville, TN, that offers individualized treatment programs for adults trying to end benzo addiction. Our specialized medical drug detox is a place for anyone in need. If you or a loved one is struggling with benzo addiction, contact Promises Behavioral Health experts about our treatment programs today. Call 844.875.5609 to speak to an admissions counselor about the right program for you.