Benzo Withdrawal and Detox
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, work by increasing the effects of the natural chemical called GABA or gamma aminobutyric acid in the brain.
Navigation: What is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal and Detox?, What Does Benzo Withdrawal Mean?, How Long Does Benzo Rebound Anxiety Last?, How Long Does Benzo Belly Last?, Is Magnesium Good for Benzo Withdrawal?, What is Considered Long Term Benzo Use?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance
Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative medication, meaning they can slow down the brain’s functions. They are often prescribed to help patients struggling with insomnia and anxiety. These medications are considered depressants.
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, work by increasing the effects of the natural chemical called GABA or gamma aminobutyric acid in the brain. This chemical can reduce activity in certain areas of the brain, particularly the ones that are responsible for memory, emotions, reasoning, and even essential functions like breathing.
By increasing GABA’s effects, benzodiazepines can make the user feel more relaxed and less anxious. It effectively slows down the messages traveling between the body and the brain. Because the prescription drug can also make patients feel sleepy, it is perfect for those who struggle to sleep or stay asleep.
Examples of benzodiazepines include diazepam, oxazepam, nitrazepam, temazepam, and alprazolam. Common brand names for benzos include Valium, Alepam, Xanax, Normison, Serepax, Kalma, and Alprax.
In some cases, benzodiazepines are used to treat epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal. However, just like other prescription drugs, benzos can be dangerous when used for a long period of time. Misusing your prescription can lead to adverse health effects or even addiction. Unfortunately, some people end up abusing benzos because it relaxes them or makes them feel euphoric.
Some people take benzos recreationally because of its feel-good effects, which is dangerous because these drugs can cause a person to overdose. It is especially dangerous when taken with alcohol or other drugs. This is why benzos aren’t the first choice when it comes to treating anxiety, insomnia, and other health issues.
Common slang names used for benzodiazepines include tranx, downers, serras, moggies, pills, and normies.
Here we will discuss the effects of benzodiazepine abuse and addiction, particularly its withdrawal effects. When a person abuses benzos for a certain period of time, they may become dependent on the drug. Physical dependence will lead to withdrawal syndrome if the person suddenly quits taking them. It is important to talk about its potential effects so that you can help your loved one if they are struggling with drug addiction.
What is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal and Detox?
Whether it is prescription drugs like benzodiazepines or illicit drugs, there is no safe level of drug abuse. Taking too much of any drug can put the person at risk. Although benzodiazepines are generally taken orally, some recreational users inject the drug to get a more intense effect.
Taking benzos may produce different effects for different individuals, but common adverse effects include depression, confusion, memory loss, impaired judgment, headache, dry mouth, slurred speech, drowsiness, fatigue, blurred vision, impaired motor skills, dizziness, nausea, tremors, loss of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. Injecting these substances directly into your bloodstream can damage your veins and lead to scarring. There is also the possibility of contracting blood-borne illnesses from shared needles.
It is also worth noting that benzos are not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Lastly, benzodiazepine misuse can lead to overdose, either accidentally or intentionally. Taking large amounts of these drugs can lead to an overdose. To be safe, stick with your doctor’s prescription.
If you or someone you care about displays any of the following symptoms after taking benzodiazepines, call an ambulance right away: over-sedation, slow and shallow breathing, aggression, mood swings, unconsciousness, and coma.
Benzodiazepine overdose can be fatal, and is more likely to occur if the person took another drug or consumed alcohol. In fact, the effects of benzodiazepines combined with other drugs are unpredictable and dangerous. Now let’s have a closer look at what withdrawal from benzos is like.
What Does Benzo Withdrawal Mean?
It’s not easy giving up benzodiazepines after taking it for a long time. The body has adjusted to its constant presence and so it needs time to readjust. This is why withdrawal occurs.
If you or someone you love wants to stop taking benzodiazepines after a prolonged period of taking them, it is important to get some advice from a healthcare professional. Although symptoms may vary from one person to another, benzodiazepine withdrawal can also be dangerous, so it needs to be handled properly.
Long-term abuse of benzodiazepines may lead to addiction and drug dependence. The person may experience certain adverse effects after prolonged abuse of benzos, such as anxiety, depression, memory loss, paranoia, irritability, aggression, personality changes, lethargy, weakness, lack of motivation, fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, sleeping difficulties, nightmares, weight gain, and skin rashes.
If a person who is dependent on benzodiazepines suddenly quits taking the drug, they will go through a period of withdrawal, which is why medical detox is necessary. Withdrawal is an uncomfortable process, and you want round the clock care from medical professionals in a safe environment. During detox, the patient’s drug intake is gradually lowered while their withdrawal symptoms and cravings are managed. Medications may be administered to help keep these symptoms under control.
How Long Does Benzo Rebound Anxiety Last?
Benzodiazepines may be prescribed to help people with anxiety. This is especially true for patients whose symptoms have become disruptive to their lifestyle. If anxiety is keeping you from doing your daily tasks, your doctor may prescribe benzodiazepines to help with your well-being. Sedatives like Xanax can help people feel less anxious and more relaxed so they can accomplish more during the day.
Benzodiazepines can even help with physical symptoms like sweating, chills, restlessness, muscle pain, headaches, and insomnia. But with that said, benzos should be used with caution, given all the potential adverse effects we have listed above. The user even risks developing addiction and dependence.
But if the person suddenly stops taking their medications, there is another risk that comes out: rebound anxiety.
This happens when you stop taking benzodiazepines and the symptoms of anxiety suddenly return. Usually when this happens, the symptoms are even more intense than when you started taking the medications. Rebound anxiety has both physical symptoms and increased feelings of fear, irritability, and worry.
This effect happens because of the way benzodiazepines work. When a person feels anxious or afraid, GABA helps keep these signals away from the brain. It helps keep the person calm, focused, and relaxed. It even helps you get enough sleep. Benzos bind to the GABA receptors and boost its activity, causing reduced anxiety, sleeplessness, and panic.
Unfortunately, the brain rapidly tolerates the presence of benzodiazepines. This can occur even just after a few weeks of regular benzodiazepine intake. If the person abruptly stops taking these sedatives, the GABA receptors in the brain find it hard to readjust on its own. It then becomes challenging for the brain to handle these feelings and stressors without the GABA boost provided by benzos. This is why the effects seem to intensify during rebound anxiety.
In fact, long-term use of these sedatives can reduce the number of GABA binding sites, which means it will take longer for the remaining sites to synthesize GABA molecules. This also leads to increased feelings of stress, panic, and anxiety.
Out of all the medications out there, rebound anxiety is most commonly associated with benzodiazepines. That said, medications like benzos don’t always cause a rebound effect. When it comes to benzos, the short-acting and intermediate-acting ones are the most likely to cause this effect. These include alprazolam, triazolam, and lorazepam.
On the other hand, longer-acting benzos are less likely to cause the rebound anxiety effect. This includes diazepam, clonazepam, and flurazepam.
The effects of rebound anxiety may appear quickly—sometimes within 24 hours of the person’s last benzodiazepine dosage. It may last from a few days to several months, but this depends on a number of factors including the type of medication taken, the size of the dosage, the duration of intake, and the severity of the symptoms being treated. Experts say there are also psychological and personality factors that affect the likelihood of getting rebound anxiety.
Speaking of experts, some of them believe that it is just another form of benzodiazepine withdrawal. That said, some patients go through rebound anxiety before experiencing withdrawal.
How Long Does Benzo Belly Last?
Benzo belly can be considered another type of withdrawal associated with benzodiazepines. It is characterized by symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and appetite changes.
For people who take benzodiazepines for longer than two weeks, the risk of getting addicted or developing dependence is increased. Benzo belly is also an effect of getting accustomed to having the sedatives in your system.
Just like other withdrawal symptoms, the duration of benzo belly may vary from person to person. The effects may last for several weeks, but it may be influenced by a number of factors such as the dosage taken, the duration of intake, the type of benzodiazepine used, etc. It is more likely to happen if the person has also been using other medications or abusing alcohol. Benzo belly may also occur for those with underlying mental health conditions. Taking benzos without a prescription or just for recreation is another possible cause of benzo belly.
The effects of benzo belly, along with other withdrawal symptoms, may begin to develop 24 hours after the patient’s last dosage.
Benzo belly withdrawal may last through three phases: immediate withdrawal, acute withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal.
Immediate withdrawal is what happens around 24 hours after the person’s last benzodiazepine intake. For short-acting benzos like Xanax, the withdrawal symptoms can begin quickly. For longer-acting benzos, the withdrawal symptoms may take longer to develop. It is also at this point that rebound anxiety may begin.
Acute withdrawal begins a few days after the immediate withdrawal symptoms. These may last anywhere from five days to several months. When it comes to benzo belly, most of the symptoms happen during this stage. In order to be safe, it is highly recommended that patients seek treatment from a drug rehab or even an outpatient detox facility.
Finally, protracted withdrawal is the phase wherein people experience lingering withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that it doesn’t happen to everyone. Only about 10 to 25 percent of people who take benzodiazepines for prolonged periods continue to experience symptoms after the acute withdrawal phase. When this happens, the symptoms may persist for a year or even longer.
Additional symptoms may even manifest during this extended phase, including depression, mood swings, decreased libido, anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. The best solution to this is a proper medical detox program.
Is Magnesium Good for Benzo Withdrawal?
Magnesium is considered an essential mineral because it is necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions within the body. It supports the immune system, strengthens bones, helps maintain a steady heartbeat, helps produce energy, and helps the muscles and nerves function. It goes without saying that the human body needs enough magnesium.
When it comes to its relationship with benzodiazepine withdrawal, its benefits are debated by those who take magnesium supplements to keep their symptoms under control and those who say the supplements only made the withdrawal symptoms worse.
At the end of the day, it depends on the person if magnesium can benefit them or not. The body does need magnesium for many of its functions, but whether or not you take supplements to help keep your withdrawal symptoms under control is up to you.
If you do want to try magnesium, get started with foods that are rich in this mineral such as: roasted pumpkin seeds, cooked Swiss chard, chia seeds, dry roasted almonds, boiled spinach, oil roasted peanuts, cooked black beans, baked potatoes, brown rice, and avocados.
Just don’t overdo it: too much magnesium can be bad for the body. Don’t take more than the recommended amount per day, which is 420 mg for an adult male, and 320 mg for an adult woman. The best solution for benzodiazepine withdrawal is still medical detox.
What is Considered Long Term Benzo Use?
For benzodiazepines, long-term use is commonly described as drug abuse that is no shorter than three months. Generally speaking, benzodiazepines work best when used for short term treatment. Even then, the risk of developing drug dependence is still high.
Long term use of benzodiazepines is discouraged because of its significant risks. The person may suffer from physical, psychological, and even social effects if they develop an addiction.
Addiction is usually characterized as the compulsive use of a particular substance even when the person is already experiencing its negative effects. The person will keep taking the drug even when it is already causing problems in their daily life. They may prioritize the substance over everything else, neglecting their responsibilities and losing interest in things they used to enjoy.
In the process, the addicted individual’s relationships with other people may suffer. Their career, finances, and reputation may suffer as well. Some addicted individuals may even get in trouble with the law.
Because benzodiazepines are prescription drugs, some people attempt “doctor shopping” or visiting multiple physicians in the hopes of getting the same prescription repeatedly.
Addiction is best treated through rehab, wherein the patient can go through detox and counseling. Detox addresses the physical effects of drug abuse. It helps patients get sober again by allowing the body to readjust to the drug-free state. Meanwhile, cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling can address the root causes of addictive behavior. Therapy aims to teach patients healthy coping mechanisms that they can use to maintain their sobriety once they are back in the real world.
Detox helps people get sober while behavioral therapy teaches them how to stay sober. Because addiction is a chronic condition, there is no cure for it. But it can be managed through rehab and addicted individuals can regain their sobriety to live a healthy and fulfilling life. For many, addiction recovery is a life-long journey. But rehab will equip them with the proper tools and support so that they can get back on the right track.
Addiction is a complex medical condition that impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life. That is why there is no single solution or a one-size-fits-all answer to this problem. Every individual is unique, and so they will have different treatment needs. Most rehab facilities will create a personalized treatment plan based on the person’s condition after assessing them.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, whether its benzodiazepine addiction or anything else, look for a rehab facility near you and learn about their drug treatment options. The journey to recovery begins today.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.