Effective benzo addiction treatment takes expertise, experience and a multifaceted approach.

Every single day, an average of 115 people die from an opioid overdose. Roughly thirty percent of these deaths are related to benzodiazepines, an opioid-based prescription drug.

This opioid-based sedative is often prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia on an as-needed basis. Benzodiazepines, frequently called “benzos” for short, provide sedative effects by increasing levels of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Klonopin (clonazepam).

While these prescription drugs can certainly provide profound relief to someone in the throes of ongoing panic attacks, the long-term effects of these prescription drugs are often devastating.

A physical dependence can develop rather quickly, often leading users to a grueling benzodiazepine addiction that can only be broken with the help of a treatment center.

Continue reading to fully understand the effects of benzodiazepines, the withdrawal symptoms, and how to treat a benzodiazepine addiction.

benzo abuse facts

Opioids originate from the opium poppy, though the chemical structure can easily be replicated in a lab.

They work by attaching to GABA receptors in the brain. GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain the depresses the brain and the nervous system.

By attaching to the GABA receptors, opioids induce sedative effects on the limbic system, the brain stem, and the spinal cord. This directly impairs emotions, movement, and sensation.

This produces feelings of euphoria, reduces the sensation of pain, and causes drowsiness. For patients with severe anxiety and panic attacks, this can be a welcomed experience.

However, this severe impairment is the ‘high’ that we feel when we take opioids and is the primary incentive for opioid abuse in high doses.

The problem with long-term opioid use is that the brain gets accustomed to having this GABA alternative in the brain and nearly stops producing it on its own.

Even users who are following the prescribed use of opioids can develop a physical dependence if taken long enough. Once this happens, withdrawal symptoms occur any time the user stops taking the opioid. These withdrawal symptoms are often so painful that many users will continue using the opioid in order to avoid them.

Many patients using benzodiazepines will eventually develop an increased tolerance, which is the beginning of benzodiazepine dependence.

An addiction to benzodiazepines can severely impair one’s mental health along with causing damage to the brain and the nervous system. As a benzodiazepine dependence progresses, the user’s mental health can slip into a dark and volatile state. This is often what triggers family members to consider enrolling their loved one in a benzodiazepine treatment program.

Sound familiar?

Continue reading to find out if you or a loved one are battling an addiction to benzodiazepines.

symptoms of benzo withdrawal

Short-acting benzodiazepines leave the system more quickly that slow-acting benzos, so they may not have the same withdrawal process. The slow-acting benzos will quickly lead the user to have high doses of benzos in the body and this often results in the user being addicted to benzodiazepines.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines will occur when the brain as a significant drop in either GABA or a gamma-aminobutyric acid replica, as is the case with opioids.

The most commonly prescribed benzos that cause significant withdrawal symptoms are

  1. Xanax – alprazolam
  2. Ativan – lorazepam
  3. Klonopin – clonazepam
  4. Valium – diazepam
  5. Restoril – temazepam

As the brain drops in GABA, the user will experience acute withdrawal symptoms. If the symptoms continue for a prolonged period, it is known as a withdrawal syndrome. The general symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors

In less common cases of a severe benzodiazepine withdrawal, more serious complications can occur, such as delirium tremens, seizures, and even psychosis.

benzo withdrawal timeline

The effects of benzodiazepines can lead to a psychologically painful and frightening detox process. Before embarking on a benzo detox, it is wise to have a treatment plan in place. It is most helpful to be admitted to a benzodiazepine rehab center to ensure the safety of the person withdrawing from the substance.

benzo withdrawal timeline

Stage 1: Onset Period

During this phase, the withdrawal symptoms begin. The onset depends on whether the user was taking slow- or short-acting benzodiazepines as the time to exit the body varies between the two. It can begin as quickly as 6-8 hours after the last use, or up to 7 days after the last use. At the onset of symptoms, the user will likely experience anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Stage 2: Rebound Period

The rebound period begins anywhere from 1 to 4 days after the last use, depending on the types of benzos the user was taking. During this stage, the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia continue to increase.

Stage 3: Peak Period

The peak period varies in severity, duration, and onset of symptoms. This is the most painful stage on the benzo detox timeline and often includes severe anxiety, serious feelings of depression, the inability to sleep, and even psychosis. This phase can last anywhere from 10 to 14 days, making it a psychologically torturous period. During this peak period, it is best to be monitored regularly in the event of complications. This is best accomplished in a rehab center that is equipped to provide quality benzo addiction treatment.

Stage 4: Final Period

The final stage of the benzodiazepine withdrawal timeline includes the reduction of symptoms to more manageable levels. However, the withdrawal symptoms can continue for a long time after, for several weeks and even months afterward.

symptoms of benzo detox

The detox process can be downright gruesome, often scarring the user for years to come. Withdrawal syndrome is an awful experience that is quite common and best treated with a professional recovery treatment plan.

Long-term recovery can be quite difficult to achieve without professional help. If you are serious about achieving long-term recovery, then look for a treatment program that allows family members to participate in therapy, as well as in-patient group therapy and individual therapy.

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment is possible and affordable. Begin your path to recovery today with the help of substance abuse professionals. Give us a call today to find the right treatment center for you.