3 Tips for Easing Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

by | Last updated Nov 29, 2020 | Published on May 5, 2018 | Recovery | 1 comment

benzodiazepine withdrawal

Home » Recovery » 3 Tips for Easing Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

benzodiazepine addiction

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are common among those who stop taking this drug. Benzodiazepines are depressants that control the central nervous system. They treat a wide array of symptoms and conditions, like seizures, anxiety, insomnia and panic disorders. Benzodiazepines can even treat alcohol abuse withdrawal symptoms.

Studies show that physicians prescribe, on average, benzodiazepines to at least 15% of their patients. 5% of patients receive a fairly high dose. The high dose can have a huge effect on the body and may alter brain chemistry. Even when taken as prescribed, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication.

If you believe that you have an addiction to benzodiazepines, it’s important to act quickly. Get help from a drug rehab center. They will introduce you to a wide variety of different treatment options. The treatments will be tailored to your needs. Here’s a look at withdrawal signs and symptoms, as well as the best ways to manage them.

The Different Brand Names of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are common prescription medications. A large number of prescriptions are written each year. From 1996 to 2013, the percentage of American adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by about 30%. 5.6% of American adults had a benzodiazepine prescription in 2013. 56% of these prescriptions were for anxiety. The rest were for other mental health disorders and conditions.

To cater to the demand, the amount of benzodiazepine medications that were available doubled. More and more brand names started to pop up. Some of the most common and popular brand names for benzodiazepines include:

  • Ativan
  • Alprazolam
  • Klonopin
  • Halcion
  • Librium
  • Niravam
  • Restoril
  • Tranxene
  • Xanax
  • Valium

The different brand names come with unique side effects and uses. For example, Ativan is used to treat short-term anxiety disorder and anxiety that’s associated with depression. Xanax, on the other hand, is approved for all of the above uses, and can also treat panic disorders and panic attacks. It has more uses in comparison to Ativan. Xanax, however, should not be prescribed to those struggling with a bipolar disorder. The medication can increase the risk of excitability, insomnia and mania.

What Are Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms?

benzo detox

Benzodiazepine misuse and abuse will lead to physical and psychological dependence. The body becomes hooked on the drug. Chemical changes in the brain and body causes the body to rely on the drug. Those who try to quit or wean off of these medications will then experience benzodiazepine withdrawal signs and symptoms. Depending on the type of benzodiazepine being abused, these withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on how drug addicts quit. Those who slowly wean off of the benzodiazepines usually have a much easier time. In fact, most addiction treatment will use this method. Those who quit cold turkey will have a much more difficult time. Some of the most common benzo withdrawal signs and symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, agitation and panic
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Muscle aches, pain and stiffness

Poor concentrationProfuse and excessive sweatingSensory distortionsTremorsSleep problems, like insomniaVomiting and nausea

In worst case scenarios, serious complications may arise. Some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms include seizures, psychosis and delirium tremens. Drug abusers who mix benzodiazepines with other substances or alcohol are at a higher risk for experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. The severity of the addiction will also influence the intensity of the benzo withdrawals. Medical professionals will recommend treatment options based on the condition of each patient.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Although not all, approximately 10% to 15% of drug abusers may experience a prolonged or protracted withdrawal. This is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS can last anywhere from several months to up to a year. Most of these symptoms are more psychological than physical. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulties sleeping

The intensity and duration of the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person. Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can be treated at many recovery centers. Depending on the intensity of the symptoms, medical detox may or may not be necessary.

If the symptoms are not treated or managed, they can progressively get worse. The symptoms can become difficult to control. In worst-case scenarios, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. The benzodiazepine withdrawal timeline will vary from individual to individual.

How to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms

While the treatment centers will do as much as possible to help you get through a benzodiazepine addiction, you’ll still have to face and deal with the withdrawal symptoms alone. Some patients will have no problems with the withdrawal symptoms. Others might find them difficult to handle. If you’re having a difficult time, consider the following tips and tricks recommended by medical professionals.

Tip #1: Rely on Medical Detox

Benzodiazepine withdrawal and detox is often treated with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Otherwise known as medical detox, this part of the recovery process is the first step towards addiction recovery. It is recommended for patients who choose either inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. This drug addiction treatment usually lasts anywhere from 7 days to a month at an inpatient rehab.

The medications are only prescribed when patients run into problems with the taper method. There are many different types of medications that may fit the bill. Some of the most common medications used in this type of drug detox include:

  • Anticonvulsants, like carbamazepine or valproate
  • Antihypertensive medications, like clonidine or propranolol
  • Benzodiazepines with a longer half-life, like chlordiazepoxide or Klonopin
  • Phenobarbitals
  • Sedating antidepressants like trazodone

Doctors prescribe antihypertensive medications to patients who experience autonomic consequences when dealing with symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawals. The nursing staff administers the medications at any point of time during the drug detox. The goal is to help patients enjoy a smooth and hassle-free transition into recovery. To avoid the risk of complications, patients need to be under constant supervision during the withdrawal process. Medical professionals will constantly check up on patients to ensure their safety.

Medical detox is not the only treatment method used to deal with a benzodiazepine addiction. It’s vital that the medications are paired with psychotherapeutic treatment, like behavioral therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective in treating benzodiazepine abuse.

Substance abuse treatment should also deal with dual diagnosis. This is  when patients struggle with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. Many benzodiazepine addicts struggle with co-occurring disorders. For example, they may also struggle with anxiety disorders.

Tip #2: Use Healthy Distractions

Another way for easing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms is to use healthy distractions. It’s impossible not to experience any withdrawal symptoms at all. The aim is to not spend your time focusing on the symptoms. Keep yourself distracted and you’ll find yourself cruising through the withdrawal timeline. The goal is to keep your mind preoccupied with something else. Healthy distractions include: 

  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Spa treatments
  • Taking a bath
  • Listening to music
  • Watching a movie
  • Going to the museum
  • Hiking or spending time in nature
  • Sports

This is a good time to pick up a new hobby or activity. When receiving treatment from a recovery center, the recovery center will usually expose you to a wide array of different activities. They will also provide you with a strict schedule to follow. The goal is to help you build better discipline and character. It’s also to help you stay preoccupied, so your mind won’t wander off to drugs.

Tip #3: Accept the Cravings

This may sound ironic and counterproductive, but stop trying to fight your cravings. During the benzodiazepine detox process, you will be bound to experience cravings. This is the same for all types of substance abuse. While the benzodiazepine treatment at detox centers will help you manage the withdrawal symptoms, the cravings will never completely disappear.

One of the best ways to lessen the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms is to recognize that the cravings are there. It’s important to realize that cravings are normal. The cravings will probably linger around for some time as well. Don’t try to fight or resist the cravings. If you do, it will only create more tension. Instead, accept them and try to move forward. As physical dependency weans, the intensity of the cravings will lessen.

You can work through the cravings by attending support groups. Share your personal experiences with others and get advice from others who have been in the same situation. These support groups are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is highly recommended for alcoholism treatment.

Get Professional Help and Addiction Treatment

A benzodiazepine addiction can be challenging to overcome. However, the symptoms aren’t necessarily overbearing. If it’s your first time treating this addiction, you might benefit from an inpatient rehab, like Amethyst Recovery. We have a lot to offer in terms of treatment options. Pick up the phone and give us a call to get more information our facility and the treatments we provide.

Our addiction specialists can answer any questions you may have about this type of drug addiction. Generally, we recommend slowly tapering off of the benzodiazepines. In the event that you experience any unsavory side effects or withdrawal symptoms, our medical staff will assess your condition and determine whether to commence medical detox.

Written by: Justin Kunst

Written by: Justin Kunst

As a member of the Amethyst Recovery Center marketing team, Justin Kunst dedicated his time to curating powerful content that would reach and impact individuals and families who are struggling with substance abuse.

1 Comment

  1. Terri L Burns

    I have been on Lorazapam for 19 years now. I will be 59 years old on the 29th of May. I started feeling like the meds aren’t working for me anymore and seems as though Iam feeling withdrawal even though I haven’t stopped taking them. I have several health conditions also. This weekend I have decided it is time to STOP taking this drug before it does something serious to me. I don’t have insurance. My husband and I tried getting insurance here in Florida when we moved here 4 years ago but they say hi Soc Sec and pension is too much for help and with pre-existing conditions we are looking at over 1000.00 a month for premiums that we cant afford. My husband will be turning 69 on Sunday and has several health problems also but gets Medicaid and AARP supplement. I WANT HELP but don’t know what is going to happen because we don’t have the money!!!!!!!! I just want to be myself again after all these years. Thanks for listening. God Bless

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Is Quitting Alcohol “Cold Turkey” Safe?

In a world where nearly every home, restaurant, resort, and even nail salon has alcohol available, quitting is not easy. Some people chose to quit alcohol to lose weight, some do it for religious or spiritual reasons, some realize that their relationship with alcohol...

5 Ways Exercise Can Help Recovering Addicts

A New Years’ resolution isn’t the only reason you should consider hitting the gym. Everyone knows that exercise has no shortage of physical and mental benefits. However, it has specific perks for those undergoing addiction treatment. Here are 5 targeted ways that...

How Being Organized Can Help Life In Recovery

Marie Kondo’s Netflix may have caused the latest decluttering fad, but psychologists have long known the benefits of tidiness and the positive impact it can have on the lives of recovering addicts. With nothing to lose (but everything to gain), here are 3 major ways...

Follow Us

24/7 Help for Drug & Alcohol Use

If you or someone you love is suffering from the addiction, there is no reason to delay. Start working on a solution today. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff are trained to deal with drug and alcohol problems of any kind, and will recommend the right treatment for you based on your situation. Call now!

(888) 447-7724

Related Articles

Is Quitting Alcohol “Cold Turkey” Safe?
Is Quitting Alcohol “Cold Turkey” Safe?

In a world where nearly every home, restaurant, resort, and even nail salon has alcohol available, quitting is not easy. Some people chose to quit alcohol to lose weight, some do it for religious or spiritual reasons, some realize that their relationship with alcohol...

read more
5 Ways Exercise Can Help Recovering Addicts
5 Ways Exercise Can Help Recovering Addicts

A New Years’ resolution isn’t the only reason you should consider hitting the gym. Everyone knows that exercise has no shortage of physical and mental benefits. However, it has specific perks for those undergoing addiction treatment. Here are 5 targeted ways that...

read more
How Being Organized Can Help Life In Recovery
How Being Organized Can Help Life In Recovery

Marie Kondo’s Netflix may have caused the latest decluttering fad, but psychologists have long known the benefits of tidiness and the positive impact it can have on the lives of recovering addicts. With nothing to lose (but everything to gain), here are 3 major ways...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Amethyst Recovery Center