Benzodiazepine Detox: What to Expect - Charlotte, NC Drug Detox Center

Benzodiazepine detox is a grueling process, especially if you try to go at it alone. Benzodiazepines or benzos are prescription medications that are prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and muscle spasms. These medications also happen to be highly addictive if abused. With regular use, even if used as prescribed, the body will develop a tolerance to these drugs. The body gets used to having them in its system, so when someone stops taking benzodiazepines they begin to experience withdrawal.

Benzodiazepine detox and withdrawal is an extremely uncomfortable experience which is why you should seek help from a medical detox if you’re experiencing symptoms. People experience a long list of unpleasant symptoms while detoxing from benzodiazepines. As a result, it’s important to be under the care and supervision of a health care professional. For people with severe substance use disorders, benzodiazepine detox at an inpatient detox facility the safest method for detox because 24/7 care will be available. Here’s what you can expect during benzodiazepine detox.

What Happens During Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

People suffering from benzodiazepine addiction typically, over time, develop a tolerance to the drugs they take. As the body gets used to the drugs, it needs more and more of them in order to get the desired effect. Individuals who take large doses of these medications eventually become dependent on them. Then, when someone is ready to start the journey to sobriety and decides to stop taking benzos, their body goes into benzodiazepine withdrawal.

The symptoms of the conditions that benzos were initially prescribed to treat return with a vengeance as withdrawal symptoms set in. Known as the Rebound Effect, people withdrawing from benzos will experience high levels of anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, and tremors.[1]  In more serious cases, people may develop hallucinations and seizures. [2]

During benzodiazepine detox, attaining close monitoring and medical support is essential. Not only does medical staff provide emotional support, but they also administer detox medications that help reduce withdrawal symptoms. This typically includes a benzo taper consisting of lower doses of benzos to help someone gradually come off the drug as well as some non-benzo medications used to ease discomfort.

Benzodiazepine Detox Phases and Timeline

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is known to have two phases, acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal. Here’s what you can expect during each phase.

Acute Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Acute withdrawal symptoms typically emerge in the first 1-14 days after discontinuing benzo use. This is when the “rebound effect” happens and people will experience severe anxiety and insomnia, which are often worse than the anxiety and insomnia a person was experiencing before starting on their medications. Rebound anxiety and insomnia typically subside after the first 4-7 days. People may experience any or all of the following symptoms during this phase of benzodiazepine detox:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Pain
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Sweating

While acute benzodiazepine withdrawal is best addressed at an inpatient medical detox facility, there is still post-acute withdrawal to come.

Post-Acute Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Post-acute withdrawal is the next phase of benzodiazepine detoxification. This phase overlaps with the acute withdrawal phase and is far more long-lasting. Fortunately, post-acute withdrawal is treated using inpatient drug rehab as well as outpatient treatment programs. The post-acute benzodiazepine withdrawal phase lasts for up to 18 months after stopping benzodiazepines. However, most people see improvements after the first few months. Benzodiazepines act on the central nervous system and tolerance to benzos develop in various parts of the brain. As a result, cognitive abilities are affected and it takes time to heal. This makes the reversal of these neurological changes an extremely slow process. [3] Prolonged symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:

  • Persistent anxiety
  • Motor function changes
  • Numbness and tingling in extremities

Medications For Benzodiazepine Detox

During benzodiazepine detox, medical professionals monitor patients around-the-clock and are ready to intervene in the event of a complication. Since withdrawal symptoms are so brutal that many people return to using before they are done detoxing, FDA-approved medications may be prescribed to help patients deal with the most severe symptoms. While most people who are detoxing from benzos receive a benzo taper, other medications that are used during detox include:

  • Ativan
  • Clonazepam
  • Clonidine
  • Buspirone
  • Antidepressants

Although medications are a part of the benzo detox process, there’s a lot more to recovery. For example, eating well and getting exercise can actually reduce withdrawal symptoms and make the process much more bearable. That’s why our full-service drug and alcohol detox in Charlotte, NC provides patients with nutritious meals, psychotherapy, support groups, and other amenities to make the drug detox process as smooth and simple as possible.

What Are You Waiting For?

Our detox center is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. We have an excellent staff that is highly trained in detox procedures and addiction treatment management. They devote their time to working closely with people suffering from addiction to ensure a successful detox before embarking on the next phase of recovery. While benzodiazepine detox is a very difficult process, our staff is there to make the experience as comfortable as possible. The medical staff will be able to prescribe and administer any medications to assist in detox and provide excellent medical care to ensure you detox from benzodiazepines safely. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol detox programs.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2889722
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7841856
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1675688
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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