Benzodiazepine Detox can be a scary endeavor, especially for someone who has been using these drugs for an extended period of time. The goal of benzodiazepine detox is to remove the drugs and their toxins from the system of the user. In some cases, an individual may need detox because he or she has been taking these drugs as prescribed for a prolonged period of time, and has no problems with addiction or destructive behaviors associated with them. In other cases, an individual may have been abusing benzodiazepines and various other drugs to get high, and suffers from severe addiction.
Regardless of the reason why an individual may need detox from benzodiazepines, it is important to seek the assistance of a detox facility rather than attempting to withdraw from these drugs alone.
Potential Dangers of Benzodiazepine Detox
If an individual has been using benzodiazepines on a regular basis for more than 6 weeks, it is likely that he or she will experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms if the drugs are discontinued abruptly. Often referred to as rebound symptoms, the withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous and deadly if they are not managed medically. Some of these symptoms include:
- Severe anxiety
- Grand mal seizures
- Perceptual impairments
- Sensory sensitivity
- Muscular pain
- Extreme tension
- Hand tremor
- Weight loss
- Panic attacks
- Concentration and memory impairment
Without medical assistance and supervision, benzodiazepine detox can result in dangerous seizures that make lead to stroke and death. In addition, the psychological symptoms can often result in an individual feeling overwhelmed and unable to resist destructive and dangerous behaviors. It is not uncommon for individuals who are in withdrawal from benzodiazepines to have hostile and/or violent outbursts.
Safe Benzodiazepine Detox
Benzodiazepine detox does not have to be scary or dangerous, when it is completed in a medical detox facility. There are dozens of facilities that can complete a medical detoxification from benzodiazepines across the United States, and it is highly recommended to use these services in order to have a complete and safe detoxification.
Although the process of benzodiazepine detoxification varies by facility, most follow the same basic protocol, which consists of the following details:
The Intake Process
During the intake process, an individual is given a drug screening so the clinicians can have an accurate idea of what drugs, and their amounts are in his or her system.
During this time, clinicians may ask a series of questions such as:
- Has detox ever been attempted or completed before?
- Is there a history of seizures?
- Is there a history of mental health issues?
- When was the last time any drug was used?
- Are there any physical health issues or concerns?
- How long have benzodiazepines been used, how frequently, and in what amount?
- Is there a chance of pregnancy? (for females)
Once this vital information has been gathered, clinicians and staff meet to ensure everyone has the proper information.
Beginning Benzodiazepine Detox
Benzodiazepines are usually given to individuals who need detox from opiates and alcohol, but most facilities will not administer the very drugs from which an individual is trying to detox. Instead of another benzodiazepine, many facilities will use a barbiturate, which similar to benzodiazepines in its sedative, and anti-seizure qualities.
Most commonly, a barbiturate will start at a dose sufficient to ease and manage withdrawal symptoms, and then slowly tapered throughout the detoxification process, as the symptoms begin to decrease in intensity.
The goal is to promote sleep and comfort, while maintaining safety and progressing through the benzodiazepine detoxification.
Some facilities may use a different benzodiazepine to complete the detox process, and administer an equivalent dosage, then begin a taper. There is no exact or conclusive evidence to suggest the efficacy of one method over the other. Most physicians who manage detox on an outpatient basis are more likely to switch to another benzodiazepine to complete the tapering process. Benzodiazepine detox on an outpatient basis is typically a much longer process, likely because the taper is considerably slower, as to avoid both withdrawal symptoms and sedation. In a detox facility, medically safe and acceptable sedation is often a part of completing the process in a shorter period of time.
Ending Benzodiazepine Detox
Once the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal have faded and there is no longer a threat of seizures or other severe symptoms, clinicians will agree to completely withdraw the individual from the detox medications, resulting in the person being drug-free. It may take some time to accomplish this, depending on the individual and his or her circumstances, but benzodiazepine detox is usually completed within 10-14 days.
In some rare cases of severe benzodiazepine addiction, this process can take several weeks, as the drugs are slowly expelled from the system. Aside from seizures, the psychological symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can be unbearable, especially in individuals who have been using these drugs excessively and over prolonged periods of time.
Unfortunately, there is no easy and fast way to accomplish benzodiazepine detox, and it must be done safely to prevent potentially fatal seizures. However, once the process has been completed, those who were once dependent or addicted to benzodiazepines have a fresh and drug-free start on the path to recovery.
After Benzodiazepine Detox
It is highly recommended for individuals to enter into some form of addiction treatment after completing benzodiazepine detox. For those who were only dependent, and showed no signs of addiction or unmanageability in life addiction treatment may not be necessary. However, for individuals who abused benzodiazepines, even if another drug was the primary substance of abuse, recovery requires more than detox alone.
In addiction treatment, addicts can gain a wealth of knowledge and empowerment to ensure relapse prevention, health, and happiness in life. Some of the things inherent to treatment programs include:
- Individual Therapy to understand and address the underlying causes of addiction and destructive behaviors
- Group Therapy to establish friendships and fellowship with other addicts for support in recovery
- Classes and workshops to better recognize and handle dangerous people, places and things that may be triggers for relapse
- Establishment of healthy diet and life choices to promote optimal health, with proper body and brain function
- Discovery of recovery-friendly activities, events, and hobbies that can be continued once addiction treatment has been completed
- Development of a plan for completing treatment that consists of the best places to live and work, recovery supportive people and groups, and contact lists for those who can help if there is trouble in sobriety
All of these things are essential to staying sober and maintaining recovery from addiction to benzodiazepines and any other addictive drug or behavior.
Additionally, addiction treatment offers a wide variety of choices for methods, modalities, spiritual paths, and demographics, all to be tailored to the needs, preferences, and belief system of each individual in need of recovery. All of the options are available to ensure that every individual can feel safe and comfortable with his or her surroundings while in treatment.
If you, or someone you love is in need of benzodiazepine detox and/or addiction treatment, please don’t wait to get help. One of our trained counselors is available to speak with you now, so please call . We will speak with you about your situation, and help you to find the detox center that is best for your needs, or the needs of your loved one. Additionally, if addiction treatment is needed, we will help you sift through the various options to determine which will be most effective, relatable, and comfortable for you, or your loved one. Your family doesn’t have to live with benzodiazepine dependence or addiction. Help is available however you need it, and it is only one call away. So, please don’t wait and call now to get the help you and your loved ones need.