When you suffer from addiction to benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin or Ativan, quitting cold turkey is a very bad idea. Instead, you need medically supervised detox, possibly through a benzo taper. What is a benzo taper and how does it help you get through withdrawal?
A benzodiazepine taper takes place in a benzo detox center in which you can trust will help you safely end your physical addiction to these dangerous drugs. To truly understand what a benzo taper is, you need to first get to know the risks of ending benzo addiction. Understanding the symptoms of withdrawal and dangers you face helps you also know why you need the help of a quality detox center.
What is a Benzo Taper?
Benzos are highly addictive anti-anxiety and sleep medications sometimes used for other conditions, too. But when you face ending your use of these drugs, a doctor must help you do so safely. They do this through a benzodiazepine taper to reduce your withdrawal effects and chances of seizures, delirium or other serious symptoms.
What is a benzo taper, in terms of how it works? In a benzo taper, your doctor may switch you to lower doses. They could also switch to short-acting benzo like lorazepam or longer-acting benzo like diazepam. Sometimes this involves reducing your dose by up to 10 percent per week or decreasing dosage once monthly to get you to half of your regular dose. Meanwhile, your doctor can prescribe other types of medications to relieve some of your difficult withdrawal symptoms, such as sleep problems and anxiety.
A benzo taper often also uses methods like deep breathing, exercise, and psychotherapy to help with symptoms. A benzo taper can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete.
Tapering off Benzos Safely
If you are taking benzos for sleep, anxiety, or another medical condition, your doctor or physician can assist you to stop using those prescription drugs safely. The process will be to taper you off of benzos slowly over a predetermined period. This will reduce the severity of heavy withdrawal symptoms and will reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms like seizures or delirium.
Stopping benzos suddenly is not at all recommended because it may cause life-threatening seizures. The specific tapering schedule that your physician will put you on varies depending on the benzo you’re taking as well as other factors. If your doctor prescribes a slow taper of 3 to 6 months, they might include:
- Switching you from the short-acting benzo twin equivalent dose of a long-acting benzo
- Reducing her total daily dose by up to 10% per week in divided doses
- Reduce the dose every month until you are back at the original dose you were prescribed
- To prescribe some other meds to help with anxiety, sleep, or other troublesome symptoms
- Educating you are non-medicinal strategies to manage the symptoms like deep breathing, psychotherapy, and exercise
Some are able to taper off of benzos over a period of just 2 to 6 weeks. If your doctor decides to taper you off within a short period, they might include:
- Start you with an equivalent long-acting benzo dose for up to two weeks
- Prescribe anticonvulsants when you are at the maintenance dose
- Prescribe medications like sleeping aids or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help with anxiety, depression, or insomnia
- Decrease your dose to only once a day after about two weeks
- Reduce the dose to a quarter of your first dose after about four weeks
- Completely discontinue benzos after about six weeks
- Educating you and other non-drug therapies to help with depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. The recommendation is exercise, psychotherapy, or relaxation training.
Your physician might recommend a hospital admission or inpatient detox for the following reasons:
- You are taking extremely high doses of benzos
- You’ve experienced very severely and complicated withdrawal symptoms in the past
- You meet the criteria for benzo addiction and are suspected of having a high level of physiological substance dependence
- You are elderly in age
- You have reoccurring medical or psychiatric issues
If anything in the above column sounds familiar, then it may be safe and even life-saving to quit benzos under the guidance of professional medical addiction specialists. The consequences of detox and withdrawal could be very uncomfortable and, in some cases, fatal.
Benzo Dependence and Addiction
Benzo dependence is a condition for individuals who have been taking benzos for so long that the body has become physically dependent on them. Individuals who take benzos may develop a tolerance to the effects that the drug produces, which means they will require higher doses to get the same results as before. Benzo tolerance will tend to grow quickly and will diminish their effects when taking for more extended periods for conditions such as insomnia or anxiety.
When the tolerance starts to build, individuals will begin taking more benzos to get the same effect in which will develop both a psychological and physiological dependence. This dependence will happen within just a few weeks or months.
What Happens to Your Body When You Become Dependent on Benzos
When individuals start taking benzos, the body essentially shuts down it’s GABA production which gives the body fewer signal bursts to solidify a calm or relaxed feeling. Individuals who suddenly stop taking benzos or even start weaning off will feel severe anxiety and restlessness.
The individuals who use benzos long-term may start to display a compulsive drug-seeking behavior because of their dependence on the benzos to manage their anxiety or insomnia. They become hesitant to stop using benzos in fear they will start to suffer the same reasons why they started taking them initially. Individuals may also begin to combine benzos with alcohol to increase the desired effects.
Individuals who abuse benzos may develop a sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder, which is also referred to as an addiction.
Some signs and symptoms of a benzo addiction may include:
- Spending a great deal of time searching for and obtaining benzos
- Failing to fulfill work home or school obligations
- Still using benzos despite knowing the dire effects and consequences
- Blowing off important social and recreational activities to use benzos
- Experiencing powerful cravings that are unbearable until you’re able to use again
- Using benzos in dangerous situations like when driving or operating machinery
- Developing a tolerance which will require taking more benzos to attain the same effect as from before continually seeking benzos to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms
Benzo dependence and addiction can happen to anybody at any financial class and age. Chances are you started taking benzo’s as a prescription given from a medical professional, but many find themselves becoming dependent on the effects that are provided while using them. It is essential to know the dependence and addiction signs or symptoms and be able to know that there are addiction treatment centers they can help you through this process before it becomes incredibly uncomfortable and, in some cases, fatal.
Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
Individuals who have been using benzos heavily for a more extended period find it challenging to stop because of the consistent emergence of withdrawal symptoms. Withdraw from benzos will occur when they are cut down or even prevented from being used altogether.
The amount of time it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to occur will be different depending on the specific benzo used. When a more significant dependence develops, the short-acting benzos, like Ativan, are most known for giving the effect of withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 8 hours after the last dose. The withdrawal symptoms for the longer-acting benzos, like Valium, may not come about for up to a week after the previous treatment. Benzo withdrawal symptoms will include:
- Elevated pulse
- Panic attacks
- Unable to concentrate
- Sweating profusely
- Heavy heartbeat
- Hand tremors
- Nausea or vomiting
- Delusions or hallucinations
Although individuals who use benzos in large doses have a higher chance of withdrawal, this can also occur in others that are taking smaller doses as well.
Individuals who start going through withdrawal from benzos and other sedatives may experience delirium. Delirium is characterized by tactile, auditory, and visual hallucinations. Delirium can cause disruption in consciousness and cognition, which can lead to aggressive behavior with negative consequences. This is a key reason why individuals who have been using benzos for an extended period of time must seek professional medical assistance.
Depending on the risk and severity of the benzo withdrawal, the detox process might need to take place in a hospital or other medical facility. It is equipped to provide supervision and medical support throughout the detox process. In whichever setting, the treatment professionals will prescribe a tapered benzo dosing schedule at the start of detoxification and will adjust throughout that process.
There are detoxes that even take place in physician’s offices in the less severe cases of physiological dependence. Regardless of which setting, recovering from benzo addiction will require some form of medical supervision to help minimize the risk of complications, to make the process more comfortable, and to prevent any possible life-threatening situations if they arise.
Benzo Detox and Treatment
If a benzo addiction has gotten to the point where it becomes dependent, then just detoxing alone will not lead to the end goal of sobriety. A substance abuse treatment may be required to assist the individual in sustaining sobriety from benzos. When individuals start taking benzos for anxiety or other psychiatric conditions, they will usually need psychological care to help them lean off the effects of benzo addiction.
Researchers have concluded that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be beneficial while tapering from benzos. Studies revealed that individuals with panic disorders and receive ten sessions of CBT while slowly decreasing from benzos have three times the higher success rate than ones that do a slow taper without CBT.
There are quite a few different benzo addiction treatments. Medical professionals providing a benzo addiction treatment will help to improve the coping skills and recollect the behaviors that had initially been influenced by benzo abuse.
Addiction programs come in a few different ways and will include:
Inpatient Treatment for Benzos
Inpatient treatment will involve 24-hour medical care and observation. Inpatient rehab is usually for individuals with more severe addictions or co occurs of mental health and physical health conditions.
Luxury Treatment for Benzos
Luxury therapy is an inpatient substance abuse treatment program that offers a greater variety of amenities and services than a typical residential rehab program. There is a specialized therapy program such as art, equine, and music therapy programs that are available in a luxury rehab.
Executive Treatment for Benzos
An executive treatment residential program will cater to executives who wish to continue with work and daily life while in recovery. This program is meant for individuals who want to stay private and offer an elevated level of amenities and service compared to the more traditional rehab program.
Holistic Treatment for Benzos
This program will use an alternative holistic treatment approach to suppress benzo addiction. The holistic program will focus on the entire being, so their list of treatments is targeted towards improving the body, mind, and spirit.
Outpatient Treatment for Benzos
The individual will continue to live at home while attending therapy regularly. Outpatient benzo abuse treatment will involve therapy, medication management, and vocational training, usually a few days a week, a few hours per session.
If you find that yourself or a loved one is addicted to benzos, help is available. The withdrawal process for benzos can be extremely uncomfortable or leave deadly without the right professional advice and treatment. It is best to contact a detox or treatment program that can guide and comfort you through the process, along with achieving the end goal of lifelong sobriety.
Benzo Detox in Los Angeles
When you need a benzo taper, you can rely on an LA-based detox center. In Los Angeles, you receive the help and care you need for a healthy recovery from your benzo addiction. This treatment includes:
- Dual diagnosis detox
- Residential treatment program
- Aftercare program
- Trauma-informed care
- Family therapy program
- Psychodrama therapy program
Talk to LA Detox today to learn more answers to your question of, “What is a benzo taper?” When you get the answers, care and treatment you need at LA Detox, you can start a new life in recovery. Contact LA Detox now to learn about benzo detox.