Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Benzodiazepines a.k.a. “benzos,” are among the most common that doctors tend to prescribe. They are classified as sedative-hypnotic medications, which is a drug that reduces anxiety and induces sleep. Addiction to benzos often requires a medical detox to break the physical addiction so there’s minimal discomfort to the individual.  

Not all sedative-hypnotics are benzodiazepines, but benzo’s do make up the majority of sedative-hypnotics. Benzodiazepines act rapidly and are extensively bound to plasma proteins, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. Benzos have properties that induce sedation, anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety, and overall relaxation.  

Benzos include the following medications:

  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Estazolam
  • Chlordiazepoxide 

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment in Los Angeles often begins with help from a benzo detox center, where you can manage uncomfortable and often dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Signs Of Benzodiazepine Addiction

When an individual needs more of the medication to get the same effect, it’s a strong indication that tolerance has developed. If that medication is suddenly discontinued, withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, a person may take other drugs or begin using alcohol as a substitute.  

If the idea of not being able to take any more medication creates feelings of deep anxiety, it is possible that some level of dependency has developed.

If you believe a loved one may be addicted to benzo’s lookout for common addictive behaviors such as:

  • Financial problems
  • Avoiding friends or family
  • No longer participating in hobbies or interests
  • Missing work or issues at work
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship problems 
  • Lack of self-awareness (self-care)

Benzodiazepine Side Effects

therapist and client in Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

The most frequent side effects of benzodiazepines are extensions of the drug’s effect, i.e. light-headedness or drowsiness. Significant benzodiazepine side effects without a link to pharmacological activity can include hostility, aggressiveness, amnesia, insomnia, and depression. Furthermore, certain subsets of the population tend to abuse benzodiazepines and that can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

The following adverse events have been reported in association with the use of alprazolam: seizures, hallucinations, depersonalization, taste alterations, double vision, elevated bilirubin, elevated hepatic enzymes, and jaundice.

Common negative side effects from the use of benzos have been reported as:

  • High bilirubin levels
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Disconnection from one’s body and thoughts
  • The presence of jaundice
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Benzodiazepine Risks

No drug is 100% safe, that is the reality. Benzos have high rates of dependency and addiction. Like many other pharmaceuticals, they also impact fetus development when taken by a pregnant woman.  

Benzodiazepine addiction can ultimately cause a cruel twist of fate. The user may actually end up worsening the symptoms the drug was intending to cure. Individuals become more anxious and have more difficulty sleeping. Dealing with life in general without having constant access to benzos adds to the stress and anxiety that is already a consistent issue. 

A prescription to a benzodiazepine should be used in conjunction with other lifestyle recommendations by your doctor. Benzos are often seen as more of a short term solution until the user can modify lifestyle behaviors. Long-term prescriptions are rare and are generally only for patients with chronic, severe anxiety, where the quality of life outweighs the risk of addiction.

Benzodiazepine Dependence

Physiological dependence on benzodiazepines means an individual is susceptible to withdrawal symptoms whenever benzodiazepine consumption ends. It typically takes a significant length of time of daily use to become physically dependent on benzodiazepines. Dependence typically occurs following prolonged treatment with therapeutic doses. 

There is no definitive time frame that psychological dependence is reached. This factor is defined by how long a person has been using benzos and to what frequency. Also, depending on the individual, mixing benzos with substances such as alcohol or other prescriptions will increase the risk of addiction and dependence.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Drug withdrawal or benzo withdrawal is defined as a group of symptoms that occur once an individual immediately discontinues the use of benzodiazepines. The presence of these signs is known as physical dependence. 

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Signs:

  • Sleep issues
  • Increased irritability 
  • Unreasonably tense
  • Increased anxiety – even intense panic attacks 
  • Tremors
  • Profuse sweating and the “chills” 
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Upset stomach
  • The “Shakes” also known as tremors

In more severe cases, it has even been reported that individuals will have seizures when they stop using Xanax. Benzo withdrawal is very serious and should be supervised by a medical professional to minimize the discomfort.

Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

The risk of developing significant withdrawal symptoms is related to dosage and duration of treatment. Potential withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Shaking/tremors 
  • Muscle stiffness/pains
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiousness 
  • Night Terrors
  • Easily Irritable 
  • Seizures 
  • Tire or fatigue easily

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are typically more severe when detoxing from higher doses. They are contingent on several factors, such as how long the person has been using, how frequently, and if they are mixing with other substances. 

Withdrawal symptoms for benzos tend to be more intense when a person has been taking higher doses. Due to the severe nature of many of these symptoms, medical detox is often required. Without proper medical supervision, the serious nature of the side effects will not be managed. Attempting to detox alone can lead to stroke, seizures, or even death. 

The withdrawal process from a normal dose of benzos may result in symptomatic patterns. The most common is temporary anxiety and insomnia, usually within the first 1 to 4 days of discontinuing on whichever drug. 

There is another possibility of a full-blown withdrawal syndrome, which usually lasts 10 to 14 days. Finally, the third possibility may give individual anxiety symptoms, which will persist until they seek treatment.

What is Sedative-Hypnotic Withdrawal Syndrome?

Sedative-hypnotic withdrawal syndrome is a condition that occurs when someone abruptly stops taking sedative-hypnotic drugs. This includes benzodiazepines. This specifically relates to any person physically dependent on sedative-hypnotic benzos.

The syndrome comes with sleep disturbance, irritability, an increase in tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty in concentration, dry heaving and nausea, some weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain and stiffness, and a host of hallucinations or perceptual changes.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

There is no common type of treatment for benzodiazepine addiction. At LA Detox, we create an individualized addiction treatment program to help you through the first steps in the recovery process. The reason why a benzo detox center is the first step is that benzodiazepine withdrawal is potentially harmful and can include seizures, strokes, and death.

When choosing a treatment program for benzodiazepine addiction make certain they have a history of treating benzodiazepine withdrawals. Nothing is more certain to disrupt the recovery process than a bad detox. After detox, you can begin an inpatient addiction treatment program or intensive outpatient program (IOP) that provides full support through early recovery.

Learning how to get off benzodiazepines is not something you can just read in a book. It requires the skill of a knowledgeable physician, qualified counselors, and a detoxification center that knows how to make the recovery process safe, effective, and comfortable. Contact LA Detox today at (866) 932-8563 for the help you need through Benzodiazepine addiction treatment. 

Why is Benzo Detox the First Step?

The reason why a benzo detox center is the first step is that benzodiazepine withdrawal is potentially harmful and can include seizures, strokes, and death.

When choosing a rehab program for benzodiazepine addiction, make certain the center has a history of treating benzodiazepine withdrawals. Nothing will disrupt the recovery process more than an uncomfortable detox. 

After detox, you can begin an inpatient addiction treatment program or intensive outpatient program (IOP) that provides full support through early recovery.

Inpatient Treatment Program For Benzodiazepine Addiction

Inpatient treatment is a reasonable step for people suffering from drug addiction. Inpatient rehabilitation provides an opportunity to leave potentially harmful influences or environments.

Many benzodiazepine rehab centers offer inpatient care. Every individual’s needs are different depending on the specific amount of treatment needed. An inpatient approach might be the solution for the more severe addiction cases, with the in-house medications and hands-on medical staff within the facility. However, for the individuals in which cases aren’t as severe, you might not need the inpatient treatment services. 

An inpatient addiction treatment has a typical stay from 28-90 days, depending on the needs and progress of the individual. The more severe cases of addiction could require a 6 to 12-month stay to successfully complete. The patient may require therapy to be continued for longer periods of time to ascertain the individual in applying the skills learned during rehab and counseling. 

Intensive Outpatient Program For Benzodiazepine Addiction 

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) typically requires 2 to 3 hours a session, 2 to 3 days a week participating in counseling, and relapse prevention education. Many of these also include 12 step recovery support groups. 

Intensive outpatient programs are suited for individuals who require a higher level of care upon the completion of inpatient rehabilitation to carry on daily responsibilities or jobs. IOPs Will establish a treatment plan with progression goals. As goals are met, the number of sessions required for the patient each week will decrease.

Intensive outpatient programs are typically 6 to 12 months, with the number of days per week decreasing as time goes by, and progress is made.

Outpatient Treatment Program For Benzodiazepine Addiction 

Outpatient drug rehab programs offer much of the same treatment services, but patients are not required to live at the facility. They are permitted to return home at night, giving them the opportunity to fulfill daily obligations such as work, school, family, and finances. The downside to an outpatient program is the exposure to real-world situations, such as drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy behaviors. For this reason, outpatient programs are often recommended for those who have already completed a residential program.

While participating in an outpatient program, many people choose to live in a transitional living house. These houses provide a safe haven for newly recovering addicts to return to at night. They provide a healthy support group, drug testing, and structure.

Get The Treatment You Need Today

Learning how to get off benzodiazepines is not something you can just read in a book. It requires a knowledgeable physician, qualified counselors, and a detoxification center that knows how to make the recovery process safe, effective, and comfortable. 

Contact LA Detox today for the help you need through Benzodiazepine addiction treatment. 

References:

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment

https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/Conditions_Treated/Benzodiazepine_Addictions