Benzodiazepines, more commonly referred to as benzos, are anti-anxiety sedatives typically used to treat conditions like insomnia, panic attacks, epilepsy, and even alcohol withdrawal. Despite its widespread use, this type of habit-forming prescription drug poses a high risk for addiction development, especially if you’ve used it for extended periods of time. Overcoming a benzo addiction is especially challenging and almost impossible to do alone. This is why careful medical supervision is essential to benzo addiction recovery, and the first step is a process called detoxification.
Detoxification, or detox, is your body’s natural way of removing toxins— like drugs. So, benzo addiction detox is exactly what it sounds like. The process stabilizes your body by purging any lingering traces of benzos. It sounds easy enough, but in reality, the detox process is extremely difficult. Part of the reason why is because benzo withdrawal symptoms can be very intense. With round-the-clock supervision and medically-assisted withdrawal in a rehab facility, however, your comfort during the benzos detox process is assured.
At TTCCare, our medical staff guarantees your comfort and safety during the benzo addiction detox process. Your sobriety is our priority.
About Benzo Prescriptions and Accessibility
Benzodiazepines have been a staple in prescription medication for more than 50 years; and the concerns surrounding their use have been around for just as long. Despite this, benzos are still classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and are widely considered to be among the top drugs prescribed in the U.S. today. Common over-the-counter benzos include:
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Restoril (temazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
These and other benzo-based drugs are prescribed to millions of people every year. A massive spike in prescription count can be found between 1996 and 2013, where the number of adult benzo users skyrocketed from 8.1 million to 13.5 million, casting a wide net of potential benzo addiction that has only since gotten worse.
The Development of Benzo Abuse and Addiction
Even when benzo prescriptions are taken responsibly, there is still the potential for addiction development. Unlike most other addictive substances, benzos can be rather easy to abuse, causing addiction to develop without notice. In fact, a lot of benzo abusers may deny having an addiction because they are genuinely unaware that one has formed. But how?
Addiction forms when the user builds a tolerance to the benzo prescription. This tolerance makes the user believe that the prescribed dosage isn’t as potent as it used to be. So, to get the previous effects, the user will abuse the drug—taking more and more of it than was recommended by their doctor. With time and increased usage, the addiction will have become so strong that the user has difficulty quitting.
Since many benzo abusers can’t or don’t recognize their addiction until it’s too late, it’s important to learn how to identify the warning signs.
The Warning Signs and Consequences of Benzo Addiction
Abusing a substance is always the precursor to addiction. With benzo prescriptions, abuse can become full-blown addiction in a matter of months. By looking for these signs, you have a better chance of determining the status and extent of your benzo addiction.
Signs and Side Effects of Benzo Addiction
Abusing benzos can bring about some very unpleasant side effects. The most common ones include:
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Aches and pains
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Shallow breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired coordination
- Headaches or migraines
- Memory lapses or forgetfulness
The more deeply engrained the addiction, the more intense the withdrawal. Benzos are exceptionally difficult to quit because of their heavy impact on the brain’s cognitive functions. These drugs essentially re-calibrate the brain to make the body believe that it cannot function properly without them. Therefore, the user’s physical response to abruptly quitting benzos is triggered by the brain’s newly-formed chemical dependency. Acute withdrawal symptoms may appear within days of stopping benzo use. These symptoms can vary greatly in severity, but usually include:
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Panic attacks
Benzo Overdose Deaths
Because benzos can become addictive so easily, they pose a high risk of overdose for users. In fact, the rates of benzo overdose-related deaths quadrupled between 1999 (0.58 per 100,000) and 2010 (3.07 per 100,000). Then, in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that benzos had become the second-leading cause of prescription drug overdose deaths, behind opioids.
Why You Should Avoid the Cold Turkey Method
While it may seem like a good idea to quit using the ‘cold turkey’ method, doing so might actually cause more harm than good. Going through withdrawal is something that happens to every user when they stop using a substance, but quitting benzos cold turkey can lead to any of the serious consequences listed above. For example, seizures are much more likely to happen during cold turkey withdrawal than you might think— and without immediate medical help, these seizures can be fatal.
Quitting cold turkey also yields higher relapse rates than detoxing does. One important thing to remember about relapsing is that when you fall back into old substance abuse habits, you fall hard. During withdrawals the user’s system is deficient of their drug of choice, when relapse occurs they may overload their body with a substance to get back to ‘normal’ dramatically increasing the risk of overdose. In benzo addiction, the user’s breathing or heartbeat my drop so low that it eventually stops altogether— death by overdose.
It’s scary to think that quitting cold turkey can have such deadly consequences, so that’s why it’s highly recommended that you seek help from a rehab facility with experience in benzo detox and withdrawal.
Benzo Addiction Detox
The first step in treating any addiction is purging the drug from your system through a process called detox. In the case of benzo addiction, the amount of time it takes to medically detox depends entirely on the patient, the type of benzo and the rate of intake (i.e. how much, how long, how frequently, etc.).
Medically-induced detox from benzos often involves a process called “tapering.” Tapering down a drug means reducing the dosage or using a less potent alternative at increasingly lower doses until the patient is “weened” off of the substance completely. Withdrawal symptoms can still appear during this process, but with medical supervision and as-needed intervention, they should not be life-threatening or even very serious. It is our goal at TTCCare to make your detox experience as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
Detox Today with Help from The Treatment Center
Detoxing in a medical setting within a rehab facility is always recommended in the battle against benzo addiction. Since benzo withdrawal symptoms can range anywhere from uncomfortable to unbearable, medical help is crucial for addiction recovery. At TTCCare, our team of trained medical professionals at the Residential Addiction Care facility have aided in the recovery of countless patients who have all gone on to live healthy, sober lives. We can do the same for you. If you’re interested in our detox program or would like more information, please call us anytime at (888)991-4395.