Benzodiazepine Detox, Side Effects, Withdrawal & Treatment
- 1 Benzodiazepine Detox, Side Effects, Withdrawal & Treatment
A benzodiazepine, or benzo, is the name of a class of drugs used to treat various conditions. Conditions commonly treated with benzos include insomnia, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even alcohol withdrawal. In addition, these substances act on the GABA receptors in the brain as they produce a very calming effect. Unfortunately, dependence can develop in as little as a month. High-risk patients or those with unstable medical conditions or a significant seizure history may benefit from admission to an inpatient service for benzodiazepine detox or withdrawal. 
Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain.
Types of Benzodiazepines
There are many different benzodiazepines on the market. Doctors may prescribe one over the other for several reasons. Perhaps their patients have seen more progress for one over the other, or the formulation of specific benzo is known to meet a particular client’s needs better. Furthermore, here is a list of the different types of benzos with their generic and brand names.
- Alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat)
- Estazolam (Prosom – discontinued brand in the US)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax – discontinued brand in the US)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
Benzodiazepine Side Effects
- Impaired Coordination
- Vision Problems
- Feelings of Depression
Long Term Side Effects
- Possible Dementia
- Physical Dependence
The most significant risk of using benzodiazepines and a reason to get into a benzo addiction treatment program is likely overdosing. With a capacity for developing a tolerance, the longer someone takes benzodiazepines, the greater dosage they will probably need to take to reach the desired effect. Hence, the greater the risk of overdosing. In addition, sedative benzos cause breathing to slow. In turn, less oxygen is directed through the lungs to the brain and the rest of the body. Finally, once you take a larger dose, breathing delays to the point of being fatal.
Basically, the benzo withdrawal symptoms will differ depending on how the detox process is administered. For instance, in a professional detox center where the client is weaned off properly, symptoms can occur and include feeling sleepy and depressed and sweating and chills. The following are the significant symptoms of withdrawal from benzos.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome 
Benzodiazepine withdrawal becomes much more severe and fatal most especially without medical supervision. You may develop Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome that could cause more painful effects to your body and mind.
- Muscle pain, stiffness, and aches (limbs, back, neck, jaw)
- Paraesthesia or shooting pains in neck and spine
- Visual disturbances (blurred vision, diplopia, photophobia, image lags behind eye movements)
- Faintness and dizziness, sense of instability
- Confusion, disorientation (may be intermittent): A common cause of disorder in older patients
- Delirium (in the absence of autonomic hyperactivity): Particularly in older patients
- Delusions, paranoia
- Hallucinations (visual, auditory)
- Grand mal seizures 1–12 days after discontinuing benzodiazepines
- Diarrhea (may resemble irritable bowel syndrome)
- Rebound insomnia, nightmares
- Anxiety, panic attacks
- Irritability, restlessness, agitation
- Poor memory and concentration
- Perceptual distortions – sensory hypersensitivity (light, sound, touch, taste), abnormal sensations (e.g., ‘cotton wool’ sensations)
- Metallic taste
- Distortions of body image
- Feelings of unreality, depersonalization, derealization
- Depression, dysphoria
Benzodiazepine Detox Withdrawal Timelines
Much like detoxing from other prescription drugs, benzo withdrawal timelines can differ from case to case. For someone who was using short-acting benzos, withdrawal symptoms may begin to present themselves in as little as 6 to 8 hours. However, if a longer-acting benzodiazepine was used, it could be 24 to 48 hours before symptoms are observed. Withdrawal symptoms typically last about four days. And, rebound symptoms may last about 2-3 days from when they begin.
Rebound Symptoms from Benzos
In addition to withdrawal symptoms, benzo detox most commonly also brings on rebound symptoms. Rebound symptoms are the return of symptoms that may have been present at the start of taking the medication, and the symptoms may intensify for a few days. This may include insomnia, anxiety, and stress. However, as the body adjusts through the detox process, these symptoms will likely subside or decrease.
Benzo Detox At Home
As mentioned above, Benzodiazepine detox can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. However, proper care can reduce the probability of developing these symptoms and ensure a safe detox process. Generally, this means that the individual detoxing will be weaned off of the substance slowly. Depending on their biology, dosage, and frequency of use, the time it takes to taper off will vary. Trying the Benzodiazepine Detox at home would be a grave mistake, as benzo’s withdrawal symptoms can be unpredictable and dangerous to deal with without medical assistance.
Benzodiazepine Addiction: Detox Treatment
Benzo addiction can have social and psychological effects on those who struggle with it. Some may find these effects to be the most significant difficulty they encounter. However, for others, it is the physical effects that are the scariest. When one stops taking benzodiazepines without tapering off, severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and even death can occur. For this reason, professional treatment at a medical benzodiazepine detox facility is crucial.
Once the benzo detoxification process has been safely completed, then an individualized treatment plan is developed. Most importantly, during treatment, individuals who have struggled with benzo addiction will learn skills and mechanisms to help them stay off these drugs and lead better lives. Possible levels of care include PHP, IOP, and outpatient treatment for benzodiazepine addiction.
If you or someone you love struggles with an addiction to Ativan, valium, or any other form of benzodiazepine, get them the help they need and deserve. Contact our team at We Level Up New Jersey to get started today!
[1-2] Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence – National Center for Biotechnology Information