- PrintArticle Summary
- Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs, and Detoxification
- Withdrawing From Benzodiazepines: Treatment Methods and Options for Help
- Detoxing, Addiction Treatment, Rehab, and Recovery
- Questions and Answers (FAQ)
Benzodiazepines are drugs that promote calm and sedation. They are used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and insomnia. They include drugs such as Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). 1Benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse and dependence. As a person continues to take them, their body becomes used to the effects. They may then need larger doses to feel the same effects as before (this is known as tolerance). Continued use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if the person suddenly reduces the dose or stops taking the drug. 2
The development of dependence may depend on the type of drug, the dose, how often the person took the drugs, and how long they took them. High doses of high-potency benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, may cause dependence faster than low doses of low-potency benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide. 3
More about Detox
Detox helps users overcome withdrawal symptoms so that they can begin counseling and rehabilitation in comfort and health.
Some benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be serious and even life-threatening. These drugs slow down brain activity, and when use is stopped, the person may experience a “rebound effect” in which anxiety symptoms or seizures may occur. 2 The best way to ensure a safe withdrawal is to seek treatment in a detox center or an inpatient or outpatient recovery program.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs, and Detoxification
Someone who is undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal typically experiences withdrawal symptoms as the drug leaves the body. These symptoms include:
For most people, the symptoms typically last about 5 days for short-acting benzodiazepines and up to a month for long-acting benzodiazepines. 4 However, in some cases, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms for a few months after stopping.
Withdrawing From Benzodiazepines: Treatment Methods and Options for Help
Different clinics use different forms of treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal and addiction. But most start with detoxification followed by counseling and behavioral therapy. People will normally decrease benzodiazepine doses under the supervision of a professional or switch to a longer-acting benzodiazepine to taper off these drugs.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, the person may be treated in a detox clinic or inpatient rehab center, or they might opt to use an outpatient service. People who have used benzodiazepines heavily and for long periods of time may need to go through withdrawal in a detox clinic or inpatient center, where they can receive around-the-clock medical care. People who have mild benzodiazepine dependence may be able to detox on an outpatient basis or under the care of a physician.
The longer the person has been using benzodiazepines, the longer detoxification and recovery usually take. Regardless of how long a person has been using, detox should be done under the care of a qualified medical professional.
Detoxing, Addiction Treatment, Rehab, and Recovery
Treatment programs address both the physical and the psychological components of addiction.
After the detoxification process, the hard work of recovery begins. If a person has been abusing benzodiazepines, they may enter a treatment program to address both the physical and the psychological components of the addiction. They learn relapse prevention strategies and techniques to identify and change the behaviors that contributed to their drug abuse. In a holistic rehab center, alternative medicine and activities such as yoga and meditation may also play a role in recovery.
Types of addiction treatment include:
- Outpatient rehab. Outpatient rehab programs are part-time programs. The person visits the treatment center on certain days of the week for therapy and other types of addiction treatment.
- Inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab programs are programs in which the person stays at the treatment center and participates in recovery activities during the day, including counseling, addiction education, relapse prevention training, and 12-step meetings.
- Individual and group therapy. Therapy is used to help the person investigate the underlying causes of the addiction and to teach methods to avoid taking benzodiazepines. Sometimes, the person feels anxious about stopping the drug because they believe the drug helps to normalize their life. Therapy can help make the person feel more comfortable about halting drug use.
- 12-step programs and support groups. Some people join a 12-step group such as Narcotics Anonymous so that they will have a strong support network during recovery.
|Benzodiazepine Information at a Glance|
|Form, Intake, and Dose||Interactions and Complications|
|Generic Name: Alprazolam, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Lorazepam|
Brand Name: Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan
Drug Forms: pills, tablets, capsules, injectable preparations, orally disintegrating tab, gel, oral solution 6
Administration Routes: oral, nasal (when abused), rectal, injection
Dose: varies; extended-release and immediate-release varieties
|Alcohol Interaction: can be fatal 6,8|
Prescription Medications: can cause a fatal overdose when combined with opioid medications 6,8
Contraindications: sleep apnea, respiratory problems, liver problems, myasthenia gravis, acute narrow-angle glaucoma 8
|Effects and Adverse Reactions||Substance Abuse|
|Short-Term: drowsiness, slurred speech, nausea, tremors, vertigo, altered vision, depression 7|
Long-Term: impaired memory and judgment, confusion, muscle weakness, lack of coordination 7
Overdose: measured by symptoms instead of dose
Overdose symptoms: drowsiness, confusion, loss of control over body movements, decreased muscle tone, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, coma, death 8
|Risk of Substance Abuse: High|
Signs of Abuse: depression, mood swings, respiratory problems
|Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms||Dependence and Addiction Issues|
|Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: 6 hours to 1 week 4|
Withdrawal Symptoms: anxiety, insomnia, dysphoria, tremors, and seizures 6
|Tolerance: Yes 6|
Cross Dependence: Yes 7
Physical Dependence: may develop when taken as prescribed or abused 6
Psychological Dependence: may develop when taken as prescribed or abused 6
|Legal Schedules and Ratings|
|Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule IV 6|
Questions and Answers (FAQ)
How Long Does Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Last?
The timeline of withdrawal can vary from person to person. Withdrawal effects may persist anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 4
Do You Have a List of Popular Slang or Street Names for Benzodiazepines?
- Nerve Pills
- Tranks 5
Are There Any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?
Detoxing without medical help can be dangerous. As mentioned above, withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, insomnia, and rebound anxiety, which can be distressing and even life-threatening.
There is no known home remedy or alternative medicine that can effectively relieve the effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal. To ease the severity of symptoms that come with detoxing, it is important to seek professional help.
How Long Does It Take to Detox From Benzodiazepines?
Detox can take anywhere from a few days to a month. 4 To research your options for a safe and healthy recovery from addiction, call 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? or fill out the form on the right-hand side of the page.
- The University of Minnesota. Drug Class: Benzodiazepines.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Which classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?
- Longo, L. P., & Johnson, B. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk, and alternatives. American Family Physician, 61(7), 2121-2128.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ). Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. Depressants.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). BENZODIAZEPINES.
- Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Benzodiazepines.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2008). Valium.