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Benzodiazepine Detox Process And Protocols

Benzodiazepine detoxification is the process of safely and effectively reducing chemical dependence. Sometimes with the use of other medications to minimize symptoms.

The Importance Of Medical Detox For Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine detox is difficult because the withdrawal symptoms from benzos are among the most severe of any substance. Withdrawal symptoms can include seizures and other potentially life-threatening symptoms making it very important for a licensed and accredited medical facility to oversee the physical detox and withdrawal process and help to curb symptoms while also providing therapeutic support.

Why is Benzo Detox Difficult?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that have a calming effect on people. These drugs can be prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety disorders or sleep disorders. Unfortunately, some people misuse their prescriptions or buy them illegally for recreational use.

When it comes time for someone who has been taking these drugs to stop using them, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety attacks, depression, and confusion.

To get through this difficult period while avoiding dangerous side effects from long-term abuse of benzos, some experts recommend going into a substance use treatment center for professional help detoxing from benzodiazepines.

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What Is Medically Assisted Detox?

Having medical professionals take care of the patient during the detox process can be life-saving. Benzodiazepine detox is often done in hospital settings under the supervision of addiction experts. The medical staff understand withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and complicated, so it is best to have them handle everything.

The first step toward benzodiazepine detox is usually administering a longer-acting benzodiazepine that will help calm symptoms of withdrawal. Sometimes there is an anti-anxiety medication given to ease symptoms. This is done to get the person stabilized and comfortable before they can begin gradually tapering off of this medication under medical supervision.

How Long Does Benzo Detox Take?

How long benzo detox lasts depends on the type of drug used, severity of dependence, and if the process is short-acting or long-acting.

Short-acting: short-acting benzodiazepines will typically require 4-5 weeks to detox from with medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms. In this process, a person will be gradually weaned off the medication.

The detox process can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks in an inpatient facility, to 6 months or even longer in outpatient settings.

Long-acting: long-acting benzodiazepines will require 2-3 months to detox with medical supervision. Medications can be taken as needed for relief of acute-phase symptoms.

If someone is abusing other drugs along with benzodiazepines, it will likely take longer to detox from both substances because the medication used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms has to address different physiological systems instead of one at a time.

Proper therapy and emotional support can also help speed up the process by stabilizing someone while a person goes through withdrawal. It helps alleviate the impact on their personal life.

STAGES OF BENZODIAZEPINE DETOX

There are two phases to this process:

STAGE 1: ACUTE MEDICAL DETOX

This is the period after someone stops taking benzodiazepines and may last for a few days where withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to panic, anxiety, depression, and confusion.

In the acute phase, the detoxification process is medically supervised because of these symptoms. Herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications are not recommended during the acute phase, unless a doctor prescribes them.

STAGE 2: PROTRACTED WITHDRAWAL

The protracted withdrawal phase of the benzo detox has two stages, the gradual withdrawal stage and post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Benzo detox has these long stages of withdrawal because of the way the benzodiazepines binding of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Various GABA receptors group to the Central Nervous System (CNS).

1. Gradual Withdrawal Stage

This stage lasts for months. Medications may be provided to help ease withdrawal symptoms, and all medications are slowly tapered off.

2. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Symptoms can last for at least a year and include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even further brain fog.

Find Help For Benzodiazepine Addictions

There are several facilities where one can get help with benzodiazepine detox. Helping yourself or someone you love get through the detoxification process safely is crucial.

If you need help, please visit our directory that has resources for benzodiazepine abuse and where one can find drug rehab centers near them.

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/benzodiazepine/length-of-withdrawal

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-profiles/benzodiazepines_en

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.

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