Benzodiazepines are commonly referred to as “benzos.” They are a group of drugs used to help anxiety and panic disorders. They are also commonly abused and misused by many people, whether they have been prescribed benzos or not. When they are suddenly removed from a person’s system, they will go through a benzo detox.
Benzo abuse occurs when people take more than the amount they are prescribed, or if they take the drug without a prescription. For people with a prescription, it is important to take exactly the amount prescribed for as little amount of time as possible. This is to prevent dependence, a problem that many doctors fail to warn their patients about before it is too late. Even taking pills like Xanax as prescribed for a long period of time can cause withdrawal symptoms. Anyone who has been regularly taking these drugs, prescribed or recreationally, has to exercise extreme caution when detoxing.
People who are addicted to prescription pills that didn’t get them from a doctor often find them in the medicine cabinets of friends and family. For this reason, it is incredibly important to store and dispose of medication properly, especially in a household with people like ex-addicts or teenagers in the house.
Benzos are especially dangerous when combined with other drugs, like alcohol. Both suppress the cardiovascular system, which can lead to coma and death if medical intervention isn’t immediately sought. Alcohol and benzos have very similar detox symptoms, and both can be very dangerous. This danger increases when both are abused at the same time.
Benzos are drugs used to treat anxiety such as Xanax and Klonopin. These drugs are easy to become dependent on and very hard to stop taking. Many people are under the false impression that these drugs may be safer to take or easier to detox from because they are medically prescribed, but this is not the case. Benzos have very strong detox symptoms and withdrawal can be life-threatening in some cases. Benzo detox needs to be done in a medically supervised environment.
When taken regularly, for a long period of time, or more than prescribed, a person’s body becomes extremely dependent on benzos. At The Florida House Experience, we know this means that extra precautions need to be taken during the detox period to ensure safety and comfort. Interestingly, the detox from benzos is similar to detox from alcohol. Both can have similar symptoms, lead to Delirium Tremens, and need to be treated medically.
Common symptoms of benzo withdrawal include:
- Irritability and anger
- Problems concentrating
- Poor memory
- Body aches and restless legs
- Burning sensations in the brain
- Muscle twitches
Delirium Tremens – often referred to as DTs, can occur in people who have been taking large amounts of benzos for an extended period of time. The amount and length of time varies for each individual, so there is no clear answer on who will get DTs and who will not. Either way, DTs can happen suddenly and include symptoms like:
Without medical treatment, DTs can lead to death or irreversible brain damage. Medical care is non-negotiable, but medical detox is the best precaution in preventing them from happening. DTs can occur in anyone, but they occur mostly in people who have been abusing the drug for a significant amount of time in high doses.
Some facts about benzo detox you may not have known:
- Chronic symptoms can last for months. Detoxing from these kinds of drugs takes a long time, especially if you have been on them for an extended period of time.
- Symptoms can be painful and sudden.
- You should stop taking these medicines gradually to avoid seizures and other negative symptoms. In a medically supervised detox, we make sure the right medicine is administered in the right dose.
- The medication used is crucial. This is another reason that a medical detox is important. Some medicines can help detox symptoms significantly, while others will only make it much worse.
- Food and nutrition can effect benzo withdrawal.
Sobering up and quitting benzos is possible, but it is a challenge. Many people find it too difficult to go through the initial stages of detox and end up relapsing before even a few days have passed. This brings about a sad cycle of abusing the medication, trying to get sober, hitting a low, and getting high again, only to continue in this same pattern.
Benzos directly affect the brain in that they suppress emotion and take the edge off of overwhelming emotions. As a result, when the benzos are taken away, it is like a floodgate of emotions comes rushing back. Neurotransmitters that were blocked when the drug was present are now unblocked. In addition to the emotional distress this can cause, it can also cause so much overwhelming stimuli in the brain that seizures can occur.
The Importance of Medically Supervised Benzo Detox
Benzo withdrawal brings with it intense emotion that can be overwhelming for the person going through it. For this reason, it is not just important, but necessary for people to withdraw from benzos in a medically supervised environment. We make sure to thoroughly assess each of our patient’s risk factors during detox and treat them ahead of time so that medical emergencies are prevented. We have therapists and doctors on-hand around the clock to assist with patient needs and to offer support and encouragement.
During a medically supervised detox, you can expect to go through an extensive physical and psychological evaluation to determine a baseline for your treatment. You will be prescribed medication as necessary to help with the symptoms of acute detox and to prevent medical complications. If you are diagnosed with any underlying medical conditions or mood disorders, those will be treated as well, with a separate course of medication.
Acute symptoms of detox usually last for approximately one week. During that time you will be monitored closely for any sudden changes in your vital signs. A therapist will be on hand to help discuss any issues that arise. Similarly, technicians are always available 24/7 and are specially trained to deal with detox and crisis if the need arises.
At the Florida House Experience, we want you to be as comfortable as possible. As your body gets rid of the benzos in its system you can rest as much as possible, eat nutritious food, and attend group sessions as much as possible without overly exerting yourself. As your symptoms get better, we will slowly wean you off of detox medication and get you started with your treatment recovery plan towards a happy, healthy, and sober future.