Benzodiazepines, including medication such as Xanax or Klonopin, are prescription drugs that are used to treat anxiety. In many cases, the prescribed drugs may be necessary to manage a mental health concern, but benzos are highly addictive, and people can become physically and psychologically dependent on them. That can make it difficult to stop using benzos when you’ attempt to, and it also leads to abuse of the drugs — even by people who haven’t been prescribed them in the first place.
Options for safe benzodiazepine detox do exist, though, and depending on your needs and situation, you may be able to accomplish this either at home or in an outpatient or inpatient rehab environment. Contact FHE Health to learn more about our benzodiazepine detox options in Florida.
Why Is Benzo Detox a Critical Step in Benzo Addiction Recovery?
Many people are under the false impression that benzos are safer to take or easier to detox from because they are a prescription drug given to them by their doctor. And while you can safely take benzos under the care of a physician to help with specific conditions, they are actually not always safe and easy to detox from.
Even someone who has only taken the medications as prescribed by their doctor may experience worrisome withdrawal symptoms. If the user attempts to quit the meds ‘cold turkey’, it can cause withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, many physicians work with patients so they can stop taking benzos gradually when the appropriate time arrives. This is actually a form of detox from benzos!
In some cases, however, it’s not enough. If someone has started using more benzos than were prescribed, is abusing benzos outside of a prescription or is simply very physically addicted to benzos, they may have difficulty quitting. Their use is reinforced by the painful and terrifying withdrawl symptoms they beign eto experience. These triggers drive them back to abuse of the substance. In these cases, a more sophisticated approach to detox may be required.
Benzodiazepine Detox: Popular Benzos that May Require Detox
Benzodiazepines are used to treat a variety of disorders, symptoms and conditions, including anxiety and nervousness, alcohol withdrawals, seizures, panic disorders, muscle spasms, problems sleeping and even some cases of premenstrual syndrome. In 2013 alone, 13.5 million adults in the United States filled a prescription for benzos, and they continue to be popular medications today.
Drugs within this family include:
- Xanax (generic name, alprazolam)
- Klonopin (generic name, clonazepam)
- Librium (generic name, chlordiazepoxide)
- Valium (generic name, diazepam)
- Ativan (generic name, lorazepam)
Most benzos are prescribed in an oral form, via tablet or capsule, with both regular and extended-release versions. Some are also available in liquid form or for injection, which can be easier for some people to abuse.
Why Do Benzos Cause Withdrawal Symptoms and What to Expect
Benzos work by making chemical changes in your body. Specifically, they increase the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. These are one of the ways the brain communicates, and when you have more GABA in your system, your stress reactions (such as fight-or-flight) are calmed. That can help to reduce feelings of anxiety.
When you take these drugs regularly, your body becomes used to a higher-than-normal level of GABA. The body doesn’t produce its own natural levels of these chemicals, and when you stop using benzos, you’re left with a deficit. That can cause physical withdrawal symptoms and make your anxiety and mood difficult to manage.
Some common benzo withdrawal symptoms include:
- Irritability and anger
- Problems concentrating
- Poor memory
- Body aches and restless legs
- Sweating or night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Burning sensations in the brain
- Muscle twitches or spasms
Depending on what type of benzo you are addicted to, how much you take on a regular basis and how long you’ve been physically dependent, your withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or months. However, withdrawal symptoms do tend to peak and fall off during the first few weeks, so the most painful, scary or uncomfortable symptoms are reduced over time.
Although rare, it is possible that a syndrome very similar to delirium tremens occurs during benzo withdrawal. Widely referred to in the medical world as DTs, delirium tremens is much more closely associated with alcohol withdrawal, but a condition with similar symptoms can occur during benzo withdrawal. Counterintuitively, the most common option for DT treatment in a medical setting is the use of benzodiazepines.
Whether it qualifies as DTs or not, it may cause an individual to experience symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, uncontrollable shaking, and death if left untreated. DTs is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate care from healthcare professionals; if you believe you are experiencing DTs after trying to quit benzos cold turkey or on your on, seek immediate assistance from first responders or your local emergency room.
How to Detox From Benzos: Options
Individuals who are struggling with a benzo addiction don’t have to put themselves at risk of DTs and other harmful withdrawal symptoms, though. Medical detox for benzodiazepines is possible, and you may have several choices in Florida.
- Home detox under the care of a physician. This usually involves weaning slowly off of benzos. Your doctor will work with you to reduce your prescription over time so you can come off the medication naturally. This may work if you’ve developed a mild dependence after using benzos for some time to manage anxiety or other symptoms.
- Outpatient assistance with detox. In some cases, individuals need a bit more support with their home detox. In addition to working with their doctor, they may also seek outpatient therapy via day programs, support groups or individual therapy sessions.
- Inpatient benzo detox. One of the most proven methods of breaking addiction cycles is via inpatient treatment, which removes distractions and drug triggers and lets you concentrate on getting well and sober. Some benefits of inpatient detox for benzo addiction include having clinical staff always nearby to assist you with withdrawal symptoms and therapeutic staff to help you understand the root causes of substance abuse and addiction so you can develop healthier coping mechanisms.
What to Look for in an Inpatient Benzo Detox
- A comprehensive assessment process. Your addiction or drug dependency is unique to you, and it’s important to work with a Florida benzo detox program that treats you as an individual and takes the time to understand what you need for detox and recovery.
- Comprehensive support. Medically supervised detox helps keep you safe and comfortable during the first days and weeks of rehab, and that can be critical to success. But you also need access to other forms of therapy, including individual and group therapy, recreational therapy and education about how lifestyle and other changes can support your recovery.
- Ability to treat underlying or co-occurring diagnoses, such as mental health disorders. For example, many people who become addicted to benzos also struggle with anxiety. Look for a Florida benzo detox and rehab facility that can help you with both.
- Treatment plans that include follow-up recommendations and assistance. Search for an inpatient facility that offers outpatient resources or refers you to the right providers and groups so you can continue your recovery journey after being discharged.
Benzo Detox at FHE Health
At FHE Health, we create the most comfortable environment we can for those seeking any of our addiction treatment or detox programs. Patients are supported 24/7 by caring, expert staff, and we work with you from your first call to us into post-recovery follow-up to ensure you have the best chance of breaking free from your dependency on benzos and living a benzo-free life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get through benzo withdrawals and see success with recovery.