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Information on Benzo Detox and Treatment

Last updated on: Monday, 4 December 2023
  • What You'll Learn

Benzodiazepine, or Benzo for short, is a commonly prescribed drug that can be highly addictive. Detoxing from benzodiazepine and treating any underlying addiction takes time and does not happen quickly. Treatment should include medical detox and residential care. You can also choose a state below to find rehabilitation services for your needs.

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Benzo Rehab

Treating benzodiazepine addiction requires specific steps. These drugs are highly addictive and create severe physical and psychological dependence.

A medically supervised detox is the first step. It’s critical to manage withdrawal symptoms with medical help. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, sweating, nausea, and insomnia. These symptoms can be severe, and attempting to detox without medical supervision can be dangerous.

Therefore, a medically supervised detox is recommended to ensure a safe recovery. This process is typically followed by residential drug rehab if the individual has a history of drug abuse and was misusing benzodiazepines. It is also common for people to become physically dependent on benzos when a prescription is taken longer than needed.

The following individuals may benefit from benzodiazepine detox and rehab:

  • Anyone experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. If a person is experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and insomnia when they stop taking benzos, this could indicate a physical dependence on the drug.
  • Anyone who cannot successfully stop using benzodiazepines. This could involve someone who has become addicted to benzos by abusing them or someone who was prescribed the medication. And cannot manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Individuals who have tried to quit but were unsuccessful. For those who have attempted to stop using benzos on their own but were unable to maintain abstinence, a detox and treatment program could provide the necessary support and treatment.

Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction involves medically supervised detox, behavioral therapy, and other treatments to help individuals overcome their addiction. As with any addiction, it’s essential to seek professional help to ensure a safe and effective recovery process.

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  • What type of drugs are benzodiazepines?

    Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a class of depressant drugs that are often called tranquilizers or sedatives. Benzodiazepines work by slowing down brain function, resulting in feelings of euphoria and other alcohol-like effects. There are many benzodiazepine drugs, but prescription medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are the most common examples.

  • What do benzodiazepines look like?

    Benzodiazepines usually appear as small prescription pills. Depending on the manufacturer, they can take on many different colors and shapes. However, the most notorious example is likely the high-dose Xanax bar. These wafer-like tablets are rectangular and usually yellow or white, with two or more score marks to break the pill into smaller doses. But benzodiazepines may also be round, oblong, in capsules, or powder form, as is the case with newer illicitly manufactured benzodiazepines.

  • How long do benzodiazepines stay in your system?

    Some benzodiazepines are short-acting and leave the body within 24 hours. Other ones are much longer acting and can stay in the system for weeks. With heavy use, long-acting benzodiazepines can be detected in the urine for up to 30 days after last use. The time it takes for benzodiazepines to leave a person’s body mainly depends on how heavily the drug was consumed and the individual’s physiology.

  • Why are benzodiazepines so addictive?

    Benzodiazepines are incredibly addictive because of how they affect a person’s neurochemistry. Once dependence develops, the body ceases to produce certain neurotransmitters and quitting benzos can become highly challenging. Normal functioning may take many months or even years, making the road to recovery very long. Stopping benzodiazepines once dependent isn’t safe without medical supervision due to health risks like seizures and death. These factors make benzodiazepine addiction one of the most challenging forms of substance use to treat.

  • How are benzodiazepines used?

    Benzodiazepines are primarily ingested orally. The drug is usually swallowed in pill form and rarely is found in other preparations. This is mainly because benzodiazepines aren’t water soluble and aren’t easily absorbed by different methods of ingestion. For example, snorting benzos produces little effect beyond what part of the drug is swallowed post-nasally.

  • How is benzodiazepine addiction or dependence treated?

    Medical detox is the first step. Suppose someone became dependent on the drug because of a prescription. Generally, the person would work with a medical practitioner to taper off the drug and then arrange to enter a medically supervised detoxification program.

    When someone has become addicted to benzodiazepine because of misuse, they would still require a medically supervised detox. Withdrawal symptoms are painful and difficult. It is always best to consult medical experts before beginning any form of detox.

    Following detox, a residential long-term program is the best choice for anyone struggling with a substance use disorder. Withdrawal symptoms linger, and there are difficult physical and psychological challenges to overcome.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from Addicted.org’s “Learn from our Experts” are answered by Michael Leach, CCMA. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at mike@addicted.org.

Common Terminology Surrounding Benzodiazepines

Term
Definition
Benzodiazepine Abuse
any consumption of benzodiazepine other than the dose and interval prescribed by a medical professional.
Benzodiazepine Detox
a process of tapering off benzodiazepines in order to manage withdrawal symptoms and safely stop using benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepine Overdose
respiratory depression caused by benzodiazepines (in small or large quantities) or by benzodiazepines interacting with another substance. This can lead to coma and death.
GABA Receptors
proteins found on the surfaces of nerve cells which make the nerves in the brain less sensitive to any kind of stimulation. Benzodiazepines attach themselves to these receptors to bring about a calming effect.
Hypnotic
a drug that induces sleep.
Tranquilizer
medication is taken to reduce tension or anxiety.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Author

AUTHOR

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Reviewer

MEDICAL REVIEWER

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.