Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs used to treat a wide variety of conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, epilepsy, muscle tension, insomnia, anxiety, and alcohol withdrawal. Commonly referred to as “Benzos”, these drugs can be highly addictive. Benzos are usually for short term use, when used longer, physical dependence or even addiction can develop.
Benzodiazepines change your brain’s chemistry with the intended result of being in a calmer state. This state of calm is usually due to a compound in the brain called dopamine. When taking benzodiazepines, the body essentially shuts down its own GABA production and then the body has very little ability to feel calm or relaxed on its own. When people use them longer, physical dependence or even addiction can develop in as little as four weeks.
Risks of At-Home Benzo Detox
Withdrawal from benzos can be potentially high risk when users stop “cold turkey”. The longer users have taken benzodiazepines or the higher the dosage is what will determine the severity of withdrawal symptoms. In order to prevent benzodiazepine withdrawal deaths, a detox facility that is medically supervised around the clock is strongly recommended.
Benzo detox can be extremely taxing and difficult to go through without being in a structured environment and under the care of medical professionals. Without the use of medication to assist in reducing physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, the likelihood of relapsing is high and there is the risk of overdosing on the drug.
Some symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid pulse
- Panic attacks
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
Along with these symptoms, the person may experience severe cravings for the drug or other drugs to sedate them. Therefore, they should continue receiving mental health support for as long as needed.
Detoxing is when you safely remove substances from the body. Treatment choices can include ambulatory, clinically managed residential, and medically supervised. Facilities can use medication-assisted treatment to help guests detox from benzodiazepines safely and comfortably. Medications, such as gabapentin, are sometimes prescribed to help reduce the severity and length of symptoms and can reduce cravings in the long term.
In addition, benzo detox has a much higher rate of recovery, while other detox forms have high relapse rates. After all, only going through benzo detox usually isn’t enough to lay the foundation for lasting sobriety. As a result, many people attend an addiction treatment program after completing benzo detox.