Benzodiazepines, or “benzos” or “benzies,” are prescribed to treat stress-related conditions including anxiety disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms and epilepsy. Drugs like Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) can be useful when prescribed for legitimate reasons, but they have potential to become highly addictive if abused.
Medical detox is recommended for anyone who wants to recover from substance abuse–especially if that substance is a benzodiazepine. Attempting at-home detox for any substance is foolish, but benzodiazepine detox is particularly risky if performed anywhere but a medically-supervised environment.
Benzodiazepine Use Has Skyrocketed
Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription grew from 8.1 million to 13.5 million–a 67% increase. With nearly 50 million benzodiazepine prescriptions written each year, they are one of the most prescribed medications of any kind.
This type of drug’s high potential for abuse and addiction is already alarming enough, but research says that these substances are also commonly used with alcohol or opioids. In 2015, 23% of fatal overdoses that involved opioids also involved benzodiazepines. This is a dangerous, deadly combination that impairs cognitive function, causes sedation and suppresses breathing.
Risks of Long-Term Benzos Use
Benzos affect a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA stalls or stops neuronal activity, but benzos make it more active, slowing down the central nervous system as a result.
Although benzos can be prescribed for legitimate reasons, long-term use and misuse can lead to disorientation, confusion, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, and impaired thinking, memory and judgment. The body’s fatty tissues can also store the substance, significantly increasing the length of time it takes for the body to fully eliminate it.
Symptoms of Benzos Withdrawal
Some benzos, like Xanax (alprazolam), are short-acting, and lead to a shorter withdrawal process, while others, like Valium (diazepam), are long-acting and cause an extended withdrawal process.
For most substances, the withdrawal process is categorized by a steady decline in symptoms, but withdrawal from benzos is entirely different. Symptoms range in intensity and frequency throughout the entire 7-10 day withdrawal process. Medical detox gradually tapers the amount of medication ingested until the dosage is so low that you don’t feel any discomfort.
Some of the most common types of withdrawal symptoms that occur within days of benzodiazepine cessation include:
- Head and body aches.
- Increased perspiration.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Panic attacks.
If you or someone you care about is abusing benzodiazepines, Boca Detox Center can help. Our Benzodiazepine Detox program is the first step you can take toward healing and recovery. Contact us at 561.271.7612 for more information.