What Is Benzodiazepine Detox?
The first step in overcoming a Benzodiazepine addiction is detox, or detoxification. Benzodiazepine detox is used to help patients safely and successfully purge their bodies of Benzodiazepines, or Benzos, so that they can proceed to the next stage of addiction treatment. This can be achieved under professional medical supervision which can take the form of prescribing lower doses or a less potent Benzos to gradually decrease dependency.
Benzodiazepines, are prescription drugs used to treat a wide variety of conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, and epilepsy. Benzos are also some of the most widely abused drugs, especially when mixed with other substances. Regardless of whether Benzos are taken legally or illegally, they are highly addictive. Even short-term Benzo use can rewire the brain. Eventually, the body becomes so adapted to the presence of Benzos that it can no longer function “normally” without them. When deprived of these drugs, the mind and body often react negatively as they stabilize. This is known as withdrawal.
Withdrawal can be extremely difficult to get through, and many find it is one of the greatest challenges they ever face. Symptoms such as panic, insomnia, hallucinations, elevated heart rate, and tremors can make patients miserable. In addition to the symptoms of withdrawal itself, the uncomfortable symptoms that the Benzo was originally prescribed to treat often reappear. This makes detox doubly challenging. However, the addiction as well as the symptoms of withdrawal can intensify the longer treatment is put off, making detox even more difficult.
Other drugs may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms Benzos can cause. These drugs are used to taper down Benzo use by issuing smaller sized doses as a way to ease the body into recovering from dependence.
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Phases of Benzodiazepine Detox
There are two phases associated with Benzodiazepine withdrawal in which medically-supervised detox can reduce symptoms: Acute Withdrawal Phase and Protracted Withdrawal Phase. Each phase comes with its own ghastly symptoms, (some overlapping into both phases), but these gradually diminish as time goes on.
Acute Withdrawal Phase
The initial phase in Benzodiazepine detox is the Acute Withdrawal Phase. This phase is characterized by the illness many Benzos were specifically created to reduce: anxiety. The anxiety-induced state resulting from Benzo withdrawal can produce feelings of hypersensitivity. There have been cases of users feeling sensations of swaying motion or hallucinations of distortions of themselves and the world around them.
This initial phase can last 5-28 days with symptoms returning in the Protracted Withdrawal Phase. Some other symptoms one might experience in this phase can include:
- Panic attacks
- Feelings of excitement
- Muscle pain
Other symptoms within this anxiety-filled state include depersonalization comprised of feelings of unreality and extreme sensitivity to light and sound in the environment.
These feelings creep into nighttime where sleep cycles are affected. Depending on the drug initially abused, users can experience insomnia and lack the ability to sleep. However, more terrifying experiences can occur, including nightmares and other sleep disturbances.
Protracted Withdrawal Phase
The Protracted Withdrawal Phase consists of many of the same symptoms as the first phase, but in a reduced state. The body is attempting to accept life without the drug, thus enabling some normal functioning in the brain to slowly redevelop. Because the initial shock of not having the drug within its system has passed, these symptoms are declining. However, symptoms are still prevalent.
Some symptoms still present during the Protracted Withdrawal Phase include:
- Lesser forms of anxiety
- Mild insomnia
- Numbness or burning pain in limbs
- Feelings of vibrations or trembles within the skin
- Muscle spasms or muscle weakness
- Tremors or jerking motions of the body
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People who have been taking Benzos for an extended period of time, especially for over a decade, can experience the worst effects of withdrawal. This can develop into “post-withdrawal syndrome” and last for years after their last dose.
Otherwise, these symptoms are typically experienced at a diminishing rate within one year.
Is Inpatient Detox or Outpatient Detox Better for Me?
Inpatient Benzodiazepine detox requires patients to stay at the detox facility 24-7 to ensure proper medical care is received. Outpatient detox requires patients to regularly check in to the detox facility, typically during the day, while living at home and carrying on other responsibilities. Inpatient and outpatient detox can both efficiently help you detox if the specific program provides the proper medical assistance.
Anyone can benefit from inpatient treatment, and it is recommended in almost all circumstances. This type of care gives a closer, more in-depth analysis and treatment, consisting of 24/7 care from doctors and nurses. It is highly recommended that users taking more than 50mg per day of any Benzo should seek treatment within an inpatient setting. Inpatient treatment is best for extreme drug abuse such as routinely taking high doses or prolonged use that has increased tolerance of the drug.
Outpatient treatment can still benefit treatment seekers who have either just started an addiction or have a lower level of dependence of Benzos. Outpatient treatment is also seen as an advantage to those who have prior responsibilities such as work or taking care of their children.
Seeking Out Benzodiazepine Detox
Benzodiazepine detox can be a long, ongoing process but is necessary to overcome the addiction. If you or a loved one need help in finding a treatment center for Benzodiazepine detox, please contact a dedicated treatment specialist today.
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