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Benzodiazepine Withdrawal, What to Expect During Benzo Withdrawal

What to Expect During Benzo Withdrawal 

It’s estimated that over 30 million adults in the United States have used benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium in the past year. Misuse of these powerful medications accounts for approximately 20% of overall benzos use, even though most of the individuals misusing benzodiazepines initially took the drugs under a doctor’s supervision. 

While benzos can be very effective in treating anxiety, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not intended to be taken on a long-term basis. Using these drugs for an extended time period drastically increases the risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction

People who are abusing benzos can detox and begin their recovery journey with access to the right treatment resources. In this post, we’ll discuss what to expect during the withdrawal process and how Waypoint Recovery Center can help. 

Common Symptoms Associated With Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to a wide range of both physical and emotional symptoms. For example: 

  • Anxiety. Benzodiazepine withdrawal often results in heightened levels of anxiety, which is typically characterized by an increase in feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and unease. 
  • Insomnia. Insomnia, which includes difficulties in both falling asleep and staying asleep, is often associated with the withdrawal process.
  • Irritability. People going through benzos withdrawal may find themselves more prone to emotional fluctuations and may easily lose their temper or become agitated. 
  • Tremors. Physical manifestations of withdrawal may include involuntary shaking or trembling of the hands and, in some cases, other parts of the body.
  • Muscle stiffness and pain. Benzodiazepine withdrawal often leads to muscular discomfort, with people reporting aches and pains throughout their body that have no other identifiable cause. 
  • Headaches. The abrupt alteration in neurochemical activity that occurs when a person stops using benzos can lead to increased sensitivity to stimuli, resulting in headaches of varying intensity.
  • Sweating. Profuse sweating may occur during withdrawal, which can be quite uncomfortable. 
  • Nausea and vomiting. Withdrawal can lead to feelings of nausea as well as vomiting, similar to what you would experience with the stomach flu. 
  • Hallucinations. In some instances, benzodiazepine withdrawal may lead to sensory disturbances, including perceiving things that are not real.
  • Seizures. In severe cases, benzodiazepine withdrawal can pose the potential for potentially life-threatening seizures. 

Duration of Withdrawal

Several factors can influence the length and severity of the withdrawal symptoms a person experiences during detox, including the specific benzodiazepine used, the duration of use, the dosage, individual differences in metabolism, and the presence of any underlying medical or psychological conditions.

Here’s a general timeline of how benzodiazepine withdrawal progresses:

  • Early withdrawal (days 1-4). Initial symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and muscle stiffness, often start within the first few days after discontinuing the use of benzos. These symptoms can be particularly intense during this period.
  • Peak withdrawal (weeks 1-2). The most severe symptoms usually occur during the first one to two weeks after stopping benzodiazepines. This period may include heightened anxiety, sleep disturbances, and other physical or psychological symptoms.
  • Subacute withdrawal (weeks 3-4). While the most acute symptoms will likely start to improve after the first few weeks, some individuals may experience lingering symptoms for several weeks or even months. These may include residual anxiety, insomnia, and other mood disturbances.
  • Protracted withdrawal (can last months to years). Some individuals may experience protracted withdrawal, where symptoms persist for an extended period. This is more common in cases of long-term benzodiazepine use, high dosages, or rapid discontinuation.

It’s important to note that not everyone will follow this timeline, and individual variations are considerable. Your health care provider can offer information about what to expect from withdrawal that considers your specific circumstances. 

How Waypoint Recovery Center Can Help

Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina residential addiction treatment program provides comprehensive care and support for men and women going through benzodiazepine withdrawal. Here are some measures we take to help our clients safely begin their recovery journey:

  • Medically managed detox. Medical professionals are available to monitor vital signs, assess symptoms, and make adjustments to the detox plan as needed. In some cases, a gradual tapering of the benzodiazepine dosage may be recommended to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • Individualized treatment plans. We believe that tailoring treatment plans to each individual’s needs is crucial. Factors such as the specific benzodiazepine used, the duration of use, and the person’s overall health are considered in creating a personalized plan. This may include medications to alleviate specific withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapeutic support. Our program incorporates various therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual counseling, and group therapy. The goal is to help our clients address the psychological aspects of addiction and develop coping skills for managing triggers.
  • Holistic therapies. We incorporate holistic approaches, such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques, to help clients manage stress and promote emotional well-being.
  • Peer support. Group therapy sessions and support groups provide a sense of community and understanding for people with substance use disorders. 
  • Continued aftercare. Gradual reintegration into daily life, along with ongoing outpatient support, helps people seeking treatment for substance use disorders maintain their recovery momentum and manage any ongoing challenges. Our team develops aftercare plans for all clients to support their transition back to independent living. 

If you would like to learn more about how our services could help you—or your loved one—begin the path to recovery, please contact our admissions representatives today. In addition to answering any questions you may have about our services, they can assist with verifying your insurance coverage to help you better understand the potential cost of seeking treatment.