Everyone knows that abusing drugs can cause significant damage, but they may not know how long withdrawal takes. Buckhead Behavioral Health understands the benzo withdrawal timeline can seem challenging. For this reason, we offer several ways to help minimize withdrawal symptoms so that each person enjoys an easier time becoming sober. We provide several outpatient programs to fit the needs of individuals and make sure they are as comfortable as possible.
What Are Benzos?
Benzos, which is short for benzodiazepines, are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule IV controlled substance. These types of drugs have legitimate medical uses but also carry a risk of a person becoming addicted to them. Benzos are often prescribed to people who suffer from anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression. In addition, they often prove helpful in the treatment of certain sleep disorders and seizures.
Benzos attach to receptors in a person’s brain, which causes an effect on the central nervous system. As a result, people with anxiety feel calmer and less on edge. Common brand names for benzodiazepines include the following:
In general, doctors recommend that people use benzos on a short-term basis, rather than habitually for long periods of time. This is due to the risk of developing an addiction to them. In fact, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that one in four older adults who use benzos go on to “risky long-term use”.
Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
Addiction to benzos can be hidden for a while by many people, but eventually signs will become apparent to others. Behavioral signs and symptoms of addiction include:
- Taking a higher dosage than the prescription or doctor’s recommendation
- Using benzos without having a prescription for them
- Developing a tolerance and having to take a higher dosage
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Doctor shopping: visiting more than one doctor in order to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Trying to quit taking benzos and being unable to do so
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as driving while under the influence
- Combining benzos with other drugs or alcohol
Other signs of benzo addiction include sleeping too much, lethargy, cognitive difficulties, and blurred vision. Many people also experience mood swings.
Common Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone becomes addicted to benzos and then stops taking them, they usually experience withdrawal symptoms. These can range from mild to uncomfortable to dangerous. How long the symptoms last varies because the benzos withdrawal timeline isn’t exactly the same for everyone. Physical withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Cognitive difficulties
In addition, many people experience psychological side effects. These can include depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability.
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Benzo Withdrawal Timeline
The benzo withdrawal timeline can differ in some ways, depending on the individual’s addiction history, and physical, and mental health. How much of the drug they took and for how long can influence their withdrawal experience. In addition, what type of benzos they take can determine how quickly the first withdrawal symptoms may begin.
When someone stops taking short-acting benzos, which include Xanax, Ativan, and Restoril, the symptoms usually start less than a day after they take the last dosage. Someone going off long-acting benzos may not experience initial withdrawal symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after the last dosage. Long-acting benzos include Valium and Klonopin.
The first day or two usually includes some of the common withdrawal symptoms and are uncomfortable for many people. This is considered the time of early withdrawal. The next few days are classified as the acute withdrawal time. Symptoms during this time tend to peak on day four or five and then start to decrease after that. For many, most of the symptoms end after ten to fourteen days. If the person was taking long-lasting benzos, they may last longer.
As well, while the physical withdrawal symptoms end around this time, psychological ones may last longer. This includes feelings of anxiety and depression. Cravings for benzos may continue for several months and can be addressed through treatment for addiction.
Can Medications Help Treat Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms?
One of the main reasons a person who is in recovery from benzo addiction feels tempted to relapse is the difficulty they feel when they experience withdrawal symptoms. One of the main issues is a person who used to take a benzo drug for anxiety now finds that the feelings of anxiousness return when they stop taking the drug.
Fortunately, medications are available that can help reduce anxiety related to going off benzos. A physician can assess a person to see if using an FDA-approved medication can help them. Some of the prescription medications available include buspirone. As well, other medications can help with benzo withdrawal symptoms, including flumazenil, phenobarbital, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Treatment center medical staff members can recommend any meds that may be effective and monitor the person to see if they help.
How is Benzo Addiction Treated?
When someone becomes addicted to benzos, it’s important not to try to address this alone. The safe way to get off benzos is under medical and psychological supervision from an addiction treatment team. The individual will need to attend detox as a first step. This process allows the person to release toxins built up during the course of the addiction. It provides the vital first several days in recovery. Many people attend a residential detox program, while some qualify for outpatient detox. This allows them to get the medical supervision they need during the all-important initial benzo withdrawal timeline.
The next step involves receiving continued treatment in order to keep the person in recovery. For many, one of the several types of outpatient programs can give them the focused support they need. Outpatient levels of care include outpatient drug rehab in Atlanta, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs. Outpatient programs can be designed to fit a person’s schedule and may include evening and virtual sessions.
A variety of types of talk and holistic therapy make up the backbone of treatment for benzo addiction. A person exposed to different kinds of therapy will be able to build up healthy coping skills and avoid the temptation to relapse.
Treatment for Benzo Addiction in Atlanta
Do you struggle with trying to stop abusing benzodiazepines and realize that you need professional help? Concern about the benzo withdrawal timeline may stop you from seeking the treatment you need. Buckhead Behavioral Health has the ability to help ease the process of going through withdrawal. Our skilled staff of clinicians provides medications that minimize many of the common withdrawal symptoms that happen, including physical and psychological ones. This type of care is available in several levels of outpatient programs we offer.
For more information about getting help for benzo addiction, visit our admissions page now. We can help you find your way out of addiction.