Benzo abuse refers to the dependence and subsequent abuse of benzodiazepine medications commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders, insomnia, muscle relaxation, and seizures. Due to the addictive nature of these drugs, benzo withdrawal can be quite challenging. Thus, abruptly stopping benzos after long-term usage can trigger significant physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms. As such, it is vital to understand withdrawal symptoms and how to manage them effectively when starting treatment for benzo addiction.
Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs that act on the central nervous system. They enhance the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter, resulting in sedative and calming effects. While these medications are effective when used as directed for short-term use, prolonged or illicit consumption leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and eventual addiction.
Unfortunately, due to their calming and soothing effects, people often misuse and abuse benzos. Individuals abuse these medications by taking higher doses than prescribed or using them recreationally without a legitimate need. The pleasurable sensations and sense of relaxation that benzos produce make them appealing to those seeking an escape from stress or emotional pain.
Benzo abuse can lead to physiological dependence. Tolerance develops when higher doses are required to achieve the desired effect. This tolerance can then progress into addiction if consumption continues despite negative consequences in one’s life.
In addition to recreational use, some individuals misuse benzos by combining them with other substances like alcohol or opioids, known as polydrug abuse or “cocktailing.” This combination amplifies the sedative effects but also increases the risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and potentially fatal consequences.
Abusing benzos can have various detrimental effects on an individual’s physical and mental health. Extended or excessive use can result in cognitive impairment, memory problems, diminished coordination, drowsiness, confusion, and even respiratory issues. Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines may also lead to social isolation, relationship conflicts, job loss or underperformance, financial difficulties, and legal troubles.
Benzo Abuse Risk Factors
Several risk factors contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to abusing benzos. For starters, people suffering from anxiety disorders, insomnia, or other psychiatric conditions may be more likely to misuse or become dependent on benzos as a way to alleviate symptoms. Next, individuals with a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or other drugs, are at a higher risk for abusing benzos.
Some studies suggest that genetic factors play a role in determining an individual’s vulnerability to substance abuse, including benzo addiction. In addition, the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or personality disorders can increase the likelihood of benzo misuse as individuals attempt self-medication.
Peer influence, social pressure, easy access to prescription medications, and other environmental factors where drug use is prevalent can also contribute significantly to benzo abuse. Furthermore, insufficient awareness about the dangers and addictive potential of benzos creates opportunities for misuse and dependence.
Benzo Addiction and Withdrawal
Benzo addiction occurs when an individual develops a physical and psychological dependence on these medications. Prolonged or excessive use of benzo drugs leads to tolerance, where higher doses are required to achieve the desired effects. Over time, tolerance progresses into addiction as individuals become compulsively driven to seek and use benzos despite negative consequences in their lives.
When someone with a benzo addiction tries to stop or reduce their dosage, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. Benzo withdrawal can be challenging and even dangerous due to potential complications such as seizures. Withdrawal symptoms typically emerge when the benzo levels in the body drop significantly after abruptly stopping or rapidly tapering usage.
Common withdrawal symptoms include rebound anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, muscle tension and stiffness, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and blood pressure. In severe cases without proper medical supervision during withdrawal, seizures can occur along with hallucinations and delirium.
Proper management of benzo withdrawal often involves a gradual tapering process under close medical supervision to minimize discomfort and mitigate potential risks associated with abrupt discontinuation. Additionally, individual therapy, support groups, and holistic therapies play essential roles in addressing underlying issues contributing to addiction to ensure successful and long-term recovery.
Benzo Detox Timeline
The timeline for benzo detox can vary depending on several factors, including the specific benzodiazepine being used, the dosage and duration of use, individual metabolism, and overall health. However, below is a general outline of the benzo detox timeline.
Early Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms (First 1-4 Days)
Shortly after reducing or discontinuing benzo use, individuals typically experience rebound symptoms such as:
- Increased anxiety
- Muscle tension
Peak Withdrawal Symptoms (First 1-2 Weeks)
During this period, benzo withdrawal symptoms tend to intensify in severity. Common symptoms include:
- Heightened anxiety or panic attacks
- Muscle twitching
Subacute Withdrawal Symptoms (Weeks 3-4)
By week 3 or 4 of withdrawal from benzos, the intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms generally starts subsiding. However, mood swings, tiredness, cognitive difficulties, and cravings can persist during this phase.
Beyond Week 4
For some, the psychological symptoms continue to linger for several months. This period is referred to as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms). However, with continued support and ongoing treatment, these symptoms do subside eventually as well.
Compassionate Care for Benzo Withdrawal in Nashville, TN
You do not have to take the first steps to overcome benzo addiction alone. At Detox Nashville, our compassionate and supportive team of experts is here to help you begin your recovery journey. We’ll be with you every step of the way. We offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs to help you start a new life free from addiction.
Contact us today to get started on the path to recovery with our safe and effective benzo withdrawal treatment in Nashville, TN.