Understanding the process of benzodiazepine detox is essential if you or your loved one is likely to go through it. Withdrawal is usually accompanied by significant physical discomfort, and the fact that a dose of the drug could reduce the symptoms makes it even more difficult to abstain. Generally speaking, it’s better to gradually reduce the amount you’re taking rather than stopping abruptly, because the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are much more severe if you stop suddenly. It’s also important to remember that once you’ve been through benzodiazepine detox you still need to get some psychological help if you want to stay clean.
Why Do Benzodiazepines Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?
All drugs cause some form of withdrawal if they are stopped after being taken for long enough and in sufficient quantities. The same mechanism which causes dependence essentially causes withdrawal, and the symptoms are generally the opposite of the drug’s effects. Benzodiazepines create their effects by increasing the action of GABA, which is the brain’s natural tranquilizer. It slows down around 40 percent of the brain cells, and reduces the over-excitation which occurs in times of stress. Eventually, if the benzodiazepines are taken frequently enough, the brain’s natural GABA becomes less effective, so the individual needs to take more of the drug to feel the same effects. When the drug is stopped, it leaves the brain’s chemistry imbalanced and causes benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
What are the Most Common Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms?
Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medicines, so their most prominent withdrawal symptoms are anxiety-related. The lack of the dampening chemical within the brain makes the individual extremely sensitive to stress after the drug is stopped, which makes benzodiazepine detox especially difficult if you are going through other stresses in your life at the time. Physical withdrawal symptoms such as pain, weakness, tremors, muscle-twitching and spasms, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue and blurred vision are common. Psychologically, benzodiazepine withdrawal may consist of paranoia, irritability, aggression, anxiety, social phobia, depersonalisation, paranoia and depression. Rarely, individuals may experience convulsions, but this is more likely if the specific benzodiazepines are fast-acting and are stopped suddenly.
What Treatment is Available During Benzodiazepine Detox?
Medicines are rarely offered to people going through benzodiazepine detox, because there are very few drugs other than benzodiazepines themselves which can reduce the symptoms. In some cases, individuals will be switched on to diazepam if they aren’t taking it, because it’s longer-acting than most benzodiazepines. The best way to detox is to reduce the amount you’re taking gradually, because this dampens the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Drug rehab centres will generally suggest a plan to manage down your dosage, but they should also provide structured counselling to help you overcome the issues which drove you to take the drugs in the first place.
Although reducing the physical symptoms is important, counselling is the most vital aspect of treatment because it addresses the individual’s underlying issues. Benzodiazepine addiction in particular is likely to result from trouble with stress and difficulty dealing with day to day stressors. Counselling helps individuals find healthier ways of managing their stress and understand why drugs aren’t an effective way of doing so.
If you or your loved one is abusing benzodiazepines, finding treatment is absolutely essential. The physical discomfort experienced in benzodiazepine detox makes staying clean even more difficult, so professional support is advised in virtually all cases. We have a detailed knowledge of the different detoxification facilities located across the country, and we can help you find the right treatment. We’ll assess your requirements, and can answer any questions you have regarding drug rehabilitation or detox. Our advice is completely free, so pick up the phone today to see how we can help you!