Benzodiazepines (benzos) can be useful medication when prescribed by a doctor and used for short periods. Unfortunately, they can also be habit-forming when used for too long or in a way not intended by a physician. It is not recommended to stop using benzodiazepines unless under a doctor’s care because withdrawal can be difficult and potentially dangerous. Some benzo withdrawal symptoms can be quite serious, so it is always wise to consult a physician at a benzo abuse treatment center before stopping their use. If you or someone you care about has been using benzos and are concerned about stopping, it can be helpful and empowering to learn more about the signs of benzo addiction and what to expect during benzo withdrawal.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzos are a class of depressant drugs, meaning that they reduce the rate and frequency of nerve transmission in the brain. This has a euphoric and sedating effect, making benzos effective short-term treatments for anxiety and other conditions.
Some common benzodiazepines are:
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
What Are the Signs of Benzo Abuse?
Because benzodiazepines are fairly commonly prescribed for anxiety or muscle spasms, it can be difficult to differentiate between appropriate benzo use and benzo abuse.
Appropriate benzo users:
- Always take their medicine according to the doctor’s prescription
- Only use benzos occasionally or for short periods (less than three weeks)
- Have a diagnosed condition that necessitates the use of benzos
- Never share their medicines with others or ask others to share their medicines
People who are abusing benzos:
- Do not take their medicine correctly or do not have a prescription of their own
- Use benzos daily or for long periods (greater than three weeks)
- Are not under a doctor’s care for a condition that needs benzos
- Acquire medicine from others or on the black market
How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Benzos?
Some researchers have suggested that it can take less than 3-6 weeks to become addicted to benzodiazepines. Certainly, the longer someone takes benzos, the higher the likelihood that they will have trouble stopping. People who use benzos will rapidly become tolerant to the drugs, reducing the desirable effects and causing them to either use more or take additional benzo-type drugs to gain the same effects.
What Does Benzo Withdrawal Feel Like?
If the drug is suddenly stopped, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be quite intense and even dangerous. Anyone who wants to stop using benzos should consult a doctor or reach out to a benzo addiction treatment center for help. Even though most people can tolerate withdrawal, there is a chance that a serious seizure could occur.
Some common symptoms of benzo withdrawal are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Difficulty focusing
- Depression and suicidal ideation
- Intense drug craving
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
While not everyone struggling with a benzo addiction will experience each of these symptoms, it is likely at least a few will be. The degree of distress will vary also but generally, these symptoms are uniformly unpleasant requiring professional support to overcome.
How Can a Benzo Addiction Treatment Program Help?
During participation in a benzo addiction treatment program, medical staff will monitor clients around the clock to ensure that they are tolerating the withdrawal process well. Also, clients will be helped to transition away from benzos by a trained staff that has experience working with benzo addiction.
Liberty Health Services Can Help With Benzo Withdrawal
As a premier addiction treatment center in Derry, New Hampshire, we at Liberty Health Services are committed to helping our clients, and their families heal from addiction and achieve lasting recovery. Reach out to our knowledgeable and caring staff today at 855.959.4521 and let us tell you how we can help.