The First Step to Recovery from Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are a group of prescription sedatives. Commonly sold under the brand names Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan and more, benzos have proven to be powerful tools against anxiety, insomnia and other sleep disorders. The have also proven to be addictive and extremely dangerous, particularly when mixed with alcohol. Benzo abuse is one of the most common addiction threats across the globe. Although the United States has been battling an epidemic of prescription pain medication, Xanax is actually the most commonly abused prescription medication in the world. As the number of addiction cases continues to increase, so does the need for quality, safe and reliable benzo detox.
Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
Benzo abuse and addiction yield a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. The exact symptoms of each patient’s withdrawal period will vary based on their history of abuse and the presence of other drugs in their system; however, common benzo withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mild to Severe Pain
- Restless and Irritability
- Anxiety and Depression
- Intestinal Distress
- Dilated Pupils and Blurred Vision
- Breathing Problems
- Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Dramatic Changes in Mood
More serious conditions may occur to rapid cessation, some of which include:
- Seizures and Convulsions
- Delirium Tremens (DTs)
- Hallucinations and Delusions
- Thoughts of Suicide
If you or someone you care about has begun to experience these or any other symptoms due to your benzo use, get help immediately.
What Are the Effects of Benzos?
In a clinical context, benzos can be quite effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), insomnia and even PTSD. These drugs work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABAA receptor, resulting in sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. While they are remarkably effective in clinical care, they have been proven to be highly addictive for Americans of all ages. In 2015, over 9,000 Americans succumbed to benzo overdose, representing a 400 percent increase over a ten-year period. Between 1996 and 2013, the percentage of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased considerably as well.
What Does Benzo Overdose Look Like?
While each person’s benzo overdose symptoms will vary according to factors, like internal biology, duration and frequency of substance abuse and others, there are a few tell-tale symptoms that something is wrong. Some of the more common benzo overdose symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
Signs of chronic drug abuse can be very nonspecific and include changes in appearance and behavior that affect relationships and work performance. Warning signs in children include abrupt changes in mood or deterioration of school performance.
Categories of Benzos
Although more than 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been produced, only about 15 are currently FDA-approved in the United States. They are usually classified by how long their effects last.
- Ultra-short acting – Midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion)
- Short-acting – Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan)
- Long-acting – Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium)
Benzodiazepines are commonly abused. This abuse is partially related to the toxic effects that they produce and also to their widespread availability. They can be chronically abused or, as seen more commonly in hospital emergency departments, intentionally or accidentally taken in overdose. Death and serious illness rarely result from benzodiazepine abuse alone; however, they are frequently taken with either alcohol or other medications. The combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol can be dangerous — and even lethal.
Mixing Benzos and Alcohol
One of the most dangerous behaviors associated with benzodiazepine use is the mixture of these drugs with alcohol. Patients who overdose on benzos very often have alcohol in their system as well at the time of the incident. Alcohol and benzos are both central nervous system depressants and are cleared by the same liver enzymes. Because both drugs are broken down by the same compounds, it takes longer for the body to detoxify itself after you take benzos and alcohol together. Some of the potential dangers of mixing benzos with alcohol include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of consciousness
- Shallow breathing
- Impaired coordination
- Memory problems/blacking out
- Slowed heart rate
If you or someone you care about is experiencing these symptoms, it’s imperative that you seek professional benzo detox straight away. Heart rate and breathing can very easily slow down to the point of lasting damage and even death.
Professional Detox Versus “Cold Turkey”
When it comes to detox, one of the most common mistakes that users and addicts make is thinking they can do it on their own. They don’t think they need professional, or are intimidated by what the process may include, and avoid it by telling themselves they can do it by themselves. This line of thinking almost always leads to relapse, particularly for those who are suffering from full-blown benzo addiction. The chances of long-term recovery from benzos are considerably better when users have the benefit of professional help from and experienced and qualified facility. There’s simply no reason to suffer alone.
Benefits of Professional Benzo Detox
Professional detox provides a variety of clinical care advantages that going it alone simply can’t match. The entire process is designed to help patients safely purge their system of benzo-related toxins while making them as comfortable as possible during the withdrawal process. These programs include trained doctors or medical professionals that can intervene in the event of a medical emergency; a safe, compassionate and sterile environment to get better and access to withdrawal-relief resources in a controlled and supervised environment. This is a prime alternative to trying to detox alone in one’s bedroom; an endeavor that almost always causes users to run back to benzo abuse.
Choosing the Right Detox Program
As critical as the detox process is for treatment to be successful, it really does matter which program you choose. It’s important to remember that not all detox facilities are created equal and there are several factors that separate genuinely viable options from opportunistic and untrained companies that are ill-equipped to deal with your withdrawal symptoms. Some of the prime indicators of a quality detox program include, but are not limited to:
- A Doctor and Nurses Trained in Addiction and Withdrawal Management
- Clean, Sterile and Comfortable Facilities for Patients to Heal
- Compassionate and Qualified Support Staff to Make the Process Easier
- An Established Reputation and Measurable Success Rates
It’s helpful to have a loved one help you choose a benzo detox program to avoid making a hasty or ill-informed decision that can change your life.
After Benzo Detox
As with treatment for any type of drug, benzo detox is followed by a comprehensive course of behavioral rehab to address the psychological components of benzo addiction. Rehab must accompany the detox process to ensure the duality of treatment and that all aspects of the addiction are properly addressed. Each patient’s rehab program will vary according to the scope and severity of their benzo abuse; however, the process will usually involve a combination of group therapy individualized counseling and supplemental occupational therapies. Rehab allows patients to get to the root causes of their substance abuse so they can develop coping techniques for everyday post-treatment success. Some of the psychological signs of benzo abuse include but are not limited to:
- Suicidal Ideations
- Severely Melancholy
- Extreme Changes in Mood or Behavior
These symptoms require immediate intervention and long-term care from an experienced professional.
Benzo Detox at Recovery Unplugged
Recovery is ready to guide you or your loved one toward quality and effective benzo detox prior to beginning your music-based rehab. We believe that each and every one of the patients that come through our doors has the power to overcome their chemical with the right help. We are committed to helping our patients and their loved ones feel at ease regarding the detox processes. We offer referral to some of the best detox facilities in the area so patients can quickly begin treatment and work toward recovery. We also offer onsite detox at our Texas location. The process can last anywhere from a few days to a weeks, depending upon patients’ substance abuse level and their ongoing progress.