Drugs used to combat anxiety are widely known as one of the many catalysts for addiction. Benzodiazepines are one of the more popular among them. Those who recognize the need for rehabilitation often find it necessary to detox at home, whether it’s because they want to cut costs, or simply aren’t aware of their recovery options

A lack of awareness about rehab treatment options could lead to self-diagnosis and self-treatment. This a real danger to those who are trying to recover in a healthy way. Recovering from drug addiction is a difficult journey, but it could be much easier if done the correct way.

Recovering from substance abuse is a scary and dangerous process, and it’s even more dangerous when somebody tries detoxing on their own. Sadly, not a lot of people recognize the dangers of trying to detox on their own. This lack of understanding could be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being. 

What Are Benzos?

The term “benzos” is short for Benzodiazepines. These drugs compose a class of medications by doctors used to treat the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia

Benzos are drugs that attach to the sedation receptors of the brain. These receptors are responsible for calming people down when they’re upset. When anxiety or stress make themselves known, the body produces extra molecules that attach to those receptors. 

Benzodiazepines are not to be confused with opioids, as they often are. People use opioids to relieve pain and these substances focus more on the pain receptors of the brain. It is significant to note that individuals should never take opioids and benzos concurrently, although benzos can be used in combination with other prescription drugs. 

The side-effects of benzos include the following:

  • Daytime grogginess 
  • Drowsiness
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Coordination and balance
  • Impaired memory 
  • Impaired retention 

If somebody is drinking alcohol while taking benzos, the side-effects could worsen. Doctors suggest abstaining from alcohol or at least minimizing a patient’s consumption frequency. It is imperative to avoid using alcohol when taking benzos. This is due to the fact that it could lead to intensifying any of the above symptoms. 

What is Dependency?

Some signs that you or a loved one may be dependant on a drug include the following:

  • Lack of self-care/grooming
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of interest 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking

Dependency is best described as neurons in the brain responding to regular drug activity and not functioning normally when a drug is absent. Chemical signals in their brain change when a substance is used. Thoughts, actions, and feelings are triggered when this happens. This is commonly referred to as the pleasure center of the brain. 

The pleasure center of the brain helps people taste and enjoy food, be entertained, and love. When a substance is used, dopamine rushes to the brain. The pleasure center is then triggered. Because the first high is always the strongest, the user feels that they need more of the drug every time they use it. People become more likely to experience withdrawal every time a drug is used. This is where dependency stems from. 

Detox

Detox from drugs and alcohol could include the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures 
  • Nausea 

Drug detox can be incredibly difficult, and cutting oneself off from drugs cold-turkey leads to serious withdrawal. Drug cravings are sometimes insatiable. A person who’s been suffering from addiction to benzos for a long time could experience many negative effects if they try detoxing on their own. Detox in a professional, controlled environment uses medicine to wean someone off drugs gradually and comfortably.

Detox’s purpose is to safely manage the symptoms of withdrawal as a result of ceasing drug use. Although it is known that detox is mostly necessary for the initial stages of recovery, it could still have a positive impact on every patient’s journey.

Dangers of Detox from Home

Given the possible side-effects of drug detox, it’s safe to say that doing it alone, without assisted medication and medical professionals, is a very dangerous game to play. The body could experience intensified symptoms of withdrawal. 

Dependence on a particular drug could occur in the time frame of a week or a month.  When the body becomes dependent on benzos, it becomes limited in its ability to sedate itself apart from it.  It does this because the body ceases the production of sedative chemicals when patients are on benzos. In a nutshell, weaning someone off of benzos could cause them a great amount of anxiety.

Symptoms of withdrawal from benzos specifically overlap with that of the side-effects of detox. In addition to this, some of the following effects also occur:

  • Flushed feelings
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia 
  • Confusion
  • Loss of realistic perception

Withdrawal symptoms are tough to deal with. No sane person wants to feel the way that those experiencing withdrawal from benzos feel. It is imperative to understand the impact that benzo withdrawal can have on a person. These effects don’t just last one day and then disappear. 

There are two phases of benzo withdrawal:

  • Acute phase: This phase lasts anywhere from 7 to 90 days.
  • Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS): This phase could last up to two whole years

Depending on the kind of benzos somebody is taking, recovery time will vary. For example, while it takes seven days to complete the Xanax withdrawal phase, it could take up to 90 days to withdraw from Valium use. This time-span lies within the realm of the acute phase.

During the PAWS phase, anxiety and insomnia will gradually rise. Though lengthy, this is a milder phase than the other. Often times, those suffering from the PAWS phase of withdrawal tend to make the withdrawal a bigger deal than it actually is. Professionals often use counseling and medicine to treat the symptoms of withdrawal.

The duration and difficulty of withdrawal from benzos rely on the following:

  • Length of usage
  • Dosage
  • Type of drug 
  • Method used taking benzos
  • Medical or mental health
  • Other concurrent drug abuse

It is important to note that there is no guaranteed timeline for the length of benzo withdrawal symptoms. Each patient is unique and experiences withdrawal in their own way. That being said, there is also no cookie-cutter treatment method. The only thing for certain is that at-home benzo detox is not safe. It is better to get an evaluation by a professional.

What are My Options?

If somebody is experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal, detox treatment at Discovery can help that person get professional medical treatment to relieve their addiction comfortably. It is also important to remember that even those who have been prescribed benzos from a doctor can be dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal; they need help just as much as someone who abuses benzos illegally.

In the benzo detox treatment program at Discovery, we administer medications. This helps to control and diminish detrimental withdrawal symptoms. We strive to provide those who struggle with benzo withdrawal with the help they need. Our team works to allow our clients to experience maximum comfort. Seeking professional treatment for benzo withdrawal is imperative to the safety and comfort of patients who are struggling. 

Patients who struggle with addiction don’t need to be given treatment that intensifies their withdrawal symptoms. The sometimes uncontrollable desire for drugs can cause a patient to hit rock bottom, and this is extremely harmful to the recovery process. Medically assisted detox treatment allows these patients to harness those cravings and bring them under control.

Discovery is There for You

Here at Discovery Institute in New Jersey, our goal is to help those who are wrestling with addiction and withdrawal from benzos and substances like it. Our family here aims to supply patients with the best care at our disposal so that we can lead them to a place of stability and sobriety. The last thing we want to happen is for a patient to diagnose and attempt to treat themselves. This sort of treatment requires the care of professionals so that they can recover completely without the dangers that come with inevitable withdrawal.

Recovery doesn’t just take care of itself. However, that’s not to say that our detox treatment options won’t get our patients there. There are doctors and medicine within our facilities that can help keep patients from feeling overwhelmed, as though recovery is impossible; it’s not. 

The lives of those who deal with benzo addiction can be incredibly difficult. Withdrawal is very real, and if a patient wants help, they should have access to it. If not, it has the potential to tear apart relationships and the livelihood of those recovering.

We believe it is imperative to come alongside those who want so badly to be free from addiction at Discovery. Ultimately, we want to encourage them so that they can function healthily in their daily lives. However, treating patients can become difficult due to the uniqueness of each individual. Thankfully, our detox program at Discovery has the necessary resources to handle complex circumstances. 

Contact Us Today

Our desire at Discovery is to bring every patient that walks through our doors to a state of sobriety. We want to do that the healthiest way possible. No matter how long they spend here, patients can rest assured that they are being treated with the utmost care. If you are suffering from an addiction to benzos and want help, ask us about our detox treatment options. You can contact us here, or call us at (844) 433-1101. 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/8-definition-dependence

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/benzodiazepines_and_the_alternatives

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1675694

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/alcohol-and-drugs–dependence-and-addiction

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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