Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are prescription medications generally used to treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders, insomnia, and other sleep-related problems.
Benzos like Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax are some of the most over-prescribed drugs in the United States, with more than 50 million prescriptions for Xanax being written each year.
Benzodiazepines can be extremely useful for people with severe anxiety disorders, but they also pose a high risk for both abuse and addiction. However, because they are prescribed by a doctor, many people have the misconception that they are safer to misuse than other, illicit drugs.
This incorrect assumption can also carry over to people who have become dependent on benzos and are trying to stop using. If you are thinking of attempting benzodiazepine detox on your own at home, you should be aware of the potentially life-threatening situation you are putting yourself in.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with benzos are uniquely dangerous, and so benzodiazepine detox will typically require experienced medical supervision to be carried out safely.
The symptoms typically associated with benzodiazepine detox are not only easily some of the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to have to deal with, but they are also, in many cases, the most dangerous.
Benzos are a central nervous system depressant, which means they slow down activity in your nervous system and block certain nerve signals from reaching your brain, specifically ones that are responsible for creating feelings of stress and anxiety.
This means that when you stop taking benzos like Xanax or Klonopin after abusing them for a significant length of time, your central nervous system is no longer being suppressed and goes into a state of hyperactivity, causing overactive reflexes, uncontrollable shaking, and a dangerously elevated heart rate. It also puts you at high risk for experiencing seizures.
If you were taking benzodiazepines like Ativan or Valium specifically to treat insomnia or anxiety before becoming dependent on them, it is extremely likely that you will experience rebound anxiety or rebound insomnia, and that it will be much worse than it was before you started taking them.
Rebound anxiety can cause extremely severe panic attacks, delusions, paranoia, and hyperventilating, while rebound insomnia can cause total sleeplessness for days on end.
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The above symptoms should be enough of a deterrent from trying to undergo benzodiazepine detox on your own at home. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is one of the few withdrawals that can kill you. Without at least some form of medical supervision and intervention, there is an extremely high risk of serious negative health consequences.
While opioids like heroin are incredibly powerful and dangerous drugs that have an extremely uncomfortable withdrawal process, opioid detox is not generally not life-threatening. Depending on the circumstances, many people are even able to detox from opioids on an outpatient basis.
However, even in the case of safer detox processes like opioid detox, you still need to have some form of medical monitoring. So, when it comes to benzodiazepine detox, which has a much higher risk of creating potentially deadly situations, you should definitely detox at a professional medical detox center.
Even if you do not experience seizures, symptoms like hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, and confusion put you in a position where, especially if you are unmonitored at home, you are extremely likely to accidentally harm yourself or worse.
There is also the danger of experiencing what is known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which makes the normal symptoms of benzo withdrawal much more intense and difficult to deal with. It also makes the whole detox process last longer than usual and can manifest symptoms atypical to benzodiazepine withdrawal, including but not limited to:
You have a high likelihood of experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome during detox if you have been regularly abusing very high doses of benzodiazepines within a fairly short window of time.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can make benzodiazepine detox even riskier and unpredictable than it already is, and attempting detox at home means that if you experience complications as a result of these symptoms, you are on your own and putting yourself in unnecessary and potentially life-threatening danger.
At a treatment center, you will be monitored around-the-clock by a medical staff experienced in dealing with the complications and problems that can arise during benzo detox, such as seizures and benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
One of the ways that medical detox can help you avoid a seizure during withdrawal is by a medical detox professional establishing a tapering schedule. A tapering schedule slowly reduces your dosage of benzos like
Xanax over time until it is safe to stop using altogether without shocking your central nervous system and triggering seizures.
There is also the benefit of receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help ease withdrawal symptoms specific to benzodiazepines.
Some of the common medications used during a medical benzodiazepine detox include melatonin, a natural supplement that can help regulate your sleep while bypassing your tolerance to benzos, as well as antidepressants such as Prozac or Wellbutrin to help curb feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Doctors can also use certain anticonvulsants, which, apart from being used in the case of seizures, have been found to be useful for treating other more general withdrawal symptoms.
Finally, knowing everything that is involved in going through benzodiazepine withdrawal, it should not come as a surprise that it is extremely common for people trying to detox from benzos to relapse midway through the withdrawal.
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with an addiction to Xanax, Klonopin, or any benzodiazepine, you don’t have to fight through it on your own. Give yourself or the person you care about the best chance at achieving sobriety safely and successfully with the help of Delphi Behavioral Health Group.
Take the first steps toward a better tomorrow today by calling 844-899-5777 now to speak with one of our admissions specialists about finding a medical detox and addiction recovery treatment program that’s best for you or your loved one.
Our specialists are available to 24/7 to answer your questions, verify your insurance, and help you navigate the treatment program onboarding process.
Chouinard, G., Labonte, A., Fontaine, R., & Annable, L. (n.d.). New Concepts in Benzodiazepine Therapy: Rebound Anxiety and New Indications for the More Potent Benzodiazepines. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6141609
Dodds, T. J. (2017, March 02). Prescribed Benzodiazepines and Suicide Risk: A Review of the Literature. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrist.com/PCC/article/Pages/2017/v19n02/16r02037.aspx
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 06). Prescription CNS Depressants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants