Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, seizures, sleep problems, panic disorder, and similar conditions. These drugs can be very effective at the right dose. Nonetheless, they can be highly addictive, and someone who struggles with benzodiazepine addiction will face severe withdrawal symptoms as they go through the detox process. You want your loved one to be as safe and comfortable as possible in their journey towards sobriety, so check out this guide on benzodiazepine addiction, detox, and the addiction treatment process to see how you can help.
Understanding Detox and Withdrawal
When someone consistently uses a substance, many of the body’s systems adapt to a regular dose of the substance, and the user becomes addicted. Consequently, the body will not function properly when the substance is no longer available. Detox is the process in which the body entirely removes a substance from its system after the last dose and slowly adapts to function without the substance. Withdrawal describes a patient’s uncomfortable physical and neurological symptoms as they go through detox.
Dangers of Benzodiazepine Abuse
Benzodiazepines are highly dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other drugs. Many people use over-the-counter drugs to augment their high or cope with symptoms related to benzodiazepine abuse, but even these drugs can be dangerous when combined with benzodiazepines. For example, taking Benadryl with Xanax can lead to hallucinations, labored breathing, severe memory problems, poor coordination, and other serious side effects.
Misuse of benzodiazepines or possession without a prescription incurs severe penalties in most states. In cases where a suspect is in possession of a large quantity of benzodiazepines, the court may try to charge them with possession with the intent to distribute the drug. This can result in a decades-long prison sentence, and some states even sentence defendants to life in prison for drug-related offenses. Even if someone manages to win a criminal trial, a drug-related arrest will still show up on background checks for the rest of their life.
With prolonged abuse, benzodiazepines can cause memory loss, anxiety, impaired concentration, poor balance, sleep disorders, and several other neurological problems. The human brain can slowly adapt to benzodiazepine-related cognitive impairment and regain most of its function. However, this is only possible once a person is sober. Moreover, long-term misuse of benzodiazepines may be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, so anyone who struggles with benzodiazepine addiction should quit as soon as possible to mitigate this risk.
A high dose of benzodiazepines will severely impact a person’s coordination. This can be incredibly dangerous if someone decides to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Driving while high on benzodiazepines don’t just put the driver at risk, but it also endangers pedestrians and other drivers.
Blackouts and impulsive behaviors are common symptoms of benzodiazepine misuse. When someone takes a high dose of benzodiazepines, they are more prone to making uncharacteristic decisions that they may not even remember once the high has worn off. This greatly increases an individual’s chances of contracting STDs, being a victim of violence, and engaging in dangerous or illegal behaviors.
What To Expect During the Benzo Detox Process
For detox to commence, an individual must completely stop using benzodiazepines. At that point, they will start to go through withdrawal. So, how long does benzo’s withdrawal last? Patients will feel the first withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours of their last dose. These early symptoms include irritability, sweating, aches and pains, tremors, anxiety, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems. Symptoms will escalate a week after the last dose until they peak around two weeks. Patients are at high risk of seizure, delirium, depersonalization, and hallucinations during this period.
From that point onward, symptoms taper off as the mind and body gradually recover. Still, various neurological symptoms can persist for several months after a patient’s final dose. The intensity and duration of symptoms at all stages will vary between individuals based on their overall health, the extent of their addiction, age, and several other factors.
How To Detox Safely
Seizures, delirium, and hallucinations can be incredibly dangerous. In certain circumstances, these symptoms can even lead to a fatal accident. For this reason, a detox program at a reputable addiction recovery center is the best option for someone who wants to detox as safely as possible.
Addiction treatment centers have trained medical professionals on staff to react to any medical emergency quickly. On top of that, the addiction recovery professionals in a detox program have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide much-needed comfort and support to patients as they endure withdrawal symptoms. Not only does a detox program make the detox process safer and more comfortable, but it also greatly decreases relapse risk by removing a patient’s access to benzodiazepines and other drugs.
What To Do After Detox
The recovery process isn’t over once the worst withdrawal symptoms have passed. Patients must develop the right mindset, coping mechanisms, and skills to maintain long-term sobriety. On top of that, directly transitioning from a detox program back to their living situation puts them in contact with triggers that could cause them to relapse in this crucial stage in the recovery process. For these reasons, enrolling in a professional addiction treatment program is the best choice for a patient’s health and sobriety.
How a Professional Treatment Program Works
After detox, most patients enter a residential treatment program. In a residential treatment program, patients live at the recovery center while receiving individual therapies, going to group therapy sessions, engaging in healthy activities, building useful coping mechanisms, and making sober-friendly living arrangements to stay away from bad influences once the program is over.
After a month or several months, patients move on to an intensive outpatient program. Patients live at home but still attend several weekly therapy sessions at a treatment center as they go through an outpatient program. A patient will then transition to a regular treatment program and only attend treatment sessions two or three times per week. Eventually, patients will no longer need to attend regular sessions at a treatment center. Instead, they will attend sessions at a local addiction support group as they see fit.
Benefits of Sobriety
Addiction can have a corrosive effect on a person’s relationships. Individuals who struggle with addiction often withdraw from their traditional social circles and exhibit behaviors that distress their loved ones. Once a person is no longer under the influence of benzodiazepines, they can rebuild healthy relationships with the important people in their life, giving them the support necessary to maintain their sobriety.
While benzodiazepines are less expensive than many other addictive substances, addiction can still have a big financial impact. As an individual’s addiction progresses, they may spend thousands of dollars per year to stay high. Thus, when someone is sober, they end up saving a ton of money, which they can put towards more productive things. Moreover, when someone isn’t under the influence of benzodiazepines, they can perform well at work and improve their career prospects.
Improved Health Outcomes
Benzodiazepine abuse is terrible for a person’s brain and kidneys. Once someone quits the drug, their body can finally begin to recover. People are also more likely to work out and engage in other healthy behaviors when they’re not sedated by benzodiazepines, which can further contribute to good long-term health.
Individuals who struggle with benzodiazepine abuse often cycle between extreme anxiety, sedation, mania, and depression. Mood swings aren’t only uncomfortable to deal with and can make it very difficult for someone to maintain healthy relationships and live a normal life. In the months following a person’s last dose, they’ll begin to enjoy greater mood stability and experience a wider range of positive emotions.
People typically begin to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours of their last dose. They may find themselves craving their drug of choice at all hours, but a fresh dose isn’t always available. In turn, individuals who suffer from benzodiazepine addiction tend to experience early withdrawal symptoms several times per week. Once they’re sober, they no longer experience this regular cycle of intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that they can focus on the more essential things in life.
Take a Big Step Towards a Brighter Future
Benzodiazepines can ruin a person’s life. In some cases, they can even be deadly. You don’t want your loved one to continue putting their well-being at risk, but there is only so much you can do to make them stop. Thankfully, you’re not alone. You want your family member to be happy and safe, so call or email Long Island Interventions today to learn more about the best addiction treatment options.