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Overview of Benzodiazepine detox

There are many substances that have proven to be susceptible to abuse. The most notorious of the substances are the illicit street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and crystal methamphetamine. At present, we’re specifically referring to benzodiazepines, which are a class of pharmaceutical drugs that are very depressant-like in their effects. Since opioids are widely believed to be the most dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, benzodiazepines are frequently underestimated in terms of their effects and addictive potential. It’s important to be knowledgeable about benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine addiction since they’re legal and, therefore, widely accessible substances. Unfortunately, people don’t see benzodiazepines in the same way, making substance abusers much more likely to misuse benzodiazepines and become addicted.

The purpose of a benzodiazepine is, primarily, to function as an anxiolytic. By definition, an anxiolytic drug is a medication that’s intended to treat anxiety. In a sense, it’s a depressant or sedative drug that’s often prescribed to individuals suffering from panic disorder, insomnia, and a number of similar disorders. The precursor to benzodiazepines was barbiturates, which were introduced between 1903 and 1912 as sedatives and hypnotics. However, barbiturates were quickly found to be dangerous with a high potential for addiction.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the first benzodiazepine was developed by accident. While running tests on some barbiturates, a substance was developed that could function as an anxiolytic, hypnotic, and a muscle relaxant. This new substance — chlordiazepoxide, or Librium — was launched just a few years later in the UK. Over the course of the next twenty years, seventeen other benzodiazepines were released to the pharmaceutical market. Today, there are twenty-nine benzodiazepines available. Although the idea was to deliver a substance that was less addictive than barbiturates, benzodiazepines have their own dangers.

Why are benzodiazepines so highly addictive? What are their effects? And how does benzodiazepine detox help a person overcome addiction to benzodiazepines?

Click below for detailed Depressant detox guides

How Detoxing From Benzodiazepine works

First, it’s important to be aware that benzodiazepines are completely separate from the class of opioids because they function completely differently and are meant for different purposes. Despite being somewhat less popular among drug users, benzodiazepines are the most-prescribed class of pharmaceuticals in the world. The specific function of benzodiazepines occurs, perhaps not surprisingly, in the brain. There’s a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or just GABA for short. This particular neurotransmitter functions as a sort of sedative in the brain, effectively acting as a hypnotic, an anticonvulsant, an anxiolytic or an anxiety combatant, and even as a muscle relaxant. In effect, the GABA neurochemical calms a person down during times of stress. However, the abuse of benzodiazepines has major implications and causes serious problems in a person’s brain.

There have been numerous studies on benzodiazepine and the drug’s abuse that have been alarmingly enlightening. In particular, there’s evidence to suggest that the individuals who have already experienced addiction are at much greater risk for becoming addicted to benzodiazepines. Again, most substance abusers seek benzodiazepines because of how they amplify the effects of other drugs. However, the benzodiazepines are not only more dangerous on their own, but they make other drugs significantly more dangerous, resulting in an elevated rate of overdose when benzodiazepines are involved.

As a depressant of the central nervous system, the body is slowed and relaxed when a person takes benzodiazepines. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to getting these effects from benzodiazepines, resulting in the body adapting to this regular drug abuse by modifying its own brain chemistry.

WHAT DOES THE Benzodiazepine DETOX PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

Addiction to benzodiazepines doesn’t happen overnight. However, it also doesn’t take a very long period of abuse for a person to become addicted. Whether taking benzodiazepines for anxiety, panic disorder, social phobias, epileptic seizures, or for some other reason, a person who continues to take benzodiazepines over a period of about a month or more has an extremely high potential for addiction.

The effect of benzodiazepines in the brain are what make the drug so dangerous. Benzodiazepines increase the production and efficacy of the GABA neurochemical, making it much easier for a person to calm down during times that they are experiencing stress or seizures or some other trying state. However, after the continued dependence on benzodiazepines to activate and increase production of GABA, the brain begins to decrease the amount of GABA it makes on its own. For as long as the individual has benzodiazepines, the brain continues to function as it should; the benzodiazepines that the individual has been taking provide less and less euphoria and, instead, and simply maintaining the brain’s normal functioning. It’s only with the addition of other substances that the substance abuser is able to achieve the desired level of intoxication.

However, it’s when the body has become dependent on benzodiazepines that the danger becomes apparent. Again, since the body is relying on benzodiazepines to maintain the neurochemical level, the individual will be fine as long as he or she continued taking benzodiazepines. But without the benzodiazepines, the body is unable to combat feelings of stress and anxiety. In fact, the body is easily stressed and unable to relax much at all. Much like with alcohol, a person’s experience of withdrawal can become life-threatening, which is why benzodiazepine withdrawal is considered to be the most dangerous addiction and withdrawal, besides alcohol withdrawal.

Being addicted to benzodiazepines is dangerous, but as long as the individual continues to consume the substance of his or her addiction, there’s little threat of life-threatening symptoms unless he or she were to overdose or take a lethal combination of substances. The most significant danger of benzodiazepines comes with the withdrawal due to the extent to which benzodiazepines alter the brain’s chemistry. When a person takes benzodiazepines, the drug creates a very rapid change of the brain’s neurochemical balance. In fact, the majority of benzodiazepines are notable for how rapidly the effects of these drugs set in. The change in neurochemistry result in many physiological and neurological effects, calming the person while also having an effect on his or her mood. Therefore, once the body has become dependent on benzodiazepines, one would expect there to be an immense disconnect between optimal neurochemistry and what the brain is able to manage after losing its primary source of GABA.

There are a number of more specific symptoms that are commonly experienced as part of benzodiazepine withdrawal. In fact, benzodiazepine withdrawals involve so many symptoms to such a great level of severity that it’s been coined benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Some of the most common symptoms include a major spike in anxiety as the individual is unable to relax or remain calm. The individual’s heart rate also increases significantly, coinciding with an increase in body temperature and blood pressure. Moreover, there’s also a level of agitation and sometimes even anger. Benzodiazepine withdrawal also includes severe insomnia, sweating, and severe nausea. At its worst, symptoms also include hallucinations, seizures, coma, or even death.

Benzodiazepine Detox Withdrawals

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Being addicted to benzodiazepines is dangerous, but as long as the individual continues to consume the substance of his or her addiction, there’s little threat of life-threatening symptoms unless he or she were to overdose or take a lethal combination of substances. The most significant danger of benzodiazepines comes with the withdrawal due to the extent to which benzodiazepines alter the brain’s chemistry. When a person takes benzodiazepines, the drug creates a very rapid change of the brain’s neurochemical balance. In fact, the majority of benzodiazepines are notable for how rapidly the effects of these drugs set in. The change in neurochemistry result in many physiological and neurological effects, calming the person while also having an effect on his or her mood. Therefore, once the body has become dependent on benzodiazepines, one would expect there to be an immense disconnect between optimal neurochemistry and what the brain is able to manage after losing its primary source of GABA.

There are a number of more specific symptoms that are commonly experienced as part of benzodiazepine withdrawal. In fact, benzodiazepine withdrawals involve so many symptoms to such a great level of severity that it’s been coined benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Some of the most common symptoms include a major spike in anxiety as the individual is unable to relax or remain calm. The individual’s heart rate also increases significantly, coinciding with an increase in body temperature and blood pressure. Moreover, there’s also a level of agitation and sometimes even anger. Benzodiazepine withdrawal also includes severe insomnia, sweating, and severe nausea. At its worst, symptoms also include hallucinations, seizures, coma, or even death.

List of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Severe insomnia
  • Aching in joints and muscles
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness

Can you detox from Benzodiazepine at home?

There are many misconceptions and unknowns when it comes to addiction. For instance, many people aren’t aware of how dangerous alcoholism and alcohol withdrawals can be. Similarly, many addicts are unaware that benzodiazepine withdrawal can be as dangerous and potentially life-threatening as alcohol withdrawal. As such, people are generally discouraged from attempting to detox on their own.

At home, there’s nobody to monitor one’s withdrawal symptoms. Rather than having a team of physicians, detox technicians, nurses, and other medical staff on hand to provide round-the-clock medical care and observation, a person attempting to detox at home is simply on his or her own. Instead of receiving treatment that will make him or her more comfortable during the process, he or she will be forced—unnecessarily, as well—to suffer through the withdrawal period when he or she had the option to detox in an inpatient, medical benzodiazepine detoxification program. If there were to be any complications during the at-home detox, there would be no professional staff there to mitigate the situation, restoring the individual to safety; instead, he or she would be in grave danger and could potentially lose his or her life during the process.

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How long does it take to detox from Benzodiazepine

Everyone is different, which is why there are so many different forms of treatment available. What works for one person may or may not work for others. Therefore, it’s important for people to explore the many different options that are available, ensuring that they’ll be able to find the forms of treatment and therapeutic techniques that best address his or her recovery needs.

It’s difficult to determine how long a person will require detox treatment because everyone has different needs. A lot of the length of time needed to complete a detox depends on things like how long a person has been in active addiction, the severity of the individual’s habit, whether he or she is a polydrug user, whether this is the first time or a repeat trip to rehab, and other such factors. For short-acting benzos, withdrawal typically sets in around 10 or 12 hours while longer-acting drugs may take two to three days for withdrawal to set in. Symptoms will usually peak at around the two-week mark and then take another one to two weeks to subside.

  • In the past five years, there’s been a 62.8 percent increase in benzodiazepine abuse.
  • According to hospital records, as much as 95 percent of benzodiazepine-related hospital admissions involved another drug as well.
  • Over 38,000 annual deaths are caused by benzodiazepines.
  • It’s estimated that between 11 and 15 percent of Americans have benzodiazepines in their medicine cabinets right now.
  • Every year, American doctors write over 50 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines.