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Ready to quit benzos? Around 30.5 million people in the United States reported using benzodiazepines in 2016, according to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.
However, the findings also discovered that out of that 30.5 million, only about 0.2% met the criteria for an anxiety disorder. This means that many people are actively misusing this medication, which puts them at risk for becoming addicted to them.
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Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are medications that treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They are depressants, helping calm the nervous system down. With such high anxiety levels reported by millions of people across America, they are one of the most prescribed medications.
Common benzos include:
Taken as prescribed, benzos have a relaxation effect on the body. They attach to the brain’s Gamma-Amino-Butyric-Aced (GABA) receptors, which is part of a system that helps calm the nervous system, helping you feel less anxious. However, those that misuse the medication by taking more then prescribed may experience some euphoric effects as well. Taking more than prescribed for recreation increases your chances of becoming addicted considerably.
Benzos have a high potential of dependence and addiction. Even if you take them exactly as directed by your physician, you can become dependent upon them. Some people begin feeling withdrawal symptoms after only taking them a couple of weeks.
Once your body has become dependent on benzos, getting off them requires planning and often, medical supervision. Note that it is dangerous to stop taking benzos cold turkey, as this can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. A gradual taper under the care of a psychiatrist or addiction expert is the recommended form of stopping benzo abuse altogether.
Even if you’ve only been taking benzos for a few weeks or a couple months, you can still experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off them. If you’ve been taking benzos for at least six months, you can expect more intense withdraw symptoms, especially if you try to come off them too abruptly.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on different factors, including:
If you’ve been taking short acting benzos like Xanax or Ativan, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as eight hours after the last dosage. If you’re taking the longer acting benzos like Klonopin, you may not start feeling withdraw symptoms until a day or two after your last dosage.
Common benzo withdrawal symptoms include:
Keep in mind that if you undergo a taper or gradual dose reduction under the care of your physician, your symptoms will lessen as you progress. You may still experience some withdrawal symptoms, but they will be milder and tend to come in waves.
Talk to an Admissions Coordinator to get started. One of our experts will evaluate your situation, verify your insurance, answer all of your questions, and help you take the first steps.
Quitting benzos can be dangerous if you try to quit abruptly or cold turkey. It’s best to quit by seeking treatment at a drug rehab and detox center. Quitting cold turkey can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, such as hallucinations, grand mal seizures, or delirium.
The safest way to treat benzodiazepine addiction is to undergo a medical detox program at an addiction recovery treatment center. There you will be able to receive individualized, professional care by addiction experts. They will use a gradual taper schedule to help your brain adjust to the decrease of benzos.
In addition, you’ll receive recommendations for follow up treatment to give you the opportunity to continue growing strong in your recovery.
The first step toward quitting benzos will be the detox process. Because you’ll be on a taper schedule, you may feel withdrawal symptoms for several weeks until your body adjusts to the decreased dosage.
During this time, you will receive medical and mental health care to treat any physical or mental health issues that you’re struggling with. You may also receive medication to help minimize some withdrawal symptoms.
If increased anxiety has been a problem for you, your physician will discuss with you options for other non-addictive medications or techniques that can help limit your anxiety. Once you complete your detox process, it’s recommended that you continue with addiction treatment at the residential treatment, and then outpatient treatment levels. This will help you learn how to stay off benzos and use alternative ways to treat anxiety.
If you have become dependent on or addicted to your benzo medication, such as Xanax, Ativan, or Valium, know that you can get off the drug with a taper schedule. Whether you’ve been using benzos for weeks, months, or years, you will benefit greatly from seeking a professional benzodiazepine detox.
The timeframe varies, but many people are completely free from benzos after a gradual taper of several weeks. A benzo detox has a couple of phases. The first phase is the acute stage, which may last about a week or so depending on if the benzos you’re taking are short or long-acting.
The second phase is post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This phase can last months depending on the dosage, frequency taken, type of the drug, and more.
The physical withdrawal symptoms subside much faster than some of the psychological ones. Some people continue to crave benzos for many months or even years to try to contend with anxiety. Additional forms of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a counselor can help minimize such psychological symptoms.
Once you are through with the acute phase, you can continue treatment if you desire at our short-term residential program in a medically monitored house. The extra emotional and psychological support can be quite beneficial.
Here at SOBA, we provide various levels of care depending on your needs. Our addiction experts work closely with you to assess your particular situation. We will formulate a gradual, taper schedule that will help you get through the withdrawal process safely and more comfortably. We will also address any other emotional or mental health concerns you may have.
Give us a call today. We are standing by to address any concerns and answer your questions. We are committed to offering compassionate, evidence-based care that can help you quit benzos for good.
Get started at our drug detox facility in New Brunswick, NJ. Call now to speak with an admissions coordinator about starting and planning your rehab & treatment.
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