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Benzodiazepines Withdrawal | Psychological & Physiological Symptoms

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Benzodiazepines are a type of medication prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and seizures. Generally, these medications can be very helpful when taken as directed; however, they should be used cautiously as they may cause addiction or withdrawal when taken long-term.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, so it’s important to understand the symptoms and how to manage them in order to make the process as safe and comfortable as possible. 

This blog post will provide an overview of the psychological and physiological symptoms of benzodiazepines withdrawal, as well as tips for managing them. 

What are Benzodiazepines used for?

Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that are widely used in many countries to treat a variety of conditions. They are frequently prescribed by doctors to help with stress, anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and difficulty sleeping. 

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that bind to GABA receptors in the brain, increasing the activity of neurotransmitters such as GABA which has a calming effect on the body. 

This action produces an increased sense of relaxation for those who take them and can help relieve symptoms of anxiety or insomnia. However, long-term use reduces the effectiveness of these drugs due to tolerance building up over time which increases the risk of a benzodiazepines overdose. 

What is Benzodiazepine withdrawal?

Benzodiazepines withdrawal is the result of stopping or reducing the use of medications that are part of the benzodiazepine class, such as Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam). It is your body’s reaction when it is adjusting to the absence of these sedatives.

Is it common to have Benzodiazepines withdrawal? 

Yes it is common to have benzodiazepines withdrawal when the medication is stopped abruptly. While it is possible to stop taking Benzodiazepines without experiencing any withdrawal symptoms if done gradually under medical supervision it has been estimated that up to half of all people who attempt to stop taking these drugs will experience at least one symptom. 

The severity of these symptoms often depends on how long someone has been using the drug for and how large the dose was before they stopped taking it. In addition to this it appears that people with a history of substance abuse or mental health issues may be more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of Benzodiazepines Withdrawal:

When someone stops taking benzodiazepines after using them for a long period of time, they may experience a range of  symptoms as their body adjusts to functioning without it. Some of these are: 

Psychological symptoms

Benzodiazepines are known for their calming effects, so it is no surprise that when they are discontinued, there can be an increase in anxiety levels. People who have been taking these medications may also experience depression and mood swings during the withdrawal process. 

Additionally, some people report feeling confused or having difficulty concentrating when withdrawing from benzodiazepines.

Moreover, some people also report extreme irritability, difficulty concentrating and remembering things, restlessness, fatigue, depression or suicidal thoughts. In some cases these effects can last weeks or even months depending on how long someone has been taking benzodiazepines for. 

Physiological symptoms

In addition to psychological symptoms, people withdrawing from benzodiazepines may experience a range of physical symptoms including increased heart rate, sweating, insomnia, muscle tension or spasms, nausea and vomiting. Seizures have also been reported in some cases although this is rare. 

It’s important to note that many of these physical symptoms can be similar to those experienced during a panic attack so it’s important to pay attention and seek medical help if needed.  

How to manage Benzodiazepines withdrawal? 

The most important thing when getting off benzodiazepine is to take it slowly and gradually reduce your dosage over time under the guidance of your doctor or healthcare provider. 

Increasing your intake of fluids, engaging in light exercise like yoga or walking can also help with managing withdrawal symptoms. Taking supplements such as vitamins B6 and C may also be beneficial in easing some physical symptoms associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal such as fatigue or headaches. 

Finally, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently so you should always consult your doctor before starting any new treatment plan or regimen.  

How long can Benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms last? 

The duration and intensity of benzodiazepine withdrawal can vary widely depending on the individual’s level of tolerance developed through extended use, dosage taken, individual response to the drug, and other factors. 

In general, withdrawal symptoms usually take place within a few hours of abruptly stopping or rapidly reducing the dose of benzodiazepines. The majority of symptoms peak around one week after discontinuing use and slowly start to diminish over the course of four weeks normally. 

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Timeline

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be a difficult process, but it is possible to recover. To help you prepare, here is the timeline of withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop taking Benzodiazepines.

Day 1-3

The initial stage of benzodiazepine withdrawal typically begins within 24 hours after taking the last dose. During this phase, symptoms such as headaches, nausea, insomnia, and muscle aches may appear. Some individuals may experience more severe symptoms such as panic attacks or psychoses. 

Day 4-7

This is the time when most physical symptoms will typically peak after cessation of the drug and then begin to diminish over 2-3 weeks. This could be the most challenging and physically draining part of the entire withdrawal process. 

Day 8-14

This is when the worst is over as most of the physical symptoms will start to diminish. However, psychological symptoms will kick in at this point including irritability, anxiety, and sleeplessness paired with horrible dreams.

Day 15-28

As individuals move through weeks 3-4 their physical symptoms should begin to subside although psychological issues such as depression, psychosis, or cognitive impairments persist. After this the drug is completely flushed out of your body.

Sometimes although rarely, these may persist longer than a month following cessation of benzodiazepine use if they have been taken for a long time or if these were underlying mental health issues present prior to abstinence from the drug. 

Long term effects such as memory problems or sleep disturbances can appear months after discontinuation of use due to damage done by long-term exposure to benzodiazepines in some individuals who have used them chronically or heavily during their active addiction period. 

It is very important for those who are engaging in recovery from benzodiazepine use to seek professional treatment if necessary in order to ensure a safe and successful recovery from these substances.

Benzodiazepines Detoxification 

Benzodiazepines detoxification is when you slowly reduce and eventually stop the use of the drug. It can be a long, hard process, therefore, it is important to remember to be kind and gentle with yourself throughout it. 

Detoxifying off of benzos is not something that happens overnight, and achieving full sobriety requires patience. For some people, the detoxification period often requires professional medical help – things like careful observation or weaning of the dosage over time. 

If you don’t feel comfortable going through this alone, counselling and support groups may provide you with the additional care you need while you go through this difficult time. 

What is safe to ingest during Benzodiazepines detox?

Anything that helps nourish your mind and body is safe to ingest during Benzodiazepines detox. As with any detox process, staying properly hydrated throughout the detoxification from benzodiazepines is critical for good health. Besides water, herbal teas can be very beneficial in helping to soothe and heal the body. 

Certain healthy supplements may make for extra support during this time such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and adaptogenic herbs which may help uplift mood and provide some energy to power through these trying times. 

Additionally, it may be beneficial to incorporate lots of nutrient dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables along with lots of protein like fish or eggs that can help improve general wellbeing during the healing journey. 

Above all else, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself and get adequate rest during this trying time – nurturing your body and mind.

What you should avoid during Benzodiazepines detox?

It is generally best to avoid alcohol and other drugs during benzodiazepine detox, as they can worsen withdrawal symptoms and interfere with the detox process. It is also important to follow the recommendations of a medical professional and to take any prescribed medications as directed.

Bottom Line: Managing Benzodiazepines Withdrawal

Withdrawing from benzodiazepines can be challenging but it is possible with careful planning and support from healthcare professionals. It’s important to remember that everyone has a unique response and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing symptoms related to benzodiazepine withdrawal. 

The best way to ensure a safe recovery is by following your doctor’s instructions closely and seeking out additional support if necessary. Good Luck!


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.