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Benzo Detox

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a wide range of disorders, from anxiety to insomnia. Given the high rate of prescription, it is not difficult to understand why there is also a high rate of addiction to this substance. Around 12.5% of adults (which is about 30.5 million people) in the US use benzos to treat various disorders, with around 610,000 meeting the criteria for benzodiazepine use disorder. Furthermore, 16% of opioid overdose deaths result from improper use of benzodiazepines.

One of the most disturbing trends found is that only 20% of benzodiazepine users acquired the drug via prescription, which means that the vast majority of users do not have medical supervision or permission when using the drug. Given the high rate of misuse, it is only reasonable to deduce that a small percentage seek out treatments such as benzo detox to overcome benzo addiction.

Woman curled up on floor by a wall in distress from benzo addiction in need of benzo detox

What is Benzo Detox?

Benzo detox is a process wherein a person addicted to benzos safely purge all traces of the drug from their systems. This process is usually done under medical supervision wherein the person will take either lower doses or less potent forms of the drug to slowly decrease dependency.

During benzo detox, the patient will usually experience some degree of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Depending on factors such as length of use and amount of drugs in the system, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.

What Happens During Benzo Detox?

When a person undergoes benzo detox, they undergo withdrawal because their brain and body have become accustomed to the presence of benzodiazepines. As they flush out the drugs from their system, both their mind and body react negatively, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult and painful, especially for people who have used benzos for a long time. However, even short-term use can result in a difficult detoxification process. In addition to withdrawal symptoms, the original symptoms that the benzo treated often manifest. This is known as the “Rebound Effect”, and can make benzo withdrawal even more painful and difficult for the person.

Benzo Detox Timeline

First 1-6 Hours

Benzo withdrawal symptoms can appear as early as six hours into the detox process. During this stage, a person can experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Dry Heaving
  • Nausea

24-36 Hours

This period is known as the acute withdrawal phase. Typically, this is when the worst withdrawal symptoms will appear. Aside from the physical symptoms that can carry over from the first one to six hours, a person can also experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Convulsions

5 Days Onwards

After the acute withdrawal phase, many people undergoing benzo detox may go through a protracted withdrawal phase. Many of the aforementioned symptoms may still appear, although they are usually milder. This phase can last anywhere from days to months, as the mind and body are attempting to normalize their function without benzos. Additional symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Diminished appetite
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration/inability to focus
  • Sleeplessness

Research has shown that around 10-25% of people who undergo benzo detox will experience the protracted withdrawal phase, where they will experience varying degrees of symptoms for several months. However, the study has also shown that these symptoms do not last beyond a year.

What Factors Can Affect Benzo Detox?

Everyone experiences benzo detox differently. Some people find that the symptoms are tolerable and manageable, while others need medical supervision and counseling to deal with the symptoms. The duration and intensity of Benzodiazepine withdrawal are affected by factors such as:

  • How long you’ve been taking benzos
  • How much benzos you take on a regular basis
  • Type of benzos used (short-acting vs. long-acting)
  • Method used to ingest/take benzos
  • Underlying health issues (physical, mental, emotional)
  • Presence of co-occurring disorders
  • Concurrent use of alcohol or other drugs

How Long Does Benzo Detox Take?

If you are wondering how long benzo detox takes, don’t worry: you are not alone. In fact, this is the first thing that most patients want to know before they check into detox.

Ultimately, there is no set timeline for how long the detox process takes. It depends on the aforementioned factors above, as well as assessments by a medical professional. On average, however, a typical benzodiazepine detox program will take around 30 days from start to finish.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Detox

There are two types of benzodiazepine detox programs: inpatient and outpatient.

Inpatient benzo detox

requires that the person resides in a detox facility fulltime to receive medical care and supervision. This type of care offers a strict daily schedule as well as counseling as needed. It is highly recommended for people who feel that they need a structured environment for their detox. It is also recommended for those who do not have a stable and safe environment at home.

Outpatient benzo detox

allows patients to go home after their treatment. It requires that they travel to the facility for scheduled treatment sessions, then rest in the safety of their own home. Outpatient detox is recommended for people who have a lower dependence on the drug or those who have a strong support system at home. It is also a good option for people who have responsibilities that prevent them from checking into inpatient detox.

Whichever benzo detox program is better suited for you, it is important to remember that you don’t have to go through this process alone.

Finding the Right Cocaine Rehab Facility for You

Beating benzo addiction can be a long battle. Most people who successfully finish their detox find that they need continued support afterwards, especially if they do not continue on to rehab. Those that do not have continued support are at greater risk for relapse. If you need additional resources or you are looking for a local support group, you can find them at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

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Southeast Addiction Center exists for one purpose: to help addicts establish sustainable recovery.