Most benzo withdrawal stories will start similarly: you can’t get to sleep at night, you face problems with panic attacks or anxiety attacks, so you go to see you doctor and they prescribe you with a medication that they say will help you. Fortunately, at first, these medicines work a treat for the above conditions, however, doctors often prescribe them for too long and people get hooked.
Let’s check out the facts
Firstly, this type of medicine is recommended only for short-term usage. This is usually for 1-2 consecutive weeks.
Secondly, using medicines such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Klonopin or any other type of benzo will change the way your brain works when used for months and years.
And finally, while all benzos are different, dependence can start as early as 2-4 weeks of regular dosing on all types of the drug.
Reducing the dosage can often cause symptoms, sometimes of which can be serious. Below is a list of the possible symptoms you could encounter.
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble concentrating
- Panic attacks
- Night sweats
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Short-term memory loss
- Irregular heart rate
This is why it is important that you follow a specific regime for tapering when you are trying to come of the benzos. Quitting drugs can become a lot easier when you are aware of what to expect and also when you have all the information in front of you explaining about the addiction and, more importantly, the support and treatment that is on offer to help you.
Long Term Use of Benzo.
Do you know what could happen if you use benzo long-term? There has been lots of research over the last decade regarding the use of benzodiazepines, and this research has shown that people who abuse this drug over a long period, are likely to develop a dependency which will lead to the body’s natural response – cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose or stop taking the medication.
Below we will look at what the withdrawal symptoms are and how you can best get help for this type of addiction.
Withdrawal Can Be Scary
Benzodiazepines will damage the GABA receptors of your brain. When there is not enough of these receptors working, the central nervous system will go into overdrive due to the receptors being unable to calm down the excitement from glutamate (a neurotransmitter which causes excitement). This will cause the section of the brain which is responsible for fight or flight to overly stimulated and cause experiences such as:
- Separation from reality
The above are just a few of the experiences that one can expect. Benzo withdrawal also has the possibility of being life threatening due to grand mal seizures that could resort in a come or possibly death if a heavily dependent individual was to suddenly stop (cold turkey).
Getting Withdrawal Help
The safest way to quit and cleanse the body of this drug is to follow a medical detox. At a detox centre you would receive around-the-clock help to ensure you are comfortable and help with any withdrawal symptoms that occur.
Medical detox may involve cutting down slowly. Allowing your body to stabilize during the withdrawal period. This type of tapering can also include switching from a short-term benzo such as Xanax, to a longer-acting benzo such as Klonopin. In general it takes people around 10 weeks to come of the drug completely.
If you find yourself saying “I’m too afraid to enter treatment as I don’t want to face the withdrawal symptoms”…there is no need to be afraid. Treatment and detox can be a challenge but when you receive medical help it can become a lot easier.