More than one out of eight or twelve percent of American individuals have used benzodiazepine. Out of these, it is estimated that at least seventeen percent of this use is attributable to misuse of prescriptions.
While this pharmaceutical drug has been long prescribed for a variety of mental illnesses, doctors are now hesitant to do so due to its high potential for addiction. If you or someone you know is trying to quit, it is a smart idea to work with an addiction treatment center to get benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment during your recovery.
These withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous to both, your mental and physical health.
We’ll take a look at what these symptoms actually look like, but first, let’s explore why they occur in the first place.
Why Do You Experience Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
When you consume a drug over a long period of time, you develop a tolerance to its effects. While at first, it might work to make you feel a certain way, soon your body needs more to experience the same effects.
As your body continues to develop a higher tolerance for the drug, you continue to increase your dose. Ultimately, when you deprive your body of the drug by quitting, your body begins to crave it.
While ultimately your body does get used to the lack of consumption, in the interim it is difficult to adapt. This is why you experience symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Let us explore a few of these symptoms.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms You Need to Watch For
Recovering from any kind of addiction is never easy and benzodiazepine addiction is no different. While the symptoms of withdrawal may vary from person to person, we’ve compiled a list of the most common ones that you are likely to experience.
A sudden spike in anxiety is expected during these times. Particularly if the drug was used to treat symptoms of anxiety earlier. Sudden bouts of panic are also fairly common.
Depression, feelings of sadness, irritability, and restlessness are also experienced during the withdrawal phase.
On the more severe end of the spectrum, some people experience hallucinations, psychotic symptoms and even develop suicidal tendencies. This is precisely why consistent therapy and treatment is highly recommended for patients in the recovery stage.
In addition to feeling mentally anxious or panicked, you may experience certain physiological symptoms as well. These include heart palpitations, hyperventilation, hand tremors, tingling sensations, sweating, and more.
You may find that you’re increasingly forgetful and absentminded. Focusing on simple tasks for extended periods of time may also be difficult.
During this time perception may also be altered affecting the way one responds to external stimuli.
Insomnia or Other Types of Sleep Disturbances
A change in sleeping patterns is usually observed. This includes sleep disturbances, erratic sleeping patterns as well as insomnia.
As far as physical symptoms go, nausea and cravings are the most common. Far less common, but more severe reactions include seizures, muscle spasms, and loss of bodily control.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
The duration period for withdrawal varies from person to person and is dependant on a variety of factors. Here are a few variables that matter:
- Duration of time during which benzodiazepines were taken
- The form in which it was taken
- Method of consumption or abuse
- Any underlying physical or mental conditions for a specific person
- The dosage consumed
- Other drugs and medication taken during or after that time
Depending on the severity of each of these factors, symptoms could last anywhere between a few days, a few months to a year. The onset of these symptoms typically begins six to eight hours after quitting, however, depending on the type it can extend to twenty-four or even forty-eight hours after.
This usually depends on the brand in use.
An Overview of What to Expect
Knowing exactly what to expect is a great tool to prepare your mind and body for the difficulties to come. As we’ve said before – every case does not look exactly the same, so keep in mind that this is just the gist.
During the first 6-8 hours (or 24-48 hours) you will likely experience psychological symptoms of anxiety or panic. During this time sleep disturbances may also occur.
During days 1 to 4, anxiety and insomnia may continue to increase. It is during this period that you’ll experience physiological symptoms like hyperventilation, palpitations, and sweating.
During the later half of the second week, you may notice the symptoms begin to subside. However, if you are a heavy user this may continue for another two weeks, some lasting beyond 15 days.
Post-Acute or Protracted Withdrawal (PAWS)
This kind of withdrawal can extend a six-month duration. During this stage, patients experience severe anxiety, insomnia, cognitive difficulties, low libido, and other symptoms of depression.
Do You Need Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Treatment?
If you or someone you know needs help coping with benzodiazepine addiction, it is highly advised that you seek professional help. There are plenty of benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment centers that can help make your recovery process safer and easier.
You do not have to do this alone.
Have questions? Not sure about how or where to start? We’re always here to help!
Give us a call, send us a message, chat with us, or schedule a meeting with one of our addiction specialists. We would love to help you on your path to recovery!