Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of psychoactive drugs prescribed in America that are often used for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorders, muscle spasms, and seizure disorders. They are man-made medications that work by affecting one’s neurotransmitters, enhancing the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in one’s brain. Benzodiazepines increase GABA, which in turn reduces brain activity. Although benzodiazepines are classified by the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) as Schedule IV Controlled Substance, meaning they are “defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence,” benzos can be habit forming and lead to addiction. Long-term use of benzos can lead to tolerance, which means that individuals will require higher doses to achieve the same results, as lower doses will be ineffective.
When an individual has habitually abused any type of substance his or her body will become accustomed to operating with the substance in its system and will in effect become reliant upon the substance to function optimally. When the previously abused substance is absent, or there is a lack of substance in one’s system, one’s body will respond accordingly and adverse withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Although there are different methods of detox available, each with varying levels of support (e.g. unsupervised detox, supervised detox, medically supervised detox, medically assisted detox, etc.), the ultimate goal of the detox process remains universal: safely cleanse the body of foreign substances. The level of support an individual may require during detox will vary, as will the length of the detox process. Due to the way benzos affect one’s brain, individuals that have abused benzos are advised to undergo a medical detox program.
Unlike many other substances where detox requires an individual to immediately cease substance use, it is generally recommended for an individual who has consistently taken benzos for two weeks or longer to taper off the substance as opposed to stopping abruptly. Every individual is different and will experience a unique combination of withdrawal symptoms, differing severity of symptoms and a distinct duration of symptoms when detoxing from benzos. The onset of withdrawal symptoms usually beings within twenty-four hours of one’s last use and can last from a few days to several months long, depending on the individual. In order to successfully detox from benzos, the tapering-off method can help reduce the severity of some of the withdrawal symptoms (e.g. minimize the intensity of drug cravings). Tapering-off of benzos can, not only be successfully accomplished, but with ample medical supervision is often the recommended method for safely removing benzodiazepines from one’s body.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.