Sober living

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Additionally, support from family, friends, or a therapist can be helpful during this time. Support groups can also provide a safe and non-judgmental space to share experiences and learn from others going through similar challenges. While these medications serve important medical needs, they are also subject to recreational abuse. By Corinne O’Keefe Osborn

Corinne Osborn is an award-winning health and wellness journalist with a background in substance abuse, sexual health, and psychology. Psychotherapy can help you understand the root cause of your substance abuse problems. It can also help you learn to identify psychological triggers that may cause you to relapse so that you can avoid them in the future.

Suicidal thoughts and actions may occur during acute withdrawal from a benzodiazepine as well, and therapy and support groups may help diffuse these complicated emotions. A mixed-effects logistic regression was conducted to determine the contribution of demographic and clinical variables to the development of probable WS. We evaluated several candidate models for WS (probable vs no), in terms of their fit, using Akaike information criterion (AIC) and Bayesian information criterion (BIC). AIC and BIC are the most commonly used criteria for candidate model selection in regression analysis, with lower values reflecting a better fit of the candidate model to the existing data (26). McFadden’s pseudo-R2 (27) was also calculated, comparing each model to the null model.

Long-Acting Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

Some prescribers misdiagnose interdose withdrawal as a worsening anxiety disorder. This can be terrifying for patients as they believe the withdrawal state they experience is now their baseline unmedicated default state. This can lead to a lifelong benzodiazepine prescription—constantly trying to extinguish the interdose withdrawal benzodiazepine withdrawal fire—and the complications that may occur from that. In addition to these strategies, individuals may also benefit from taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medications can help to reduce headaches and muscle pain, which are common physical symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Signs of Benzo Withdrawal

None of these symptoms is harmful, and they need not be a cause of worry once they are understood. The muscle pain and stiffness is actually little different from what is regarded as normal after an unaccustomed bout of exercise, and would be positively expected, even by a well-trained athlete, after running a marathon. Of the complementary medicine techniques, all can help with relaxation during the procedure but the effects tend to be short-lived. The choice of, and response to, each of these measures depends very much on the individual.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Withdrawal from the antidepressant can be considered separately at a later stage (See Chapter II, Schedule 13). While medications may be beneficial and even necessary during withdrawal from benzos, understand that addiction treatment does not solely entail the use of medication or stopping when the withdrawal period is completed. Medications are, however, an important therapeutic adjunct when their use is combined with psychological treatments like cognitive and behavioral therapies. Treating benzodiazepine addiction involves both detoxing users from the drug and treating the underlying addictions. Individuals taking benzos for several months or more and in high doses are likely to experience more withdrawal symptoms that last longer than those taking smaller doses for a shorter length of time.

Individuals may find they are intolerant of certain foods although this is not usually a true allergy. If in doubt, get the advice of a reliable and unbiased nutritionist, but in general stick to a normal healthy diet without food fads. Before diets became “fashionable” thousands of people successfully came off their benzodiazepines in many different countries with widely varying dietary habits without restriction – and this continues today. Also, people who have gone back on benzodiazepines, having failed at the first attempt at withdrawal, can be just as successful at tapering as first-timers. Severe depression may result from biochemical changes in the brain induced by benzodiazepines.

Early or immediate withdrawal

A good mentor can usually reassure and “talk down” a person suffering from benzodiazepine withdrawal-induced hallucinations. The sleep engendered by benzodiazepines, though it may seem refreshing at first, is not a normal sleep. Benzodiazepines inhibit both dreaming sleep (rapid eye movement sleep, REMS) and deep sleep (slow wave sleep, SWS). The extra sleep time that benzodiazepines provide is spent mainly in light sleep, termed Stage 2 sleep.

  • According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), withdrawal symptoms from short-acting benzodiazepines peak on the second day and improve by the fourth or fifth.
  • In the first week of tapering off, your doctor may reduce your dose as much as 30% to get you to a safe amount.
  • In general, excessive worrying over your undesirable habits (or your diet) can add to the stress of withdrawal.
  • Support groups can also provide a safe and non-judgmental space to share experiences and learn from others going through similar challenges.

This is due to the development of drug tolerance (Chapter I) which sometimes leads doctors to increase the dosage or add another benzodiazepine. Analysis of the first 50 patients who attended my benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic showed that all of them had symptoms on first presentation while still on benzodiazepines (12 of them were taking two prescribed benzodiazepines at once). Their symptoms included the full range of psychological and physical symptoms usually described as benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. The process of slow benzodiazepine tapering in these patients caused only slight exacerbation of these symptoms, which then declined after withdrawal. It is during this phase that specific medications may be most beneficial at targeting some of the certain symptoms.

The Connection between Benzodiazepines and Sleep

According to the National Center for PTSD, the most beneficial kind of therapy for benzodiazepine withdrawal is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help you challenge and reframe unhelpful beliefs and behaviors and replace them with more productive ones. Though therapy generally can’t address withdrawal symptoms specifically, it can help improve some symptoms, like anxiety and insomnia. When tapering off benzodiazepines, you’ll always want to work with a trained healthcare professional who can monitor you for side effects and adjust your pace accordingly.

  • Our rationale for examining these variables was that they were highly correlated with WS occurrence in a bivariate analysis.
  • Another drawback of antidepressants is that they, too, cause withdrawal reactions if they are stopped suddenly, a fact which has not always been appreciated by doctors.
  • Sleep deprivation studies show that any deficit is quickly made up by a rebound to above normal levels as soon as circumstances permit.
  • By Corinne O’Keefe Osborn

    Corinne Osborn is an award-winning health and wellness journalist with a background in substance abuse, sexual health, and psychology.

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