Acute Withdrawal from Benzos
Acute benzo withdrawal is the first stage of withdrawal for a person in recovery. The acute stage can begin 1 to 4 days after terminating or reducing the use of a benzo depending on the half life of the medication, how much was used, and how frequently the drug was used. During the acute benzodiazepine withdrawal stage the brain and the body begin to experience the sudden shock of no longer having the benzodiazepine to rely on. Various physical and psychological symptoms occur which is why it’s important to detox from benzos in a Florida medical detox center like SJRP.
The severity of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are dependent on the quantity of the benzo dosage and frequency of use prior to quitting. The higher the dosage or frequency the more quickly withdrawal can begin. Keep in mind that the acute benzo withdrawal stage has an undefined timeframe. Acute withdrawal may last several weeks or several months depending on individual factors relative to each patient.
Acute benzo withdrawal can have many different symptoms including:
- Manipulation of cerebral function- vision distortion, memory loss, and processing capability
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal cramps and pain
Acute benzo withdrawal is considered the most physically intense benzo withdrawal phase to impact the body. This is generally the time that someone addicted to a benzo such as Xanax, Valium or Ativan would seek professional help from a benzo detox center. SJRP offers safe, reliable benzo detox in Florida at our drug and alcohol addiction recovery center.
Protracted Withdrawal from Benzos
Protracted Withdrawal is the second stage in the withdrawal process and begins immediately after the acute withdrawal phase is completed. The individual in recovery might experience mild to severe physical symptoms of withdrawal. Even in protracted withdrawal syndrome, which is experienced by 33% of benzodiazepine users, anxiety and insomnia continue to interrupt the client’s ability to comfortably cope with benzo detox.
Protracted withdrawal symptoms may include:
- High blood pressure
This stage of benzo withdrawal can be intense both emotionally and psychologically. It is not uncommon to experience:
- Insatiable cravings
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies toward self-harm
Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal
The symptoms a person can experience from benzo withdrawal can be widespread and at times might be difficult to associate directly with withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may be experienced in each stage of withdrawal but most regular physical symptoms are experienced during the acute withdrawal stage.
Physical symptoms of benzo withdrawal may include:
- Changes in appetite (loss or increase)
- Loss of motor coordination
- Vision loss or trouble seeing
- Memory loss
Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal
The psychological impact of benzo withdrawal can be intense but manageable under the care of licensed treatment providers and recovery specialists. Psychological symptoms of benzo withdrawal may include:
Benzo withdrawal psychosis is one of the most difficult symptoms for patients in recovery to cope with. If suffering from benzo withdrawal psychosis, it may be incredibly difficult to determine the difference between what is reality and what is a figment of imagination or a hallucination. Because of the potential for several psychological withdrawal symptoms, benzo withdrawal is best experienced with the 24 hour care of a benzo detox center.
What Is Benzo Withdrawal Psychosis?
Benzodiazepines are a type of psychoactive drug that enhances the effects of the GABA-A neurotransmitter in the brain. This enhancement typically results in a sedated, sometimes hypnotic state in individuals who make use of the drug, which help to alleviate symptoms associated with insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, and a number of other conditions, when used correctly.
But benzodiazepines, otherwise known as benzos, can also cause physiological dependence and addiction. Dependence on the drug can result in a number of adverse effects and uncomfortable effects. As a result, many individuals who feel as though they are using too much of the drug too often may try to quit using the medication cold turkey. But quitting benzos cold turkey can be an onsetting factor for benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome occurs when a physiological dependence on the drug has been formed, and long term use of the substance is abruptly stopped instead of gradual tapering off of use. Benzo withdrawal syndrome is accompanied by many uncomfortable side effects including a psychosis.
Benzo withdrawal psychosis in an incredibly uncomfortable side effect of benzodiazepine withdrawal, that comes with its own set of adverse effects. Benzo withdrawal psychosis is typically characterized by the presence of these types of symptoms:
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased tension
- Increased anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Dry retching
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Numerous perception changes
- Psychotic reactions
What is Psychosis?
The word psychosis is a term used to describe a large range of conditions that affect the mind. When an individual develops psychosis, it is typically referred to as a psychotic episode and is typically characterized by a general loss of contact with reality. During a psychotic episode an individual may have trouble telling the difference between reality and what is made up by their mind. Psychosis typically disturbs an individual’s thoughts and perceptions of reality, making it difficult for them to understand and communicate with the world and others as they normally would. Other symptoms of psychosis include:
- False beliefs
- Hallucinations (Seeing or hearing things that others do not hear or see)
- Incoherent speech
- Inappropriate behavior
- Sleep disturbances
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of motivation
- Difficult functioning overall
How Does Benzo Psychosis Occur?
Whether you are stopping medication or illicit use, abrupt withdrawal from benzodiazepine use can onset withdrawal symptoms at any time. Stopping use can onset a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms that may mirror or amplify the effects of active use. Stopping benzodiazepine use abruptly is not recommended by doctors, as the conditions of withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and lead to potentially life-threatening circumstances.
Benzos and their withdrawal symptoms can come in both short and long acting waves of effects. Typically, the short acting effects will set in anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your last use. Long occurring symptoms may take as long as a week to set in. And abrupt withdrawal can cause symptoms to last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after use. All withdrawal symptoms can be severe and uncomfortable, some more so than others. Benzo psychosis is a very uncomfortable withdrawal effect that is associated with onsetting its own list of adverse effects.
Medical professionals do not know for certain what causes benzo withdrawal psychosis to occur. For a brief amount of time, they associated the appearance of psychosis to be related to prior mental illness, or extreme neurological development issues and prolonged use of the medication. More recent studies conducted have shown that these beliefs do not always prove to be 100% certain in their findings. As a result, further research is being conducted. Typically though, benzo psychosis is still thought to occur after abrupt termination of long-term use of benzodiazepine in high doses, as it is believed to offset the normal functioning of the brain which causes the symptom of mental instability.
Who Is At Risk For Experiencing Benzo Withdrawal Psychosis?
If you or your loved one is dependent on benzodiazepine, you could be at risk for experiencing benzo withdrawal psychosis if you are not careful. Anyone who uses benzodiazepine–either for medical or “recreation” situations and circumstances–is at risk for experiencing benzo psychosis if they stop use abruptly, after having used the drug / medication in large doses for an extended amount of time.
Signs of Psychosis in Benzo Withdrawal
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is a very uncomfortable set of symptoms to work through, with a wide range of severities and effects. Benzodiazepine withdrawal psychosis is one such adverse effect, that can be even more severe and uncomfortable than the rest. Typically benzo withdrawal symptoms mirror or are amplified versions of the adverse effects the drug onsets to begin with. Yet, there are specific signs of psychosis in benzo withdrawal that you should be on the lookout for, as these types of mental effects can lead to life-threatening circumstances. These signs and symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased tension
- Increased anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Dry retching
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Numerous perception changes
- Psychotic reactions
- Paranoid ideas
- Uneasiness with others
- Difficulty separating reality from fantasy
- Trouble communicating
- Confused speech
- Decline in self-care and personal hygiene
- Excessive trouble concentrating
- Spending a lot more time alone
- Withdrawing socially
Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Timeline
The withdrawal timeline for any benzo user relies on the amount and type of benzos that were taken. Fast-acting benzos such as Xanax have a shorter half-life than longer-acting benzos such as Valium. The half-life of a benzo or any drug is the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body after use.
The benzo withdrawal timeline for someone taking fast-acting benzos will begin as soon as six hours after the last dose and may continue for 5 to 7 days. Benzodiazepine withdrawal times could vary slightly based on the frequency or amount of use.
The withdrawal timeline for longer-acting benzos such as Diazepam may be extended significantly as the person taking the benzos may not begin to exhibit symptoms of benzo withdrawal for up to 7 days after the last dose. They will then experience symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal for a period of several days or weeks while the drug metabolizes slowly through their body and all traces are gradually eliminated.
There is no standard Benzo withdrawal timeline. Every individual in recovery responds differently to withdrawal, detox, and the treatment that is provided.
Benzo Seizure Timeline
Suffering from a benzodiazepine withdrawal seizure is one of the most dangerous risks in benzodiazepine detox and recovery. During the first 15 days that pass after quitting or tapering benzos the risk for seizures is highest. Patients may experience grand mal seizures that could result in coma or death in the early days after terminating regular benzo use.
Benzodiazepine related withdrawal seizures are less likely in cases that include a benzo taper or a gradual reduction in benzodiazepine use over time rather than abrupt discontinuation and cold-turkey withdrawal.
If you or someone you love has recently quit using benzodiazepines after many months or years of repeat use, it’s important to seek professional treatment for your own safety. The benzodiazepine withdrawal seizure timeline is most significant during the acute benzo withdrawal phase which takes place in the days immediately after you quit using benzos and will peak about 1 week into the detox period. Call SJRP admissions at 833-397-3422 to get immediate help for benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
Benzo withdrawal seizure risks are reduced gradually as time without benzos expands. However, it’s important to note that even people who took benzos short term (for 15 days) had risk of seizure with abrupt, cold-turkey discontinuation. Epilepsy symptoms could occur after 1 week or less of benzo use and should be carefully monitored in anyone that is experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Factors Affecting Duration of Withdrawal
When it comes to the length of time it takes for an individual to experience withdrawal there are many factors that must be considered. Duration of withdrawal should also be considered when developing treatment plans. The amount of time it takes for benzo withdrawal to subside may be influenced by several factors.
How long do benzo withdrawal symptoms last?
It really depends on the following:
- Age of the individual in recovery: Senior citizens or elderly members of society may experience a full recovery-however the process might take longer than that of a 20 or 40 year old in recovery.
- Time frame: The amount of time that an individual was regularly taking benzos. Was it over a period of weeks, months, or over a time span of several years?
- Polysubstance abuse: Were the benzos abused alongside any other substances such as narcotics or alcohol consumption? If there was a pattern of multi-consumption of substances… How much of what was being consumed and for how long?
- Dosage: What was the quantity level of benzo being taken? Was it a higher strength benzo such as Klonopin or lower dosage benzo such as Antivan? How many milligrams .5 /1.0 /2.0 and at what frequency?
- Genetics: Variables like genetics can have a large influence on the way an individual responds to the dependency of controlled and uncontrolled substances. A history of addiction in the family can make an impact on the withdrawal process as well as one’s personality as a whole.
- Co-occurring Disorders: Is the individual in pre-recovery suffering from other underlying mental health disorders such as high anxiety levels, depression, bi-polar disorders, and so forth.
- The Environment: This is an incredibly important element that can have a huge impact on the withdrawal process. It is imperative to assess the environment that the individual in pre-recovery is inhabiting. Are they in a calm, safe space that promotes healing and improved well-being? Or does their current living situation promote chaos and extra stress? This is a thought to ponder as one researches treatment plans and considers the differences between inpatient and outpatient care.
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
One of the most prevalent approaches to treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is to slowly wean the person off the drug. Also called tapering down the dose, this practice is conducted by a medical professional who evaluates the benzo intake and helps to manage the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal and ease one through the detox experience by minimizing the impact of withdrawal. St John’s Recovery Place, one of several drug rehab centers in Central Florida, provides safe, medically supervised benzodiazepine withdrawal treatment in our Florida medical detox center. To find out if our addiction recovery programs are right for you, or someone you love, call our admissions team at 833-397-3422.
Medical Detox for Benzo Withdrawal
Medical detox is often considered the best place for a person in recovery to spend their time in treatment. Medical detox for benzodiazepines provides the patient with the best medical care possible while offering privacy and a customizable treatment plan that’s right for them. Choosing to attend a medical detox center like St John’s detox in Central Florida, whether close to home or in a distant location can allow you to take time in a drug and alcohol-free environment with no distractions to focus solely on drug rehabilitation and healing. Benzo detox typically must take place in a center that provides medical detoxification services to ensure the safety of the client. Any level of care that provides less is not consistent with client safety.
At SJRP we provide benzo detox in Florida to clients in various stages of recovery. Our medically monitored Benzo detox center features 24-hour support from doctors, nurses and staff while delivering exceptional quality treatment that minimizes withdrawal symptoms allowing you to focus on your recovery. We firmly believe that suffering should not be part of the recovery process and we’ll do what we can to ensure a comfortable benzo detox with minimal side effects to our clients. Call our admissions department at 833-397-3422 to learn more about our benzodiazepine detox center in Florida.
Outpatient Detox for Benzo Withdrawal
It is possible for benzo detox to be completed outside of a medical detox facility but only if recommended by a doctor and monitored by a healthcare professional. Outpatient detox allows the option to stay at home or in a safe space. This option allows the individual in recovery to stick to their daily routine with work or education while they are going through the benzo detox process. The person remains in close contact with a medical professional throughout the treatment process.
How to Detox from Benzos at Home
While it is possible to begin a benzo detox at home, it is important to consult a medical professional before proceeding. There are varied risks that can arise when a patient is not under the 24/7 supervision of doctors during this stage. St John’s Recovery Place does not recommend detoxing at home due to the underlying risk of benzo withdrawal seizures which can arise without warning and may result in serious side effects, including coma or death, if left untreated.
Dangers of Quitting Cold-Turkey
While it is admirable to attempt instant termination of benzos. It is important to recognize the dangers of quitting benzos cold turkey. Unlike quitting nicotine where you will experience unpleasant symptoms for a time and eventually those will calm down, benzodiazepines are not generally recommended to be discontinued immediately. Unless under the supervision of a licensed medical professional it is not recommended to quit benzos cold-turkey without professional treatment in a medical detox unit.
The effects of quitting a benzo taper cold-tukey can be dangerous. Common dangers of quitting cold-turkey include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Escalation of anxious thoughts and feelings
- Lack of concentration
In the most extreme cases, cold-turkey discontinuation of benzodiazepines may cause the following risks:
- A return to benzo abuse
- Grand mal seizures
According to the FDA, benzodiazepine detox should include a slow benzo taper that consists of reducing the daily dose by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 to 5 days. Symptoms of benzo withdrawal should be closely monitored during the taper and, if symptoms persist, a reduction or pause in the benzo taper should take place to ensure patient safety.
Ideally, a slow benzo taper takes place allowing the body to gradually adjust to the reduction of benzodiazepine medications from the system. As you stabilize, more of the benzo dose can be reduced with fewer impacts on your health and well-being. Safety during benzo withdrawal is a major concern that only a medical detox center like SJRP can provide by specializing in Benzo detox. Florida, or elsewhere if you choose to seek recovery in another location, is a safe, beautiful location for you to safely seek sobriety. SJRP and similar drug and alcohol detox programs have the appropriate understanding of benzo withdrawal to initiate a safe, controlled, medically monitored benzo taper that ensures your comfort and safety in recovery. DO NOT TRY TO DETOX AT HOME ALONE!
Can You Die from Benzo Withdrawal?
Benzos are incredibly powerful drugs that manipulate the neurochemicals in your mind. Seizures, hallucinations, and psychosis can have an incredible impact on the brain and body. There are potential dangers cited in medical journals as a result of benzodiazepine withdrawal. According to a report published by the National Library of Medicine, benzodiazepine withdrawal seizures that go untreated could be deadly. Benzo withdrawal deaths have not been recorded in cases absent benzo related withdrawal seizures.
Generally, seizures that occur in benzodiazepine related withdrawal are non-life threatening. However, significant risks arise if you suffer from a seizure alone without medical intervention. That’s one of many reasons why benzodiazepine detox should take place in a medical detox center. Your safety depends on it.
Finding a Benzo Detox Center
Finding the right benzodiazepine detox center can be one of the biggest life-changing decisions that you make. There are a few elements to consider and questions to ask when conducting research for the right drug rehab center for yourself or a loved one. Determining whether a benzo detox center is right for you or a family member or friend requires careful research and consideration.
When looking for benzodiazepine detox, consider the following:
- Location: Close to home or a destination location that provides privacy and serenity? There are benefits to both. Contact our benzo detox in Florida to learn more. Call our admissions team anytime, day or night, at 833-397-3422.
- Cost-effectiveness: Will you and or your family be able to afford treatment? Are payment plans available?
- Insurance: Will drug rehab insurance cover the cost or provide some coverage for treatment? What insurance does the detox center accept? Is the center in-network with your insurance company?
- What is the treatment plan like? 24/7 care? Nutrition plans? Medical care?
- What therapy plans are provided? Individual? Group? Animal Therapy? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? Art Therapy? Equine Therapy?
How Long Does Benzo Detox Take?
The amount of time it takes to detox from a benzo depends on a number of factors. Benzo detox times vary based on the person, his or her background, the level of drug use, and severity of drug use and the methods of detox. The entire process can take at least a week, sometimes it will take several weeks. Factors that influence benzodiazepine detox include things like frequency of drug use, the progression of the benzo taper (if a taper is induced), and whether there are other substances also being used.
Initial Withdrawal Process
- Quick-acting benzos such as Alprazolam can cause withdrawal effects as soon as six hours and they may continue for 5 to 7 days in total.
- Long-acting benzos like Diazepam can take up to 7 days before the user will exhibit signs of withdrawal and the withdrawal symptoms may last several weeks before improvement is recognized.
This is contingent on several factors such as dosage, frequency, and length of use. The detox process for benzos can last approximately 3 to 6 months. Medical detox is typically completed in a period of 7-14 days. Continued monitoring for safety is recommended.
Medications Used in Benzodiazepines Detox
Some of the benzo detox medications that might be used include:
- Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine and valproate.
- Sedating antidepressants such as trazodone.
Antihypertensive medications such as clonidine or propranolol may also be used in benzo detox when conducted in a controlled setting such as drug rehab center, for those who experience severe autonomic consequences as part of benzo withdrawal syndrome. This includes symptoms of racing heart, hypertension, profuse sweating or other underlying symptoms which can make benzo withdrawal uncomfortable.
How Detox Helps
Detox can be life-changing. It provides individuals suffering from benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal a chance to break free from unwanted dependence. Benzodiazepine detox reduces the symptoms of withdrawal that clients feel when they enter drug rehab for treatment so that they can begin focusing on therapeutic approaches to finding new ways to cope with day to day struggles that may arise.
Benzodiazepine detox treats the physical symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction so that the client can begin therapy to get to the root cause of their addiction. Understanding what caused them to use drugs such as Xanax or Ativan in the first place is vital to learning how to avoid those drugs in the future.
Understanding Benzodiazepine Withdrawal & Benzo Detox
Benzodiazepine detox can be a scary experience without having full knowledge and understanding of the withdrawal and detox process. From the diagnosis of substance abuse to withdrawal and choosing a detox center. There are so many resources to help promote a positive and successful recovery experience.
At St John’s Recovery Place we provide safe, controlled benzodiazepine detox. Florida is a beautiful place to visit for safe, medical detox. Our Florida benzo detox center that includes 24-hour monitoring for client safety.SJRP specializes in benzodiazepine taper for comfortable, controlled benzo withdrawal. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Valium and needs help, call SJRP today at 833-397-3422 to find out how you can take back control of your life.
Pétursson, H. (1994, November). The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7841856
Pagel, J. F., & Parnes, B. L. (2001, June). Medications for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders: An Overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181172/
American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff. (2019, July 12). Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline: 6 Things You Need to Know. Retrieved from
O, C., & Osborn, K. (2020, April 1). How Long Does Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines Last? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/benzodiazepine-withdrawal-4588452
Guarnotta, E. (2019, December 9). Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms and Getting Treatment. Retrieved from https://drugabuse.com/benzodiazepines/withdrawal
Lautieri, A. (n.d.). Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline: Klonopin Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/clonazepam
American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff. (2019, July 12). Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline: 6 Things You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://drugabuse.com/7-things-about-benzo-withdrawal-you-might-not-know/
National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome. (1994, November). (20202, August 27).
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Benzodiazepine Addiction. (Accessed 2020, August 27).
Medical News Today. What Happens When You Stop Taking Benzodiazepines? (2020, April 9). (2020, August 27).
Government of Westerm Australia: Department of Health: Healthy WA: Health Information for Western Australians. Benzodiazepine Withdrawal. (Accessed 2020, August 27).
Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia. Management of Patients Presenting With Acute Methamphetamine-Related Problems: Evidence Summary. (2017, December). (2020, August 27).
National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Alprazolam Withdrawal Delirium and Brief Psychosis: A Case Report. (2014). (2020, August 27).
National Institute of Mental Health: Transforming the Understanding and Treatment of Mental Illnesses. Fact Sheet: Early Warning Signs of Psychosis. (2016, January). (2020, August 27).
National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management. (1989, April). (2020, August 27).
National Institute of Mental Health: Transforming the Understanding and Treatment of Mental Illnesses. What is Psychosis? (Accessed 2020, August 27).
Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information for You. Psychosis. (2020, August 4).