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Why Stopping Benzos Requires a Medical Detox
Author: Phil Kosanovich
Published: November 11, 2021
Why Stopping Benzos Requires a Medical Detox

Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are pharmaceuticals that are most commonly prescribed to deal with anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and seizures. In the long term, transitioning away from benzos can require additional medical help or therapy. 

Common side effects of withdrawal include cold sweats, shaking, and seizures. These symptoms may be daunting and can threaten our health and tempt us to use again. Medical detox can make all the difference when breaking physical and mental dependence on these powerful substances.

The Circulation of Benzos

Benzos are prescribed in the US for a number of mental and neuropathological health conditions. They are central nervous system depressants, which means they slow down brain activity, providing a calming effect. The most common varieties prescribed are:

  • Valium (alprazolam)
  • Xanax (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)

Benzos are notorious for the short amount of time it takes for someone to become dependent on them. People are either introduced to them through a medical prescription or self-medication via the black market. Either way, the outcome is the same – rapid mental and physical addiction.

Dangers of Benzos

Benzos aren’t just dangerous because of the intoxicating effects and hazardous interactions with other substances – withdrawal from them can be life-threatening.

When we take benzos for extended periods, our brain becomes used to functioning with them in our system. Its ability to send signals is impaired, so it sends increasing amounts to overcome this. As our benzo habit gets larger, so do the amount of signals.

However, our brain takes time to adjust to change. If we suddenly stop taking benzos, it will still be firing off massive amounts of signals which can lead to shaking, anxiety, and fatal seizures in extreme instances.

Doctors can administer medication to gradually lower physical dependence in a medical setting, making the entire process as safe as possible. It’s never advisable to stop taking benzos without medical support.

What is a Medical Detox?

Medical detox is a process of ridding the body of toxins under the supervision of medical professionals. It comes with many benefits when trying to wean off of a substance. Medical professionals assist the client through what can be a difficult journey from the comfort of a  medical center. The centers do not use the ‘cold turkey’ method but instead, use medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

They offer around-the-clock medical care and allow the client to feel in control of their withdrawal. Following the detox, there may also be a full rehabilitation program to support the client on their path to sobriety.

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Being Prepared: Symptoms of Withdrawal

One of the best weapons in our recovery arsenal is preparation – if we know what to expect, we can prepare ourselves. Symptoms vary from person to person, and they’re usually similar to alcohol but more prolonged. They include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking 
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Seizures
  • Irritability

It may be tempting to try to ‘push through’ a benzo withdrawal alone, especially since many people who use them have no prior experience with addiction. However, this is extremely dangerous – there’s no point in putting yourself at risk.

In a medical setting, doctors can administer medication to gradually lower physical dependence, making the entire process as safe as possible. It’s never advised to stop taking benzos without medical consultation.

Dependency on benzos must be a part of conversations surrounding substance abuse disorder awareness. As hard as it may seem, it’s not impossible to recover. With its controlled environment, a medical detox might well be the right place to start for a comfortable recovery, contact us for more information.