Everything to Know about Benzodiazepine Detox


Written By: Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.

Published on May 28, 2020 | Types of Drug Addictions

Benzo withdrawal is a very intense experience that can extend to several months. Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for a wide range of mental disorders and ailments and used to treat anxiety attacks, epileptic seizures, and withdrawal symptoms from other substances. Around 11 to 15 percent of Americans have benzos in their medicine cabinet. As a result, many users of the medication struggle with pains of going through the benzodiazepine detox process.

Unfortunately, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, which is why they’re often only prescribed for very short-term periods. However, almost 17% of those with prescriptions misuse them. 

What’s a Benzodiazepine Detox?

Generally, the first step into overcoming a benzo addiction is going through detox. People can safely purge their bodies from the drug to move towards the next steps of treatment as a result of this process.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be quite intense, and it’s best to do under medical supervision. A doctor will most likely start prescribing lower doses or a less potent benzo medication to decrease its dependency instead of eliminating the drug gradually. Thus, avoiding a “cold turkey” approach to benzodiazepine detox is important since withdrawal can cause severe side effects.

Common benzo withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Panic
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors

Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

Benzodiazepines are potent medications that can quickly rewire the brain. As a result, even short-term use can turn the body dependent. When the body becomes deprived of this substance, both mind and body start having adverse effects as they’re trying to adapt to the lack of medication.

Acute Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

Acute Withdrawal Phase

The initial withdrawal phase is perhaps the worst. At this point, most originating symptoms of the illness that the benzo medication initially treated begin to return. As a result, feelings of hypersensitivity, and in some cases, hallucinations can occur. Generally, this phase can last anywhere between 5 to 14 days. Other symptoms to expect during this initial withdrawal timeline include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Depressions
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of excitement
Protracted Withdrawal Phase

Protracted Withdrawal Phase

Unfortunately, the symptoms from the initial phase extend past the first two weeks and can last months. The Protracted withdrawal phase can go anywhere between 12 to 18 months. The body is still trying to stabilize and adapt without the drug. Some normal functioning of the brain is returning, and the initial shock of withdrawal starts to fade. Yet, some symptoms might still come and go as users continue their withdrawal process.

Symptoms to expect at this stage include:

  • Depression
  • Mild anxiety
  • Diminished appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Poor concentration
  • Restlessness

Benzodiazepine Treatment Options

Benzodiazepine detox can be a long process. While there are many treatment options, inpatient benzo detox might be the safest plan. With inpatient treatment, patients need to stay at a detox facility where there is proper medical supervision and care. Additionally, with this type of care, users receive a more in-depth and medical approach to rehab that includes doctor and nurse oversight. Inpatient treatment can help patients looking for ways to ease benzo withdrawal symptoms through medication assistance and more.

However, outpatient treatment can still benefit those who have a lower dependence on benzos or those who already went through the detox process and still require help with their dependency. 

Seeking Help for Benzodiazepine Detox

Benzo detox is a long and ongoing process, but overcoming the addiction is worth it. If you or a loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, seeking help today is paramount for your wellbeing. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment options and medical detox programs to help anyone overcome their addictions. Together, we’ll find the ultimate treatment plan that works for your unique needs and struggles. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Our mission is to care for each of our patients as part of our family. 

Cite This Article
Geraldine Orentas. "Everything to Know about Benzodiazepine Detox." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Published on May 28, 2020, https://lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com/benzodiazepine-detox-withdrawal-and-treatment/.


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