A group of antidepressants, benzodiazepines can help treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. However, benzos are also highly addictive, and about 44 percent of users will develop a dependence. The biggest problem is that when people try to quit benzos, they often experience severe psychical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. If you’re trying to get benzos out of your system, keep reading to learn the safest way to do it.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, sometimes known as benzos, are essentially tranquilizers widely prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle tension, and insomnia. Benzos also help people relax before surgery or medical procedures. Benzos work on the central nervous systems and the neurotransmitter GABA to calm nerve impulses, which eventually helps calm anxiety. Generally, they produce a calming, well-being state that makes them addictive.
The most common types of benzodiazepines include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril)
How Long Do Benzos Stay in Your System?
Because benzodiazepines have different classifications and effects, they act very differently. Even though they’re all very similar, each benzodiazepine medication has a different half-life.
Unlike other drugs, the type of benzodiazepine makes a huge difference. The drug’s half-life has different classifications. Each classification works best for various conditions, and it also affects how long the drug will be present in a person’s system. The three types of benzos available include:
- Long-acting: Valium, Librium, and Dalmane
- Intermediate-acting: Xanax, Ativan, and Restoril
- Short-acting: Versed and Halcion
Overall, different types of tests can detect benzodiazepines:
- Blood tests: 1 day
- Saliva tests: 2 to 3 days
- Urine tests: 10 to 30 days
- Hair follicle tests: Up to 90 days
However, it’s paramount to look at the detection times of the different types of benzodiazepines:
- Alprazolam (Xanax): 12 to 15 hours
- Lorazepam (Ativan): 10 to 20 hours
- Diazepam (Valium): 20 hours to 3 days
- Nordiazepam: 1 to 4 days
- Oxazepam: 5 to 10 hours
- Temazepam (Restoril): 3 to 13 hours
- Clonazepam (Klonopin): 18 hours to 2 days
Factors That Affect How Long Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System
Like many other substances, some factors affect how long benzos stay in your system. Things like the length of benzodiazepine use, frequency, body mass, sex, and even hydration levels play a significant role. These different factors will affect the detection window.
The first thing that plays a role is the dosage and frequency of use. People who use benzos regularly can have positive drug test results even after 45 of the last use. Heavy users can have positive tests 90 days after quitting. It all depends on how much and how frequently you use benzodiazepines.
Beyond the length of time and the class of drug abused, it’s also essential to know if, during that same period, someone also misused other drugs. For example, many individuals mix benzos with alcohol to enhance its effects. This will affect the amount of time the drug stays in the system.
Body Composition & Sex
Drug metabolites are usually stored in the fat cells in the body. This means, the higher your body fat or BMI, the slower you metabolize and excrete benzos. For example, women often metabolize benzos slower than men because they tend to have higher body fat levels.
If your body isn’t at its optimal level, it might take longer to metabolize benzos. Your metabolism also plays a role. Usually, those with substance abuse problems have impaired digestive enzymes that can affect metabolism. Age, gender, weight, and overall physical activity can also have an impact.
How to Get Benzos Out of Your System
The problem with getting benzos out of your system is that it produces negative withdrawal symptoms. If you have a valid prescription for benzodiazepines, odds are you’re struggling with severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other concerns. Quitting benzos cold-turkey means these symptoms can exacerbate and cause life-threatening consequences.
Common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations, panic attacks, and tremors. However, people can easily experience dizziness, depressive episodes, confusion, restlessness, and suicidal thoughts without supervision and treatment.
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, including doctor and nurse oversight. Inpatient treatment can help patients looking for ways to ease benzo withdrawal symptoms through medication assistance and more.
A medical detox program may also incorporate medication-assisted treatment, such as naloxone, to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and help people be better prepared for rehab. 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.
Choosing a medical detox approach also positions patients in the best possible scenario to continue treatment. Most detox facilities offer inpatient rehab programs to continue addiction treatment under clinical supervision. For those with co-occurring mental health conditions, an inpatient rehab program also provides them with the mental health assistance they need to prevent another depressive episode and continue treatment.
Getting Help for Benzodiazepines Addiction
While benzos are incredibly addictive, those who are willing to break the addiction cycle can seek treatment. Because cutting cold turkey can be hazardous, it’s best to start with a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and a benzodiazepine detox process to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.
Speaking with an addiction treatment specialist as soon as possible is the best way to start seeking help for benzo’s addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:
- Benzo Medical Detox: A clinically supervised detox process to ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Often, people who misuse benzos mix it with alcohol, struggle with opioids misuse, or have co-occurring mental health illnesses. A dual diagnosis treatment plan collectively and holistically treats the various ailments.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs: A form of drug rehab that offers more flexibility to patients looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving.
- Long-term Recovery Programs: It’s easy to relapse after treatment; with long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety.
If you or someone you love is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse, seek help immediately. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs. Our addiction treatment center is ready to welcome you with open arms.