What Are Benzos?
The term “benzos” is a shortened name for benzodiazepines, a type of central nervous system depressant. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat conditions like alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, panic disorder, and seizures. While many people who take benzodiazepines use them for medical reasons, some individuals illegally purchase and abuse this type of drug. Some examples of benzos include Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, and Valium.
Most benzodiazepines work by attaching to certain brain receptors that make the brain less sensitive to stimulation. This means that these drugs usually have a calming or relaxing effect. But like all other prescription medications and other kinds of drugs, benzodiazepines also come with their own side effects. Some side effects of benzodiazepine use may include:
- Memory impairment
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Improper balance
- Appetite changes
- Reduced libido
While the effects above may be uncomfortable, they are typically not dangerous and can be treated at home. The symptoms below, however, are more rare and could be potentially life threatening. If someone experiences any of these serious side effects, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible:
- Slow heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
In addition to these serious symptoms, benzodiazepines can cause dependence and abuse. When someone becomes dependent on benzos, they may experience withdrawal symptoms after they stop taking them.
Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines
If someone takes benzos for a long period of time, they may build a tolerance to them. As someone builds a higher tolerance, they will require more of the medication to feel the same effect. When a person suddenly stops taking benzodiazepines, they will begin to go through withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms are possible regardless of whether someone uses benzos illegally or according to prescription.
Signs of withdrawal may begin anywhere from 8 to 24 hours after someone stops using the drug, depending on how often they used it. Common symptoms include sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, cravings, hand tremors, muscular discomfort, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, and headaches. The most severe side effects of withdrawal are seizures, hallucinations, psychosis, and suicidal ideation. While withdrawal can be dangerous, it is treatable if handled properly. To withdraw from benzos a person needs to detox the drug out of their system.
At-Home Benzo Detox: Is It Safe?
Detoxing must be done properly and carefully to be successful. Since it is recommended that a medical professional monitors a patient for fatal withdrawal symptoms, detoxing should not be done at home. When detoxing from benzodiazepines, an individual should go to a hospital or rehab facility to receive the high-quality care they require and deserve. Medically-supervised detox can help reduce comfort and promote safety & health while patients get clean and begin their recovery journeys. Detoxing can last as long as several months, depending on the benzo a person used and how often they used it.
Treatment For Benzo Dependence & Abuse
When a person withdrawals in a medical environment, their detox may be paired with inpatient or outpatient drug abuse treatment. Treatment plans may include a combination of medications, therapies, and other types of support.
To learn more about withdrawal and detox from benzodiazepines, contact our team of substance abuse treatment specialists by giving us a call at 267.719.8528.