Nobody starts taking Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, to become addicted. Benzos, initially prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms, provide a sense of calm and relaxation but gradually lead to dependency, especially when taken in higher doses. The problem with this drug is that it works too effectively, which leads to extreme addiction.
According to the National Library of Medicine, in 2020, approximately 4.8 million people aged more than 12 years misused benzodiazepines as a drug. Out of this number, over 3.4 million misused alprazolam products like Xanax, 723,000 misused Ativan, and 971,000 misused Valium. In fact, 16% of overdose deaths also had benzodiazepines involved.
Even though this medicine works exceptionally well for patients, here’s the catch:
Are they always safe?
How long do benzos stay in your system?
The answer isn’t the same for every individual. Overcoming Benzo addiction can be challenging, but with the right precautions and resources, recovery is achievable. Outpatient treatment and many other options are the preferred choices for recovery.
If you’re concerned about benzos addiction treatment and how to get off it, the side effects, withdrawal processes, and other potential risks, this article is a must-read. It also discusses that prolonged use can lead to dependence and extreme addiction.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of psychoactive drugs that function as depressants of the central nervous system. These drugs are prescribed for various medical conditions, primarily treating anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, seizures and muscle spasms, providing a sense of calm and relaxation,
Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam) are some common types of benzodiazepines.
How Benzodiazepines Work?
Benzodiazepines increase GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid ) in the brain, which produces an effect in the body that leads to relaxation, and calmness.
This drug is typically prescribed for varied periods depending on the patient’s needs.
- Short Term Prescription:
Benzodiazepines are used for a short period to cure severe anxiety, panic attacks, or insomnia.
- Long Term Prescription:
Sometimes, doctors prescribe long-term doses to patients for conditions like epilepsy when nothing else works. However, they prescribe it in extreme situations yet keep a close eye because using it for a long time can be addictive and cause problems.
Wondering how a medicine can be too good at its job yet end up making things worse? Benzos give your brain an instant rush of dopamine, which is like a natural happiness boost. Who doesn’t want to feel relaxed and happy, right? So, taking them can quickly lead to using them too much and getting habitual.
Symptoms of Benzos Addiction in a Person
- They seem sleepy.
- They can’t walk steadily and might trip or stumble.
- They’re not very good at coordinating things.
- They forget stuff a lot and don’t remember well.
A person with a benzodiazepine addiction may also start avoiding their normal life. The drug becomes the most important thing, and they spend a lot of time and energy getting it, taking it, and dealing with the after-effects.
How Long Are Benzos in Your System
Benzodiazepines stay in the body for varied periods and can be detected through various types of drug testing like blood tests, urine tests, and other medical detox.
- Urine Test- In urine tests, Halcion can be detected for about 24 hours. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Restoril may show up in urine 1-5 days after you take them. The most powerpack dose of benzodiazepine, Valiumf, in urine stays for 5-8 days after use. In rare cases, they could still be detected up to 30 days after the last use.
- Blood: Benzos are detectable in blood for 12-24 hours after use.
- Hair: In hair follicles, Benzos can be found for a long period, like 4-6 months.
Factors Affecting How Long Are Benzos in Your System
Several factors can affect how long benzodiazepines stay in your body. These factors include:
- The specific type of benzodiazepine you take.
- How fast your body processes the drug (your metabolism).
- The amount of the drug you take, how you take it, how often, and for how long.
- Your BMI rate.
- Your characteristics like habits, diet, weight, age, gender, and how much fluid you take.
- Your body tolerance rate.
Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines is tough, both physically and emotionally. An abrupt discontinuation of this drug, known as “cold turkey,” can be life-threatening. People who have been using these drugs for an extended period tend to face the most severe withdrawal symptoms.
According to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Benzos discontinuation is linked with nervous system injury. Additionally, 54.4% of patients who discontinued taking Benzo reported suicidal attempts.
When you discontinue benzodiazepines, you have rebound symptoms that stay with you. These symptoms include insomnia, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, heavy sweating, fast heartbeat, headaches, drug cravings, and more.
However, in severe addiction cases, symptoms like hallucinations, acting strangely, and even suicidal thoughts are experienced by the patient.
Benzos for Depression
Benzo does easily trigger depression when taken for a short period of time. But if it is used heavily in the long term, it can lead to anhedonia, which means you have trouble feeling pleasure anymore. This can make your depression symptoms worse.
However, Benzodiazepine discontinuation can trigger depression in people who are already prone to it. This drug can also make depression worse in people who already have a history of depression.
Brain Healing After Benzos
Benzodiazepine can seriously affect the brain, but discontinuation of its use helps in healthy recovery. However, the process takes time and it isn’t easy. During recovery, you might feel anxious and sad. And may feel the constant urge to take drugs, making you think that it will feel good.
Do Benzos Cause Constipation
One of the common side effects of benzodiazepine (Benzo) withdrawal is “benzo belly.” During withdrawal, it can affect your digestive system, causing discomfort, pain, and distress. Benzo belly is a type of stomach problem when withdrawing from benzos. The problems can vary and may include mild to severe symptoms.
- Feeling nauseous
- Having loose and frequent bowel movements
- Feeling pain in your belly
- Swelling in your stomach
- Trouble digesting food
- Having a hard time going to the bathroom
- Loss of appetite
- Losing weight
These symptoms show the chances of having constipation. If the patient’s condition doesn’t get better, seek medical help.
Benzo Addiction Treatment
Because addiction is different in each individual, there are many treatment options available. What works best depends on the specific drug the patient is taking, how long and how much it was used, and the person’s health background.
Some of these include the following.
- Medical Detox: The first step is often a medically supervised detox, gradually cold turkey the benzodiazepine dose to reduce withdrawal symptoms. The first thing done in medical detoxification is taking the drug out of the patient’s body. This is called detox, and it needs to be done carefully because it can have harmful effects if not done right. Detoxification is done in hospitals, specialized inpatient detoxification units, or outpatient detoxification units with close medical supervision
- Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management help to address the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping strategies.
- Medications: In some cases, a doctor simply prescribes medications to manage withdrawal symptoms or address unwanted mental health conditions.
- Support Groups: Participation in support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Benzodiazepine Anonymous (BA) can provide valuable peer support and accountability.
- Counseling: Individual and family counseling can help survivors and their loved ones understand and manage the addiction. Talking to people and sharing thoughts relaxes minds that work as an alternative to that medicine.
- Lifestyle Changes: Some medical professionals even suggest that a healthy change in the patient’s lifestyle by regular exercise, good nutrition, and stress management can be beneficial.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the best treatment for Benzo addiction treatment?
There are many treatment options available for benzodiazepine addiction. It’s better to consult your doctor as they will suggest the effective treatment suited to your situation. However, medical detoxification has been proven effective.
How long does the treatment of Benzo’s addiction last?
Treatment length varies from person to person situation. It can be one month a year or more.
When should one not consume benzodiazepine?
If you have problems with your chest or lungs, weak muscles, drug or alcohol issues, or a personality disorder, your doctor will be cautious and be careful about giving you benzodiazepine medications.
Can you take benzodiazepines daily?
Benzodiazepines are good when taken for the shortest time. Using them regularly for a few weeks or more can make you addicted. Usually, doctors suggest taking them for only 2-4 weeks.
What are the symptoms experienced during benzo withdrawal?
You can experience acute withdrawal symptoms like higher anxiety, trouble sleeping, feeling low, and loss of memory. Other symptoms may include hallucinations, psychosis, and sleep troubles.
Recovery is possible. Sometimes, you might need more than one round of treatment to stay drug-free. That’s why it’s important to reach the best healthcare and get personalized treatment. Identifying benzodiazepine addiction can be a challenge in its early stages, particularly if the medication is prescribed, hence Calusa Recovery is constantly working towards the best experience for our clients by using a holistic approach, including advanced genetic testing, to determine the most effective medication for each client’s unique needs, based on their DNA and psychiatric diagnosis. We offer tailored programs and treatment solutions that are personalized according to the patient’s immediate requirements.