Detoxing From Benzos: What You Need to Know
05 July, 2022
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are prescription drugs such as Ativan, Xanax, and Valium that slow the brain’s messages to the body. They are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, and they are typically prescribed for mental health conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. When used as prescribed by a doctor, benzos can improve quality of life and reduce distressing symptoms of mental health conditions. Yet, benzos can also be highly addictive and even fatal.
Overdose deaths involving benzos increased 22% from 2019 to 2020. The illicit usage of benzos has also been on the rise in the United States. The illegal use of benzos is usually combined with other drugs and alcohol, which increases the risk of overdose.
Combining drugs with other drugs (often called “crossfading”) is a red flag for substance abuse.
How to Spot a Benzo Addiction
If an individual is showing signs of an addiction to prescription drugs like benzos, it is important that they consult with a medical professional to determine if they need help. The longer an addiction goes untreated, the more difficult it gets to break free from it.
Mixing benzos with other drugs and alcohol is one of several key behaviors that indicate the presence of an addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). Other key warning signs include:
#1. Doctor Shopping
Doctor shopping occurs when an individual runs out of their prescription before it can be renewed. If someone is addicted to benzos, they will seek other medical providers to write them an additional prescription. The individual will usually take the new prescription to a different pharmacist to have it filled to prevent detection.
#2. Asking Friends and Family for Their Prescriptions
Since benzos are so widely prescribed in the United States, it is not uncommon for a person struggling with a SUD to have multiple family members or friends who have also been prescribed benzos. When someone abuses benzos and runs out of their medication early, they will ask their friends and family for their prescriptions to fill the gap.
#3. Experiencing Side Effects
Benzos have strong sedating effects on the body and the mind. People misusing benzos may seem drowsy or incoherent a lot of the time. Additionally, they may have poor judgment and coordination, and they will often begin missing work.
If a person is exhibiting these behaviors, it is time to get help. The first step to recovery will be detoxing from benzos, which can occur in an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility or rehab.
Detoxing from Benzos: What to Expect
Choosing detox is a courageous first step, but it can be scary. Withdrawal from benzos can be very taxing, and the person going through detox will need the support of friends, family, and medical professionals to get through it safely. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
Nausea or vomiting
Anxiety and panic attacks
Unusual sensations in the body
Tremors or seizures
Delirium and hallucinations
Withdrawing from benzos can be fatal, especially if there are underlying conditions or if the person experiencing withdrawal begins having seizures. Ensuring that the person going through withdrawal is under the care of a medical provider is crucial to ensure severe complications do not occur.
Fortunately, inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities across the United States can prevent severe complications and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Both inpatient and outpatient facilities can give people medications to limit cravings, decrease pain and nausea, and prevent complications before they start.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Not all addictions are the same, and they do not require the same levels of care. Different levels of care are provided by inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
In an inpatient facility, the person detoxing will be in an environment free of drugs and alcohol, and they will have 24/7 care. In an outpatient facility, they will still be able to go about their daily lives while detoxing under a medical professional’s guidance. When an individual is deciding if they need to seek treatment at an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility, they should consider first and foremost the severity of their addiction.
People who have a severe substance abuse disorder cannot maintain a schedule, and their lives often revolve around their substance of choice. They may have damaged relationships with friends and family, be unable to hold down a job, and struggle to care for themselves mentally and physically.
People addicted to benzos may have especially complicated situations and struggle with a polysubstance use disorder. An inpatient facility will probably be a more effective course of action in these cases.
If the person entering detox is not addicted to multiple substances, has a stable support system, and can still go to work and take care of themselves, they may only have a mild to moderate SUD. An outpatient facility may be able to provide the care they need without disrupting the structure of their lives.
Long-Term Care After Benzo Detox
The journey to recovery does not end at detox, and long-term care has been shown to provide better outcomes. Considering a sober living home may be an excellent option to support sustained recovery. In a sober living home, the individual will still be in an environment free of drugs and alcohol with medical staff who can ease cravings, provide therapies, and give support and guidance.
For those with less severe addictions, regularly seeing a therapist and checking in with a medical provider can ensure that they have the support and resources they need to fully recover.
The Forge Recovery Center Will Help You (or a Loved One) Recover from Benzo Addiction Today
Detox from benzos can be scary and challenging. Withdrawal can come with many complications, and it is vital for people to have support and medical supervision while going through detox.
The Forge Recovery Center wants to make sure you or your loved one has the resources and support needed to make a full recovery. Our expertly trained staff are well-versed in providing scientifically proven treatments and therapies that can help people kick cravings, manage withdrawal, rediscover themselves, and build new lives free of drugs and alcohol. You deserve a life filled with happiness and health, and we can help you get there.
If you have questions regarding benzo abuse or what treatments may be available to you or your loved one, we would love to answer them. Reach out to us today to learn more.