Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

About Benzodiazepines and Withdrawal 

Once an individual becomes dependant on benzodiazepines in order to carry out basic life tasks, drug treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms should be sought. When the individual stops taking benzos or even decreases their dosage, they will begin to go through benzo withdrawal. Managing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms is very important as the bodies reaction to withdrawal can cause dangerous side effects. Most drug withdrawal symptoms can be troublesome or uncomfortable, but benzodiazepine withdrawal is different.

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs classified as central nervous system depressants that are commonly prescribed to help individuals struggling with anxiety, insomnia, seizure disorders, panic disorders and muscle spasms. Benzos are also used for individuals who are going through alcohol withdrawal as they lessen some of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

There are many names that benzodiazepines are manufactured and distributed under. Some of the more common brand names include Ativan, Halcion, Klonopin, and Librium. Most benzos are distributed in tablet form and are taken orally. There are some, like valium, that can be given intravenously. Benzos are very addictive, even when taken under the close supervision of a physician. Any use of benzodiazepines outside a physician’s care is substance abuse. Many assume that prescription medications are safer that street drugs, and ignore warnings about misuse.

Benzodiazepine Abuse

Benzodiazepines create a feeling of wellness that results from the release of chemicals that can cause an individual to either experience a high or a buzz. This buzz is often what allows individuals with anxiety disorders and panic attack disorders to function in their lives. The issue is when individuals begin to take higher doses or use benzos in conjunction with other substances such as alcohol. Alcohol taken with benzos can increase the potency and effects of the drugs, and will also increase the risks associated with taking too much or overdosing.

Addiction to benzos happens as a result of a change in an individual’s brain chemistry over the period of use, whether prescribed or self-administered. The neurochemistry changes can permanently alter the body’s ability to regulate emotions, anxious feelings, or overwhelming urges. Anti-anxiety medications are quite commonly prescribed meaning that individuals and families from all walks of life have access to them.

When the levels of benzodiazepines in the body drop below typical dosing, the body responds by initiating signs of withdrawal. The severity of an individual’s benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms will depend on a few things. First, the length of time the drug has been taken will directly affect the body’s response when stopped. Secondly, the method of withdrawal will also affect an individual’s ability to manage withdrawal symptoms. If the drugs are stopped without any tapering off, the likelihood of severe symptoms is greatly increased. Benzodiazepine withdrawal should be closely monitored by medical professionals in order to reduce the risk of severe side effects that may cause death.

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Medications for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

There are a few medications that can help individuals going through benzo withdrawal as the drugs are tapered off. It is important to understand that suddenly discontinuing benzos can cause life-threatening symptoms in some people. These powerful anti-anxiety medications are always dropped slowly in increasingly smaller doses. This process should take weeks and even months. Some of the medications commonly used to aid in the step-down process are:

  • Valproate and Carbamazepine – anticonvulsants
  • Trazodone – antidepressants
  • Clonidine and Propranolol
  • Phenobarbital

These medications will aid in the severity and duration of the withdrawal symptoms, but it should be understood that no medications can eliminate all symptoms. Benzo withdrawal and detox are most effective when other therapies are incorporated. Some of these therapies can be behavioral while others are psychological.

Benzodiazepine Cravings

Drug cravings are very common for addicts going through the recovery process. Cravings can be quite strong and they can last for many months, or even years. It is important for clients in rehab centers to understand that cravings are a normal part of detox and recovery. Benzo cravings can be difficult to navigate without the proper mindset and tools. Often relapse happens when clients have not been careful to learn the possible triggers to use, and avoid them. There are clients that report feeling a sense of hopelessness when they are experiencing intense drug cravings.

While drug cravings can be upsetting and frustrating, it is good to note that they will often not last forever, although they can come and go. For Coastline Rehab Center clients, we encourage that triggers that might set off cravings be recognized and avoided. For some individuals, craving triggers have their roots in behaviors that were enjoyed prior to detox and rehab. For others, triggers such as unhealthy friendships can set off feelings and emotions that prove detrimental to sobriety. Sometimes our clients report that being alone and lonely can trigger cravings and increase the likelihood of relapse.

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Benzodiazepine Recovery 

All recovering benzo addicts will need adequate support systems and will need to be responsible for seeking out support groups that help addicts deal with the everyday triggers and events that might possibly derail the recovery. Staying in touch with others, and being accountable to others, is an important part of sobriety, whether from benzodiazepines or other illicit drugs. Family members and new, healthy friendships can prove to be lifelines for recovering benzo addicts.

For individuals struggling with addiction to benzos, it is important to recognize that recovery can be possible. Should you have questions about a loved one’s substance abuse, or need help for yourself, we at Coastline Rehab Centers are here to answer any of your questions. We are proud to have been a part of many recovery stories over the years and we commit to working alongside our clients to help them achieve lifelong sobriety for themselves.

Why Benzodiazepine Rehab is Important


Rehab centers that specialize in benzodiazepine withdrawal are recommended for clients seeking to reduce and break their dependency on the drug. The symptoms that many client’s experience when attempting to detox on their own are simply unmanageable. Benzodiazepine rehab helps clients avoid rebound effects that happen when the drug is stopped without a tapering period. This rebound effect can cause the initial symptoms that the benzos were treating to come back with a vengeance. Sometimes, these symptoms can push individuals to go back to their benzo abuse in order to stop the withdrawal symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Sweating

Symptoms of Severe Benzodiazepine Withdrawal


Tremors and psychosis can occur if a patient stops taking benzos suddenly, or if they attempt drug detox without medical supervision. The risk of dangerous side effects is increased if a patient also abuses other drugs or alcohol. When clients experience a lengthy withdrawal period, they may be experiencing something called post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This condition can last for many months and can contribute to depression, panic attacks, insomnia and other disrupting side effects.

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