Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs in the United States– but they can cause serious and sometimes deadly side effects, even when used as prescribed.
When most people think about prescription drug withdrawal, they think of opioid painkillers like OxyContin. However, many doctors and patients are starting to realize that some of the worst prescription drug withdrawal symptoms may actually be occurring in long-term users of benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan.
Not only do these drugs produce extremely uncomfortable short-term side effects, but many patients also find that their benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms continue for months or years after ceasing to take the medication, in a condition referred to as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Many symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal mirror those of generalized anxiety or panic disorders– and some theorize that much of the withdrawal that patients experience is simply the body and mind returning to a more anxious, pre-medicated state.
However, this idea can only be partially accurate at best, considering the fact that many patients who take benzodiazepines end up experiencing problems in withdrawal that they never faced before taking a dose of the medication.
Symptoms common to anxiety sufferers that often become worse during benzo withdrawal may include:
- Panic attacks, agoraphobia
- Insomnia, nightmares
- Poor memory and concentration
- Sweating, especially at night
- Muscle pain and stiffness
Symptoms relatively uncommon to anxiety sufferers that can often occur during benzodiazepine withdrawal may include:
- Perceptual disturbances
- Hallucinations and misperceptions
- Distortion of body image
- Depersonalization and derealization
- Confusion and delirium
- Temporary psychosis
Withdrawal symptoms for shorter-acting benzodiazepines like Xanax usually begin within 6-12 hours of the last dose, while the withdrawal symptoms of slower-acting benzos like valium may take closer to 24 hours to begin.
The “acute phase” of benzodiazepine withdrawal is traditionally estimated to last up to a month, with symptoms often becoming the most severe around the two week mark. However, more recent research and analysis suggests that that the most intense symptoms may persist for many patients for between 6- 12 months.
If you are currently taking benzodiazepines and you plan to stop, it’s essential that you consult with a doctor before beginning to do so. Whether you suffer from benzo addiction, or you are taking your medications as prescribed and simply want to live a life free of psychiatric medication, it’s important that you proceed slowly and cautiously.
Many of the individuals who experience the worst (and longest) benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are those who have taken large doses of benzos and have decided to stop abruptly or reduce their dose over a very shorter period of time. Instead, it’s usually recommended that benzo users looking to quit should taper down their dose of the drug over a longer-period of time, ideally with the assistance of medical professionals.
In addition to causing protracted and intensified withdrawal symptoms, abrupt cessation of a large dose of benzos may also lead to benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, in which the symptoms of benzo withdrawal extend far beyond the regular period, with some symptoms, such as tinnitus, numbness in limbs, muscle pain, tension, and gastrointestinal problems potentially becoming permanent.
If you’re suffering from benzo addiction, it’s time to find an accredited rehab facility that can get you the help you need. Benzodiazepines can be some of the most difficult drugs to withdrawal from– and withdrawing too quickly can cause potentially dangerous– and even deadly side effects, like seizures.
This is why you should never attempt to withdraw from benzos without the support that a benzodiazepine addiction treatment facility can provide. To find the best benzodiazepine rehab facility for you, call gettreatment.com today at 855-638-9268.