benzodiazepine abuse facts
Benzodiazepine detox is an important first step for anyone suffering from an addiction to drugs like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, or Klonopin. Since benzodiazepine withdrawal is a potentially dangerous process, medically-supervised detox is the best way to ensure a safe and comfortable detox.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is an intense and sometimes life-threatening process in which people should never attempt to go through alone. People who abuse these medications will become physically dependent and experience symptoms that are similar to those of alcohol withdrawal. Attempting to detox alone puts individuals at a higher risk of experiencing adverse side effects or potentially fatal symptoms.
People who attend a medical detox facility have access to clinical and medical staff who ensure the safety and comfort of all patients. Benzodiazepine detox, in particular, usually consists of a taper. Rather than making people quit cold-turkey, they slowly take smaller and smaller doses until they are no longer dependent on the substance.
Whether you’re looking for help for yourself or are curious about how to help a loved one, here is what you need to know about benzodiazepine withdrawal and detox.
benzodiazepine withdrawal timeline
The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on a variety of factors, such as how much a person is using, how long they have been using for, and their current physical and mental health. However, the onset of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms also varies depending on which type of drug the person is taking.
Short-acting benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) have short half-lives and leave the system fairly quickly. As a result, people who are addicted to these types of drugs may begin experiencing withdrawal between 8 and 12 hours after their last dose. Symptoms tend to peak around the second day and begin improving after day 4 or 5. In rare cases, individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms for several weeks.
Long-acting benzodiazepines, on the other hand, like clonazepam (Klonopin) have longer half-lives, so they stay in the system longer. People who are addicted to long-acting benzos may not experience withdrawal symptoms until 24-28 hours after taking their last dose. Then, symptoms will peak around day 3 or 4, and subside after one week.
Unfortunately, between 10-25% of long-term benzodiazepine users suffer from protracted withdrawal – a long-term withdrawal syndrome that may last for several months. During protracted withdrawal, symptoms are milder than acute withdrawal and may come and go for weeks at a time. Protracted withdrawal rarely persists for more than a year.