Many drugs that are available cause harsh withdrawal symptoms. But few drugs are considered worse than benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos.”

Although not typically deadly, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be so severe that people use them again to make the symptoms stop. Many people are taking benzodiazepines for conditions like Generalized Anxiety Disorder and other mental health issues, not realizing they’re addicted until it’s too late. Benzodiazepine addiction treatment can be a painful process, so it’s important to monitor benzodiazepine use with the help of a medical professional.

Not receiving professional treatment for benzodiazepine addiction help is a risk, because it’s important to have medical treatment options on hand in case there are complications in the medical detox process.

Located in Portland, Oregon, Crestview Recovery offers comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment that includes individual therapy and support groups. We treat all persons 18 and older and have special programs for treating men, women, young adults, seniors, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We accept many types of health insurance, and offer outpatient programs to suit various needs.

Learning About Benzodiazepine Misuse

Man experiencing benzo withdrawal

Before getting into benzo addiction, it’s important to know that not all risk factors for benzodiazepine abuse are known. Some can take benzodiazepines without suffering from withdrawal. But for others, using benzodiazepines can lead to horrific withdrawal after just a few doses. Despite their common use for mental health ailments, benzodiazepines bond with the central nervous system and can affect many more symptoms than their main target (not unlike alcohol withdrawal).

Here are some of the more common medications that contain benzodiazepines:

  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Clonazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flurazepam

Benzodiazepines are most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, seizures, management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and mental disorders such as agoraphobia. But despite their uses for mental health, it’s still possible to develop addictions to these drugs. To avoid drug misuse and/or physical dependence, it’s important to use benzodiazepines only as directed by a medical professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

If you have begun to misuse benzodiazepines, it’s important to detox under medical attention.

Common symptoms of withdrawal from these drugs can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fidgeting (such as foot tapping)
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations (in extreme cases)

If you were prescribed benzodiazepines by a medical profession, it’s important to ask how to avoid benzodiazepine misuse. These drugs can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders, substance abuse, and situations where there needs to be a sedative effect. But it’s also very easy to misuse benzos, so it’s important to be careful.

Can Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms Be Treated?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or potion that can speed up the withdrawal process during substance use treatment. The only thing that can make the pain and suffering from these drugs go away is time. Eventually, the symptoms lessen and fade completely as you go through addiction recovery.

However, some vitamins and supplements can make benzo withdrawal much worse. People who go through withdrawal should avoid vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin D
  • Chamomile
  • Magnesium
  • Phenibut

They should also avoid foods such as salmon, honey, sugar substitutes, and foods that contain caffeine to avoid adverse effects. These foods may cause a spike in withdrawal symptoms.

Depression is considered one of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms for benzodiazepine dependence. It’s important to take steps to prevent relapse that don’t involve potentially hazardous medications (including the use of other drugs).

Do Not Gradually Reduce Use or Resume Benzodiazepine Prescriptions

Tapering is when people take smaller doses to step down from the drug over a period of time. Reinstating refers to using the drug again when the symptoms get out of control. There’s a prevailing myth that overcoming benzodiazepine addiction is easier when people institute gradual dose reduction, or reinstate benzodiazepine use temporarily.

This advice is bad, because tapering or reinstating benzos can lead to an effect called “benzo kindling.” This process causes withdrawal symptoms to feel even harsher when the person undergoes withdrawal the next time. For people with mental disorders such as depression, this can be an especially dangerous aspect of benzodiazepine abuse.

If people are off of benzos for more than four weeks, it’s advised that they avoid taking them ever again. As with other forms of drug abuse, it’s worth noting that individuals can become more tolerant of the drug over time. This tolerance can keep them from achieving desired effects from the same amount of the drug they previously took. Considering the widespread availability of benzodiazepines, this can easily lead someone to significantly increase their intake to fatal ends.

When you decide to undergo medical detox for benzodiazepines, whether or not you are attending treatment, be sure to tell family members and friends what they can expect from the process. They may think they’re being helpful in suggesting you resume benzodiazepine use to alleviate symptoms. But this is in fact the opposite of what will help.

Steps of Benzodiazepine Addiction Rehabilitation

benzodiazepine addiction treatment

When you first arrive at our facility, our team of qualified addiction counselors will assess your level of benzodiazepine dependence. From there, we will create a personalized treatment plan that takes into account your unique needs. No two patterns of drug abuse are the same — someone who became addicted after being prescribed benzodiazepines for Generalized Anxiety Disorder will have far different needs than someone who needed them for existing substance misuse.

The detoxification process is the first step in addiction rehab, and it is crucial that it is done under medical supervision. Our team of certified medical professionals will help you through the detox process and make sure that you are as comfortable as possible.

Once you have completed detox, you will begin individual therapy. This is where you will learn about the root causes of your addiction and how to cope with triggers in the future. You will also work on developing healthy coping mechanisms and building a support system. Part of this may include attending support groups and receiving specialized help for benzodiazepine dependence.

After you have completed therapy, you will be discharged from our facility. However, we will continue to support you through our outpatient programs. Our alumni program provides resources and support for those who are in recovery from substance abuse (including benzodiazepine addiction). We want to make sure that you have all the tools you need to stay sober for the long term.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please reach out for professional help. We can help you get on the road to recovery and live a life free from addiction.

Crestview Recovery Provides the Tools to Help Overcome Benzodiazepine Addiction

a therapist for benzo addicts sitting on a couch

At Crestview Recovery, we know the dangers of benzos. We know these drugs are commonly misused, and that many doctors prescribe benzodiazepines with no expectation of toxic effects. We want to help you overcome your addiction and give you the tools that you need to avoid relapse.

We provide drug addiction rehab services that you can count on, including:

Crestview Recovery also offers extended care addiction treatment. These provide extra time for you to overcome drug addiction and learn how to control it. Not everyone overcomes addiction at the same speed, and extended care programs take that into account.

Don’t let benzo withdrawal prevent you from beating addiction. Get access to the knowledge that you need to beat the disease at Crestview Recovery in Portland. Call us today for more information on the benzo withdrawal treatment we offer.