Detox and Get Treatment from Benzodiazepine Addiction
Benzodiazepines are medications that cause people to be sedated. Physicians prescribe them to relieve muscle spasms and anxiety; they also reduce seizures. Although you must have a prescription to take benzodiazepines, many people are misusing these substances. Only about 20% of benzodiazepine users have a prescription for these medications, and the others are getting them from their relatives or friends. Overall, 17.1% of benzodiazepine users were misusing the substance from 2015 to 2016. As this occurred, these users were also experiencing suicidal ideation, mental disorders, and visits to the emergency room.
Benzodiazepines are on Schedule IV of the Schedules for Controlled Substances, so they have a low potential for abuse. However, the Food and Drug Administration requires that benzodiazepines carry a boxed warning that states that using benzodiazepines can lead to misuse and addiction. It can also cause physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if the user stops taking this medication.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines begins within 24 hours of the last dose that was taken. The symptoms may last a couple of days, but they have been known to last as long as a couple of months. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is highly complicated because it occurs in three stages.
The First Phase – Withdrawal Symptoms
These are the first withdrawal symptoms that you may experience directly after ceasing the use of benzodiazepines. Some benzodiazepines have shorter half-lives than others, so different benzodiazepines will begin to cause withdrawal symptoms at different times. For example, you can expect withdrawal symptoms to occur sooner if you were taking Xanax than if you were taking Valium.
During this early withdrawal, the withdrawal process may begin with the symptoms of the condition that you were treating with the medication. Therefore, if you were taking Valium to relieve anxiety, this symptom may return and may even be worse than it was before.
The Second Phase – Acute Withdrawal
After the initial symptoms begin, acute withdrawal symptoms may start in a couple of days. These symptoms tend to last between five and 28 days, but some symptoms can last for several months. The majority of the withdrawal symptoms that benzodiazepines cause occur during the second phase, so many people believe that this phase is the hardest to endure.
The Third Phase – Protracted Withdrawal
During this phase, some protracted withdrawal symptoms continue to linger. These symptoms may last as long as one year, but they have also been known to last longer. Symptoms during this phase are known as “post-acute withdrawal symptoms,” or PAWS, and they include:
- Mood swings
- Loss of sex drive
- Lack of concentration
The symptoms described above can be very troublesome, but they occur after you have begun to experience an addiction to benzodiazepines. You may go through the detoxification process on your own, but the medical community does not recommend that you do this. One reason is that you may be experiencing a substance use disorder and need further treatment. The other reason is that you will receive treatment during the detoxification process that relieves the symptoms listed above.
At White Light Behavioral Health, we will place you in our detox program so that you can undergo the detoxification process as comfortably as possible. Then, we can offer you continued treatment for your substance use disorder.
Who Can Benefit From Treatment at a Treatment Center?
Receiving treatment at White Light Behavioral Health would be highly beneficial to you because you will be in a drug-free environment with 24-hour supervision during the detoxification process. This is the place for you or a loved one if you:
- Need to take benzodiazepines to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them
- Experience cravings that cause you to take extra doses before it is time for you to do so
- Use a prescription that was written for a friend
- Have become tolerant to the effects of benzodiazepines because you have been increasing your dose of the medication
- Need to refill your benzodiazepine prescription before it is time to do so.
If you fall into any of these categories, you may be dependent on the drug. You may have a prescription from your own doctor, but you can still misuse the medication, and misuse leads to dependence on the drug. After this occurs, it can be extremely difficult for you to reduce your dose or stop using the medication altogether.
Why Should You Get Help for a Benzodiazepine Addiction?
Sometimes, people will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms in as little as three weeks of using the medication. This happens even if the person uses the prescription as prescribed.
Benzodiazepines were never meant to be used as a long-term solution for anxiety, insomnia, or seizures. Even after just a few weeks of use, it’s possible that you could experience severe withdrawal symptoms, and those who have been taking benzodiazepines for as long as six months have been known to suffer moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of these include grand mal seizures, hallucinations and delusions, detachment from reality, hyperventilation, anorexia, and panic attacks.
Because you never know which symptoms you will experience, the best place for you or your loved one is in a detox program. In a detox program, you will have 24-hour supervision by physicians and nurses so that your condition can be assessed at all times. You will receive medications to relieve your symptoms, and if you are in distress at any moment, the medical staff can address the situation right away.
Help for a Psychological Addiction
A benzodiazepine addiction causes physical dependence, but benzodiazepines also cause psychological dependence. This is the reason that you are not finished with drug treatment after you complete the detoxification process. After the detox process is over, you need to receive treatment for your psychological addiction. This is the reason that drug treatment can last for several years.
You may be psychologically addicted to benzodiazepines if you are:
- Thinking about benzodiazepines most of the day
- Uninterested in doing any of the activities that you enjoyed in the past
- Experiencing strong emotional cravings for benzodiazepines
- Convinced that you need to take benzodiazepines in order to sleep, meet with friends, or function normally
Types of Treatment Available
Once you complete the detoxification process, you will enter into one of the following treatment programs.
An inpatient treatment program is a residential program, and it is ideal for you or your loved one if you are significantly impaired because of your substance use. If your substance use disorder has been going on for a long time, an inpatient program would be the best for you. A residential program offers you the greatest amount of support and provides you with a place to live that is entirely without substances.
You may not have the best environment for living without substances at your home, but inpatient programs are available to provide you with a place that is safer than your present home. If you don’t have supportive friends or family members surrounding you, you will find a tremendous amount of support in an inpatient program, and you will receive treatment any time of the day that you need it. In a residential treatment program, you will receive individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step support groups, traditional therapies, and holistic therapies.
Partial hospitalization is an outpatient treatment program. Everyone cannot or is not willing to leave their homes to receive treatment for their substance use disorders. If you have a mild to moderate substance use disorder, you may be able to enter a partial hospitalization program. Partial hospitalization is the most intensive treatment program in outpatient treatment services. You must have a strong support system at home to enter this program, or you may live in a sober living home. Individual, group, and family therapy are highly important in a partial hospitalization program.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Intensive outpatient treatment provides you with the therapy that you can receive in an inpatient program, but outpatient treatment allows you to continue to go to your job or school. Therapy sessions take place at night and on the weekends. This option is for you if you are in stable condition and have supportive friends or family members at home.
People in outpatient treatment receive everything that they can obtain in inpatient treatment, including medications, the therapies listed above, and other necessary treatments. Outpatient treatment programs are at the lowest level of intensity, so they are reserved for people who are not experiencing the most severe form of substance use disorder or who have recently completed more intense treatments.
Substance use disorders and mental health disorders co-occur for several reasons. For example, both conditions have similar risk factors and can be exacerbated by genetics, the environment, and trauma. Studies have also shown that, when people experience mental health disorders, they may self-medicate with substances. Sometimes, a substance use disorder developed first and caused changes in the brain that led to a mental health disorder. For these reasons, 7.7 million adults currently have a co-occurring substance use disorder and a mental health disorder.
Drug treatment professionals must treat both disorders at the same time so that you will have the greatest chance of recovering from both. If this is the case for you or your loved one, the medical community recommends that you receive treatment in a drug treatment center where medical staff can diagnose a possible mental health disorder and treat it along with your substance use disorder.
It’s highly important that you do not try to stop taking your regular dose of benzodiazepines if you believe that you are experiencing a substance use disorder. This is something that may put your life at risk, and it is entirely unnecessary. At White Light Behavioral Health, we can develop a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for you that will ensure that you recover from your substance use disorder.
If you are searching for a drug treatment center for a loved one or are interested in a program for your own substance issues, contact us at White Light Behavioral Health today.