How to Taper Off Benzodiazepines
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines refer to a class of drugs that are often prescribed to people suffering from anxiety. As sedatives, they have a calming effect, reducing symptoms of anxiety and helping sufferers to relax–even sleep. Unfortunately, these drugs are also highly addictive. Many doctors only prescribe them to patients as a temporary relief until other drugs, such as antidepressants, build up in the person’s system and are able to reduce anxiety symptoms. Like other forms of prescription drug addiction, benzodiazepines (sometimes referred to as benzos) addiction is dangerous and can detract from both mental and physical health. Once a person becomes addicted to these drugs, entering a formal addiction treatment program can help them manage this addiction.
Signs of Benzodiazepine Dependence
There are various signs that may point to a benzodiazepine use disorder. Not all signs must be present for addiction to be present, but many people will experience multiples signs and symptoms, which most commonly include:
- Doctor shopping or spending considerable time trying to obtain the drug
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Taking the drug for a longer period of time than was initially intended
- Requiring higher doses of the drug to achieve previous effects
- Experienced reduced performance at work or school
- Experiencing relationship problems as a result of drug use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the drug isn’t taken in a certain period of time
If you note these signs and symptoms, you should get evaluated for a substance use disorder. Addiction is a chronic condition, but it can be successfully managed with treatment.
Why Taper Off Benzos?
Doctors often recommend tapering off benzodiazepines in order to end their use. Slowing tapering off use helps to prevent adverse effects, like withdrawal symptoms, from occurring. It also provides the brain a chance to get used to decreasing amounts of the drug. Quitting benzos cold turkey can also trigger mental health symptoms, which was what the medication was prescribed to treat in the first place. Some doctors prefer to switch their patients to a different benzodiazepine while reducing the dose of the previously prescribed one as an effective tapering strategy.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms from any drug one is addicted to can be fraught with discomfort, and that’s no different when it comes to benzos. The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with benzo addiction include:
- Mood shifts
- Nausea and vomiting
In extreme cases, some people may experience convulsions, panic attacks, or even psychosis. That’s why it’s important to detox from prescription drugs like benzodiazepines at a professional rehab center or hospital where treatments can be provided to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
How to Taper Off Benzodiazepines
The best way to wean oneself from benzos is to enter a rehab center for medical detox. Consulting with a medical provider is important because this professional can monitor and guide the weaning process. A person who is not addicted to benzos is typically advised to taper their use of the drug with their last prescription. However, someone who is dependent on benzos can benefit from medical support or the support of addiction specialists. They can recommend how to decrease the dose over a period of time to prevent severe discomfort and those extreme withdrawal symptoms mentioned above.
Medical Detox for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Medical detox is a safe way to reverse a dependence on benzodiazepines. At a high-quality medical detox facility, clients can get the support they need to detox safely. Medical providers can treat withdrawal symptoms to reduce their severity. The detox process usually lasts about a week with withdrawal peaking anywhere from 24 to 48 hours from the last use of the drug. Depending on your evaluation by addiction specialists, you may be tapered off benzos slowly or be prescribed other medications to help you safely and comfortably detox. Once detox is complete, you can begin treatment designed to address the psychological aspects of the addiction. Get in touch with us today at (844) 695-0083 to start your journey.