Author: Charles Frank

Withdrawing from Benzodiazepines: Symptoms, Safety, and Treatment

how to get off benzos

The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal typically appear within 8 to 12 hours of your last dose. If you fail to taper your dose, your withdrawal symptoms will grow increasingly intense. Withdrawal is generally at its worst on the second day, and improves by the fourth or fifth day; however, acute symptoms can last significantly longer.

  1. To help you avoid these peaks and valleys, doctors often switch you from Xanax to a long-acting benzodiazepine such as Valium (diazepam).
  2. This approach helps you learn to tolerate discomfort and distress, instead of avoiding it, and choose to live according to your values.
  3. Although many symptoms subside after the acute withdrawal phase, lingering side effects are possible.
  4. Xanax is a high-potency drug, which makes its withdrawal symptoms more intense than symptoms of withdrawal from other types of benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam).
  5. This will prevent you from altering the taper, but it might mean frequent trips to the pharmacy.

They will make this decision on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms affecting the individual. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classify benzodiazepines as a Schedule IV controlled substance. According to the classification, these drugs have a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

The withdrawal symptoms, which vary in severity, typically begin within 24 hours and may last from a few days to a few months. While they can quickly relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic, these drugs pose a high risk of dependence. In other words, your body may rely on benzodiazepines to function if you take them frequently and for more than a short period of time. The signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal vary from person to person. Research indicates that roughly 40% of people taking benzodiazepines for more than six months will experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Some symptoms may appear without warning and can be a significant source of distress. You may have to pause, slow down, or speed up depending on how your body reacts to withdrawal. People tapering off the same original dosage of medication can have drastically different tapering experiences. In most cases, your doctor will reduce your dosage by 5% to 25% in the first week. Every 1 to 4 weeks after that, they’ll reduce your dose by another 5% to 25% of the original dose.

Overview of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

To help you avoid these peaks and valleys, doctors often switch you from Xanax to a long-acting benzodiazepine such as Valium (diazepam). Estimates suggest that about 10% to 25% of people who use benzodiazepines long term experience what’s known as protracted withdrawal. Your doctor will help make an individualized tapering schedule based on your current dose and particular circumstances. No one should attempt to get off benzo drugs without the supervision of a healthcare professional. Severe symptoms and reactions can occur, and working with a professional can help a person avoid or manage these symptoms.

how to get off benzos

Stopping benzodiazepines all at once can be dangerous, so your doctor will likely guide you through a tapering regimen that involves gradually reducing your dose over time. If you experience severe withdrawal symptoms during tapering, tell your doctor so they can adjust your care plan as needed. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after as little as one month of use, even on small, therapeutic doses. Among people taking benzodiazepines for longer than six months, about 40% experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms when they quit suddenly. Benzodiazepine, or benzo, withdrawal happens when a person suddenly stops taking benzodiazepine drugs, which doctors do not recommend.

How to get support for thoughts of suicide

Most people do okay with tapering their benzodiazepines at home with the help of their primary care doctor or psychiatrist. You should plan to stay in touch with your doctor regularly during the tapering process, either by phone or during office visits. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines can be a difficult, even dangerous process. During the first week, you can also expect physical symptoms like headaches and hand tremors. If withdrawal symptoms become severe, doctors may prescribe other medications.

how to get off benzos

The 2022 survey mentioned above also asked respondents to what extent withdrawal symptoms affected their lives. They could rate each problem as nonexistent, mild, moderate, severe, quite severe, or enormous. It matters that people are able to recognize it and take steps to quit using benzos safely.

Benzo Detox at FHE Health

Consequently, experts recommend you take benzodiazepines for no more than 2 weeks if you use them daily. If you only use them once every few days, you may be able to take them for up to 4 weeks. This is why quitting benzos isn’t the same as, say, cutting down on screen time or deciding to read more. With this in mind, here are a few strategies that can help you quit using benzodiazepines successfully. Unlike many other withdrawal syndromes, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be complicated and, occasionally, life-threatening. Reckless prescribing practices have contributed to thousands of cases of dependence and misuse.

In addition to the immediate health risk, benzodiazepine withdrawal can seriously affect your quality of life. Experiencing rebound symptoms means the symptoms you had before taking benzodiazepines come back even stronger than before. Read on to learn more about benzodiazepine withdrawal, including the signs, how long it lasts, and how to get support with tapering off safely. At FHE Health, not only do we provide safe, supervised medical detox, but we offer support at every level of care along the full continuum.

If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your OBGYN or psychiatrist about your plans. Your doctor can help you weigh the potential risks and benefits of benzodiazepine use and your pregnancy. In the first week of tapering off, your doctor may reduce your dose as much as 30% to get you to a safe amount. After that first leap, the steps become smaller, usually 5% to 10% of the original dose. Depending on your situation, your doctor may reduce your dose on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. For example, say you’re tapering off a dose of 20 milligrams (mg) of diazepam (Valium).

Benzo withdrawals can be severe, and life threatening complications can occur. A healthcare professional should supervise benzo withdrawal to help monitor and manage the symptoms. Research showed that 40% of people taking benzos for longer than 6 months experienced moderate-to-severe withdrawal symptoms. The best way to try to lessen the severity of your Xanax withdrawal symptoms is by slowly tapering down your dose of Xanax. Tapering means taking progressively smaller doses over the course of several weeks. It is not recommended to taper without the assistance and recommendations from your prescribing doctor.

We and our partners process data to provide:

Withdrawal symptoms may begin after as little as 3–6 weeks of use, even when a person uses the drugs as the doctor directed. Although many symptoms subside after the acute withdrawal phase, lingering side effects are possible. Emerging research also suggests acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) could also have benefits during benzodiazepine withdrawal.

GABA acts as a sort of speed bump that helps all the other chemical messengers travel through your brain at a reasonable pace. They can range in severity, though for some people, they remain mild and manageable. Protracted withdrawal is a prolonged withdrawal experience marked by waves of mild psychological symptoms that come and go over the course of several months. Depending on your situation, your doctor may think it best to prescribe very small amounts of medication at a time. This will prevent you from altering the taper, but it might mean frequent trips to the pharmacy. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be managed with a gradual dose reduction, which will cause milder symptoms that come and go in waves.

If you’re predisposed to seizures, your risk of having a seizure may also increase during the withdrawal period. To learn more about how you or a loved one could benefit from treatment for benzo addiction, contact FHE Health today. Thus, trigger avoidance strategies are aimed at helping you either resist the effects of these triggers or make sure you can limit exposure to them as much as possible.