The first step in overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines is detoxification. Detox is a process of withdrawal that removes the drug’s toxins from the body. However, detox alone is not enough for sustained abstinence. For a long-term recovery, detox should be supported by rehabilitative treatment which addresses the psychological issues behind the addiction to benzodiazepines, and teaches addicts to live a healthy life.

What are the effects of withdrawal from benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a group of prescription drugs that are most frequently prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, stress and insomnia. They include diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril) and alprazolam (Xanax). When you withdraw from benzodiazepines, you’re likely to experience a number of physical and psychological symptoms, in varying degrees.
Physical symptoms include: pounding headaches, nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure, muscle spasms, blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, life-threatening seizures.
Psychological symptoms include: anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, nightmares, increased sensitivity to touch and sound, photophobia.

Can I detox from benzodiazepines without specialist help?

Abrupt withdrawal from benzodiazepines is life-threatening as the addict can experience seizures. Withdrawal symptoms of prescribed mediation can be intense, and hard to manage physically and psychologically. This can result in the addict returning to use of benzodiazepines in order to cope. It can also be very difficult for family members who may not have the emotional strength to motivate their loved one nor the medical expertise needed to ensure that withdrawal symptoms are minimised during the benzodiazepine detox and rehab treatment.

Physical withdrawal from benzodiazepines can take up to 14 days or even longer. Is this really achievable without medical support?  Or without a professional to help you manage the psychological aspects of benzodiazepines detox?

What can I expect when I go into residential treatment for benzodiazepine addiction?

A residential detox and rehab treatment programme offers the best chance of long-term recovery as it treats both the physical and psychological addiction to benzodiazepine.

On admission, a doctor will assess you, and prescribe any appropriate medication to reduce the risk, and alleviate the symptoms, of withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal will be managed by gradual withdrawal on a sliding scale regime. You’ll have a physical examination, and a urine test to record drug usage. Routine blood tests may also be taken. The doctor will review any current prescribed medication. Throughout the benzodiazepine detox process, your physical well-being will be monitored.

You’ll be allocated a key worker who will gather background history and develop a rehabilitative care plan. You’ll be fully involved with this. The plan will address your crack use, behavioural issues and physical, psychological and social needs.

The rehabilitative treatment for benzodiazepine addiction will consist of education, counselling and therapy to help you understand and challenge the addictive illness. You’ll learn to recognise trigger points and affective behaviours to allow a life free from the harm that addiction to benzodiazepine creates.  Many rehab programmes are based on the world-renowned 12 step model to drug recovery and offer a holistic approach to treat the whole person.