Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that act by enhancing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain. Benzodiazepines commonly result in effects of sedation, muscle relaxant and anxiolytic action. Common benzodiazepines found are diazepam, clonazepam and alprazolam; prescription drugs for anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal and other uses are not uncommon medical uses for benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are rarely used as recreational drugs however it is possible to build up tolerance to the prescription drugs and that can lead to abuse. Benzodiazepine abstinence can cause severe withdrawals symptoms categorized under benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Effects of Benzodiazepine withdrawal include:
- Blurred vision
- Aches and pains
- Increased sensory sensitivity
- Gastric problems
- Muscle Spasms
- Potentially fatal convulsions
- Potentially fatal catatonia
Withdrawal symptoms as shown can act on both a physical and psychological level. Because of this it is not uncommon for the users to engage in addict drug-seeking behaviors by lying to the prescribing doctors in order to obtain more medications than needed or to compensate for an abuse by self-increasing their dosage. If someone feels they are building a tolerance to prescribed medications they should consult their doctor immediately and do not increase dosage without medical advice to do so.
A doctor may advise slowly reducing the dosage of the medication until eventual abstinence. This tapering off method won’t completely alleviate all withdrawal symptoms but will reduce the severity that would be felt from quitting cold turkey.Due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms listed it is highly recommended for anyone attempting to become abstinent from benzodiazepines to do so under the medical care and attention of an addiction treatment center, whether a detoxification facility or a rehabilitation facility.
In an in-patient facility the user will be monitored closely by medical staff and is much safer than attempting abstinence by oneself due to the potentially fatal withdrawals. Doctors at a facility will be able to prescribe non-addictive medications to help alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevent any permanent psychological damage that can be caused by the withdrawal process. Traditional rehab takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days of treatment.
Therapy will also be offered to allow those with any underlying issues to process and resolve these issues. Therapy will teach relapse prevention methods and acts a guide for how to live in the future without using benzodiazepines. This allows for a better base towards recovery when leaving the facility and creates a bigger chance of continued abstinence from benzodiazepines.
There is also a relatively new treatment method for benzodiazepine abuse. The Waismann Method, normally associated with opiates, is now available as the Waismann Method of Accelerated Benzodiazepine Neuro-Regulation. The Waismann method consists of putting a patient under light anesthesia and cleansing the body and brain of traces of benzodiazepines. This allows withdrawal symptoms to start and alleviate within hours and requires minimal conscious feeling of withdrawals. This method normally takes between 5 to 7 days and the user can return to normal life much faster than traditional methods of treatment.
Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship support group which can help those becoming abstinent from drugs. Meetings are prominent throughout most of America and help those struggling with maintaining lives of recovery.