All You Need To Know About Benzodiazepine Detox
October 31, 2018
These are among some of the most prescribed medications in the United States as at 2007. Benzodiazepine is a tranquillizer used to manage sleep issues, anxiety, seizures or even treat convulsions. They are commonly referred to as benzos and can be used when doing detox that is medically assisted such as that for opioids and alcohol. Common benzodiazepine drugs include Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). Drugs that fall in this category are to be used short-term because of their dependence and tolerance heightening quality. Even though the prescription, one can become very dependent on it and experience withdrawal symptoms.
A 2013 survey carried out by the National Survey on Drug use and Healt6h showed that the United States population from the age of 12 diverted the drug and abused it. It will need a specialized treatment plan to cure the addiction that starts with detox. Benzodiazepines are depressants of the nervous system in the areas of the brain that deal with anxiety and depression. This means that the person needs a lot of attention and support during their detox and rehab program. The drug promotes the stimulation of GABA, which is the inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid. This particular one makes the brain relax and slow down. It naturally tranquillizes the body slowing down other systems such as blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and respiration.
Tolerance develops overt6ime causing the person to increase their regular intake to get their initial effects. When you are alone, never attempt to abruptly stop the ingestion of benzodiazepines. It would be a deadly decision. It is advisable that you seek the aid of a professional and slowly wean yourself off the drug. The weaning schedule depends on various factors including duration of drug abuse, a method of drug ingestion, dependency level, and other genetic factors. Withdrawal symptoms tend to vary and include side effects like sweating, depression, memory issues, dizziness, concentration issues, anxiety, blurred vision, muscle aches, increased heart rate, irritability, muscle tension, restlessness, and insomnia.
Other serious side effects include psychosis, altered sensory perceptions, tingling, numbness, seizures, delirium, depersonalization or, hallucinations. Most abusers of this drug use it with alcohol and other drugs. This is known as poly-drug abuse and can increase the number of side effects depending on the alcohol or drug that the person uses. This is a great influence on the detoxification program protocol. If you fall in this category, make sure that you alert the professional to ascertain that the program will be highly effective and will treat all aspects of your life.
Take note that the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines can rarely lead to life-threatening effects. However, the person will experience excruciating discomfort. People who experience severe side effects tend to manage those using medically assisted detox programs that use antidepressant and beta-blockers. Residential treatment and at-home detox are recommended when it comes to specialized facilities. This means that support and medical care is necessary.
This drug brings about emotional and physical components. Take note that this drug is recommended for use to people who have mental illness to provide relief. When ingested for a long period, they affect the natural reward circuitry of the brain. This makes the abusers keep taking them because they produce a euphoric or pleasant result. Since benzodiazepines increase the chances of developing anxiety and stress, psychotherapies that aid in dealing with this drug focus on life skills and mechanisms of coping with life. Behavioral therapies help in dealing with triggers that are emotional or psychological and can lead to a relapse. This therapy focuses on increasing self-worth and self-esteem.
The withdrawal symptoms of this drug are emotionally and physically painful. They could become life threatening when the user stops use abruptly. If you have a history of taking a substantially high dosage, then your withdrawal symptoms will definitely be severe. They include irritability, seizures, hallucinations, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, nausea, panic attacks, and sweating. The rebound effect is inevitable. This effect happens when the person stops usage. They begin to experience restlessness and anxiety. This lasts for about three to two days. This is an absolute effect, it is not exclusive to people who have experienced anxiety before. Expect the first withdrawal signs for short-acting benzodiazepines within the first six to eight hours and they become more intense in the twenty-fourth to forty-eighth hour for the long-acting ones. The former include Librium, Klonopin, valium, while the latter include halcyon, Ativan, and Xanax.
The first step s to remove the drug from the system of the addict. This happens through detox. Take note that this process has very positive results but can trigger every serious side effects if not conducted effectively. Make sure that you have a medical supervisor that will assist you through the process. About twenty to thirty percent of the patients who go through untreated withdrawal from this drug experience a seizure. The medically supported option helps in preventing relapse and staying safe while in recovery. Medical detoxification deals with weaning the addict off the drug. Weaning involves reducing the dosage or using a less potent form of a benzodiazepine such as clonazepam (Klonopin) and diazepam (Valium). It takes up to ten weeks for this method to work and fully detoxify the body.
Although most people gradually reduce their dose until it is safe to stop taking the drug altogether, there are also medications that can help relieve withdrawal symptoms during the detox period. Some of these include:
- Flumazenil: This treats overdose of benzodiazepines strictly but some research shows that it reduces the withdrawal symptoms for this same drug. It blocks the benzodiazepine effects and relieves the withdrawal since it attaches to the brain centers of pleasure that the drug does. Since this medication forces benzodiazepine out of the body or cleanses the body from this drug, it could be useful with respect to rapid detox. Take note that rapid detox could cause more severe withdrawal symptoms, thus this drug should be taken with caution.
- Buspirone: This drug works for people who have a substance abuse history and anxiety disorder. It aids in relieving the emotional effects that are caused by withdrawal. Additionally, it does not cause a dependence on it. The only negative thing about it is that it works after two to three weeks of ingestion. As you reduce your dosage of benzodiazepine, you can start using this medication.
Detox is not sufficient when it come sot long-term sobriety. This is why most people opt to begin with the detox plan and move on to the inpatient rehabilitation center. This plan helps the patient recover without having to deal with tempting environments and distractions. People who have mild addictions could focus on the outpatient option as it works with the daily schedule of the individual. Support groups and counseling help the patient sustain their focus and deal with their addiction head-on.
Various rehabs have varying schedules, but the usual practices include:
- Physical examination or assessment: At the beginning of the rehab process, you will meet a physician. You will spend some time with him or her to examine your addiction status and map out a detoxification plan. This plan will vary depending on the drugs you were using during the addiction phase. Therefore, it is mandatory that you are very honest at this stage. Giving the wrong information will not help you get through your rehabilitation efficiently. You might also be asked to identify the recent drugs that you ingested. This could be prescribed or not. Thus, you might want to acquaint yourself with the names of those drugs. At this stage, you will be given various legal documents such as consent forms to fill. This stage takes a few hours, but it could spread out through a couple of days.
- Psychological examination/evaluation/assessment: A psychiatrist who has experience and expertise on addiction will examine various issues such as bipolar, depression, anxiety, or any other psychological or emotional issues. The first examination you do will not be conclusive. This is because you are still under the influence of drugs and at the peak of your addiction. This may taint the results significantly. A good example is some people exhibit schizophrenic properties when they are under the influence and after they are done with their rehabilitation, these symptoms end.
- Detoxification: This is the part of the program that addicts hate most. However, if you check in to a high-end rehabilitation centre it might be extremely comfortable for you. Withdrawal symptoms are inevitable. They will use medication like valium and suboxone to ease your pain. Since they do not want to create a dependency on this drug, they will only use it when necessary and for a short period. The aim of using them is to make sure that the addict is completely free from mood-altering drugs. The potential side effects include decreased appetite, amnesia, blackouts, and feelings of paranoia, aggressive behavior, panic attacks, tremors, blurred vision, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, seizures, convulsions, respiratory issues, high blood pressure, motor impairment, and even dilated pupils. A doctor will definitely be on standby to help you get through all these side effects. The side effects you experience are dependent on the drugs you used. Thus, make sure you enquire so that you do not go into shock ones the side effects start showing. Mental preparation goes a long way when it comes to this form of treatment.
- Therapy: The most effective form of therapy is done in a group setting. This does not single out individual therapy. It is still effective. Additionally, some people prefer to have individual counseling because of their status or other personal reservations. By talking and connecting with other people who feel the same way you do, you develop techniques that help you stay free from drug consumption.
- Fitness: Drugs make the body system deteriorate. It derails all health aspects making it hard to get through the addiction. Thus, through fitness, you can uplift your mind, soul and body. This is essential for their healing process. Exercise helps the addict get through the withdrawal symptoms since it helps the body produce endorphins that make the body feel good. You might need the help of a trainer to get through this stage. The rehabilitation centre could provide one unless you have reservations about a specific one and want to hire your own personal trainer.
- Good nutrition: Dieting goes hand-in-hand with fitness. In order to recover, you have to feel good and eat right. If you eat too much-processed carbohydrates, you will feel sleepy and sluggish. On the other hand, too much sugar will affect your moods. Thus, you will need to consult your nutritionist to plan your balanced diet and help you get in better shape.
- Alternative treatments: Many rehabilitation centers offer numerous alternative treatments. These treatments have been shown to help ease the withdrawal symptoms and make the addicts’ rehabilitation life more comfortable. These include acupuncture, equine therapy, yoga, massage, and meditation among others.
- Planning for aftercare: What is your plan after you leave the rehabilitation centre? How are you planning to stay on track with the treatment? How will you plan your home regimen to keep up with the treatment? What will you do if you get the urge to use drugs? All these questions are catered for under this part of the treatment. The plan caters for all the strategies that you need o address to remedy any situation you phase and the various relationships you are likely to phase when you get back home.
- Discharge from treatment: Your treatment is complete and you are at about thirty days free from drug or alcohol use. This day could be terrifying, joyous, or exciting. Follow the aftercare plan and all the tips and advice that you have received from the specialists. If you stay away from the triggers, you will have a better chance of long-term recovery.
Rehabilitation centers offer inpatient treatment and are organized in such a way that most of them offer the same therapies and activities. They are in-patient to prevent the person from relapsing when they leave the centre every day. These centers realize that most addicts are ready to do anything to feed their addictions even lie and have thus taken extra precaution to make sure that this need is met. They provide a safe environment for recovery and healing. A rehab schedule consists of the following activities:
- Early meetings and healthy breakfast: Expect an early morning compete with a very healthy breakfast. This is standard for most. Others go an extra mile of offering meditation and yoga to help relax and soothe the mind before the treatment programs commence. This will help you maintain a positive mindset, which makes it easier to receive treatment. This helps you form a morning routine that gets you focused throughout the day after you leave the centre. It helps create a new habit. Some of them offer group sessions that are managed by therapists or counselors. The manager of the program lays out a discussion plan that focuses on the relevant topics relating to the treatment. This part follows the breakfast and it helps the addict view life from a different angle. The drug affects the normal mode of thinking and it is thus necessary that the addict is counseled back to their normal self so that they can mend any relationship they broke during their addiction. They get t see life from the eyes of their loved ones. This will help you through the aftercare stage as you relate to the public after receiving treatment.
- Therapy in the afternoons: During the afternoon, most rehabilitation centers offer intense treatment. This is when the mind and body are at its peak of alertness and effectiveness and the rehabs take advantage of this. After the lunch break, most offer therapeutic sessions that might include:
- Individual behavioral therapy– It includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is very effective. This therapy focuses on your responsive behavior to various triggers. Once they are pinpointed, the therapist helps you toward a healthier response. The fact that it is personal therapy, it makes it easier for the person to share and open up about their issues and fears. This allows the therapist to get to know more about you and alter your response to these anxiety triggers.
- Group therapy: Group sessions are insightful and comfortable. Everyone who participates in this has experience with drug abuse. Expect to share your experiences and listen to those of others. This helps you to heal emotionally by accepting your situation and learning how to move past it. It creates a sense of accountability between the participants since when a person relapses they feel like they let the entire group down. As time passes, the members become more open and tend to create lasting relationships even after the treatment in the centre. It also helps the addict learn how to assimilate back into the society by learning how to form new relationships with people.
- Specialized sessions: This is not a standard form of therapy. These sessions are more customized. They deal with the individual attributes of the person such as grief, stress, and anger. They help the recovering addict develop coping mechanisms that will prevent them from being triggered back into a relapse. The recovering addict will handle issues better rather than turn to drugs to help them cope.
- Family therapy: It is very important that the patients get all the support they need from their friends and loved ones. They might have caused some strain in their relationships during their addiction phase, thus it is good to know that their loved ones still care about them regardless of the past. It helps them maintain their focus and take better care of their health. This therapy allows issues to be resolved between family members and various negative feelings are addressed.
Other rehabilitation centers offer alternate and supplementary forms of therapy such as equine therapy, exercising, neuro feedback, biofeedback, dance therapy, and music or art therapy.
- Free time: You might have some time to yourself during the afternoon to be discretionary. This could be a good time to perform activities such as volleyball, soccer, basketball, ping-pong, swimming or pool. Use the amenities within responsibly. Most people prefer to relax by meditating r praying, while others just like reading books and journals.
- Evenings: After dinner, the rehabilitation centre might offer a group session. Normally, most rehabilitation centers offer a twelve-step program during this period. This helps in making the patient feel safe within their environment. They are able to fellowship, which makes it easier for them to participate in long-term treatment. They set a standard sleeping time to help normalize your sleeping habits, thus expect to have a set sleep program. This ensures that the patient is more alert and energized to get through the activities of the next day.
Rehabilitation centers have strict rules that aim to make your life better during and post-treatment. Thus, expect very strict rules and guidelines that aim at making your treatment effective. These rules include:
- Strict attendance to meetings and therapy sessions
- Strict compliance with the drug testing procedures
- Staff permission when leaving the premises
- Refrain from any violence or violent threats
- Refrain from conduct that is inappropriate with staff or clients
- No alcohol, drugs or related paraphernalia within the vicinity
- Complying with the searching procedures upon entry to the vicinity
- Maintain good conduct with the other patients
Apart from your obvious luggage, make sure you pack the following items:
- Writing and reading materials
- A detailed list of your close family and friends including the name, phone numbers, and their addresses so that if anything happens you can contact them or you could call them when you feel discouraged to help you get through the tough nights and days
- List of the drugs you have abused and the current medications that you might be ingesting at the time
- Pictures of anything you treasure. It could be your loved ones or a favorite piece of art. This will motivate and support you.
- Laundry soap
- Alarm clock to help you get through the strict sleeping schedules
- Past medical records and insurance information
- A form of identification and your driver’s license
- Activities to pass time for example painting materials, puzzles, books, or even musical instruments
Before you carry any electronic devices, make sure that you consult with the facility. Some facilities have a strict no electronic device policy. You could also consult if the following things are allowed mouthwash-containing alcohol, chewing tobacco, cigarettes, razors, and nail clippers, among others. Make a list so that you consult everything at the same time. Do not carry expensive items and ask a family member to send you money regularly during your stay.