Can You Die From Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that depress your central nervous system to calm any abnormal activity in the brain. These medications are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorder, seizure disorders, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal. While benzodiazepines can be an effective short-term treatment for many conditions, they are also highly addictive.
Studies reveal that up to 17.2% of people who take benzodiazepines are misusing them, or taking them in a way that is not advised by a healthcare professional.
When you become addicted to a benzodiazepine, your brain and body begin to rely on it to function properly. Suddenly stopping the use of a benzodiazepine medication can result in withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, benzodiazepine withdrawal can become life-threatening without proper medical treatment.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety conditions, seizure disorders, insomnia, and even alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for occasional or short-term use, as taking them regularly could result in dependency and addiction.
Examples of common benzodiazepine medications include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Midazolam (Versed)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Etizolam (Etilaam)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
If you are prescribed a benzodiazepine medication, you must carefully follow your doctor’s instructions. Taking too much benzodiazepines could lead to dependence and addiction.
What are the Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
Withdrawal occurs when you suddenly stop taking a drug that you’ve been taking regularly for an extended period of time. The severity and duration of benzodiazepine withdrawal depends on how long you’ve been taking them, what type of benzo you’ve been taking, the dose your body is used to, and overall health.
Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Perceptual changes or hallucinations
- Symptoms of psychosis
- Sleep disturbances
If left untreated, the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can become life-threatening. As a result, you should always attend a medical detox program when stopping the use of any benzodiazepine to receive the treatment and support you need.
Why Should You Never Detox From Benzodiazepines at Home?
As one of the few substances that cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, you should never attempt to detox from benzodiazepines at home. Without having some form of medical treatment, you could experience fatal seizures, episodes of psychosis, and even life-threatening dehydration.
Abruptly stopping or rapidly tapering benzodiazepines without medical supervision can increase the risk of complications. Severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and delirium, can occur, especially if the person has been taking high doses of benzodiazepines or using them for an extended period.
Not only that, but withdrawal can be highly unpredictable, and it can become severe quickly. If your symptoms escalate quickly, you’ll want to be under the safety and supervision of a medical detox center. Medical professionals can monitor and manage these complications appropriately, ensuring the safety of the individual undergoing detox.
How is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Treated in a Detox Program?
When you enter a benzodiazepine detox program you will undergo an initial assessment to determine your specific needs. The medical providers will ask questions about your substance abuse, mental health, physical health, and family history to create an individualized treatment plan. After this plan is completed, you will begin treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal.
While there is not a specific medication approved by the FDA for benzodiazepine withdrawal, detox centers use a variety of medications to target the specific symptoms you are facing.
The medications used during benzodiazepine withdrawal may include:
- SSRI antidepressants to treat symptoms of anxiety
- Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures
- Beta-blockers to relieve symptoms like tremors or shaking
- Clonidine to stabilize your blood pressure
- Ondansetron to treat nausea and vomiting
- Pregabalin (Lyrica) to treat a variety of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms
After your withdrawal symptoms subside, you will transition into another treatment program. Typically, people enter an inpatient rehab center after detox. These programs require you to live at the facility while you receive behavioral therapy, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning.
Find Help for Benzodiazepine Addiction and Withdrawal
If you or a loved one suffer from benzodiazepine addiction, it’s time to seek help. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be unbearable and even life-threatening in some cases. Because of this, you should always receive assistance from a medical detox program.
At Mandala Healing Center, we can provide you with a full continuum of care. From medical detox to residential treatment, our facility offers you everything you need to maintain long-term sobriety.
To learn more about our top-rated benzodiazepine detox program, contact Mandala Healing Center today.
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Benzodiazepine Use and Misuse Among Adults in the United States, Retrieved July 2023 From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30554562/
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM): The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, Retrieved July 2023 From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7841856/
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/