Is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Deadly?

Benzodiazepines are a central nervous system depressant slowly activated in your brain. If you attempt to detox cold-turkey, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deadly. You may have been prescribed benzodiazepines by your doctor for:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Alcohol withdrawal

Benzodiazepines increase the activity of your inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. Your brain activity is affected and may result in relaxation and drowsiness. You will only be prescribed this drug for a short time due to the risk of addiction and dependence. If you quit using benzodiazepines suddenly, it can cause withdrawal. Your symptoms can be mild or life-threatening. The severity of your symptoms depend on several factors including the half-life and dosage of the drug. When your body is no longer receiving this drug, you can experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. Your symptoms can cover a wide range from harmful to uncomfortable. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Light sensitivity and blurred vision
  • Delirium
  • Losing touch with reality
  • Headache
  • Muscle stiffness, pain and spasms
  • Sweating
  • Unusual body sensations
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperventilation
  • Seizures
  • Mood changes
  • Loud noise sensitivity

Understanding Benzodiazepine Dependence and Withdrawal

Depending on the types of benzodiazepine you are using, your withdrawal can start a few hours after you quit or require one to two days. There are psychological and medical dangers present during your withdrawal including delirium and paranoia. In severe cases, seizures during withdrawal can result in death. Your life and everyone around you can be threatened by severe psychological symptoms including idealizing suicide, depression, psychosis and mania. When you decide the best way you can detox, you need to consider the serious risks. You can detox safely in a medical detox by tapering off slowly or receiving medication. If you try to detox cold turkey, you are risking your life.

When you enter into a medical detox facility, you receive medical supervision critical if you should experience dangerous complications such as delirium or seizures. If you have been using high doses of benzodiazepine for a long time, detoxing in a medical facility is recommended. An outpatient facility is only recommended if you were using therapeutic doses without any dependence on another drug or alcohol. Having the care of dependable and professionally trained staff during detox is extremely important for your supervision and safety. Unless you receive close medical supervision, you are placing yourself at unnecessary risk.

In many instances, dependence on benzodiazepine requires gradual tapering of the drug. You can most likely avoid serious issues and complications during your withdrawal by tapering off gradually and carefully. If you need medication to help control your withdrawal symptoms, it is available. Yes, detoxing in a medical facility requires more time than quitting the drug cold turkey, but it is also a much safer option. You may require an alternate approach such as substituting a different drug to alleviate your symptoms and ensure you taper off benzodiazepine safely. If you have seizures, it is imperative anticonvulsants are available and administered correctly.

You can receive the help you need through cognitive and behavioral methods available during your detoxification. If necessary, you will receive brief educational therapy where you learn how to cope with your dependence on benzodiazepine. If you require a support group or therapy provider, you will receive references. The majority of medical detox programs and centers offer both individual and group therapy sessions. You receive critical support from people going through the same thing and work on recovering and moving forward together. You will always know you are not alone. Once you have completed detox, you will go to either an outpatient or inpatient treatment center.

You will be unable to recover fully with detox alone because it was not created to address the issues you will face in relation to your addiction. If your withdrawal symptoms are persistent, you may require interventions such as medication management for depression and anxiety. If you need help with motivation, improving your relationships or learning coping skills, behavioral therapy is available. This will decrease the chance you will have a relapse in the future.

Withdrawing from benzodiazepine is a serious step with psychological and medical risks. You should not try to quit on your own. Your safest option is a medical detox program. You can stop your life from falling apart by getting the help you need. You can live a happy and sober life. When you are ready to get started, our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call us today at 833-497-3812.