Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

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Safe Management & Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction

As a leading addiction clinic, Smarmore Castle understands exactly what it’s like to be in the grips of a benzo addiction.

An addiction to benzodiazepine drugs is common – those prescribed these drugs for legitimate medical reasons and conditions can often unintentionally abuse them leading to a crippling addiction.

Whether you’ve accidentally fallen into an addiction or taking benzos illegally, continued abuse or sudden cessation can cause you more physical and mental harm.

We’re very sorry that you are going through this but please let us reassure you that there is a way out. Call ++353 41 214 5111.

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Please do not try and attempt to quit benzos without medical supervision as doing so can lead to extremely dangerous outcomes.

Benzodiazepine Addiction – Substance Breakdown

 Loved ones and afflicted individuals should bear in mind that even though benzodiazepines are prescribed by doctors that they are acutely addictive and cause significant harm when abused.

  • What is it? Benzodiazepines belong to the sedative class of drugs that provide a calming effect. However, the prescription tranquiliser is highly addictive, and abusers are often faced with a host of physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms. Initially, benzodiazepine can be prescribed for anxiety or panic disorders. The mental health community refers to benzodiazepine abuse as hypnotic, sedative or anxiolytic use disorder. Source.
  • Street names: Benzos, Blues, Chill Pills, Downers, Bars.
  • Signs of drug abuse: Poor judgement and thinking, doctor shopping, mood changes and new risk-taking behaviours, slurred speech, lack of motor coordination.
  • Poly-use (common substance combinations): Benzos are very commonly mixed with alcohol.
  • Side effects: Weakness, blurred version, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and physical weakness. Source.
  • Psychological effects: Shifts in mood and personality, the user is uncharacteristically secretive and engages in risky activities.
  • Long-term medical: The chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can trigger the following medical problems: anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, tremors, headaches and memory problems.
  • Withdrawal: A benzodiazepine withdrawal is particularly dangerous and life-threatening, and thus the recommended type of detoxification is one under the direct care of a doctor. “Any patient who has taken a benzodiazepine for longer than 3–4 weeks is likely to have withdrawal symptoms if the drug is ceased abruptly.” – Source.

Benzo Rehab in Ireland

Addiction Assessments | Medically Managed Detox | Daily Therapy

The minimum, recommended stay of our inpatient facility a short drive from Dublin is 28 days – this is to ensure we have an adequate amount of time for a safe detox and therapeutic intervention.

For a Benzodiazepine addiction, our supervised detoxes can last up to two weeks to help individuals overcome and get through the intense withdrawal process.

During this time, we will also provide dual diagnosis support and mental health assessments to determine the best therapeutic programme moving forward.

“In general, the optimal treatment of these conditions in primary care is non-pharmacological, particularly psychological and behavioural, therapies.” – Source.

Personalised, individual therapies sessions will take place multiple times a week using CBT, DBT or EMDR techniques to repair cognitive thoughts and emotional maturity that will help you see yourself and your addiction in a compassionate, empathetic way.

Daily group therapies, relationship management and family therapy will also be offered to help you rebuild and sustain close relationships – this will also help your family to understand your condition so that they can best help you manage triggers later.

We’ll take over your pharmacology and nutritional management to ensure a stable recovery and facilitate the best mindset for workshops, continued learning and 12-step facilitation.

Upon leaving our facility, you can also rely on 12 months of free support, weekly outpatient therapy sessions and alumni meetings to motivate your recovery journey as it progresses away from Smarmore Castle.

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Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Symptoms

Benzodiazepines are a group of depressant drugs often used to treat anxiety in adults and children. They are prescribed for sleeping issues such as insomnia, as well as panic disorders. It’s estimated that 3% of the adult population of England has been prescribed benzodiazepines. One of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the UK is diazepam, sometimes still referred to as Valium. 

But how do they work? Benzodiazepines slow down the body and brain’s functions, which can be helpful when it comes to treating issues like anxiety and insomnia. Benzodiazepines achieve this effect by boosting the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter, in the brain. This chemical lessens activity in the areas of the brain involved with reasoning, memory, emotions, and basic functions like breathing. Because benzodiazepine drugs boost the impact of GABA in your brain and on your body, you may feel more relaxed, calmer, and sleepy. This can help to reduce anxiety and relax your muscles. 

Although benzodiazepines are prescribed by a doctor, they can still be addictive. Benzodiazepines work quickly and are effective, however, they are psychoactive drugs with the potential for both physical and psychological addiction. For this reason, they are usually only prescribed for short-term use, meaning 2 – 4 weeks. 

This is because tolerance to benzodiazepines can develop rapidly. As your body adjusts to this medication, it will benefit from its full effect of it for the first few weeks. After this though, the body becomes used to it and the effect reduces. This can lead to dependence and addiction. 

Unfortunately once dependence has taken hold, you will need to go through benzodiazepine withdrawal. Stopping ‘cold turkey’ can vastly increase challenging withdrawal symptoms, and could even prove fatal.

Physical Symptoms 

  • Blurred vision
  • Sore eyes and tongue 
  • Metallic taste
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Face pain 
  • Heightened sense sensitivity 
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Digestive issues 
  • Poor appetite
  • Sleep problems 
  • Tinnitus 
  • Tingling in hands and feet 
  • Weight loss 
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Feeling unsteady 
  • Burning sensations 
  • Seizures
benzodiazepines withdrawal

Psychological Symptoms 

  • Concentration difficulty 
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion 
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depression 
  • Agoraphobia
  • Delusions 
  • Depersonalisation 
  • Derealisation 
  • Paranoia 
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations 
  • Psychosis

Acute Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines

Most withdrawal symptoms start within 24 hours and can last from a couple of days to several months, with the length of use and strength of benzodiazepine used often the influencing factor. Acute benzodiazepine withdrawal refers to the initial onset of symptoms once you stop taking benzodiazepines. 

It’s difficult to say exactly when symptoms of acute withdrawal will occur as it depends on which type of benzodiazepine you have been taking, as certain ones act on your brain and body for longer than others. You can consider the half-life of your drug to see how long its effects may last. 

A short-acting benzodiazepine is processed much quicker and so leaves the body quicker too. Because your body has less time to adjust to functioning without the drug once you stop taking it, short-acting drugs are much more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. 

A long-acting benzodiazepine has a longer half-life, meaning it is processed by the body slower and takes longer to leave it. While this type of drug is more likely to create a hangover effect, you are less likely to have benzodiazepine withdrawal problems with them. 

Often sleeping pills are short-acting benzodiazepines and long-acting benzodiazepines are used for anxiety. This is just a general rule of thumb and you should speak with your doctor or healthcare professional for advice relevant to your situation.

Depending on the type of benzodiazepine you have been taking, researchers believe the acute withdrawal timeframe to be 1 – 4 weeks, or 3 – 5 weeks when tapering. 

When withdrawing from any substance, the symptoms of acute withdrawal are often recognised as being the opposite effect of the substance. For benzodiazepines, acute withdrawal symptoms could include restlessness, body pain, shortness of breath, and hallucinations. 

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Timeline 

In most cases, withdrawal symptoms begin within a day or two of stopping taking benzodiazepines. Depending on how long you have been using them, and at what strength, this benzodiazepine withdrawal period can last from a few days to over a month. 

Some people still report symptoms years after stopping, though it should be noted these are not typically as intense as the symptoms experienced in the acute withdrawal phase. 

As discussed above, the half-life of the benzodiazepine you have been taking will influence when the drug leaves the body which is when you will start to experience withdrawal symptoms. For short-acting benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (brand name Ativan), withdrawal could start in as little as ten hours after stopping the drug. With long-acting benzodiazepines like diazepam (sometimes still called Valium), symptoms could take a few days to emerge. 

Bearing that in mind, as well as the fact that every person will have a unique experience, you can roughly expect the following timeline when withdrawing from benzodiazepines. 

A few hours – a few days: Acute withdrawal. These symptoms will often start gradually and increase in intensity as time passes. Along with classic benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, you may also go through rebound symptoms in which symptoms of the condition you were treated with benzodiazepines reemerge. 

Up to two weeks: Your symptoms will develop over the following week or two, usually peaking in the second week. This timeframe is when you will experience the most challenging symptoms and where support is vital to help you navigate through without relapsing.

After two weeks: After the peak, you may still experience symptoms but at this point, they should be much more manageable and continue to taper off in intensity. While you may be feeling better for quitting, it isn’t uncommon to experience occasionals wobbles, as well as more serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. 

After a month: If you are still experiencing symptoms at this point, you may be dealing with a post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These can include mood problems and a general sense of dissatisfaction. If you’re experiencing this, you should seek further support to help you through this period and avoid relapse. 

The Importance of an Assisted, Medical Detox

By sudden cessation, the brain does not get its familiar amount and the withdrawal process is triggered. Withdrawal from benzos is particularly dangerous, and in many instances can be fatal.

For example, seizures are one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal, hence the need for the assistance and supervision of medical professionals.

For loved ones at home, it can be unclear to distinguish symptoms of use from symptoms of withdrawal, therefore, the best practice in situations like this is to seek immediate help from doctors, who can assist you safely.

Benzodiazepine abuse alone does not typically result in death; however, the withdrawal can be life-threatening. Thus all addiction professionals agree that a best practice is to be weaned off benzos with a medically-supervised and managed detoxification.

Mental Health Dangers

Benzodiazepine addiction can co-occur with various mental health difficulties including major depressive disorders, bipolar and anxiety. When used in conjunction with other substances, like alcohol, the development and progression of depression is a distinct possibility.

Even though benzos are used to treat anxiety conditions, the risk of addiction to the medication often translates to dual diagnoses occurring. If you do not take benzos to treat existing mental health problems, you should be aware that the continued abuse of the medication can increase the risk of developing serious mental health disorders.

When treating you for a benzo addiction, we will ensure to create a plan that targets both the physical and psychological addiction as well as any mental health disorders at the same time.

The approach to treating the two together takes a combined approach of medication, psychotherapy and group support.

Free & Confidential Addiction Assessment

Taking the first step in seeking help can be very difficult, our team is here to help you.

Therapeutic Treatment

Our therapists possess and utilise many skills in addiction recovery, but one of their main skills is the practice of empathetic responding and active listening. This is because they often have personal addiction experience

One main reason for our patient’s success in achieving sustained recovery is the positive therapist-client relationship we create. Our patients thrive and grow because they feel understood.

Our therapeutic approach focuses on:

  • Nonverbal behaviours and indicators
  • Reflecting on deeper feelings
  • Pointing out conflictual feelings and thoughts
  • Using visual imagery, metaphors and analogies
  • Targeted self-disclosure
  • Reflecting tactile responses and using discursive responses

Here at Smarmore Castle, we don’t wish we could it make better, we can be proactive in making it happen.

We believe in you – and we believe you can recover. Contact us for help. Our admission team are naturally empathetic and know exactly what to do to help you navigate through this worrying time.

  • How to Access Rehab With Health Insurance

    For those experiencing existing mental health conditions in Ireland, there are private medical insurers who can help you cover treatment. As addiction experts, we know that receiving the appropriate care and support when you have a mental health disorder is pivotal to attaining long-lasting recovery. Below, we will go through the various health insurance options to help you understand your options when it comes to seeking private residential care for substance abuse. Please note that there is no guarantee that you can be covered for all addiction problems as policies are always assessed on a case-by-case basis. Find Out More

  • My Loved One Doesn’t Want Help, What Do I Do?

    You can’t force someone to go to rehab. At the end of the day, it needs to be their decision because they are the ones that need to be open to turning their lives around. There are ways in which you can encourage someone to enter treatment, one of these ways is via an intervention with a trained interventionist, who facilitates an honest discussion between family members and the addict. This is something Smarmore Castle can arrange – contact us today.

  • Which Drugs Does Smarmore Castle Detox From?

    We can detox people from any drugs whether they are illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ketamine; or prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines or zopiclone, oxycodone, zolpidem, klonopin, methadone, cannabis; and legal drugs such as alcohol.

  • How Long Is the Treatment Programme?

    Our treatment programme starts at 4 weeks and is flexible in length, giving you the opportunity to extend for a longer period if you need it.

  • Do You Treat Dual Diagnosis?

    All patients are reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist in the first week and we can diagnose and provide treatment for a number of co-occurring mental health conditions.

  • Do I Need to Be Abstinent Before Admission?

    Our medically managed detoxification with 24/7 medical cover means that we can perform complete and complex detoxes at Smarmore Castle. You don’t need to be abstinent before arrival.

  • How Do I Get To Rehab Safely?

    Smarmore Castle is one hour north of Dublin international airport, please speak to our advisors if you require collection from an airport.

    We can also arrange a ‘sober transport’ service with a trusted driver, from anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland, at an additional cost.

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