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Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Manconi et al. explored the effects of long-term BZD use on sleep architecture and microstructure in those with insomnia. They found significant changes in sleep microstructure in chronic insomnia with high dosage abuse of BZD, but sleep architecture changes were not significant. Long-term use of BZD leads to negative changes in sleep microstructure in patients with insomnia [35]. Emily Guarnotta holds a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

Withdrawal symptoms may begin after as little as 3–6 weeks of use, even when a person uses the drugs as the doctor directed. Supportive counseling and other targeted therapies or medications may help a person manage the symptoms and improve their quality of life. Although many symptoms subside after the acute withdrawal phase, lingering side effects are possible. For example, say you’re tapering off a dose of 20 milligrams (mg) of diazepam (Valium). A very quick taper would involve reducing the dose by 5 mg (25%) each week. People tapering off the same original dosage of medication can have drastically different tapering experiences.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

When you quit taking valium or Xanax or any benzodiazepine medication after prolonged use you are at risk of a wide range of withdrawal symptoms. Individuals that have taken higher doses or who have been using the drug with other substances such as alcohol are at an increased risk of withdrawal that could be dangerous. Other studies have assessed different methods of counseling on BZD dangers and alternatives to patients alongside benzodiazepine withdrawal a gradual taper off the drugs. One study compared the mainstay of treatment with a standardized interview/counselling approach to treatment [72]. The experimental group in this study had a weekly 1/10-dose reduction after a 2 week stabilization period [72]. The experimental treatment also included a BZD diary, a drinking diary, BZD withdrawal education, and assessments for ways of coping and “progressive relaxation exercise” [72].

If you stop taking them “cold turkey,” or all at once, you may experience severe, even life threatening, withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines are a powerful class of medication used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorder. Examples of benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium). Estimates suggest that 10 to 25% of people who take benzodiazepines for extended periods experience what’s known as protracted withdrawal. The primary difference between these drugs is the length of time they stay active in the body.

How Long Does Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines Last?

Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include Micromedex (updated 3 Mar 2024), Cerner Multum™ (updated 17 Mar 2024), ASHP (updated 20 Mar 2024) and others. Management of alcohol https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcohol-allergies-symptoms-and-signs/ withdrawal is based on the patient’s history and current clinical status. The single best predictor of the likelihood of future withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is concerned is the patient’s previous history, e.g., the presence or absence of seizures or delirium tremens (Table 1). Symptomatic treatment (see Table 3) and supportive care are usually sufficient for management of mild opioid withdrawal.

benzodiazepine withdrawal

The longer the interval between reductions, the more comfortable and safer the withdrawal. The safest way to manage benzodiazepine withdrawal is to give benzodiazepines in gradually decreasing amounts. This helps to relieve benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms and prevent the development of seizures.

Medications for Relapse Prevention

Providing withdrawal management in a way that reduces the discomfort of patients and shows empathy for patients can help to build trust between patients and treatment staff of closed settings. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. There is no specific timeline dictating exactly how long withdrawal from a benzo, or benzodiazepine, medication will last. Medical detox involves tapering off the benzo drug under the supervision of a doctor.

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The GABA-A receptor has various subunits, and the most important in this case is the alpha (A) submit unit. The alpha subunit has various isoforms, which dictate a BZD’s effects on the CNS. The A1 subunit is believed to be responsible for the sedative effects and anterograde amnesia, and some of the anticonvulsive impacts of diazepam [1]. The A2 subunit isoform mediates the anxiolytic and myorelaxant effects [1]. To be specific in terms of binding sites and actions, BZD binds between the alpha and the gamma subunit.

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