Quick Facts About Benzodiazepine Detox and Addiction

Quick Facts about Benzodiazepines:

  • Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that are commonly known as tranquilizers, sedatives, or anxiolytics.

  • They are the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S. and are mainly used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

  • When taken in low dosages these drugs are known as sedatives, when taken in medium dosages they are mainly used to treat anxiety, and when taken in high dosages they have hypnotic effects.

  • Due to the sedative effects they produce, some benzodiazepines reduce people’s abilities to resist sexual aggression or assault and thus they are often used as “date rape” drugs.

  • Benzodiazepines alone rarely cause serious illness or death, but when taken in combination with other drugs (especially alcohol) they can be very dangerous and even deadly.

  • Approximately 2,000 benzodiazepines have been produced but only 15 are marketed in the U.S.

  • Of the 15 FDA-approved benzodiazepines in the U.S., the most commonly known include:

  • Versed (midazolam) & Halcion (triazolam), which are ultra-short acting

  • [These are often prescribed to help a person sleep or to calm a person down before surgery]

  • Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), & Ativan (lorazepam), which are short-acting

  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide) & Valium (diazepam), which are long-acting

How Benzodiazepine Dependency/Addiction Occurs:

While some genetic factors of addiction exist, benzodiazepine addiction is primarily influenced by environmental factors such as peer pressure. Benzodiazepines normally become addictive after long-term use; thus being in a stressful or social environment for a prolonged time can help sustain the addiction. In addition to peer pressure, other risk factors for addiction include low socioeconomic status and unemployment.

In the brain and spinal cord, benzodiazepines regularly work by acting on GABA receptors. When a benzodiazepine binds to a GABA receptor on a neuron, it makes the neuron harder to be excited. Having less excitability in the brain causes the anti-anxiety and tranquilizing effects. This is responsible for the normal effects of benzodiazepines and for the early withdrawal symptoms of acute abuse. If used excessively over time, benzodiazepine use causes GABA receptors to become depleted, making the brain more prone to hyper-excitability. This is responsible for the anxiety and insomnia symptoms often seen in chronic stages of abuse.

How to Identify Benzodiazepine Abuse:

  • Often times, Benzo abusers will initially deny their problem by blaming their drug use on work or family stress or by playing down the extent of their use.

  • Benzo abusers tend to show a detachment from life events, goals, and/or family.

  • Benzo abusers may obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors or may have one or more visits to the emergency room.

  • Benzo abuse can cause both physical and psychological dependence.

  • Withdrawal symptoms of acute drug abuse include:

  • drowsiness

  • confusion

  • poor coordination

  • difficulty breathing

  • blurred vision

  • amnesia

  • weakness

  • impaired judgment

  • reduced inhibition

  • Withdrawal symptoms of chronic drug abuse include:

  • elevated anxiety

  • rebound insomnia

  • headaches

  • weakness

  • panic attacks

  • tremors

  • sweating/flushing

  • seizures

  • hallucinations

  • psychosis

Common Treatments for Benzodiazepine Abuse:

  • Since most benzo abusers will initially deny their problem, the first step towards recovery is to recognize and be aware of one’s own signs and symptoms of abuse.

  • The next step is to obtain help to wean off the drugs. In general, benzodiazepines should be discontinued slowly to minimize symptoms.

  • Slow discontinuation with the help of a doctor along with social support from family and friends is crucial during the difficult stage of recovery from chronic abuse.

  • Benzodiazepine treatment often varies depending on the type of drug taken, the amount of drug taken, and the time elapsed between consumption and treatment.

  • For acute toxicity of benzodiazepines that were taken within 4 hours, a dose of activated charcoal may be used to prevent absorption of the drug.

  • In few cases, a gastric lavage may be used. In this procedure, a tube is placed in the stomach through the mouth and water is used to flush out pill fragments.

  • Only in the case of severe poisoning, an antidote called flumazenil may be used to reverse the toxic, sedative effects of benzodiazepines.

  • Benzodiazepine Detox

If you or someone you know is suspected to be suffering from benzodiazepine dependency, GenPsych can help. Call 1-855-436-7792 or click to schedule an appointment.

About GenPsych’s NJ Ambulatory Detox Program

The GenPsych Ambulatory Detox Program offers a unique opportunity for individuals suffering from chemical dependency. Not only are our clients safely and comfortably detoxed with the assistance of medication under the care of our medical team, but they are also offered therapeutic programming to learn more about their addiction, as well as relapse prevention skills to help manage and sustain their recovery. Our educated, experienced, and compassionate staff provides support and understanding as individuals enter this initial stage of treatment. Our staff also has the knowledge and ability to engage and motivate clients during this difficult and delicate stage in the journey of their recovery. Our program allows clients to immediately put into practice the skills they learn as clients are able to return to their home environment nightly, which is where they will need to be able to implement their newly learned skills.

What to expect when scheduling an assessment

  1. When you call 1-855-436-7792 and you will reach one of our staff in central admissions. They will collect your information and schedule an appointment and transportation to and from our facility that same day. Callers after 5pm will be asked to press option 2 for Detox appointments, which will redirect them to our 24/7 admissions line to speak to a live after hours representative.

  2. A nurse from our program will contact you to gather any relevant medical information (medical history, substance used, last use etc…) She will answer any questions you may have and discuss the types of medications that will be used to assist you with your withdrawal symptoms.

  3. Transportation will pick you up at the time of your scheduled appointment from anywhere in New Jersey and transport you to our facility.

  4. Upon arriving at our facility, you will be assessed and immediately provided with medication to assist you with your withdrawal symptoms.

Hours of operation:

Our program is open every day. Program hours from Monday through Friday are 8am to 5pm, and weekend hours are 8am to 2pm. Clients are initially screened for appropriateness by our nursing staff. Upon admission to the program an individualized but safe and conservative detox protocol is used to ensure the medical safety and comfort of each client. It is our goal that each client has a comfortable and therapeutic experience, and is ready to move on to the next phase of their recovery.

Call  1-855-436-7792 or click  to schedule an appointment

Click here for more Clinical Information and some Frequently Asked Questions about our Ambulatory Detox Program

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