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Benzo Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Benzodiazepines have become a growing concern as the National Institute of Drug Abuse report 30.5 million Americans using the drug, with about 2.1% of this number abusing Benzodiazepines.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse continues to show that 0.2% of Americans using benzodiazepines have a benzodiazepine use disorder, and 12% take the drugs to get high, get better sleep, and reduce stress. In comparison, only 20% receive a prescription from a doctor. More than 115 people die daily in America from opioid abuse, where 1/3 of this number stem from benzo use. 

To make matters worse, many benzo addicts started as a doctor’s prescription for sleeping issues and anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines pose a greater risk of overdose, especially those combing the drug with other opiate prescriptions. Let’s look at several key areas connected to benzodiazepines, including the signs and symptoms of withdrawing from the drug.

What are Benzodiazepines?

According to the DEA, benzodiazepines are classified as schedule III drugs, forming a class of drugs such as Xanax and Valium with potential misuse and abuse. These medications help treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and panic disorder, but when abused, they become lethal. 


Most people abuse benzos due to their euphoric and relaxing effect on the central nervous system, and within a short time, they become physically dependent on the drug. Benzodiazepine’s withdrawal symptoms prove fatal when left untreated, with commas, seizures, and other complications occurring without notice. Therefore, seek medical attention if you try to quit benzos such as Valium.

Dangers of Benzo Withdrawal

People filling for benzo prescriptions increased by 67% yearly from 1996 to 2015, with significant numbers recorded in teenagers and adults. Physically depending on a drug means you can’t function properly without using it, while withdrawal symptoms stem from suddenly reducing dosage or quitting dosage altogether. 


Withdrawing from benzos is complex and may be dangerous depending on the person, usually abusing the drug for so long. Expect mild withdrawal symptoms like nausea, irritability, or anxiety during your first days; severe complications of delirium or grand mal seizures are also possible. Benzo withdrawal is managed by gradually reducing the victim’s dosage; this also causes withdrawal symptoms, but they are mild ones. 

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Signs and Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal

Prolonged use of taking benzodiazepine medications leads to risky withdrawal symptoms. Individuals mixing benzos and other substances like alcohol are more dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Many factors contribute to withdrawal symptoms, including:


  • Using benzos for a long time

  • Taking large doses of benzo medications

  • Frequently using benzo medications

  • Taking benzo medications with the proper prescriptions

  • Mixing benzodiazepines with other substances like alcohol or drugs

  • Quitting benzos before then going through withdrawal for more times

  • Struggling with a dual diagnosis involving physical or mental health disorders


Let’s look at the most common symptoms from benzo withdrawal:


  • Irritability and nausea

  • Muscle and headaches

  • Diarrhea and upset stomach

  • Poor concentration

  • Increased tension

  • Instability and dizziness

  • Insomnia and restlessness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Heart rhythm changes

  • Loss of memory

  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears

  • Grand mal seizures

  • Problems with concentration

  • Abnormal bodily sensations

  • Hyperventilation

  • Hand tremors

  • Shooting pain in neck and spine

  • Anorexia

  • Metallic tastes


Most benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms have resulted in dire, life-threatening complications. Symptoms such as seizures arise quickly, without notice, and leave little room for survival, especially when you do not know how to tackle these situations. Often, outsiders do not see the psychological withdrawal symptoms that the user feels. These symptoms are widespread for individuals who use benzos to treat anxiety, including:


  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Paranoia

  • Psychosis

  • Being confused or delirium

  • Delusions

  • Hallucinations

  • Out of body experiences or thoughts

  • Delirium

  • Tactile, auditory or visual hallucinations

  • Distortions of bodily image

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How Long Do Benzos’ Withdrawal Symptoms Take?

Withdrawal symptoms last depending on your health and the time you used the drug, among several other factors. The amount you take to detox from the drug depends on these factors. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines consists of two phases; acute and post-acute or protracted.


The acute benzodiazepines withdrawal phase lasts between a week and a month, with the most intense symptoms and side effects. This is because your body tries to adjust to the feeling of living without the drug. 


Your risk of having seizures is the greatest during the first 7- 14 days of acute withdrawal. 

On the other hand, the post-acute or protracted phase can sometimes last months or even years. This phase poses less intense withdrawal symptoms, but depression, anxiety, or side effects like cravings may persist. A benzodiazepine withdrawal timeline looks like this:


  • In the first 24-72 hours, the individual quits and feels intense withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, changes in heart rhythm, or sleep difficulties.

  • In the following 7-10 days, the victim experiences a rise and peak in withdrawal symptoms. Seizures are a most likely bet during this time.

  • The following two weeks after the last dosage, the user experiences a secondary round of rebound withdrawal symptoms. Rebound symptoms mean that the patient had begun feeling better for some days but succumbed to extreme sickness. A patient may become sensitive to sound and light at this stage.

  • One month after the last dosage, a user feels normal though cravings and triggers may likely occur.


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The Bottom Line

Quitting benzos proves a nightmare, and rehab is worse; do not even think about detoxification. It isn’t always easy to rid yourself of a drug dependency, but you do not have to do it at once. To achieve optimum health, contact your medical caregiver on the best ways to maintain long-term sobriety.


Since the following steps are hard, you must commit to your recovery; find a good rehab center, form a support network, and stay away from triggers. If you fail the first time, do not quit on yourself. Hey, we all know about the journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step; do not hesitate to make that one step.

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What are benzodiazepines?
Dangers of benzo withdrawal
Signs and symptoms of benzo withdrawal
How long do benzos' withdrawal symptoms last
The bottom line
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