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How To Taper Off Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedatives often prescribed to patients suffering from stress, paranoia, sleep difficulties, anxiety, seizures, and other mental illnesses. Although benzodiazepines may induce relaxation and pleasure, they are not without their harmful side effects, such as the inability to recall recent events, nightmares, and aggression.

What Is Benzodiazepine Abuse?

The usage of benzodiazepines has hit alarming proportions, and it often happens in tandem with the use of other substances. It is possible for a benzodiazepine overdose to be either purposeful, as in the case of suicidal individuals, or unintentional, depending on the circumstances.


The majority of fatal overdoses involve the use of benzodiazepines in combination with other CNS depressants like alcohol or opiates. These symptoms may indicate that you may have taken too many benzodiazepines:


  • Poor lung capacity

  • Damp, humid skin

  • Larger-than-normal pupils

  • Slow and feeble heartbeat

  • Coma


Even at very high dosages, benzodiazepine overdoses seldom lead to death; fatalities often occur when these medicines are combined with others that also have a sedative effect, leading to respiratory collapse.


The number of prescriptions written for benzodiazepines and the rate of benzodiazepine-related deaths has risen dramatically in recent years.

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What to Expect When You Stop Taking Benzos?

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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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Long-term benzodiazepine users are at increased risk for several adverse outcomes, such as tolerance, dependency, and withdrawal symptoms upon stopping use. Among the withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines are:


  • Migraine.

  • Affecting one's ability to go to sleep.

  • Lack of energy.

  • Disturbance.

  • Involuntary spasms.

  • Incoordination.

  • Diarrhea and sickness.

  • Psychotic disorders such as paranoia, insanity, hallucinations, and nightmares.


It is suggested that a person who has been using benzodiazepines for two weeks or more not suddenly cease taking their medicine. Instead, benzodiazepine dosages should be reduced slowly over time.

Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers free 24/7 benzo addiction support. Call today and confidentially speak with our addiction specialists at 855-559-8550.

Instructions & Roadmap for Weaning Off Benzos

Multiple organizations have established tapering recommendations for benzodiazepines. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder developed some of the most widely accepted tapering recommendations.


According to these recommendations, chronic users using a high dose should begin by cutting their dosage by 25-30%, then lower it by 5-10% daily or weekly.


People who use therapeutic amounts at night should try reducing their dose by 25% per week.


The recommended course of action for people who take therapeutic dosages throughout the day is to reduce their daily dose by 10-25% initially and then by another 10-25% every 1-2 weeks.


Some people respond better to a replacement taper, which entails starting therapy with a longer-acting, more stable benzodiazepine before moving on to the tapering stage.

When Should People Start Reducing Their Benzo Consumption?

The purpose of benzodiazepine taper schedules is to make a withdrawal from the drug easier to bear. Benzo withdrawal symptoms are a significant deterrent for many individuals considering quitting benzos. These concerns can be minimized with a benzodiazepine taper.


The goal of tapering is to ease the discomfort of withdrawal from benzos by helping the body adjust to life without them more quickly.

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The Root Causes of Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Benzodiazepines are effective because they boost the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain (GABA). GABA inhibits the transmission of certain central nervous system impulses in their natural state.


Benzos amplify the results of GABA. The human body builds up a tolerance to GABA to prevent abnormal functioning caused by high neurotransmitter levels.


Without benzos, GABA levels rise beyond normal, leading to overexcitation of the central nervous system (CNS). Tenseness, panic attacks, and convulsions are all possible side effects.

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There is a cost associated with drug rehabilitation, but the advantages of seeking care are worthwhile.

Do Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms Ease If You Slowly Wean Off of the Drug?

Benzo tapering can potentially eliminate withdrawal symptoms for certain people in recovery. This is because the tapering process gives the central nervous system time to acclimate to the absence of the medication. As a result, there is never a chance for it to go through the withdrawal period.


On the other hand, there is no such protection when stopping cold turkey, and withdrawal symptoms may be dangerous, if not fatal. As a result, medical professionals don't endorse self-administered detox programs or abruptly discontinue use. The absence of aid, direction, and safeguards characterizes these antiquated methods.

Struggles Associated with Benzo Detoxification

Withdrawing off a benzodiazepine without medical supervision might be challenging. If you begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, your doctor may change your tapering plan to help you get back on track. Be honest with your doctor about the full scope of your drug history, as this will help them develop the most effective treatment strategy.


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Preventive Measures for Benzo Relapse

The risk of recurrence may be minimized by avoiding benzo withdrawal. Success in maintaining abstinence from benzos may be improved with medical management of withdrawal symptoms. It is a necessary one, but not the final one.


According to recent research, treatment plans that include psychological support and physical withdrawal are generally more effective than tapering alone.


To reduce your drug or alcohol usage, you should immediately get professional help from a detox center and addiction recovery program.

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The root causes of benzo withdrawal symptoms
When should people start reducing their benzo consumption?
What to expect when you stop taking benzos?
What is benzodiazepine abuse?
Instructions and roadmap for weaning off benzos
Do benzo withdrawal symptoms ease if you slowly wean off the drug?
Struggles associated with benzo detoxification
Preventative measures for benzo relapse

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