Benzodiazepine and Barbiturate (Anti-Anxiety) Detox Program

Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines are classified as depressant drugs that help to suppress the central nervous system, effectively helping to induce calm or sleep. Many people have been prescribed barbiturates or benzodiazepines in order to assist with insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, seizures, muscle relaxation and panic attacks. Their use is broad and prescribed often by doctors to treat anxiety.

Barbiturates can be highly toxic and lethal if not used exactly as prescribed, which is why benzodiazepines are more commonly prescribed today. Well-known benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan are some of the more commonly doctor-prescribed benzodiazepines. However, benzodiazepines can be lethal if overused, especially if taken in combination with other drugs such as alcohol, barbiturates, opioids or tricyclic antidepressants.

In 2011, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that almost 10% of all emergency department visits related to the abuse of pharmaceuticals involved the benzodiazepine Alprazolam, more commonly known by its designer name, Xanax.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is also known for its severe psychological side effects that may occur after use has ended. One of the most serious emotional side effects is the increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Since 2009, the FDA has mandated that this warning be printed on all prescription bottles of benzodiazepines.

How quickly can you get addicted to benzodiazepines?

Anti-anxiety medications are highly addictive, and indications suggest that an individual can become addicted to benzodiazepines or barbiturates in an as little as one month.

Individuals who use benzodiazepines in combination with at least one other drug (known as poly-drug use) are at an increased risk of abuse, dependence, withdrawal symptoms and overdose. Differing physical and psychological characteristics can influence whether someone becomes dependent or addicted to benzodiazepines. Ultimately, a person’s unique usage history will determine whether they become addicted or not.

How do you overdose on anti-anxiety medications?

Traditional benzodiazepines taken alone are rarely associated with lethal overdoses, but when combined with other sedatives or alcohol, the risk dramatically increases. Barbiturates, on the other hand, can easily cause overdose if someone takes more than what is prescribed by their doctor.

Anti-Anxiety Medication Withdrawal Facts:

  • About 7,000 people died in 2013 from overdosing on some type of anti-anxiety medication
  • Most anti-anxiety medication-related deaths are due to mixing the drug with alcohol or other drugs
  • There are more emergency room visits from prescription drug-related overdoses than for any illicit drug
  • Many people who become addicted to anti-anxiety medications have been prescribed them by a doctor
  • Most substance-abuse related ER visits are because people have accidentally overdosed on a mixture of prescription medications and alcohol
  • Withdrawal usually beings 1-3 days after use has stopped.
  • A seizure can happen as soon as 24 hours after withdrawing from long-term use of benzodiazepines, which include prescription drugs such as Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax and Valium
  • Acute withdrawal symptoms begin 1-3 days after the last use, but full-blown withdrawals peak two weeks after cessation begins, and PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms) can last weeks or months after the last use
  • Poly-drug abuse can make all of the side effects associate with benzodiazepine withdrawal substantially worse

If you’re having any these symptoms, you’re already at risk of potentially severe long-term consequences from anti-anxiety medication withdrawal:

  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations (Auditory, Visual & Tactile)
  • Tremors
  • Severe Panic Attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle Tension
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Blurred Vision
  • Sweating
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Muscle Twitching Or Spasms
  • Coma
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Death

How can I detox safely?

Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines and barbiturates, is one of the most dangerous drug detoxifications one can physically endure. If not treated by a professional medical team, one could easily suffer drastic consequences due to the detox symptoms alone, or suffer a difficult relapse as withdrawal symptoms and cravings are particularly harsh and long-lasting.

Medications help reduce or eliminate cravings, ease psychological symptoms and reduce uncomfortable reactions related to benzodiazepine withdrawal. Vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration levels, and body temperature should be monitored continually during the withdrawal process, as they can reach unhealthy levels rather rapidly during the detoxification phase.

An accredited detox facility provides the care necessary for a safe withdrawal process, including an individually prescribed, medically supervised detox program, a team of therapists to manage physical and emotional conditions as well as to provide a nurturing, safe environment without the risk of relapse.

Since it may be dangerous to stop using abruptly due to the range of withdrawal symptoms, detox from benzodiazepines or barbiturates will often include a tapering schedule. This is a way to slowly lower the dosage over a safe period of time, which can minimize potential physical and emotional side effects. It is widely noted that withdrawal symptoms can be largely avoided with a gradual weaning, or tapering. This process must be administered by a trained, highly professional detoxification team in order to be managed properly for the safety of the individual.

What do I do after I detox?

After completing a detox, relapse rates range from 65% to 80% just one month after completion. However, those who remained in a treatment program were up to 10 times more likely to maintain abstinence. That is why at Prestige Detox, our team works with each client to identify a post-treatment plan of action that meets their exacting recovery needs and goals.

Last modified: May 4, 2020

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