Prescription drugs can be immensely helpful for both physical and mental health. Though they are often prescribed by a physician, even legal drugs can become addictive. Benzodiazepines are a specific type of medication that is known as tranquilizers and can lead to drug dependence.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a type of tranquilizer that is usually used for panic attacks or anxiety. Because they have the ability to sedate a person, these prescription drugs can also be used for insomnia and seizure control.
A tranquilizer is frequently used to reduce certain types of physical or emotional tension. This can include fear, agitation, and anxiety. There are two main classes of tranquilizers: major and minor tranquilizers.
Major tranquilizers are primarily used for disorders that bring great stress to the individual, such as psychotic episodes that may appear in schizophrenic patients. While they do not cure the disorder, they are used to reduce and suppress symptoms. Major tranquilizers are usually prescribed on a long-term basis.
Minor tranquilizers include benzodiazepines that are usually prescribed for anxiety. These types of drugs can be taken on an as-needed basis and work much faster than other types of psychiatric medication such as SSRIs. Minor tranquilizers can be taken for phobias, anxiety as well as recreational use when not prescribed by a physician.
What Is The Difference Between Side Effects and Withdrawal?
Most drugs are used to alleviate the unpleasant mental of physical symptoms; however, they may also provide negative side effects. Side effects can happen when a drug is properly prescribed or used for recreational purposes.
Common side effects of benzodiazepines include sedation, dry mouth, dizziness, and weakness. These side effects will go away once the drug is out of the body. Side effects usually happen within an hour or two of taking the medication and do not last once the drug has been discontinued. Side effects for most drugs do not include potentially life-threatening possibilities. Because of this, side effects are usually much safer than the process of withdrawal or detoxification.
Withdrawal symptoms are also negative sensations that occur from the use of a drug, but they are often much more intense and can last for a longer period of time. In the case of major and minor tranquilizers, withdrawal can cause adverse reactions such as seizures. Unlike prescription drug side effects, withdrawal begins once the drug has left the body. This happens because the body has become accustomed to long-term use, and without the drug, the body can no longer function properly the way it once did.
Withdrawal can be mild to severe, depending on several factors.
Individuals who are dependent on the drug may experience more severe symptoms of withdrawal if they have been using it for an extended period of time. Generally, severe symptoms occur when the drug has been eliminated all at once rather than using the tapering method. That being said, even those who gradually reduce the drug can still experience withdrawal.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal effects from benzodiazepines can be felt as early as 24 hours after the last dose. At higher dosages, the withdrawal symptoms become more severe.
Common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
Mental health issues commonly arise during this type of withdrawal. Even those who are not prone to anxiety attacks or depression can feel unwell. Panic attacks are common when discontinuing benzodiazepines and can include extreme fear as well as a high heart rate and excessive sweating. Even individuals that cognitively understand there is no outside reason to be afraid can have trouble easing their anxiety. Trying to manage withdrawal symptoms without help can be exhausting, and many people will continue to use these types of prescription drugs to avoid these feelings.
In addition to high fluctuation in moods, insomnia can increase the intensity of these episodes. While anxiety may make the heart race, depression can leave an individual feeling lethargic and depleted of energy. A proper sleep schedule is imperative when combatting some of the mental health issues that can accompany withdrawal symptoms. Since insomnia is a common problem for those who want to discontinue using benzodiazepines, many people find they need a sleeping supplement or non-addictive medication that can be prescribed to sleep through the night.
Nausea and indigestion are frequently noted in those who gradually or suddenly discontinue tranquilizers. Many people notice a change in appetite. Without proper nutrition, this can further complications stemming from prescription drug withdrawal, knowing which type of foods to eat and when it plays an important role in aiding digestion and hydration throughout this process. If mental health issues like depression or physical issues like fatigue prevent the individual from receiving adequate nutrition, professional help can often assist with proper care.
Who Experiences Withdrawal?
Many patients who are prescribed benzodiazepines may become dependent upon them. This does not necessarily mean a patient is addicted to the medication, but it does mean their body is used to operating with them on a daily basis. Patients who experience this kind of dependency may have been using tranquilizers for an extended period of time, or they may have been prescribed a high dosage.
Discontinuing benzodiazepines is best done in a professional setting with experienced personnel who can properly understand the situation. Discontinuing the use of medication all at once can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that can potentially be minimized. By gradually tapering with the guidance of medical professionals, withdrawal symptoms can be successfully managed with help.
Handling Withdrawal Symptoms On Your Own
While some individuals choose to handle benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms on their own, it is not usually recommended. The process can take a significant amount of time, and it can be dangerous if it is not handled properly. Suicidal thoughts can occur as well as psychosis and seizures, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.
Withdrawal symptoms are not the same for everyone. There are many factors when judging how long or how intense the withdrawal process will be. Considerations include the dosage, how long the drug has been used, how often the drug has been taken, why the drug was prescribed in addition to the age, sex, and health of the individual.
Managing withdrawal symptoms without help can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, insomnia, and paranoia. Without proper help, many individuals who discontinue the use of benzodiazepines relapse because the symptoms are too difficult to cope with. Even if an individual does successfully complete the withdrawal period, mental and emotional cravings can prove too tempting without the skills to manage addiction.
During the detoxification process, the body is actively getting rid of chemicals from the drug. This is a critical period for both mental and physical health. Withdrawal symptoms can cause intense mood swings and physical symptoms that can both occur at the same time. If proper care is not available, an individual can face health consequences for approximately two to six months before the body recovers.
How To Get Help
There are several treatment options available for those who want to discontinue the use of benzodiazepines. Detoxing, without the help of a professional, can be life-threatening, depending on the mental and physical health of the individual. By detoxing under the care of recovery professionals, an individual can get both physical and mental health needs met.
Having an experienced team of health professionals can create a more comfortable environment as well as support for long-term recovery. Withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming for most individuals regardless if they are using major or minor tranquilizers. For more information on how to recover from benzodiazepine withdrawal, please call us for professional help.