Signs of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may include worsening anxiety, worsening mood, sleeping problems, weight loss, psychosis, hand tremors, and other signs.
Benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal can occur when you quit benzodiazepines after taking them for a long period of time. Some studies state you may experience physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms after only one week of benzodiazepine use.
Many benzodiazepine products, such as Ativan, Xanax, and Valium, can cause withdrawal symptoms due to a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Your risk of withdrawal may increase if you engage in illicit drug abuse involving benzodiazepines.
If you or a loved one are suffering from any of these nine benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, a professional withdrawal management program can help. Medical detox programs, tapering schedules, and mental health services can help you quit benzodiazepines safely.
1. Rebound Anxiety
If you are taking benzodiazepines to manage your anxiety disorder or panic disorder, your anxiety may worsen after you quit. You may also experience severe panic attacks often.
This condition is known as rebound anxiety, and refers to anxiety caused by benzodiazepine withdrawal specifically.
2. Cardiovascular Problems
High blood pressure and heart rate are common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepines slow down activity in your central nervous system, which controls your blood pressure and heart rate. Without benzodiazepines in your system, your blood pressure and heart rate may unnaturally increase.
3. Sleeping Problems
Sleeping problems such as insomnia and restlessness can start less than 24 hours after quitting benzodiazepines. They may last for an average of two weeks to one month until the withdrawal process ends.
Sleeping problems are common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal. If a family member or a loved one is complaining about a lack of sleep, they may be experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
4. Changes In Mood
Benzodiazepine withdrawal likely affects your mood. You may experience rapid mood swings or a constant, negative mood known as dysphoria. Mood changes are a common symptom of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
If a loved one or family member is going through benzodiazepine withdrawal, they may seem easily agitated or irritable. They may also appear depressed, lack motivation, or have trouble focusing.
5. Loss Of Appetite
You may be less inclined to eat after you quit benzodiazepines. If you do not eat due to a loss of appetite, you may also experience weight loss. A sudden drop in weight in a family member or loved one can be a sign of acute withdrawal involving benzodiazepines.
6. Sensitivity To Light, Sound, & Touch
Bright lights, loud sounds, and physical contact can be uncomfortable or painful after you stop taking benzodiazepines. If you see a family member avoid contact or prefer dark, quiet places, their senses may be due to benzodiazepine withdrawal.
7. Muscle Spasms & Tremors
Benzodiazepines such as diazepam, lorazepam, and alprazolam have anticonvulsant properties. When you stop taking benzodiazepines, you may experience uncontrollable muscle spasms and hand tremors for a short period of time.
You may be at risk of seizures and convulsions after you quit benzodiazepines. Your risk of seizures may be high during the acute withdrawal period, which can last for between two weeks to one month.
Seizures are a rare but severe withdrawal symptom of benzodiazepines. Seizures caused by benzodiazepine withdrawal can be life-threatening, especially without access to medical help.
Forms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, and depersonalization are severe withdrawal symptoms caused by benzodiazepines. Psychosis is a less common symptom of benzodiazepine withdrawal compared to other symptoms.
Your risk of severe withdrawal symptoms may increase if you took benzodiazepines in high doses for long periods of time before quitting.
Treatment Options For Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Professional benzodiazepine treatment programs can improve your chances of getting through the acute withdrawal process.
A medical detoxification or detox program can help you manage your withdrawal symptoms as well as provide continued evaluation for post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
You may also enter a tapering schedule, where your dose of benzodiazepines may decrease over time, instead of quitting all at once. Tapering off benzodiazepines can reduce your risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
Other treatment options for benzo withdrawal management may include attending support group meetings, attending group therapy, and changing your diet.
Contact Bedrock Recovery Center to find out if our inpatient benzodiazepine addiction treatment options will work for you or your loved one.
- National Library of Medicine - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/
- National Library of Medicine - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/
- National Library of Medicine - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896864/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8723697/
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/benzodiazepines-combination-opioid-pain-relievers-or-alcohol-greater-risk-more-serious-ed https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/benzodiazepines-combination-opioid-pain-relievers-or-alcohol-greater-risk-more-serious-ed
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration - https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/013263s094lbl.pdf https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/013263s094lbl.pdf
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration - https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/017794s044lbl.pdf https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/017794s044lbl.pdf