By HILARY ORTEGA and DR. REBECCA WANG-HARRIS
Benzodiazepines fall under the class of medication called anxiolytics. They are considered schedule IV controlled substances that doctors can prescribe for several conditions. These medications can prove helpful in treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and more. Sometimes they can even be prescribed for off-label use, based on the guidance of a physician.
However, the problem is that benzodiazepines can also be heavily abused and can result in severe damage. They are addictive and can harm a person’s body, mind, and family. According to WebMD, if left untreated, abusing benzodiazepines can negatively impact your relationships, career, and physical and emotional health. It is not worth the risk. The risk of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptom is too great.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be a complicated and extended challenge and can have life-altering consequences. If you are in Florida and dealing with benzodiazepine withdrawal, you should consult an accredited, professional program.
Benzodiazepines can be highly controversial because of their addictive properties and are one of four medications prescribed with caution. Yet, 5 percent of adult Americans are prescribed this medication, resulting in a significant number of cases of withdrawal as prescriptions come to an end. When used appropriately, benzodiazepines can be helpful, however, they always remain a risky prospect with benzodiazepines withdrawal occurring as little as one month after use.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can vary based on a number of factors, including the dosage and length of usage. Other factors can include whether there is more than one medication or sedating drug used concurrently and a history of substance abuse issues. Even quitting more than one substance at a time can exacerbate and challenge the quitting process, intensifying withdrawal effects.
Professionals can mitigate such risks, through a medically assisted benzodiazepine taper program.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Common benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax can be and often are abused by young adults. These drugs are sometimes known as “Benzos” and “Downers” and can be abused, and often a person may not even realize they are addicted. However, one doesn’t need to be addicted to experience the withdrawal symptoms either. These drugs are that influential on the body.
When it comes to withdrawal from benzodiazepines, there is an alphabet’s worth of conditions. These withdrawal and post-withdrawal symptoms are a direct result of stopping benzodiazepines after significant usage. These effects are even the result of stopping common benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, Tranxene, Onfi, Librium, and Ativan.
Some of the many symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include, but are not limited to:
- Allergic Reactions
- Brain Fog
- Esophageal Spasms
- Flu-like Symptoms
- Intrusive Thoughts
- And many more
Symptoms may sometimes be exacerbations of existing medical and psychological issues as well. These symptoms, recorded from those who have experienced benzodiazepine withdrawal, can still occur when taking the medication due to physical dependence – they can also be found during tapering. A professional and accredited taper program can help reduce the dramatic symptoms of withdrawal.
These symptoms are signs that benzodiazepine usage has become a problem, and withdrawal can be dangerous when not handled properly. Chronic use of benzodiazepines may be an indication of a need to taper off the medication as they are intended for short term use. Abruptly stopping the medication can lead to withdrawal which has its risks as well; including but not limited to onset of seizures.
Breaking the Habit
Benzodiazepine addiction, like any addiction, can be a tough cycle to break, especially when you factor in the potentially debilitating effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal. These drugs can alter the brain’s chemistry so that your body feels the substance is needed and is prioritized. No wonder quitting an addiction can be such a challenge. If you think you are ready to leave the cycle of benzodiazepine addiction for good and want to beat the withdrawal symptoms, you need to take advantage of professional help.
Anxiety is Manageable
Anxiety can be genetic, learned through repeated dysfunctional experiences with family members or other significant people in one’s life, or caused by one or more traumatic events. Anxiety takes many forms. For instance, Post-Traumatic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder result from emotionally painful experiences which alter one’s brain chemistry and cause various physiological symptoms, such as insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, migraines, and panic attacks. Taking a prescribed or unprescribed anti-anxiety medication is very tempting for someone who cannot sleep, who experiences discomfort throughout the day, who has difficulty with work or academics, and who cannot control ruminating, negative, and/or traumatizing thoughts. After a prescribed anti-anxiety medication is taken for even a few months, a person’s brain function becomes dependent on that medication for relaxation and relief of other anxiety symptoms.
Various psychotherapeutic approaches, in these cases, the main goal is to continue to provide support emotionally, mentally, and behaviorally and to enhance and empower toward increased self-awareness. Each person’s history is unique, as is the approach to assist with the development and maintenance of daily coping skills, increased self-awareness, and personal growth. Anxiety can be a lifelong struggle for many people, and prescribed benzodiazepine medications can be very desirable in reducing or erasing anxiety. However, these medications are physically addictive. Tapering off or stopping these medications causes mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, depending on the level of daily dosages taken. The ability to confront and revise one’s thoughts is necessary in the process of anxiety management with the help of psychotherapy. Thoughts and life circumstances are the causes of anxiety. Although we often cannot control circumstances, we can control our thoughts and behavioral responses in every moment.
Hilary Ortega, MSN, is CEO and Owner of New Age Psychiatry with 11 years of experience working in the healthcare industry in both psychiatric and medical fields. Dr. Rebecca Wang-Harris professor and therapist has over 28 years’ experience in providing psychotherapy. New Age Psychiatry provides medication management and counseling at affordable rates for a wide range of psychiatric conditions across the state of Florida virtually. Email her at email@example.com