Tag Archives: Drug Detox

Detoxing From Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine WithdrawalsBenzodiazepines include brand-name anxiety/insomnia medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Over time, recreational and prescription benzodiazepine users can develop a dependency on the substance for its fast-acting, relaxing, and hypnotic qualities. In addition to short-term symptom management, medical providers also use the substance to calm patients before anesthesia or surgery or to lessen the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Benzodiazepine drug abuse is typically defined as daily long-term use. After a period as short as three months of regular or daily use, an individual can experience the telltale signs of addiction, including cravings and a quick rebound of negative symptoms such as anxiety or sleeplessness.

How Benzodiazepines Affect The Brain

In the brain, benzodiazepines boost the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), one of the most common central nervous system neurotransmitters. The acid blocks nerve impulses in the brain, which translates to psychological tranquilization. Under normal conditions, the body does an adequate job of releasing GABA as needed. Taking a benzodiazepine strengthens the power of GABA in the brain. When used as prescribed, benzodiazepines offer almost immediate relief (within 30 minutes) to those who suffer from panic attacks or extreme anxiety. When taken recreationally, the class of drugs acts as a sedative and numbing agent.

Over time, individuals may need higher doses of benzodiazepines to feel the same level of sedation. The substance creates both physical and psychological addiction, which may contribute to a more difficult experience with detox.

The Importance Of Detoxing From Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine abuse and dependence affects an individual’s quality of life. Those who are dependent may display symptoms of detachment, sedation, and confusion or dementia. When taken with other drugs, benzodiazepines increases the risk for health complications such as respiratory suppression or coma. In extreme cases, it also contributes to overdose-related death.

Abusers may also exhibit a lost interest in life and life events and make excuses for not engaging in once enjoyable events. Detox allows recovering individuals to reconnect with the real world, regain a lost quality of life, experience clear-headedness, and regain a more positive attitude.

Detox Timeframe For Benzodiazepine Addiction

Depending on the type of benzodiazepine and the medication’s half-life, withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours or within a day. For those recovering from a powerful benzodiazepine drug such as Xanax, the effects of withdrawal can begin within 12 hours. Most addicted individuals overcome the worst of the detox period within two weeks, but residual side effects may last as long as a few months or years without medical support. Other factors that influence the recovery timeframe include genetics, dosage, the timeframe of addiction, general health and wellness, and mental health.

Symptoms Of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

During the withdrawal period, those in recovery can experience the following symptoms at various levels of intensity:

  • Returning symptoms of anxiety or difficulty sleeping
  • Severe panic or anxiety attacks
  • Muscle tension
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Mood swings and agitation
  • Intense cravings for benzodiazepines
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

These acute symptoms may last a few weeks or several months, depending on the individual. In rare instances, someone may experience protracted symptoms that recur years after the detox period. Certain symptoms may affect some people more than others, while some people may go through the detox period with relatively few symptoms.

Additional drug addictions often play a role in benzodiazepine detox. When taken in conjunction with other addictive prescriptions or illegal drugs, the symptoms associated with benzodiazepine use may change.

Benzodiazepine Detox Often Requires Medical Care

In most cases, people addicted to benzodiazepines can’t simply stop taking the drug and resume normal activities. Going cold turkey can result in serious medical complications, including severe muscle cramps and seizures. Instead, most addicts must wean off the medication or take additional prescriptions to reduce the risk of serious withdrawal complications. Only a qualified medical care professional can provide the right level of emotional, physical, and mental support.

Recovery programs often approach addiction from more than one angle. They help an individual move past the physical symptoms of recovery, but they also provide access to a support group of other recovering individuals. Some recovery programs also provide meaningful educational information so patients can regain their health and happiness.

At Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we offer to those who are ready to take the next step to heal. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol treatment, outpatient rehab treatment, and benzo detox treatment. At Pathways Recovery, we also offer a holistic treatment plan for those who might need a little more assistance in our comfortable and safe drug and alcohol detox center located in a quite and friendly residential area.Contact us today for any questions or to speak with a highly trained member of our staff. The first step starts with a call today for a better tomorrow.

Fear Of Withdrawal Is Causing Unnecessary Overdoses From Opiate Abuse

Fear Of Withdrawals Causing Unnecessary OverdosesMany people with a drug addiction are supremely afraid of withdrawal. The symptoms can be debilitating and even dangerous. More than 2.1 million Americans use prescription opioids, and another 500,000 abuse heroin. Unfortunately, this fear of side effects could be causing unnecessary overdoses across the nation.

Why Withdrawals Have Become Dangerous

Symptoms from withdrawal can begin mere hours from the time of the last dosage—and that’s especially true for opioid addiction. Some types of opiates cause reactions more quickly. Each drug has a half-life, which is a measure of the time it takes for the original dosage to be reduced by 50%. The shortest-acting versions may offer symptoms anytime between 6 and 12 hours. Extended-release or other long-acting drugs may take 30 hours to demonstrate their effects. In most cases, the peak happens at around 72 hours after the last dose.

Often, people who abuse opiates are dependent on short-acting versions. Since symptoms begin to show so quickly, they take frequent doses. A dangerous concentration can be reached when they’re taken before the half-life.

The Horror Of Withdrawal

Early withdrawal signs are similar to a bad influenza virus. Low energy, insomnia, teary eyes, muscle aches, cold sweats, and runny nose are a few of the most common. The longer the body goes without the drug, the worse the symptoms become. More symptoms present as the effects peak, including:

  • Nausea
  • Visiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Drug Cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Victims may feel like they’re in the throes of death. Even though these feelings are extremely painful, they aren’t fatal. They can be so severe, however, that sufferers will use more of a drug than necessary to stop the withdrawals—sometimes leading them to an overdose. Additionally, if an addict has another health issue, like a heart problem, the pain of withdrawal can be a strain and cause physical stress. In that sense, victims trying to detox alone can be at serious risk.

Methods Of Avoiding Withdrawal

It’s easy to understand why people will go to such distances to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In the mind of an addict, the easiest way to prevent any ill effects is to never come off of the substance. Users will take frequent doses and attempt to keep a constant high.

There are many dangers associated with this method of use. The most obvious are the general health risks associated with opiates. The longer a person uses the drugs, the higher the chance of these effects. The severity of the conditions is also related to the duration of use. Potential issues include:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage

Out of fear of these symptoms worsening, some people will—instead of taking frequent doses—begin increasing the amount that they take. Bigger initial doses will often provide stronger immediate relief. Drowsiness, paranoia, lethargy, nausea, and respiratory depression are common after a user takes a larger dosage of the opiate than he or she is accustomed to taking.

The Dangers Of Coping Methods

The most dangerous aspect of these changes in dosing is overdose. When an individual takes more frequent doses, the drug level in his or her bloodstream gradually rises. The drug then compounds, reaching dangerous numbers without the individual fully feeling its effects.

Likewise, increasing dose presents a high risk (even greater than more frequent dosing). The person’s body is used to smaller amounts and may not be able to handle the sudden change. The problem is exacerbated when the addict has been off the drug for some time: not only is the body accustomed to smaller dosages, but it has also been weaning itself off the substance. What was a normal dose may now be too much.

What Happens During An Overdose

Overdosing shuts down a person’s respiratory system. Victims often lose consciousness, have pinpoint pupils, and endure seizures or muscle spasms. People who are overdosing lose the ability to respond to questions or call out for help, which makes using opiates alone so deadly.

Overdoses are often completely avoidable. People fearing the painful symptoms of withdrawal allow this trepidation to encourage excessive intake. Withdrawal is a terrible thing to go through, but there are ways to manage the pain and discomfort.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

How Long Does Drug Detox TakeAddictive substances change the body’s physical and psychological functioning. Over time, most individuals experience a level of dependence on the substance and suffer if they can’t access another dose. Even caffeine requires detox. Alcohol and harder drugs like prescription painkillers and cocaine may require detox before a person can begin the psychological healing process.

What Is Detox?

After a certain period of time without addictive substances, individuals start to experience withdrawal symptoms. The body craves another dose. When it doesn’t receive the drug, the brain may go into overdrive and experience an extreme reversal of symptoms compared to the drug’s effects. Signs and symptoms often appear shortly after a user abstains and may affect the mind and body for extended periods of time. Detox describes the timeframe when someone avoids a certain substance in an effort to rid the body of chemicals and toxins associated with drug addiction.

Detox will happen naturally given enough time, but medical professionals can use certain substances to counteract withdrawal symptoms and hasten the detox process. Every individual is different and may require a different approach, but some trends in detox timelines remain consistent for the general population.

Types Of Drugs And General Detox Timeframes

Different drugs affect the mind and body in different ways and may contribute to specific withdrawal symptoms. Consider the general timeframes for some of the most addictive substances recovery centers treat:

  • This class of drugs includes medications such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Depending on the individual, withdrawal symptoms may appear as soon as one day or within a week of abstinence. During the first two weeks of detox, an individual may experience the most serious withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms patients can expect to experience include increased anxiety, insomnia, headache, tension, nausea, difficulty focusing, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations.
  • Cocaine and other stimulants. Stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines tend to enter and leave the bloodstream quickly. The high an individual experiences typically doesn’t last long, and addiction patterns often involve bingeing on the substance.

After a repeated pattern of using, individuals can expect to experience a serious crash that may last as long as a several hours or several days. The initial detox period typically takes up to three weeks for most users. During this time, symptoms may include intense psychological cravings, anxiety, depression, hunger, fatigue, paranoia, and an abnormally low heartbeat.

  • Alcohol withdrawal can cause serious symptoms that may require emergency medical treatment. Symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months at a time, depending on the individual. Serious withdrawal symptoms are more likely to appear in individuals who drink a pint of hard liquor, 4-5 pints of wine, or 7-8 pints of beer on a daily basis over an extended period of time.

During the acute withdrawal phase, alcohol abusers typically experience the DTs (delirium tremens), a condition that affects the nervous system. Individuals may experience the DTs within a few days of avoiding drinking. It can cause tremors, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and other symptoms requiring immediate intervention. Other alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, and heart palpitations. Physical withdrawal symptoms may ease off after a week or so of detox.

  • Heroin and prescription-strength pain relievers. Opioid withdrawal from substances such as heroin, oxycodone, Percocet, and methadone may last anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks. The worst symptoms typically arise within two days of abstinence. Symptoms often include dilated pupils, intense drug cravings, stomach upset, nausea, body aches, and agitation.

Unfortunately, information about a patient’s individual detox process and timeframe can’t be found online. A recovery specialist may provide more insight into someone’s situation, but every detox experience is unique. Factors that commonly affect the length and severity of the detox process include:

  • Genetic makeup
  • General health and mental wellness
  • The timeframe of abuse
  • The method of ingestion
  • The amount of substance taken with each dose

While the acute phase of withdrawal usually ends within a short timeframe, recovering drug addicts may experience psychological symptoms for a much longer period of time. Many require ongoing therapy in the first months or years after detox.

Can Addicted Individuals Detox On Their Own?

Most drug addicts can’t detox on their own. They require medical attention for physical and mental support and to decrease the likelihood of a relapse. Always consult a physician before undertaking any major changes in your lifestyle or medications (prescribed or not).