Thursday April 27th 2017

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Detox from benzopdiazepines

Are you considering (or going through) detox from benzos? Here, we explore a recently published study about how your brain rebounds after acute detox. Then, we invite your questions about detoxing from benzodiazepines or benzo addiction at the end.

A Quick Look at Benzos

What is a benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines – often referred to by the abbreviated version benzos – are very common class of psychoactive drug that depress the central nervous system (CNS). There are over 50 different drugs in this class. These drugs have been important in the treatment of anxiety disorders but can also be misused. The most commonly used (and abused) benzos include

  • alprazolam
  • diazepam
  • lorazepam

Benzos stay in your system for a long time, as most have a very long half-life. Additionally, research over the past few decades has shown that people who use benzos for a long period may develop a dependence and that withdrawal symptoms are possible. While each drug differs, dependence on benzos usually appears after siz weeks or more of regular dosing. Upon cessation or dose reduction, uncomfortable and sometimes even serious symptoms can manifest. This is why is it very important to follow a specific regimen for tapering, facilitated by your prescribing doctor or pharmacist, when you want to quot benzos.

After benzo detox, various types of cognition impairment appeared to be both significant and permanent. One of the most common is short-term memory issues. So, what kinds of side effects can you expect as related to brain function? How long do problems last? And will they resolve?

Cognitive Improvement & Benzo Detox

Pulling together research data gives a clearer, more hopeful view. Over the last two decades, there have been quite a few studies on how benzo detox affects long-term recovery, particularly for those who been chronic users of benzos. Studies often seem to contradict each other when compared. More often than not the results of these individual studies felt less than hopeful, particularly when looking at the cognitive (thinking, reasoning and memory) recovery of the brain.

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However, in recent months, a new group of curious researchers decided to harness that massive amount of research data available and see if the bigger picture was actual brighter. And they were right! This meta-analysis (using statistical/research data to compare and contrast results from different studies) looked at two particular questions:

1. Does the cognitive function of long-term benzo users improve after benzo detox?

2. Are previous long-term users still impaired during a follow-up period as compared to other groups?

What the New Study Reviewed

The new study looked at the data from 13 independent studies. Each of these individual research projects had a six (6) month follow-up of the participants months after detox. Multiple sub-categories of memory, reasons and thinking were evaluated. These included areas such as problem solving, speed of mental processing, and concentration.

The Big Picture

The new data did confirm impaired cognitive abilities persist six months after the detox/withdrawal period of chronic benzo use. However, there is an important “but” to that statement. Some of the specific cognitive skills need a longer period of recovery to improve, so six months should not be used a benchmark for “full recovery.”

Another important area of hope in treating the thinking, reasoning and other impairment issues that result from long-term benzo use is the new area of neuroplasticity. This means that the brain can be retrained and that the brain can actually change in structure resulting in cognitive improvement.

Many addiction treatment clinicians are beginning to integrate neuroplasticity based cognitive therapy in their client’s care plan. Again, this takes time, and improvement is slow, but it is possible! While this can be frustrating, it also is a reason for celebration for those who have gone through benzo detox had thought their recovery at six (6) months was where they could expect to remain for the rest of their lives.

Going through benzo detox

If you’ve started benzo detox or are thinking about it, be sure to seek the help of your prescribing doctor and/or specialists who have experience in responding to the special symptoms related to brain function. Further, you are not alone! Please send us your questions or comments and we’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Photo credit: J E Theriot

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8 Responses to “Detox from benzopdiazepines
Dr. Jennifer
10:37 pm April 20th, 2015

Please share with your readers that benzo withdrawal via a detox center or through a doctor who is not benzo educated can be very dangerous. Severe benzo withdrawal doesn’t happen to everyone, however, even those who are taking a prescribed dose can become very, very ill. The symptoms can last a very long time, sometimes years! Detox is NOT recommended. A very slow taper is the way most benzo experts recommend. I have survived benzo withdrawal and it is not an easy challenge.
Thank you for sharing with your readers so they can get the proper care that they need. Too few doctors in our country are taught the truth about benzo withdrawal. You can google the Ashton Manual and find out more. I’ve been blogging about my journey through benzo withdrawal for four years now.

8:47 am August 3rd, 2015

Is there any way I can contact you.? I been withdrawing for a while but atleast I had pills I’ve ran out && I feel like Im going to die I need help but Im scared of going to a Detox my gut feeling tells Me not to go but Im desperate for help I need Xanax.! I rather Just die If I don’t get the help I need ….

4:34 pm August 5th, 2015

Hi David. How long were you taking Xanax and did you taper down or stopped cold turkey? You may not want to hear this, but doctor’s assistance and guidance can be crucial at this stage. You may need a better SSRI medication that will work on anxiety, since Xanax is only meant to treat anxiety for a short periods of time. At home you need to make sure that you are getting enough liquids and replenishing the electrolytes in your body. You can use over-the-counter-medications from your local pharmacy to treat flu-like symptoms and address body discomfort. Teas such as chamomille or resmary having a claming effect on the nervous system.

6:43 am March 8th, 2016

My Sister has been on Ativan for 10 months and is exhibiting many of the signs of addiction and side effects. She is very paranoid and OCD and constantly expresses the desire to kill herself. We would like to help her taper off her Ativan as safely as possible but also provide her with psychological help and monitoring. Are there any in-patient treatment places that you would recommend who deal well with tapering off Ativan and provide dual diagnosis, as we do not feel equipped to monitor her ourselves while she does a gradual, slow tapering off (rather than a typical detox clinic)? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:47 am March 15th, 2016

Hi HP. Why don’t you call the number you see on our site? Our treatment consultants will help you find an appropriate treatment for your sister. Moreover, you may search on SAMHSA’s treatment locator:

7:13 pm September 26th, 2016

been on xanax for 4 yrs. was on 4mg per day taken at night now down to 2mg. i cannot sleep at ALL if i try and stop. i become a walking mess for days. being 6′ 1″ and over 400 ibs at 52 yrs im afraid of just keeling over. doctor isn’t really of any help with alternatives. any thoughts/

9:55 pm December 12th, 2016

It has been exactly 10 months of being completely off of Klonopin. The symptoms have been life altering and extremely challenging. I tapered for 9 months prior.
Presently, bloating on a consistent basis and being rather lean it has put undue pressure on my lower back. I also have black like (very tender) shadows under my eyes…and get green mucous coming up from my throat. The pressure in my sinuses is sometimes unbearable. I hardly think this is age… all happening during and after tapering and the acute symptoms above prevail.
I had a cat scan and apparently no sinus blockage. I don’t think the doctors believe that the notable symptoms are anything other than age.
Odd, up til 51 years no physical ailments and now things seem never-ending.

Do you think these things… under eyes and bloating 3-4 in. will subside?


5:13 am January 25th, 2017

I have been off to Rivotril since October 10, 2016 and that is already 4 months.I have gone a long way of recovery and improvement s were significant but the only issue right now is my DP. I still feel like I am on a different world and I have already consulted this to 2 known Neurologist in our province but they always tell me that it should have been off already since it had been more than 2 months which is their benchmar k. They always prescribed me new antidepressant but I don’t buy them as I a afraid that their new prescriptions would make the healing process worse. May I just know from anyone who have already been 100% healed if this DP would also vanish in the coming days? Regards….

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About Jillian Jesser

Jillian Jesser loves life and tries to live it to the fullest each and every day. After failing to finish two drug and alcohol detox programs in as many years, she managed to complete the program the third time and follow through with residential treatment ending her addictions for good.

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