Detox from benzopdiazepines

When and how does cognitive function improve after benzo detox? We explore a new study that combines data taken at six (6) months after acute withdrawal from benzodiazepines. More here.

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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.

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.

About the author
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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  1. I went to detox once. They took me off Clonazepam within 5 days. I was going crazy. Everything they gave me reacted on me. I had Gene testing done. Can’t. Take to many drugs. Do you have any knowledge of genes with drug interaction ? The detox center didn’t know anything about my Gene testing. Felt really really bad when I left. I believe nobody knows how to detox benzo users. They were prescribed to me but left me on them to long. Wish I knew what they did ahead of time. But I trusted the doctors. Not anymore. Any information appreciated what to do. I am slowly tapering now. But it’s not easy. Read benzo blogs and see how many people having hard time.

  2. I was a Texas State Trooper, who began taking Klonopin in 2000 for generalized Anxiety. Today, my story as of 2017 I’m a discovered addict.
    The past years I been through most everything believing I had Complex PTSD. I see that possibly mixing the two left me with the inability to cope in stressful situation.
    I lost nearly everything, which I’ve been living like a homeless person. I’ve done the most everything that someone running from something could do. The issue chasing me was too fast.
    I’ve been in 5 behavioral health units, which every time I got a new diagnosis. I had many mental illnesses according the Doctors. Some will not take someone which a skin disease. Yes, Autoimmune Disease which is apart of the nervous system associated with meth Addiction. I do had the similar tremors.
    I accidentally discovered the Addiction through opiate Addict and in darkness. I figured I was growing tolerance to the amount prescribed so I wanted to back off. I had no hope is I become tolerant. The doctor explained I would get more out of counseling. He agreed leaving me with a few pills. I’ve called the ambulance twice believing the PTSD was killing me.
    I found out the my server anxiety was PTSD, but withdrawals between doses. I lived in a medical crisis nearly every day for years. The doctor told in the unit, I’ve seen before, I should have took you off last time.
    See, during withdrawals I couldn’t effectively communicate. My body tremors were uncontrollable that the nurses saw me different taking advantage of the crisis. I had planned sucide in the unit and was writing a letter to my daughter. Get counseling before you can’t anymore. The nurses of course took their time, but countering the withdrawals I’m free today. The chains of life are heavy, we need to rest sometimes to pick them back up. EMDR has helped in relaxing.
    I not clear with all the physical symptoms, I don’t know who to trust to treat me anymore. I know that for something I had didn’t need CBTs but believing they are important is. The withdrawals seemed like an Autoimmune Disease. Your brain turns on you and lies. The most terrible thing to happen is to turn on what you could be. The day needs to be ended by you and a positive thought. I love each of you. I feel your pain.WE GOT THIS

    1. Hi Cynthia. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  3. I withdrew off klonopin cor 42 years 8 months ago. Hallucinations and 3 seizures later I began to use alcohol. Now clean of everything but I can’t talk well. I feel tight in my gut. Voice talking is strained. I am very uncomfortable

  4. How should I taper off of 45 1 mg clonazepam for Klonopin I’ve been taking them for almost three years after the accident when I drunk driver took me out throw it at 90 miles an hour I have temporal lobe contusions they say the impact on my head with 50 miles per hour had a lot of anxiety and problems lost my smell taste it’s hard for me to get the words out of my brain through my mouth I don’t want to be on these anymore now that I’ve read this the things that I am learning I know I have a bad it brain injury and we’ll have anxiety attacks memory loss the short-term memory last doesn’t bother me the anxiety and panic attacks and my heart pounding through my whole body that wakes me up or the fact that now that he has taken 15 away this month out of 45 1 mg I’m having these I can’t wake up dreams I wake up in a panic during the day at a very terrifying panic attack thought I was totally going to die or something what do I do I feel that the tapering slowly as suggested on some since I’ve been on so long would be a sure way to go but will I still have problems after that I know I will because of the TBI what medication would you recommend for my brain injury not that you’re a doctor but maybe some ideas for my Dr I am scared and desperate I never wanted to be on medication the first place I also take Hydrocodone but I don’t have a problem with those and that will be a lifetime have very severe nerve damage I may be repeating myself I’ve been on many antidepressants that don’t work or scare me to death also I tried Gabapentin which puts me in a, I feel like I can hear everything when I wake up and ask its things I’ve heard but I cannot wake up so I don’t take that I tried many things that don’t work I have too many side effects or my allergic reactions to it that’s horrible I want the most out of life at first I thought this doctor was taking my life from me after 3 years of getting to where I am now that I read this I don’t think he knows in detail but I guess they are killing people or my attacks going to kill me my chest hurts really bad and I wake up with these panic attacks and dreams I cannot wake from please help me with some kind of comforting answer we are working on this as I speak have a caregiver also that is helping me I’m also going to ask for one at night because I’m afraid to be alone thank you and God bless you

    1. Hi Collen. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule. Also, take a look into the Ashton Manual (a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal):

  5. In January I fell under a lot of distress and anxiety because my dog had died who was like a therapy dog for me I was caregiver for my mom for 2 years all alone I was also a pot smoker and quit in December right before January then I had an incident where I had severe anxiety symptoms my doctor prescribed me lorazepam to help me and I’ve been suffering ever since lost 35 pounds never want to eat I feel I need help very quickly

  6. 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….

  7. 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?


  8. 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. 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.

  10. 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 ….

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

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