Author: John Carter

5 Expert Tips to Quit Benzos for Good FHE Health

how to get off benzos

This approach helps you learn to tolerate discomfort and distress, instead of avoiding it, and choose to live according to your values. In the first week of tapering off, your doctor may reduce your dose as much as 30% to get you to a safe amount. After that first leap, the steps become smaller, usually 5% to 10% of the original dose. Depending on your situation, your doctor may reduce your dose on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

  1. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your needs.
  2. If you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during your taper, your care team can help you explore options to address those symptoms and get relief.
  3. Dependence means that your body and mind feel like they can’t function without the input of a substance.
  4. If there are any concerns about content we have published, please reach out to us at
  5. Depending on your situation, your doctor may think it best to prescribe very small amounts of medication at a time.

Three-quarters of the group getting support were able to stop at four weeks, and almost half of the sample was still off the medications at long-term follow-up. Common side effects include slurred speech, memory loss, confusion, sleepiness, and increased fall risk. If people become tolerant, and as the dose is increased to get more therapeutic benefit, the side effects get worse, too.

What Is Benzodiazepine Tapering or Weaning off Benzodiazepines?

Research indicates that physical dependence may begin in just a few weeks, even while taking the drugs in low therapeutic doses. The FHE Health team is committed to providing accurate information that adheres to the highest standards of writing. This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure FHE Health is trusted as a leader in mental health and addiction care. Withdrawal symptoms include headaches, intense nausea, fevers and powerful cravings in the best cases. In the worst cases, you may experience seizures, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and actions and violent behavior during benzo withdrawal.

how to get off benzos

Doctors prescribe it for patients struggling with insomnia and mental health issues such as excessive worry, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Buspirone is a non-addictive drug that helps relieve anxiety, a symptom that is very closely tied with benzo detox. This medication can take several weeks to kick in, and not everyone is willing to wait it out. In many cases, a doctor may decide to use buspirone after a person has already gone through the primary stages of detox. On the other end of the spectrum, quitting cold turkey provides no such safeguard — withdrawals are at their worst, even deadly. For this reason, neither at-home detoxes nor stopping cold turkey are recommended by physicians.

By this time, some people may start to feel psychological symptoms like anxiety and irritability on top of their remaining physical symptoms. People may begin to experience insomnia or unpleasant dreams when they are able to fall asleep. Benzodiazepines are habit-forming prescription drugs used to treat several stress-related conditions, such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, epilepsy and even alcohol withdrawal. There are many different formulations of benzodiazepines, along with many different brand names. Often nicknamed “benzos,” these drugs can become highly addictive if they aren’t used properly.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Warnings

You should plan to stay in touch with your doctor regularly during the tapering process, either by phone or during office visits. The best way to quit benzodiazepines is to avoid withdrawal by asking your doctor to taper down your dose. Tapering means taking progressively smaller doses over the course of a few weeks or months. The primary difference between these drugs is the length of time they stay active in the body. However, benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence and withdrawal even when they are taken as directed. When tapering off benzodiazepines, you’ll always want to work with a trained healthcare professional who can monitor you for side effects and adjust your pace accordingly.

Benzos enhance the effects of GABA, and to maintain normal functioning, the body develops a tolerance to excess GABA. When benzos are removed from the system, it leads to higher-than-normal GABA levels, which leads to overexcitement of the CNS. However, this method poses several serious health risks and is not encouraged. In people with co-occurring substance use disorders, they are also very risky. Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs interact with opioids and other sedating drugs, and their combination perpetuates overdose and death. These medications work by activating benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.

During your taper, you may still experience some of the symptoms of withdrawal. If you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during your taper, your care team can help you explore options to address those symptoms and get relief. That’s what makes it essential to stop taking benzodiazepines slowly, with support from a medical professional. When it comes to the long-term management of getting off benzodiazepines, there are two directions you can go. Research shows that most stable, healthy adults will achieve long-term abstinence after completing a taper. Unlike many other withdrawal syndromes, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be complicated and, occasionally, life-threatening.

For this reason, it is important to tell your healthcare providers that you take benzodiazepines and how much. Tapering the drug by slowly reducing the prescription strength may help make withdrawal symptoms much easier to manage. Additionally, medical supervision allows doctors to respond much more quickly to potential side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Research showed that 40% of people taking benzos for longer than 6 months experienced moderate-to-severe withdrawal symptoms. Long-term treatment after benzodiazepine withdrawal will depend on your reasons for taking them in the first place and your reasons for quitting. If you have a psychiatric condition that was managed by the benzodiazepines, you will need an alternative plan to manage your condition.

Factors That Affect Xanax Withdrawal

If you only use them once every few days, you may be able to take them for up to 4 weeks. The key to achieving this goal is to follow the tapering schedule to the very end. By the end of your taper, you might be cutting pills into halves or quarters. Anyone experiencing troubling symptoms from withdrawal, such as suicidal thoughts or tendencies, should seek immediate medical care.

You may have to pause, slow down, or speed up depending on how your body reacts to withdrawal. For example, say you’re tapering off a dose of 20 milligrams (mg) of diazepam (Valium). A very quick taper would involve reducing the dose by 5 mg (25%) each week. People tapering off the same original dosage of medication can have drastically different tapering experiences. Benzodiazepines have a sedative effect because of how they work in your brain. These drugs mimic the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Though therapy generally can’t address withdrawal symptoms specifically, it can help improve some symptoms, like anxiety and insomnia. In addition, over half of the survey respondents said benzodiazepines’ side effects or withdrawal symptoms caused them to consider suicide. If you take away the blockades gradually, your brain can reduce its chemical traffic to match. But if you remove the drug all at once, your brain doesn’t have enough time to prepare, and you can develop life-threatening symptoms like seizures. If you take an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine, like alprazolam, or a long-acting benzodiazepine, like diazepam, it may take longer for withdrawal symptoms to appear. Benzodiazepines are a powerful class of medication used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorder.

If you prefer someone else, any primary care physician or psychiatrist can help you taper your dose. Some people, such as those with a history of complicated withdrawal, seizures, or severe mental illness, may be better suited for an inpatient setting. This can involve living at a detox facility or hospital for several weeks, where you can receive constant medical monitoring and psychological support.

Among respondents whose symptoms lasted months or years, over half said caffeine or alcohol worsened their PAWS symptoms. Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of the brain chemical gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA). Normally, GABA is responsible for dampening certain signals sent by the central nervous system (CNS). For some people, yes, it can be an emergency, especially in people prone to seizures. If there are any concerns about content we have published, please reach out to us at