While there has been a lot of news concerning addiction to opiates and heroine, there has been much less publicized about benzodiazepine abuse, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax can last for days, weeks, months or even years for many people. The likelihood of withdrawal symptoms lasting longer or shorter depend on the severity of the addiction and how long the addiction has existed.
The same is generally true in the case of alcohol addiction. When alcoholism persists for decades, the withdrawal symptoms can come with dangerous and sometimes fatal health-related complications if there is no medical supervision.
The dangers of serious life-threatening withdrawal symptoms are made even worse if it involves an addiction to both benzodiazepines and alcohol. These two kinds of drugs are often mixed or used together by those suffering from addictive tendencies. The level of damage to the brain and nervous systems of those who do this can be seriously damaged and regaining sanity and mental health during the recovery process can be terrifying and present long-term challenges.
Why is Benzodiazepine Addiction so Dangerous?
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, have been used since the 70s for anxiety and insomnia. There wasn’t too much that was publicized at that time about potential side effects and dangers of taking such drugs. Most people saw them as a rather safe and effective way of relieving stress since they were prescribed by doctors and offered almost immediate, calming relief.
Besides those that have experienced the problems that remain long after the use of benzodiazepines, only doctors who have been well-educated about this issue through their own research can describe what it feels like. A substance that was once taken to calm the mind and nerves begins to do the very opposite once it’s taken away.
The kind of brain damage that can happen with benzodiazepines has been recently categorized as a brain injury. Not the kind of brain injury involving physical trauma to the head, but the kind that can permanently disrupt the proper functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain leaving the victim with long-term mental confusion, anxiety and insomnia. There have been a few significant studies involving the level of trauma to the brain after long-term benzodiazepine addiction.
The symptoms associated with benzo withdrawal are most severe shortly after the last dose. Depending on how much has been used and for how long, it can take a few hours or a couple of days before the withdrawal symptoms are acutely felt. This is the most critical time for receiving professional help in the form of drug rehabilitation. A drug rehabilitation facility will have the staff with the knowledge, proper equipment and aides to counteract any dangerous complications that can occur during the withdrawal process.
Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol are more widely known. Although they can range from mild to serious in severity, they include but are not limited to:
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shakes and jitters
- Profuse sweating
- Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
The harshest symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be felt just hours after the last drink. It’s often times best for individuals who have been on an uncontrollable drinking spree to be admitted into an alcohol rehabilitation facility before these symptoms really kick in. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be very severe for people who have been drinking for most of their lives. It’s not unusual for those in withdrawal from alcohol to go into seizures or cardiac arrest in extreme cases.
Longstanding treatment after the initial detox process is often times necessary for most people in recovery from alcohol addiction. It has to be considered that drinking on an everyday basis takes up a lot of time. The habits the are involved with getting drunk, oversleeping, recovering from a hangover and doing it all over again the next day have to be unlearned. This takes time and effort and a residential addiction treatment center can be a firm foundation for lifelong recovery from alcoholism.
The Importance of Professional Treatment for Addiction
It doesn’t matter if you are addicted to benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, Librium or Ativan. Attempting to detoxify from drugs of this class can be very dangerous without medical help. There is a serious risk of experiencing hallucinations and even seizures while going through the withdrawal process. It’s critical to receive professional help as quickly as possible. The sooner the recovery process can be encouraged through the expertise of knowledgeable health professionals, the more desirable the level of recovery will be.
The same is true if you are suffering from alcoholism and are thinking of attempting to do it by yourself. The withdrawal symptoms themselves will often guarantee a return to drinking for most people if they don’t get appropriate treatment. Then there is the sleeplessness that will probably be an issue when the worst of the withdrawal symptoms begin to fade. Insomnia is one of the most common reasons recovering alcoholics reach for a drink again.
Besides detoxifying the body from harmful drugs and alcohol, an inpatient treatment center should provide the necessary transitory tools for a successful recovery. This is why quality treatment centers provide both detox and rehabilitation services to their clients. They can give you the connections to psychiatrists, counselors and doctors who will contribute to your mental and physical well-being as you go through this crucial time.
To learn more about benzodiazepine withdrawal and addiction, please see The Recovery Village guide to benzodiazepine addiction. If you or anyone you know needs to seek treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.