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Benzodiazepine Detox Programme
Benzodiazepines (sometimes known as ‘Benzos’) have a strange hold over us as a society. While doctors do not recommend taking them for more than four weeks, there are over 300,000 people taking them, long-term, within the United Kingdom. They are prescribed by doctors for a number of different health conditions and do so effectively. However, the potential for abuse is high for this very reason – they effectively minimise anxiety and lead to feelings of calmness and peacefulness.
If you are here because you think you are in need of that help, congratulations on taking your first step towards recovery.
At Sanctuary Lodge, we can help you to detox from these drugs safely and regain control. Our luxurious facility is nestled in the peaceful countryside, and we have a team of medical professionals on hand 24 hours a day to support you through this. Benzodiazepine detox is the first stage of recovery and must be completed first before you can begin a process of psychotherapy to learn how to manage stress and difficult feelings without the use of benzodiazepines (1, 2).
Managing Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines can feel challenging, but don’t worry, our priority is to guide you through this stage as painlessly and comfortably as possible. Our caring team of addiction specialists can be called upon 24 hours a day. If the psychiatrist deems it necessary, you may be given detox medication and put through a medication-assisted detox programme. During medical detox, you will either be given replacement medication that is either easier to withdraw from or you will be gradually tapered off your medication.
You will also be given a timetable on your first day with us. Your days will be packed with calming, restorative practises. We also have a TV and relaxation room, as well as a fully equipped gym to help you unwind. You will find solace in your care workers and will be able to confide in your peers, who form part of your support network that are vital to your long-term recovery.
If you’re taking other drugs
When you arrive, the consultant psychiatrist will perform a thorough medical assessment to determine your specific needs. We base your personalised care plan on the information gathered from this as well as the initial questionnaire you fill in when booking with us. If you are taking any other drugs, including alcohol, it is very important that you share this information with our psychiatrist and support staff as these could impact detox medications. The more that is shared with us, the more comfortable we can make you during your personalised care plan.
If you’re taking other prescription medication
As part of our comprehensive assessment process, our psychiatrists will look at your health overall and weigh up requirements for medication should you require any. We will then be able to adapt the customised support plan accordingly to ensure your medical needs are met during your stay with us. Our dedicated team of doctors, addiction nurses, addiction counsellors and support workers will all work hard to ensure that any interactions between existing medications and any detox medications are managed carefully too.
Common Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
As with any addictive substance, withdrawal symptoms are to be expected when you stop taking benzodiazepines. The levels and durations of which benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be experience for do vary from person to person. That said, withdrawal symptoms typically last longer and are stronger for those that having been taking benzos in higher potencies/quantities for prolonged periods of time. There are also nuances to consider. There are completely different experiences to suddenly cease using short-acting benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, when compared to long-acting drugs such as Valium.
Physical withdrawal symptoms
The time it takes for the body to physically adapt to chronic benzodiazepine use varies. For some people, physical dependence happens within several weeks. For others, it can occur within several months. The percentage of feeling the body’s physical dependence withdrawal symptoms is about 50/50 chance. The body’s physical withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. For this reason, Sanctuary Lodge always recommends you seek the supervision of a professional medical team, such as ours, when you do decide it is time to make the change.
Expected physical withdrawal symptoms that we can help you to manage (3):
- Muscle weakness and aching
- Racing heart
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
Psychological withdrawal symptoms
Psychological withdrawal symptoms are also to be expected when attempting to withdraw from a benzodiazepine addiction. It is possible that, once you have read them, you may wish to seek our help at Sanctuary Lodge to help you through and overcome them in a safe, controlled environment (4). It is common for people to use benzodiazepines to manage their underlying problem, such as anxiety or insomnia. During their withdrawals, these issues often return and may even worsen. At Sanctuary lodge, we offer to you our specialist addiction team that is able to treat you safely for these symptoms so that you can continue the remainder of your detox without unwanted side effects.
- Inability to focus
- Amplified emotions
How Long Does a Benzodiazepine Detox Last?
The length of time it takes to detox from benzodiazepines may depend on how long you have been taking the substance, which specific drugs you have been taking and the quantities you have been taking them for. Benzodiazepine detox, generally speaking, can be expected to take anywhere between 7-14 days. Should you choose to detox from benzos here with us at Sanctuary Lodge, know that you will be overseen by medical and mental health professionals throughout the entire process who will help ensure your safety and support throughout.
Is a Benzodiazepine Detox Enough for Long-Term Recovery?
Having a benzodiazepine detox alone will likely not be enough for continued recovery from a benzodiazepine addiction. In order to fully treat benzodiazepine addiction, you need to fully understand the factors that originally drove you to start misusing the drugs in the first place. Once you have detoxed, Sanctuary Lodge will offer you the opportunity to work through what your original triggers may have been with one of our trained psychotherapists and mental health specialists. Once you have detoxed, and have started therapy with a trained professional, you will be moved into the next phase of our recovery treatment programme.
What Happens After a Benzodiazepine Detox?
Once detox is complete, while you may still have some residual symptoms; such as cravings and anxiety, you will be clear and receptive enough to move on to the rehab phase of your holistic recovery treatment plan. Each day, you will attend meetings based on the 12-step framework and be offered a range of psychotherapies including cognitive behavioural therapy, art therapy and family therapy.
Having access to peer support networks have been shown to be one of most successful forms of complementary addiction treatments out there; with group sessions playing an integral part (5). Once you complete your personalised treatment programme with us here at Sanctuary Lodge, you will be given access to our exclusive continued support network; free for up to a year. We are truly proud to be operating one of the most innovative and rewarding aftercare programmes out there in the UK. Access to our one-year’s free aftercare support programme is indeed free and open to anyone who has accessed one of our detoxifications and (or) rehabilitation programmes. Not only this, for anyone that successfully completes one their treatment programmes, they will have effectively ‘graduated’ and be given exclusive access to our private UKAT Alumni Programme.
Your care doesn’t end as you walk out of the door. Recovery is an ongoing process. This is why we provide free aftercare.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is a risk of developing post-acute withdrawal syndrome, particularly if you have been taking the drugs for more than a year. These are pronounced side effects which may continue for up to a year after you stop taking the drugs. This is one of the reasons why follow-up after care is so important. Without this the ongoing symptoms put you at higher risk of relapse.
All benzodiazepines have the potential to be addictive. Some of the most common benzodiazepine addictions we treat include:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonipin)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clobazam (Onfi)