Are There Medications to Help Manage Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?

Substance addiction is a common problem affecting many people in the United States above 18 years old. Any form of addiction, like alcoholism, can lead to the change of behavior of the user and destruction of families. It also causes family and friends to spend a lot of money in trying to help the addicts give up their addiction. Addiction to drugs can also happen with certain prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines. Such drugs should, therefore, be prescribed with caution, and the dose tapered off gradually to prevent the patient from developing a dependence.

What are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used in the management of anxiety disorders and insomnia. The medications can also be used in the management of symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Two major types of benzodiazepines are commonly used; short-acting and long-acting benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines should be used for a short duration of time, usually a few days. Prolonged use can lead to dependence.

What is benzodiazepine withdrawal?

Benzodiazepine withdrawal refers to the development of dependence caused by the prolonged use of benzodiazepines. The dependence is usually both physical and psychological dependence. You can develop a withdrawal to benzodiazepines whether your doctor prescribed the medications or not. When you develop tolerance to benzodiazepines, you will require higher doses of the drug to produce the effect previously produced by a lower dose. You can also be taking the same dose of the drug but at increased frequencies, because the effect of the drug wears off quickly. Benzodiazepine dependence can be caused by prolonged use of the drug or the sudden discontinuation of the use of the drug.

Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines can range from mild to severe. Factors that determine the severity of the symptoms include the frequency, dose, and duration of use of the medications. You are likely to suffer from severe symptoms if you have been using high doses of benzodiazepine drugs for an extended period. The onset of withdrawal symptoms will depend on whether the drugs are long or short-acting. If you are using short-acting drugs like Xanax, your symptoms will manifest within 6-8 hours after your last dose because the drug clears from the body quickly. Withdrawal symptoms of long-acting benzodiazepines usually manifest within a day or two after your last dose. The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal are usually rebound symptoms of the conditions the drugs manage. Common symptoms you will experience include nausea, vomiting, irritability, agitation, anxiety, sleeping difficulties, excessive sweating, panic disorder, and palpitations due to an increase in your blood pressure. You can also suffer from severe symptoms such as seizures, auditory and visual hallucinations, and depression.

Medications used to manage benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Your doctor can recommend a number of drugs to manage withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines. However, the medications do not cure benzodiazepine withdrawal; they only relieve the symptoms you experience. The type of medications used will be dependent on your withdrawal symptoms. Medications used include:

  • Anticonvulsants such as pregabalin and valproic acid.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Beta-blockers.
  • Clonidine.
  • Ondansetron.
  • Antipsychotics.

This class of drugs is prescribed to patients with seizures as a withdrawal symptom. If not managed, seizures can be fatal. Benzodiazepines act by depressing your central nervous system. When you stop taking the drugs, there is overactivity of your brain that causes misfiring of neurons leading to seizures. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants, like sertraline and citalopram, are commonly used. The drugs are used to manage depression.

Beta-blockers are used to maintain normal blood pressure since benzodiazepine withdrawal increases your blood pressure. Beta-blockers, like atenolol, manage symptoms like palpitations. Clonidine is used as an alternative to beta-blockers by some doctors. It maintains normal blood pressure by slowing down your heart rate and relaxing your blood vessels. Ondansetron is a drug that blocks the serotonin receptors. It relieves benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

These medications are used to manage visual or auditory hallucinations that you may be experiencing. Your doctor can prescribe more than one medication to manage your withdrawal symptoms. The period of use of the medications will depend on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Patients with mild symptoms are likely to use the medications for a shorter period than those with severe symptoms.

If you have noted some of the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal earlier mentioned and need help to manage them, schedule your appointment today by calling 833-762-3739. We offer addiction program services to anyone within the Northeast United States that wants to give up their addiction.