Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome Explained
Addiction to benzodiazepines is commonly treated by tapering a user off the substance. This involves using a less potent benzodiazepine and gradually decreasing the dosage. This is done to control the effects of the body being deprived of a substance it has been steadily conditioned to need, which is known as withdrawal.
Numerous symptoms of withdrawing from benzodiazepines such as Xanax fall under the blanket term benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. It includes symptoms of both psychological and physical substance dependence, which are often co-existent.
What Is Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome?
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome refers to a set of symptoms experienced by addiction sufferers as they try to overcome their addiction. In rehab, it usually occurs during the detox stage. It is a sign that a user has developed a high tolerance for the drug, which has in turn led to taking larger doses to retain the same intoxicating effects.
In some cases, prolonged treatment with a therapeutic dose can result in an individual experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. The length of the withdrawal syndrome is generally reliant on the severity of an individual’s addiction. Likewise, those with a mild addiction may experience some symptoms but not others.
Types of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
There are various types of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which have different symptoms and causes.
While one type of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is caused by the user’s initial addiction to a substance, the second may develop while receiving a less potent benzodiazepine in a treatment facility. The latter is usually easier to manage and is accompanied by significantly less severe symptoms.
Cause of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is typically caused by prolonged use of benzodiazepines. Different benzos have varying levels of addictiveness, and the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms will largely depend on the exact substance an individual was addicted to.
As a user continues to abuse a benzodiazepine, their building tolerance prompts them to take more of the drug with greater frequency, resulting in substance dependence. Because of their dependence on the drug, the body reacts adversely to being deprived of it, resulting in benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
During the withdrawal stage, there is a risk that the drug used to taper users off a potent benzodiazepine will result in benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome if it is used for too long. This is a fairly rare occurrence.
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Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome typically include sleep disturbance, increased tension, irritability and difficulty in concentration. These symptoms increase in intensity before reaching a peak, after which discomfort gradually declines.
The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome usually have a pattern. Anxiety and insomnia typically begin within one to four days of discontinuing use of the drug, based on the half-life of the particular substance. The second pattern is the full-fledged withdrawal syndrome, which may last 10 to 14 days. Lastly, a third pattern may involve the return of anxiety symptoms, which are likely to persist until treatment is provided.
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