Clinical Treatment of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Clinical Treatment of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment can be difficult and many addicts are reluctant to consider it, in spite of short and long term side effects of the drug they experience. They are afraid of coping with their anxiety or other mental disorders without benzodiazepines and they have heard that the withdrawal symptoms are brutal.  Medical practitioners are becoming increasingly aware of the adverse effects of benzos and are encouraging people addicted to the drug to stop taking it through one of the treatment programs.

Normally treatment starts with a slow process of detoxification. The goal is to wean a person from the drugs while decreasing the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. After the detoxification program, or with it, recovering benzodiazepine addicts are advised to seek help from a mental health practitioner and undergo psychological therapy, individually or in a group, in order to prevent relapse and in order to deal with the mental health disorder for which they were prescribed benzos.

Medical professionals agree that the best strategy for successful clinical addiction therapy is a gradual tapering of the dose, and psychological support during the process. 

Stopping the use of Benzodiazepine suddenly is dangerous, especially if a person is used to high doses. It can cause convulsions, psychotic state and a range of other reactions. For people who are taking this drug as a therapy, it is recommended to start cutting their regular daily dose by one-eighth to one-tenth every one to two weeks. Faster cutting of the regular dose is counter-productive and might cause severe withdrawal symptoms which might cause dropping from the therapy or later relapse.

In fact, the rate of withdrawal needs to be adjusted to each patient’s needs, depending on the kind he or she is addicted to, reasons for using the drug, personality, lifestyle, stress level and support he or she has during the therapy. A recovering addict should be able to control the rate of withdrawal depending on the reaction to it and should work together with his or her doctor to come up with the program that works best. If the program is organized by a general medical practitioner, he or she should seek help from addiction specialists or mental health professionals.

Experience shows that the rate of success in recovering from addiction is about 80 percents. The success does not depend on the kind of drug, its potency or the duration of addiction and about 80 percent of recovering addicts can be free of drug in about six months. As a result, they show rapid improvement of their psychomotor and cognitive performance.

While optimal time for withdrawal from benzos is six to eight weeks, some patients need a year or more.

For some people who are addicted to lorazepam, clonazepam or alprazolam, doctors recommend using diazepam to slowly lower the concentration of the drug in the system. Conversion from potent benzodiazepines to diazepam should also be done in stages, to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

How much psychological support a recovering addict needs during withdrawal varies from person to person. More motivated people need a single consultation with his or her doctor. Others need more formal behavioral, cognitive or other therapies as a help in coping with stress and anxiety. Before starting withdrawal therapy, people should be clearly informed about the process and what to expect, including what kind of help and support is available to them during and after the withdrawal.