How Long Does Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Last? - Arise Rehab

Benzodiazepines–also called “benzos”–are a class of medications that depress activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines to help patients manage anxiety, insomnia, or seizures.

These frequently prescribed medications are household names in the United States: Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax are among the most common. Because so many people take them and doctors prescribe them so often, it’s easy to imagine they are always safe.

However, many people who take benzodiazepines may eventually begin to abuse them. In addition to relieving anxiety, benzodiazepines may also cause people to experience pleasurable effects like relaxation, sedation, and euphoria. These side effects can make people take them in higher or more frequent doses than prescribed, and some may take them recreationally–meaning without a prescription.

People who misuse benzodiazepines may develop physical dependence and addiction. If someone with dependence or addiction suddenly stops taking these drugs, they are likely to experience uncomfortable–sometimes dangerous–side effects.

Understanding how long benzodiazepine withdrawal lasts can help you stay focused and committed to recovery when it feels the most challenging. Professional treatment and support are also crucial to having a safe, complete withdrawal.

This article will explore how long benzodiazepine withdrawal lasts, what happens during detox programs, and how to find the support you need during withdrawal. Reach out to the Arise Treatment Center staff to learn about our effective substance abuse treatment programs or schedule an intake assessment.

What Happens During Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?

If you misuse benzodiazepines by taking larger or more frequent doses than prescribed, your body may develop a dependence on them. Physical dependence means that your body cannot function without benzodiazepines.

When someone with benzodiazepine dependence or addiction abruptly stops taking these drugs, they may experience a range of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Abnormal physical sensations throughout the body
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Delirium
  • Seizures

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be tough and sometimes dangerous. People often experience symptoms within just hours of their last dose of benzos, and symptoms can last for weeks.

What Can Affect The Length and Severity of Benzo Withdrawal?

People who misuse benzodiazepines by taking large, frequent doses for more than a month may have more intense and prolonged withdrawal symptoms than people who take smaller or less regular doses. However, people may experience a degree of physical dependence after taking a therapeutic dose of benzos for just one month.

People who take benzos for more than six months are likely to have physical and mental withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking them. About 40% of those will have moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, and the other 60% will have only mild symptoms.

Generally, several factors can affect the length and severity of your withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • How much of the drug you regularly take
  • How long you’ve been taking benzodiazepines
  • If you take multiple benzodiazepine drugs
  • Other types of sedatives you take simultaneously
  • History of substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Other substances, including other drugs and alcohol, you are withdrawing from at the same time

Professional support is essential to help you manage the discomfort of withdrawal and ensure your safety as your body detoxes, regardless of the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Last?

There are two primary types of benzodiazepine drugs, and each has its own withdrawal timeline.

Short-acting benzodiazepines

Short-acting benzos like Ativan and Xanax are metabolized faster, meaning they are out of your system quicker than other types. People who abruptly stop taking short-acting benzodiazepines typically experience withdrawal symptoms in the first eight to twelve hours.

Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak on the second day of detox and begin to improve around the fourth or fifth day. In some cases, people who take benzodiazepines may experience lingering symptoms for weeks, months, or even a full year. This is called “protracted withdrawal.”

Long-acting benzodiazepines

Long-acting benzodiazepines, such as Klonopin, remain in the body for longer periods. Withdrawal symptoms may not develop for two days or more if people suddenly stop taking long-acting benzos.

After the onset of withdrawal symptoms, most people experience peak discomfort around the second day. Symptoms may begin to lessen over the next two or three days, with many experiencing significant relief after the fifth day. However, some people may experience symptoms that last for many weeks or months.

Supervised Detox for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Regardless of what type of benzodiazepines you use, it’s crucial to have medically-supported treatment during benzo detox. Attempting to go “cold turkey” will likely lead to relapse and increase the risk of complications. Get the support and treatment you need in a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program, beginning with a holistic detox program.

Benzo detox typically involves a slow taper that gradually weans your body off of the drugs to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. While under 24-hour medical supervision at Arise Treatment Center, our team can help you detox safely and comfortably.

Learn More About Managing Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

If you or someone you love needs treatment and support to recover from benzodiazepine abuse, you are not alone. Reach out to the caring team at Arise Treatment Center to explore our comprehensive benzodiazepine abuse treatment programs or to find support during any stage of your recovery journey.


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