Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms & timeline
Learn about Benzodiazepine withdrawals, the symptoms and how long they last
Usually prescribed for anxiety, benzodiazepines are similar to alcohol in the way they act on the central nervous system. Because withdrawal from benzodiazepines can result in seizures and death, it can be extremely dangerous and requires medical supervision.
The timeline and symptoms can change depending on a variety of factors such as dose, length of use and general health. Typically, the bulk of benzo withdrawals lasts 1–4 weeks.
There are three main withdrawal periods for benzodiazepines: onset, acute withdrawal, and post-acute withdrawal.
The withdrawal onset period can start as soon as a few hours after a dose or may take up to a few days after stopping, depending on the half-life of the benzodiazepine used. Onset withdrawal period can last several days and is categorized by the strong anxiety and insomnia. Symptoms typically suppressed by benzos return with extra force.
The acute withdrawal period is the main withdrawal period and typically begins after a few days of benzo discontinuation. Symptoms may include:
- Body aches
- Increase heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Impaired mental faculties
The post-acute withdrawal period does not affect everyone going through benzo withdrawal. Some may experience no withdrawal symptoms after the acute withdrawal period, however others may find they still have some lingering symptoms for a weeks or months. Post-acute benzo withdrawal symptoms can include but are not limited to:
- Trouble sleeping
A medically supervised detox from benzos works to address and alleviate the discomfort and symptoms in all periods of benzodiazepine withdrawal. By using an appropriate taper (reducing dosage gradually) schedule and additional non-addictive medications to address symptoms helps to greatly improve the outcomes of benzodiazepine withdrawals.