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How Can Benzo Withdrawal Kill You?

How Can Benzo Withdrawal Kill You?

Benzodiazepine withdrawal occurs when a person with a physical dependence on or addiction to benzodiazepines suddenly stops taking them. Trying to quit benzos cold turkey can be fatal, which is why the FDA cautions that healthcare providers create a plan for medically assisted detox to slowly reduce the person’s dosages and manage their withdrawals. For those looking into detoxing from benzos, keep reading to learn how benzo withdrawal can kill you and the safety measures you can take to prevent this.  

What Are Benzodiazepines? 

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a class of synthetic drugs commonly used to reduce anxiety, treat seizure disorders, relax muscle spasms, and treat insomnia. Benzos work by impacting GABA in the brain, which suppresses nerve activity to create a calming and sedative effect.  

Common benzos include alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane), clonazepam (Klonopin), and lorazepam (Ativan). As effective as they are, benzos have a potential for abuse and addiction, which is why they are usually only prescribed for short-term use.  

Physical dependence can occur in people who take benzos for extended periods or take higher doses than directed by their doctors. Dependence may also be a sign of a developing benzodiazepine addiction, which is why it’s important to look out for common withdrawal symptoms, such as: 

  • Sleep disturbances  
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Increased tension 
  • Headache 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Cravings  
  • Hand tremors 

Less common but more severe symptoms include hallucinations, seizures, psychosis, and increased risk of suicidal ideations. Withdrawals can set in as quickly as 6 to 8 hours for shorter-acting benzos and 24 to 48 hours for longer-acting benzos.  

Benzo withdrawals are also known as rebound symptoms, which refer to the recurrence of symptoms the drug is meant to treat, such as seizures and anxiety. Earlier withdrawals are usually the most severe, often to the point where the individual might relapse simply to avoid them.  

Though uncomfortable, symptoms usually begin to dissipate after a week, and if a person sticks to their tapering schedule, they will have a higher rate of success. Our Banyan locations offer medically led detox services that could prevent complications and help clients stick with their treatment plans.  

How Does Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Kill You? 

Unfortunately, in extreme cases, benzodiazepine withdrawal can kill you. The most lethal side effects of benzo withdrawal are seizures, convulsions, and psychotic symptoms like suicidal ideation. These symptoms are often unpredictable and can easily become complicated and more severe if the individual does not receive medical support.  

During withdrawal or detox, the brain tries to adjust to a lack of drugs. Like other substances, benzos can impact the brain’s chemical structure to reduce symptoms of the individual’s conditions. When the person suddenly stops taking these substances, the person’s previous symptoms resurface or “rebound” at an intense rate.  

The longer and more heavily a person uses benzodiazepines, the more severe their withdrawals will be. The risk of a fatal benzodiazepine withdrawal is also higher when the person’s drug use is severe and when they do not receive medical support.  

For this reason, most medical professionals advise seeking medical detox support when discontinuing benzo use. Medical detox programs, such as the many offered at our nationwide addiction treatment facilities, provide the structure, monitoring, and support needed to ensure the client’s safety, health, and success.  

Benzo Withdrawal Treatment 

Benzodiazepine dependence and addiction can be detrimental to a person’s life. Unfortunately, understanding how benzo withdrawal can kill you is part of the recovery process, but there is no need to worry. If you or someone you care about is addicted to these drugs, our benzo addiction treatment programs can help.  

After a clinical assessment, our specialists often start clients with detox to ensure client safety, health, and long-term success. Benzo detox not only keeps the person safe but also increases their chances of completing treatment and staying sober long-term.  

For more information about our addiction treatment facilities and services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 


Related Reading:  

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Psychosis: Symptoms & Timeline 

Benzo Overdose: What to Do When it Happens 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.