Drug and Alcohol - Addiction Recovery

Benzo Withdrawal: Tips for Getting Through It

Benzo withdrawal is tough, but there's ways to get through it ... and into a life free from benzo addiction. Learn more in our blog.

Benzo Withdrawal: Tips for Getting Through It

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

January 17, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

With the growing consumption of benzodiazepines, cases of addiction to benzos are also increasing. In addition to this, many people get addicted to benzos and have to undergo severe complications while coping with the benzo withdrawal phases.

This made physicians across the globe restrict their recommendation of this medication and substitute it with natural or less-harming alternatives. Let us learn more about benzo withdrawal symptoms and its coping strategies.

What Is Benzo Withdrawal?

Benzo or benzodiazepines are depressants for the nervous system which are commonly used to treat sleeping problems and anxiety. Some of the most common benzos used are Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), etc.

Most people who suffer from chronic benzo addiction face difficult withdrawal phases due to the severity of drug overdose. Benzo withdrawal is a state in which an individual prevents himself or herself from taking benzodiazepines that are not prescribed by any medical professional. At this stage, this individual starts to encounter detrimental effects of benzo and complicated symptoms, which is why medical intervention becomes necessary.

What Are the Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal?

Generally, people who are taking benzos for over six months are likely to experience severe repercussions of the withdrawal phase. On the contrary, individuals with less than six months of consumption period may encounter mild signs of withdrawal.

Here are the most potent symptoms of benzo withdrawal that require immediate medical treatment:

  • Acute headache

  • Sense of tremors and muscle cramps

  • Difficulty in sleeping or insomnia

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Sweating and restlessness

  • Depression

  • Hallucinations or delusions

  • Difficulty in focusing or concentrating

  • Nausea or vomiting

It is found through various research studies that individuals with chronic benzo addiction experience long-term withdrawal effects that can last for several months. Other than this, one often experiences the signs of benzo withdrawal at its peak on the second day; however, the condition starts to improve with the passing days.

What Are Rebound Symptoms?

Rebound symptoms are a very common feature of benzo withdrawal. Starting within the first few days of stopping benzo use, these symptoms can last for up to a week. Rebound symptoms are essentially the symptoms of the conditions benzos were prescribed for: insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness.

What Is the Timeline for Benzo Withdrawal?

With an addiction to benzodiazepines, the severity, timeline, and withdrawal symptoms vary across individuals. However, in most cases, the pattern of withdrawal may depend on factors like:

  • Dosage of drug abused

  • How long an individual has been consuming benzos

  • Pre-existing mental health disorder

  • Misusing prescription drug

  • Consuming a drug without a doctor's recommendation or prescription

  • Underlying symptoms of any other drug abuse

Based on these factors mentioned above and the response pattern of individuals, there can be three phases of withdrawal with distinct and estimated timelines. Moreover, each type of benzodiazepine has a distinct half-life that directly impacts the length of the symptoms experienced by an individual.

Short Versus Long-Acting Benzos

Another factor determining the length of benzo withdrawal is what kind of benzo was being used. Benzos come in two forms: short-acting, and long-acting. Long-acting benzos have effects that take longer to come on...but last a lot longer. They work like extended-release pain relievers, basically.

Short-acting benzos often have a more intense and more complex withdrawal period. Long-acting benzos have less intense withdrawal symptoms, and withdrawal often takes longer to start. In general, withdrawal from short-acting benzos begins around 8 hours after they were last taken. Withdrawal from long-lasting benzos tends to start one to two days after they were last taken.

Here are some brand names for each kind of benzo:

Short-Acting Benzos:

  • Dormonoct

  • Halcion

  • Xanax

Long-Acting Benzos:

  • Klonopin

  • Librium

  • Valium

Immediate Withdrawal

Immediate or early withdrawal symptoms arise instantly after an individual stops taking a benzo drug. However, the withdrawal symptoms faced by one are based on the half-life of a benzo drug that one was consuming.

For example, if someone is taking a short-acting drug like Xanax, they will be able to overcome the effect of its withdrawal faster than any other long-acting drug like Valium. Generally, in the case of Xanax benzo withdrawal, an individual will experience the signs after 10 to 12 hours of stopping the same. Similarly, with long-acting benzos, it may take a few days for withdrawal symptoms to show up.

In this phase of benzo withdrawal, the symptoms encountered are often milder and manageable; however, they can recur.

Acute Withdrawal

In the acute withdrawal phase, an individual starts to experience certain signs after the early withdrawal symptoms. In this case, the benzo withdrawal timeline mostly lasts 5 to 28 days or for a few months, depending on the dosage and period of consumption.

Most people who undergo the symptoms of acute withdrawal find it difficult to deal with. This is why medical assistance and the supervision of a doctor become necessary to control and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Protracted Withdrawal

Though the benzo withdrawal symptoms start to fade after the acute phase, individuals who consume benzo for an extended period may experience symptoms that last more than 12 months.

People in the protracted withdrawal stage often experience different and severe sets of symptoms which are also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in coordinating, communicating or focusing

  • Insomnia or sleeping disorder

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Mood swings

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2010) has published a report on the various aspects of protracted withdrawal and how it affects the human body.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)

Many people who withdraw from benzos experience PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. PAWS is an emerging condition where a person experiences prolonged withdrawal symptoms for six months or more. While often less severe than withdrawal symptoms, PAWS can still be fairly unpleasant.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Long-lasting anxiety and insomnia

  • Problems performing complex tasks

  • Depression and mood disorders

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • A loss of sex drive

Professional detox can help make PAWS symptoms easier to take, however.

The prevailing symptoms of benzo withdrawal in the post-acute phase can hinder the balance and daily life of individuals. Hence, seeking supportive counseling and withdrawing this substance under medical guidance is highly recommended.

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What Are Coping Strategies for Benzo Withdrawal?

Healthcare professionals usually recommend stopping benzo consumption under their guidance so that the withdrawal signs can be monitored and managed easily. Moreover, the side effects of benzo withdrawal can be severe and even life-threatening, which is why constant monitoring and supervision are needed.

Medically Assisted Detoxification

Being one of the essential treatments of benzo withdrawal, detoxification involves safely and professional removal of harmful chemicals of the drug from the body. This process is performed under close medical supervision, considering the fact that withdrawal symptoms can hold potential danger.

Furthermore, sometimes, many individuals are addicted to alcohol or other drugs in addition to benzos. In that case, the withdrawal symptoms involve even severe kinds of complications, which can be managed in a professional setting or a drug rehab treatment center.

Generally, healthcare professionals dealing with benzo withdrawal will conduct a plethora of assessments to deal with the detox phase with ease. These are mentioned below:

  • Assessing the severity of the symptoms

  • Checking the vital signs of the body like temperature, blood pressure, and pulse

  • Slowly reducing the dosage of benzo

  • Prescribing necessary medicines to help the patient get relief from the side effects of withdrawal

  • Recommend other treatments or therapies as necessary in combination with medically-assisted withdrawal

In addition to this, the medical professionals also evaluate possible chances of seizures (if any) caused by benzo withdrawal.


Medications for benzo withdrawal play a vital role in reducing the distress caused during the withdrawal phase. Therefore, doctors, upon observing each patient's case, medical test results, and type and severity of the signs, prescribe medications to the patients.

Some of the common medications that medical professionals often suggest to fight the signs of benzo drug withdrawal are flumazenil and buspirone. These medicines not only offer relief but also help an individual deal with anxiety faced during this stage.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a universally accepted approach which is used to treat different types of addiction issues. CBT identifies the negative behavioral approaches of a person that impact and channelizes different negative emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, etc.

This therapy not only helps one to understand negative emotions in a better way but also extends support to drug abuse victims in managing these negative thoughts and in effectively coping with substance abuse.

Dual Diagnosis

Usually, people with chronic benzo withdrawal syndrome often tend to develop other mental health issues like anxiety or major depressive disorder. Therefore, an authorized facility will recommend dual diagnosis treatment programs to support them and offer relief. This method mostly includes different therapy sessions as well as medicines that enable speedy recovery from ailments.

In addition to the above-mentioned dual diagnosis treatment programs, individuals also undergo different types of group therapy, family therapy, or psychotherapy in an outpatient facility. These active-learning sessions with an addiction counselor impart adequate relief and contribute towards the recovery from the benzo withdrawal.

How Long Do Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

In order to understand how long the effects of benzo withdrawal stay in our body system, it is pivotal to know how the drug works in the body. This drug accentuates the effects of Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter responsible for producing a soothing effect in the brain.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) defines neurotransmitters and their functions in a better manner to provide a clear understanding. As neurotransmitters function to send information to the brain cells, people with anxiety and depression experience overstimulation in the brain. For this reason, to calm the brain and lower brain activity medical practitioners suggest the use of benzo drugs in prescribed doses. This helps an abuser fall asleep easier, and provides relaxation.

Now, benzodiazepines comprise both long and short-term addictive drugs that have a different timelines of withdrawal. Moreover, depending upon the potency of the drug and the number of months consumed, benzo withdrawal symptoms will last for a specific period for different individuals.

Having said this, if an individual is consuming long-term addictive drugs like Valium, the withdrawal signs are more likely to last longer than short-term addictive drugs like Xanax.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Benzo Withdrawal?

Apart from the symptoms encountered during the withdrawal phase of benzodiazepines; there can be other risk factors in association with the issue. If the symptoms are severe, individuals can encounter different problems, which include:

  • Depersonalization

  • Paranoia

  • Sudden weight loss

  • Self-harming thoughts

  • Psychosis

In addition to this, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 16% of drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2020 as related to opioid overuse also involved benzo usage.

This reason alone makes it extremely important for early intervention treatment methods for patients to be conducted by medical professionals. As these addictions involving benzo withdrawal signs are treatable, it causes health center facilities to step up and create more awareness of the same.

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Do you have more questions about benzo withdrawal? Reach out.

The Edge Treatment Center Will Guide You Through Benzo Withdrawal & More

The medical professionals at The Edge Treatment Center understand how benzo addiction can be dangerous and tamper the normal flow of life. Hence, we have designed proven, effective, and evidence-based treatment programs to help individuals deal with the side effects of benzo withdrawal.

In addition to this, we are offering a dual-diagnosis program and a plethora of experimental therapies to provide individualized recovery plans. So, worry no more; contact The Edge Treatment Center now and develop the tools to live a healthy and addiction-free life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks and side effects of using benzodiazepines routinely?

Some of the most vivid side effects of consuming benzodiazepines routinely are difficulty concentrating and focusing, feeling drowsy or sleepy, experiencing an impaired vision, shaking legs, headaches, etc.

In what ways can symptoms of benzo withdrawal be reduced?

The most natural way to reduce the symptoms of benzo withdrawal is by practicing exercises or yoga. Many times, aerobics and acupuncture offer relief from different side effects.

What is the consumption rate of benzodiazepines in the United States of America?

According to the latest report published by the National Institute for Biotechnology Information, out of approximately 30 million adults using any type of benzodiazepines, around 5 million are said to be engaged in benzo misuse.

What happens if someone suddenly stops consuming benzodiazepines?

Someone who has been consuming benzo for a long period of time will likely face difficult withdrawal symptoms if one stops taking the drug suddenly like chronic abdominal cramps, agoraphobia, tight chest, breathlessness, sweating, faster heartbeat, anxiety, etc.

What are the best alternatives to benzodiazepines?

Though the best natural alternatives to benzodiazepines are a change of lifestyle that includes yoga, exercising, and eating healthy, however, some of the alternative medicines for benzo are antidepressants SSRIs, SNRIs, beta-blockers for regulating blood pressure, buspirone, etc.

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