Benzodiazepine detox

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription sedatives, also known as ‘anxiolytics’, used to treat anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia. While they are effective in treating these conditions, misuse can very quickly lead to dependence. If you or a loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse, the first step in recovery will be a benzodiazepine drug detox. Many worry about what to expect during benzodiazepine detox, but our team at Primrose Lodge is here to guide you every step of the way.


What is Benzodiazepine detox?

If you have tried to reduce your dosage of benzodiazepines or quit taking them, you may have noticed some unpleasant side effects surfacing. This is known as benzodiazepine withdrawal and is caused when the body tries to readjust to functioning without the drug.

Benzodiazepines work by interacting with neurotransmitters in our brain, notably gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA receptors are responsible for regulating our mood and anxiety levels. When we take Benzodiazepine, it increases the activity of GABA, which has a calming, sedative effect on the brain. The initial symptom of anxiety or panic is therefore suppressed, or in cases of insomnia, you will find it easier to fall asleep. As our brain becomes accustomed to the presence of benzodiazepines, ceasing use will result in withdrawal symptoms.

When we suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines, our brain is no longer being artificially stimulated by the drug and so GABA levels decrease. As a result, anxiety symptoms can return in full force, insomnia may become worse than before, and other withdrawal symptoms may arise. While this can be uncomfortable, drug detoxification is essential to restore your health.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms

As you detox from benzodiazepines, withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity depending on the individual, the frequency of consumption, and the length of abuse, however, you are likely to experience some or all of the following symptoms. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal ideations


What is referred to as the ‘rebound effect’ is also very common amongst those undergoing benzodiazepine detox. Many will suffer from an abrupt increase of the initial symptom they were trying to treat with benzodiazepines, for example, anxiety. These symptoms may come back at the same level or worse than previously experienced.

Benzodiazepine detox timeline

The benzodiazepine detox timeline can also vary depending on the individual and the severity of abuse. You should also consider the type of benzodiazepine being used, as each one will have a different half-life that affects the amount of time it takes for the substance to leave the bloodstream. Having said that, there are some general patterns that tend to be followed.

Two to fourteen days after use
The first stage is known as ‘acute withdrawal’ and usually lasts between two and fourteen days. During this time, you will experience the most severe symptoms as your body starts to readjust to functioning without the drug.
Two weeks to several months after use
The second stage is known as ‘protracted withdrawal’ and can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. During this time, you may still experience some symptoms, but they will be less severe than during the acute phase.
Twelve months after use
It is estimated that as many as 10-25% of benzodiazepine users may suffer from ‘post-acute withdrawal symptoms’ (PAWS), with lingering symptoms that can last for a year or more. Symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, low libido and mood swings can arise during this time and may have a negative impact on your quality of life. It is important that you seek guidance from a professional if you are experiencing PAWS, and they can better help you to manage these symptoms.

Which Benzodiazepines require detox?

Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, with both physical and psychological dependency taking hold of the user in a matter of weeks with regular use. Some common benzodiazepines include Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Xanax. Withdrawal symptoms are likely to be experienced with frequent use of these drugs.

Ativan detox
Ativan is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and acts on the brain and central nervous system to calm the user. Ativan detox usually involves tapering the individual off the drug, as quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Klonopin detox
Klonopin is a prescription drug commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but is only intended for short-term use due to its addictive properties. Klonopin withdrawal can be unpredictable and can lead to medical risks, including seizures.
Librium detox
Librium is another benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, and also alcohol abuse disorders. Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms can be intense after regular misuse of the drug and can produce side effects including anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
Valium detox
Valium is a strong relaxant used to treat panic attacks and anxiety. It can also prevent convulsions, relax muscles, and has sedative effects. Withdrawal from Valium can be dangerous, and quitting cold turkey can lead to seizures, a coma, and even be fatal.
Xanax detox
Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorders and acts by suppressing the central nervous system. This drug has significant potential for dependence, however, and it is recommended that Xanax detox is done under the guidance of professionals.

What can I expect from Benzodiazepine detox?

If you have decided to detox from benzodiazepines at our treatment centre, you may be wondering what to expect. Over the phone and upon arrival, you will be assessed by our team of medical professionals. They will determine the best course of action to take during your treatment programme.

You will be closely monitored throughout the detox process in order to ensure your safety and comfort. Our staff will be on-hand to support you through any difficult withdrawal symptoms and assist in making them more manageable. They will also provide you with information and guidance on how to cope with any symptoms that may arise.

Detoxing from benzodiazepines can, unfortunately, be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but under medical supervision, it is safe and effective.

What are the benefits of Benzodiazepine detox?

Breaking free from the chains of benzodiazepines can be an incredibly liberating experience. Not only will you no longer have to worry about the negative impact the drug is having on your life, but you will also be able to start making positive changes and enjoying yourself again. The benefits of benzodiazepine detox are numerous, and include:

  • A life free from drug abuse
  • Improved health and wellbeing
  • Opportunities to rebuild relationships
  • Ability to focus on a career
  • New-found interests and hobbies

Detoxing from Benzodiazepines under medical supervision can also help to reduce the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms, and it can provide you with the support and resources you need to successfully recover from addiction. Taking part in a treatment plan can give you the chance to rebuild your life in a healthy and positive way, and learn invaluable coping skills for preventing relapse.

Can I detox from Benzodiazepines at home?

Detoxing from benzodiazepine at home, without the guidance of a doctor, is not recommended. Benzodiazepine detox can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable, and in some cases, even dangerous.

During drug detoxification, the symptoms of withdrawal can be severe and unpredictable, and if you are not under the care of a medical professional, you may not have access to the necessary support and resources.

There is also a much higher risk of relapse when detoxing from benzodiazepines at home, as you may not be able to cope with acute withdrawal symptoms and could turn back to the drug in order to relieve them.


Is detox enough to cure my Benzodiazepine addiction?

Sadly, detox is not enough to cure your benzodiazepine addiction, and is only the first step in your recovery. It is, however, a crucial turning point that can lay a strong foundation for your onward sobriety. After completing benzodiazepine detox, you will need to continue on to a rehabilitation programme in order to address the underlying causes of your drug use and to learn new coping skills for dealing with life without benzodiazepines.

If you are committed to recovery and ready to make a change, you can achieve a life free from benzodiazepines. All you have to do is take that first step.

Next steps

While benzodiazepine detox can be a difficult and daunting process, it is an important first step on the road to recovery. With the help of our friendly and knowledgeable team, you won’t have to suffer alone – we can help you to tackle the drug detox phase safely, keeping your wellbeing as our number one priority.

If you or a loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse, know that you are not alone. Thankfully there is help available, and there is hope for recovery. If you would like to talk more about benzodiazepine detox or discuss your next steps, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Frequently asked questions

I tried to detox from benzodiazepines but relapsed – can I try again?
Relapse is part and parcel of addiction recovery, but it does not equate to failure. You may have tried to detox from benzodiazepines once without success, but that does not mean you should give up entirely. Relapse should be considered a learning curve and can be used as a tool to come back stronger than before. Taking part in an assisted benzodiazepine detox at Primrose Lodge means that the risk of relapse is much lower, as we combine the process with therapies to help you alter your emotional reliance on benzodiazepines.
How can I support my loved one through benzodiazepine detox?
Benzodiazepine detox is arguably the hardest part of recovery. If you have a family member who is about to embark on this journey, they will need your support now more than ever. It is important to help them find the right treatment programme and encourage them to talk to a professional. Offer to drive them to appointments, check in with how they are feeling and most importantly, stay positive for them. It is crucial to remind both yourself and your loved one that the benzo detox period is temporary – tackle each day as it comes and don’t give up hope.
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Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 9263