Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:


Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you have received a prescription for benzos, you may wonder if they are addictive. If so, what is the benzo withdrawal timeline when you want to quit taking them? These are important questions to consider if you are currently taking medications to help control your anxiety. But, first of all, it’s vital to know what benzos are, how they work, and what the signs of addiction are. Then you can deal with the withdrawal timeline and seek treatment from Renaissance Recovery.

If you need treatment for a benzo addiction or another substance abuse disorder, contact our California treatment center.

Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

The benzo withdrawal timeline may vary slightly for different people, but this is a close representation of what you can expect:

  • 6 – 12 hours after the last dose, you’ll feel anxiety and may have insomnia for the first few days.
  • 1 – 4 days after the last dose, you’ll feel under the weather with flu-like symptoms.
  • 5 – 14 days after the last dose, you’ll be back to feeling anxious again.

Finally, as you hit the two-week mark, you may experience some residual symptoms of moodiness or restlessness. You could feel a psychological pull toward the drug, but the physical symptoms should be gone.

What Are Benzos?

Benzos are the shortened name for benzodiazepines. These drugs are a tranquilizing type of medication that calms the body and system when under duress. The most common types of benzos that doctors prescribe are Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and Librium. These can be either short-acting or long-acting. For those that are short-acting, the medication will normally take effect in about 15 minutes.

What Are Benzos Used For?

As mentioned above, benzos help calm down the body and mind. So, what do physicians prescribe them for? Here are the most common reasons your doctor may write you a prescription:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Pre-surgery nerves
  • Muscle spasms
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Alcohol withdrawal

For the short term, benzos work well. They can relax those jittery nerves or help you sleep better. However, over time, they can become addictive because of how they work on the central nervous system and brain.

Benzodiazepines trigger more GABA production in the brain, which is what provides the sedating effect. It doesn’t take long before people can become tolerant of the medication. They realize that they need more medicine to feel the same effects. This leads them to take higher doses of the drug.

Signs of Benzo Addiction

If you’ve been taking benzos for a long time, you may wonder if you are addicted and, if so, what the benzo withdrawal timeline is. Some signs that you may be addicted include:

  • You take the medication every day
  • You notice some withdrawal symptoms after several hours of not having the medication
  • You have “borrowed” or bought the medication from others
  • The drug has affected your mood or interfered with your life
  • You want to hide your use of the medication

These are signs that benzos might be a problem for you. If you are in this predicament, there is hope to detox safely with the help of an addiction treatment center.

Detox and Recovery for Benzo Withdrawal

The presentation of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person and according to the type of benzo. Common examples include:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)

Benzo detox for some involves symptoms that subside within days. Others encounter adverse withdrawal symptoms that lingers for months.

These are the most common benzo withdrawal symptoms:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tingling in arms and legs
  • Numb fingers
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle aches
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Blurred vision
  • Tense jaw
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Hyperventilation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Hypertension
  • Cramps
  • Tonic-clonic seizures

Once you have detoxed from benzodiazepines, it takes time for your brain to recalibrate in the absence of benzos. The following symptoms may present as you move from detox into ongoing benzo rehab:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Detachment
  • Restlessness
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty with focus
  • Suicidal thoughts

Whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient treatment for benzo addiction, you should strongly consider a supervised clinical detox.

Always consult your prescribing doctor before you stop using any type of benzo, even if you have been using the medication short-term as directed.

An effective benzo detox typically involves a tapered withdrawal. Doses are incrementally decreased to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, substitute medications can be beneficial.

There are three phases to benzo withdrawal, immediate, acute, and protracted.

Most people detoxing from benzos will experience the first two phases of withdrawal. Not everyone will experience the third protracted phase of detox.

1) Immediate benzo withdrawal

Many people detoxing from benzos find that rebound symptoms present immediately after discontinuing use. Rebound symptoms are the same symptoms the medication is prescribed to treat.

The first benzo withdrawal symptoms manifest a few hours after the last dose. Short-acting benzos like Xanax are associated with a rapid onset of withdrawal symptoms.

During this phase of benzo detox, drug substitution and drug tapering are used to reduce rebound symptoms and to streamline detoxification.

2) Acute benzo withdrawal

Acute withdrawal symptoms can persist for the first week of benzo detox.

Close medical monitoring during this phase of withdrawal minimizes the risk of relapse and helps to make detox as safe and comfortable as possible.

3) Protracted benzo withdrawal

Some research suggests that one in four people experience protracted benzo withdrawal. The most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty with focus
  • Reduced libido

Help For Benzo Addiction At Renaissance Recovery

Going through withdrawal is best with the aid of a substance abuse treatment center. At Renaissance Recovery, our evidence-based programs will help bring about healing. Some of our therapies include:

Don’t let benzos steal your joy in life. Now that you know the benzo withdrawal timeline, you can reach out to a quality rehab center. Contact Renaissance Recovery us today, and we’ll get your loved one on the road to recovery.866.330.9449

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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