Are There Specialized Benzodiazepine Detox Programs?

Most detox centers don’t specialize in just one substance of abuse. While detox facilities will address withdrawal from other types of drugs as well, it’s important to find a program that has experience with benzodiazepine withdrawal specifically.


Benzodiazepine Abuse

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, a class of prescription drugs that includes Xanax and Klonopin. These medications are typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders on an as-needed basis.

Since they are effective medications to manage panic, many patients can take a minimum of pills to help them with only the most severe anxiety. Other patients, however, may feel they are at risk of a panic attack if they do not take the pill in advance of a potentially difficult situation. Others may wait until they experience a mental health crisis to take the medication and take more than is medically necessary.

Unfortunately, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have a high potential for abuse. They are also extremely deadly and can easily cause overdose when used in combination with other substances.

Living with an active benzo addiction means a daily risk of fatal overdose and an urgent need for immediate medical care at a benzo detox and addiction treatment program.



Do Some Detox Centers Only Address Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?

It is unlikely that any detox program will be dedicated to a single substance of abuse, other than a methadone clinic designed specifically to offer methadone management for the treatment of opioid detox.

Benzodiazepine detox can be deadly without effective medical care and treatment, and it is always recommended that people living with high-dose benzo addictions begin the treatment process in a heavily supervised medical detox program. Without emergency medical care on hand at all times, the risk of fatality is severe with sudden cessation of use.

What Does a Benzodiazepine Detox Program Look Like?

Benzodiazepine detox is the first step in a comprehensive program to treat addiction. As a central nervous system depressant, benzos can have a significant impact on the body’s ability to manage essential functions. It can be a shock to be without the pills after a long period of regular, high-dose use.

Benzodiazepine Detox Programs

For this reason, the primary focus of benzo detox is stabilization, both physically and mentally. Everyone is different, and their specific response to the cessation of benzodiazepine use will vary. Each day in each person’s experience will be different during the detox process, as medical and therapeutic staff remain on standby to address whatever develops proactively.

For the individual, the day-to-day experience means the implementation of a regular schedule of healthy food, lots of water, and rest, as well as gentle exercise and round-the-clock access to mental health treatment, peer support, and medical care as needed.

What Timeline Is Expected?

There are different phases of detox that generally unfold over the first weeks of recovery from benzodiazepine addiction. Beginning within hours of the first missed dose, they are defined by physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

While physical withdrawal symptoms will fade after the first few weeks, the psychological urge to use benzodiazepines, especially for those who are struggling with a co-occurring anxiety disorder, can linger for months until new coping mechanisms become the norm.


The shorter acting the benzodiazepine, the more quickly withdrawal symptoms will begin. Within the first three to 12 hours after the last missed dose, the person may experience agitation and anxiety, shakiness, and difficulty sleeping. For some, seizures, hallucinations, and/or delirium may begin during this time, and if this occurs, immediate medical care is required.


The risk of serious symptom development, seizures, and delirium continue through the first four days of benzo detox. Those who do not experience those symptoms will usually have increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. All symptoms that began in phase one will often continue and worsen, and cravings for benzos will intensify during this time as well.  


For two to three weeks, the withdrawal symptoms that began during the first four or five days of detox will continue at the same rate of intensity experienced in the first few days. This is unique to benzo detox as compared to detox from other drugs. Because the symptoms can feel interminable, relapse is a considerable risk during this time, and continual supervision is recommended.


After the second week, withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological, will finally begin to lessen, though some will linger for weeks. Cravings can be a primary challenge for months following detox, and for this reason, it is recommended that all people follow their time in a detox program with intensive addiction treatment.

Are Detox and Addiction Treatment Programs Effective?

Yes. When treated by medical and psychiatric professionals who are trained in substance abuse treatment and experienced in providing effective care to those navigating benzodiazepine detox, clients are more likely to get through the experience without relapse or fatal medical injury. Medical professionals can design and implement a benzodiazepine taper in most cases that can diminish the intensity of some withdrawal symptoms.

It is never recommended that someone living with a benzodiazepine addiction attempt an at-home detox. Not only is there no care and support in the event of a medical or psychiatric emergency, but there is a much higher risk of relapse as well.

When there is professional, medical oversight and care, the risk of relapse or harm caused by a seizure and other withdrawal symptoms is drastically reduced.

What Should I Do Before Detox?

Though it is difficult to prepare for suddenly being without the dose and drug of choice, it is not recommended to try to taper off the dose before entering detox. Should withdrawal symptoms begin or become severe without medical care on standby, the results can be fatal.

There are some things you can do to set yourself up for success before beginning the physical process of benzo detox.

  • Manage your responsibilities, so your work, familial, and financial obligations are all met while you are gone.
  • Begin to prepare your mental mindset for positivity by focusing on why you want to be free of addiction and the kind of life you would like to create for yourself in recovery.
  • Pack a bag of essentials and comfort items to bring with you to detox.
  • Make sure you are set up to enter an addiction treatment program immediately after detox ends.

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What Should I Plan to Do After Detox?

Though detox is a critical and unavoidable first step in treatment, it is only a first step and does not comprise a full and effective treatment. Everyone who goes through benzo detox should follow up by immediately entering a comprehensive treatment program that can offer:

  • Treatment for underlying anxiety disorders and/or other co-occurring mental health disorders or symptoms that may have developed, such as depression.
  • Treatment for co-occurring medical issues, related to benzodiazepine abuse or not.
  • A range of traditional, alternative, holistic, and experiential treatment and therapy options that provide a well-rounded view of what life has the potential to be in recovery.
  • The ability to engage in family therapy, couples counseling, and/or parenting classes as needed to build strong, positive relationships at home.
  • The option to engage in the larger sober community to forge connections with peers that will add up to a sustainable life in recovery.
  • Access to job skills training, legal assistance, financial assistance, and support for any life circumstance that may make it more difficult to stay sober.

Call 844-326-4514 anytime, day or evening, for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists. They can help you find the right treatment option. You can also contact us online for more information.