09 Apr

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

The Short Opioid Withdrawal Scale (SOWS, p.37) is a useful tool for monitoring withdrawal. During withdrawal some patients may become disruptive and difficult to manage. The patient may be scared of being in the closed setting, or may not understand why they are in the closed setting. In the first instance, use behaviour management strategies to address difficult behaviour (Table 2).

benzodiazepine withdrawal


The experimental group in this study had a weekly 1/10-dose reduction after a 2 week stabilization period [72]. The experimental treatment also included a BZD diary, a drinking diary, BZD withdrawal benzodiazepine withdrawal education, and assessments for ways of coping and “progressive relaxation exercise” [72]. This was compared to a gradual taper without the other components of the treatment plan [72].

Medications That Can Cause Depression as a Side Effect

  • While a therapeutic dose has not been proven teratogenic, use during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight, preterm labor, and intrauterine growth restriction.
  • In 2016, estimates suggest that about half a million people in the United States misused sedative drugs.
  • Although many symptoms subside after the acute withdrawal phase, lingering side effects are possible.

Multivitamin supplements containing B group vitamins and vitamin C are recommended. Symptomatic medications should be offered as required for aches, anxiety and other symptoms. When used appropriately they are very effective in treating these disorders. However, when used for an extended period of time (e.g. several weeks), dependence can develop. To avoid the risk of overdose in the first days of treatment methadone can be given in divided doses, for example, give 30mg in two doses of 15mg morning and evening. Opioids are drugs such as heroin, opium, morphine, codeine and methadone.

Examples of benzo medications

benzodiazepine withdrawal

Healthcare providers can test for it and treat people under its influence (see below under “What are the disadvantages, side effects and complications that are possible with benzodiazepines?”). If you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during your taper, your care team can help you explore options to address those symptoms and get relief. In the first week of tapering off, your doctor may reduce your dose as much as 30% to get you to a safe amount.

  • In addition, some benzodiazepines are more potent than others or work for a longer length of time.
  • This is a normal reaction to benzodiazepine withdrawal and, though unpleasant, it is a sign that recovery is beginning to take place.
  • However, going through any withdrawal during pregnancy also has its risks.

Depression in withdrawal responds to antidepressant drugs in the same way as depressive disorders where benzodiazepines are not involved. If, as in many cases, an antidepressant drug is already being taken along with the benzodiazepine, it is important to continue the antidepressant until after benzodiazepine withdrawal is complete. Withdrawal from the antidepressant can be considered separately at a later stage (See Chapter II, Schedule 13). Another study that tested a different standardized education protocol showed more promising results [73]. The experimental group in this study was counseled on the first visit for 15–20 min on the effects, dangers, and alternatives to chronic BZD use and dependence [73]. The subjects were interviewed with surgery-based consultations for approximately 10 min [12].

Benzo Withdrawal: What Are the Symptoms and How Long Do They Last?

So, your doctor may recommend a slower taper schedule as a safety precaution. If you take benzodiazepines infrequently, such as once a week or once every few weeks to treat panic attacks, you can take them for a longer period of time. This is because inconsistent use doesn’t pose the same risk of dependence or withdrawal.

benzodiazepine withdrawal



  • In rare cases, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening and require emergency medical intervention.
  • Then you may experience more withdrawal symptoms that can last up to 4 weeks.
  • Symptoms will be milder than acute withdrawal and they can disappear for weeks at a time.

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