Facing Benzodiazepine Detox During COVID-19

Various pills on a green table in Westmoreland County, PA
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Everywhere you turn right now, you hear more and more about COVID-19, the coronavirus spreading throughout the world. At DreamLife Recovery, our focus remains on those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Everyone is encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing right now, making the thought of detoxing even harder. You can still get help for your addiction. If you are struggling with an addiction to Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, do not wait to get help! Below is some information about Benzo withdrawal.

What is Benzodiazepine Detoxification?

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are commonly prescribed medications to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Brand names vary, with the most commonly known ones being Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Xanax, also known as bar, blues, or footballs, and other benzos are highly addictive. When people become dependent on them, they begin to build a tolerance. Once tolerance is built up, people must take more to feel the same effects of these central nervous system depressants. If a person that is dependent on these medications stop use, their bodies must detox, or remove them from their systems. The onset of withdrawal symptoms may vary based on the type of medication you were taking.

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Not every person going through withdrawal will experience the same symptoms for the same amount of time. The duration of withdrawal can be influenced by how much was taken, the type of drug, how long it was abused, any underlying health conditions, mental health, and the use of other drugs. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can occur in three phases: early withdrawal, acute withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal. Early withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours after the last dose and last a few days. Acute withdrawal can start a few days after the last dose and last anywhere from 2 weeks to several months. The last phase, protracted withdrawal, is experienced by a small portion of the people going through benzo withdrawal. Symptoms in the protracted withdrawal phase can last for months or even years after benzo use has stopped.

  • Early Withdrawal: Irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbance/insomnia
  • Acute Withdrawal: nausea, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, psychotic episodes, panic, blurred vision, issues concentrating, mood swings, short-term memory problems, agitation, loss of appetite, weight loss, drug cravings
  • Protracted Withdrawal: anxiety, development of a learning disability due to prolonged use, sensory or motor function problems, depression, mood swings

3 Things You Should Know about Benzo Withdrawal

  1. Tapering your Dose alone can be life threatening

Tapering your dosage of benzos on your own is very dangerous, and you should consult a medical professional beforehand. Tapering means to gradually reduce the amount of pills you are ingesting over a period of time. Never try the cold turkey method when stopping the use of benzodiazepines. The sudden removal of these medications can cause extreme and life-threatening conditions. Consult a doctor, and they can guide you through tapering. Grand mal seizures are a possibility during withdrawal and can be life-threatening.

  1. Mindful Meditation Can Help

Finding your sobriety involves more than just detoxing from the drug itself. You must maintain physical and mental health to allow you the strength to remain sober. Any underlying stress or anxiety can be helped with meditation and finding coping mechanisms that work for you.

  1. Withdrawal is a Long Process 

As we discussed above, withdrawal can vary based on the type of benzodiazepine that was abused, the dosage, the length of time, and any other health conditions. If people experience the protracted withdrawal symptoms, they can last months or even years after the last dose. Medical intervention can help reduce symptoms and cravings.

If you are experience extreme withdrawal symptoms: seek medical attention immediately! 

Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines can be life-threatening. If your symptoms become severe, call 911. Seek help at DreamLife Recovery at (844) 402-3592.

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Dangers of Detoxing Alone

Withdrawal symptoms from benzos, such as Xanax, can be severe and life-threatening. Stopping use completely, or going “cold turkey”, can be extremely dangerous and cause damage to the mind and body. Detoxing at home without medical guidance is very risky and not recommended. There are different forms of treatment that can allow you to find the right fit for you. Treatment choices can include ambulatory, clinically managed residential, and medically supervised. Ambulatory treatment involves only checking in for treatment, but detox recovery is done at home. Clinically managed residential treatment aims to make the person more comfortable and provides a more social setting for withdrawal. Medically supervised treatment provides 24-hour supervision from medical professionals for those experiencing extreme withdrawal. Medications, such as gabapentin, are sometimes prescribed to help reduce the severity and length of symptoms and can reduce cravings in the long term. A well-rounded treatment plan that also includes therapies will allow you to find your path to recovery.

DreamLife Recovery is a clinically acclaimed drug and alcohol rehab facility near Pittsburgh, PA, providing treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and co-occurring disorders. We offer detox, MAT, residential, and aftercare programs to help patients find their Dream Life in sobriety. Protocols are in place to protect our patients, staff, and new patients from the spread of COVID-19.

We are accepting new patients and focused on helping people overcome their addictions. If you or a loved one are struggling, you can still get help now! The world may be focused on COVID-19, but we are focused on you! Our admissions team is available 24/7 at (844) 402-3592, or online.


  1. “How Long Does Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines Last?” – O’Keefe Osborn, Corinne; Rev. by Steven Gans, MD; VeryWell Mind, 1 April, 2020
  2. Penders, Thomas; Oliver M Glass, Cornel N Stanciu – “Gabapentin (Neurontin): An Adjunct for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal,” 3 November, 2015
  3. Olfson M, King M, Schoenbaum M. Benzodiazepine use in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;72(2):136-42. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1763. PMID: 25517224