Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Colorado

Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a type of medication used to treat a range of conditions, although they are more typically prescribed for anxiety, seizures, and sleep pattern disorders such as insomnia. For proper short-term use, this medication is usually safe and effective, although many are known to use benzos far longer than they should, or in quantities greater than prescribed.

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The misuse of this medication often leads to the development of tolerance, dependence, and other adverse effects, all of which eventually result in the user needing benzodiazepine addiction treatment. At Jaywalker Lodge, we utilize a model of care that offers adult men the best opportunity for recovery.

What Effect do Benzos Have on the Brain?

For the body to function properly, the brain makes use of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that the brain uses to send signals to the central nervous system. The central nervous system, in turn, relays these signals to where they need to go to make the body function. Conversely, there is a particular neurotransmitter, known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, that blocks certain signals from the brain, causing a decrease in the activity of the central nervous system.

This blocking effect is particularly useful in helping a person to calm down, regulate breathing patterns, and manage emotions related to anxiety. Benzos amplify the natural effect of GABA, creating a greater sense of tranquility and calmness. The ability of benzos to induce this state of sedation makes it immensely useful in the treatment of anxiety-related conditions.

This sedative effect, however, also brings a range of sensations that are quite desirable for people who have difficulty in calming their thoughts and emotions. This is why many people develop a heavy dependence on benzos, which eventually becomes an addiction. The drawback to this is that once the body starts to develop a tolerance for benzos, the brain may no longer trigger the release of GABA on its own, as it now relies on benzos for the sedative effect.

What are the Dangers of Benzodiazepine Abuse?

Heavy dependence on anything that has a direct and potent effect on the central nervous system is highly dangerous. This is because potent substances often cause a chemical imbalance in the body, and these chemical imbalances could alter the normal processes of the body, not to mention cause damage by way of chemical toxicity.

In the case of benzos, the danger lies in the fact that this substance has a profound effect on some very important aspects and functions associated with the brain and the nervous system, such as memory, emotional regulation, behavior, and even breathing. Reports derived from treatment centers have helped in classifying the various effects of benzodiazepines on the central nervous system.

Short-term Effects:

  • Confusion
  • Short-term memory impairment
  • Decreased sensitivity to stimulation
  • Slurred speech
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Impaired ability to concentrate
  • Dry mouth

Long-term Effects:

  • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Ataxia (impaired motor coordination)
  • Anterograde amnesia (impaired ability to retain new information)
  • Cognitive decline (impairment of the brain’s processing speed)
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Hypoxia (severely decreased oxygen distribution in the body)
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Increased risk of dementia

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Benzos?

Being a substance that directly affects the central nervous system, it is to be expected that benzodiazepine dependence comes with significant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms could include the following:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Face and neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Heightened sensory sensitivity
  • Loss of libido
  • Appetite loss
  • Varying degrees of depression
  • Nausea
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Unexplainable eye pain
  • Persistent metallic taste on the tongue
  • Tinnitus ringing in ears
  • Paresthesia (tingling in the hands and feet)
  • Unsteady legs
  • Vomiting
  • Dramatic weight loss

There are also more severe withdrawal symptoms that may include:

  • Burning sensation on the skin
  • Severe confusion
  • Delusions
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from your surroundings)
  • Derealisation (feeling out of touch with reality)
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Significantly impaired memory
  • Persistent muscle twitching
  • Bouts of paranoia
  • Seizures

What is the Timeline for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?

The withdrawal symptoms that occur once a person stops taking benzos could start in as early as 6 hours of the last dosage for short-acting benzodiazepines, and between 24 to 28 hours for long-acting benzos. These withdrawal symptoms could last from two to four weeks, although there are documented reports the symptoms could actually persist for far longer for those with severe addiction or an underlying mental health disorder.

First Four Days After Last Dose

Many may experience insomnia and anxiety during the first four days after any kind of benzodiazepine was taken. These symptoms could manifest during the first six to eight hours of the benzo withdrawal timeline. Those who used short-acting benzos could experience a worsening of the symptoms by the third day. Most people also report experiencing persistent nausea, increased heart rate, sweating, and cravings to take benzos again during this period. These initial symptoms have been noted to last anywhere between 7 to 10 days.

Day 10 to 14 After Last Dose

For those users of short-acting benzos, the acute symptoms typically begin to lessen or even fade away during this period. Those who were hooked on long-acting benzos, on the other hand, tend to experience a peak during this period followed by a decrease sometime around week 3 to 4 into the timeline.

Day 15 to 28 After Last Dose

Most people who are going through benzodiazepine withdrawal report utter exhaustion around day 15, accompanied by a gradual cessation of most of the symptoms. There are, however, instances where people severely addicted or dependent on benzodiazepines experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) once the initial symptoms subside.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms could include chronic insomnia, persistent anxiety, and depression which could stretch out for months or even years. People who go through post-acute withdrawal symptoms are also usually those who stay the longest in therapy to help them deal with what they are going through.

How is Benzodiazepine Addiction Treated?

There are a number of treatments available for those undergoing benzodiazepine addiction treatment, as different people could react differently to therapy. The success of the treatment could hinge largely on finding the suited treatment form, which is why a thorough assessment by a therapist is required before any kind of treatment is suggested.

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The Landing & The Lodge

At Jaywalker Lodge, each of our clients begin treatment with The Landing Program. The Landing is essentially an introduction for new clients. This program helps our clients understand our programs, expectations, and community as a whole. Following a 5-7 day introduction through The Landing Program, our clients transition to The Lodge.

The Lodge is the foundation of our program of treatment. It is the core of what we offer at Jaywalker Lodge. While in The Lodge, the adult men in our treatment program navigate through their individualized treatment plan. The Lodge weekly schedule includes a variety of treatments and therapies to help the men in our program sustain long-term recovery.

Solutions Program

The transitional Solutions Program is essential to our model of care at Jaywalker. At this point, our clients begin their road to independent recovery. The Solutions Program helps Jaywalkers regain a sense of personal accountability while still participating in structured therapies and activities. Our clients can expect to participate in service work as we believe giving back is an essential part of the recovery process.

Outpatient Services

The Jaywalker Outpatient Program is firmly rooted in the 12-Steps. The men in our program continue to practice their recovery skills, while meeting a couple nights a week. During the Outpatient Program, we focus on overcoming obstacles to recovery. Whether it’s benzodiazepine addiction, or another substance, our clients will have access to the highest quality treatment possible.

There is the Promise of a Better and Healthier Future with Jaywalker Lodge

Treatment is just another step in the journey to a better and healthier future. We here at Jaywalker Lodge make a point to help people understand how our programs mirror the journey of life. Some parts of the journey might be more difficult than others, but when people realize that each step they take is progress, they gain a deeper understanding of the healing process, and how even these difficulties become easier to get over as they continue to move forward.

This is why we always highlight the path to wellness here at Jaywalker Lodge. Being on a journey means moves moving forward always, so let us help you along your journey to recovery.