Outpatient Treatment for Benzo Addiction
Outpatient treatment for benzo addiction allows clients to recover without taking a complete break from their home and work responsibilities. It opens the door to a sober life uninhibited by substance abuse.
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are prescription drugs used to treat anxiety and other mental health disorders. However, prolonged benzo use can lead to physical dependence and addiction, causing severe damage to a user’s health, home and work-life.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzos are a type of central nervous system depressant that slows down activity in the brain. They work by affecting the availability of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain, affecting communication between cells. In particular, they increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity. This causes you to feel calm and more relaxed.
Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to treat mental health disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, other anxiety disorders and insomnia. You may also be prescribed benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal symptoms and seizures.
Different types of benzodiazepines vary according to how quickly they affect the body and how long they stay in your system. Short-acting benzos have a shorter half-life – the time it takes for a substance to reduce to half its original value. The effects of short-acting benzos like Clorazepate (Tranxene) may last 3-8 hours, while the effects of long-acting benzos like Diazepam (Valium) may last from 1 – 3 days.
What Is Benzodiazepine Addiction?
Benzodiazepine addiction is when you compulsively seek or use benzodiazepines despite the negative consequences. While it is possible to become addicted to benzos when taking them exactly as your doctor prescribes, misusing benzos makes developing addiction more likely.
Benzo misuse usually involves taking higher doses of benzos, taking them more frequently or for longer than is recommended, or mixing benzos with other substances. People may abuse benzos for several reasons, including:
- to experience a euphoric high
- to self-medicate for anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions
- to feel calmer and more relaxed
What Is Benzodiazepine Dependence?
Benzodiazepine addiction and dependence are distinct concepts, and the two often go hand in hand. Benzodiazepine dependence happens when you repeatedly take benzos over time. Your body becomes used to the substance and adjusts its own production of chemicals so it can continue to function normally. If you suddenly stop taking benzos, you experience an imbalance in chemicals that manifests as withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepine dependence can develop very quickly. Research shows that benzo dependence can develop with just three weeks of benzo use, even when following a prescription exactly. However, while doctors recommend that benzo prescriptions are limited to 1-2 weeks in duration, around 300,000 people in the UK are on long-term benzodiazepine prescriptions.
In addition, benzodiazepine withdrawal is among the most dangerous of any substance. Without proper medical support, severe withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
Benzodiazepine addiction can have a serious impact on your daily life. It can dominate your thoughts and everyday routines and cause you to neglect work and home responsibilities. It can cause long-term damage to your health and cognitive functions and prevent you from achieving your full potential. It also increases the risk of benzodiazepine overdose.
The good news is addiction is treatable. With the proper support, anyone can recover from an addiction and get their lives back on track.
Outpatient Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Not everyone can afford to put their lives on hold to attend addiction treatment. Outpatient treatment programmes allow you to attend treatment programmes part-time while fulfilling other duties and obligations. Outpatient programmes may consist of two parts – benzodiazepine detox and long-term addiction treatment.
The first stage of addiction treatment usually involves detox – the process of removing all traces of a substance and its toxins from your body.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can result in potentially life-threatening symptoms known as grand mal seizures. Because of this, you should never attempt a benzodiazepine detox by yourself. Medically assisted detox offers professional medical supervision to ensure your safety at all times and make the process as comfortable as possible.
People with a severe benzodiazepine addiction often require 24-hour medical supervision in a specialised treatment facility to constantly monitor and treat benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. People with milder addictions, however, may be suitable for outpatient programmes. Outpatient detox involves:
- An assessment of your mental health, physical health, and history of drug use
- A personalised detox plan designed by medical professionals – this usually involves gradually tapering off benzodiazepine usage, substituting longer-acting benzos for shorter-acting ones, and/or using a substitute drug like an antidepressant
- Regular physical health check-ups by a doctor
- Psychological support
During an outpatient programme, your doctor will look out for severe symptoms or signs of medical complications and move you to an inpatient facility if necessary.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Some people experience more protracted withdrawal symptoms known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). PAWS tend to be mild and may resemble symptoms of mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
Long-Term Addiction Treatment Services
Detox alone is rarely sufficient for long-term recovery from addiction. Sustained recovery requires identifying the underlying causes of benzodiazepine abuse and developing the skills to overcome them.
Outpatient treatment programmes usually offer a variety of treatment options, combined in an individualised programme to suit each client’s needs. Outpatient programmes allow you to attend treatment sessions part-time while continuing to live at home and fulfil daily obligations. They support you with making meaningful changes in real-time, allowing you to practice skills in between sessions and offer feedback to your therapists.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based talking therapy founded on the idea that our thought patterns, feelings, and behaviours are interconnected. We can become trapped in cycles of negative thought patterns and substance abuse.
CBT helps you break down thought and behavioural patterns and make them more positive. It focuses on present experiences rather than the past, allowing you to make meaningful improvements to your day-to-day life. Research has shown CBT can effectively treat substance use disorders and produce long-lasting changes that persist beyond the end of treatment.
Many people living with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder like anxiety or depression. These disorders can be a driving factor behind drug abuse, causing people to turn to drugs like benzodiazepines as a coping mechanism.
Dual-diagnosis programmes treat underlying mental health disorders alongside addiction. They offer holistic recovery for the entire person, focusing on overall well-being and long-term prosperity.
Group therapy is an integral part of addiction recovery. It’s a chance to improve communication skills, learn from others in recovery, and find acceptance in shared experiences.
Recovery is a long process, and you will inevitably encounter challenges along the way. Mutually supportive relationships are key to finding the strength, encouragement, and motivation to work through tough times. Group programmes help you develop the skills that nurture such relationships, laying the foundations for life-long recovery.
The Revoke Programme
The Revoke Programme is a highly-effective outpatient programme for substance use addiction. Our afternoon and evening sessions fit around your daily schedule so you can recover from addiction without taking a complete break from your everyday responsibilities. We provide you with the skills necessary to make meaningful and long-lasting lifestyle changes so you can overcome addiction and maintain abstinence in the years ahead.