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Benzodiazepines are highly regulated prescription drugs that function as depressants in the central nervous system. They were discovered in 1954 by an Austrian researcher called Leo Sternbach, and doctors have been utilizing them since the 1960s to treat a range of diseases. Interestingly, over fifty distinct benzos are currently available worldwide.

Because they reduce nervous system activity and responsiveness, benzodiazepines are useful for treating various symptoms and illnesses. The effects can also be pleasurable for many patients, causing ‘highs’ or long, uninterrupted sleep. And this is often one of the common reasons many people abuse and get addicted to the drug.

What are Benzodiazepines (Benzos)?

Benzodiazepines (often abbreviated as “benzos”) are a class of psychoactive drugs that act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. They are commonly prescribed for various medical conditions due to their ability to produce sedative, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects. These medications work by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA has inhibitory effects, leading to a calming and relaxing response.


Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are a diverse class of medications, and various types exist, each with specific properties and uses. Here are some common types of benzodiazepines:

  1. Alprazolam (Xanax): Used primarily for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic disorders. It has a relatively short duration of action.

  2. Diazepam (Valium): Has a broad spectrum of uses, including the treatment of anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal. It has a long duration of action.

  3. Lorazepam (Ativan): Used for the management of anxiety disorders, insomnia, and certain types of seizures. It has an intermediate duration of action.

  4. Clonazepam (Klonopin): Prescribed for panic disorders, certain seizure disorders (such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome), and sometimes for social anxiety disorder.

  5. Chlordiazepoxide (Librium): Used for the management of anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in alcohol dependence.

  6. Oxazepam (Serax): Often used for the treatment of anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. It has a relatively short duration of action.

  7. Temazepam (Restoril): Prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. It has a relatively short duration of action.

  8. Clorazepate (Tranxene): Used for the management of anxiety disorders.

  9. Midazolam (Versed): Known for its rapid onset and short duration of action, it is used for anesthesia induction, procedural sedation, and in the treatment of seizures.

  10. Flurazepam (Dalmane): Primarily used for the treatment of insomnia.

It’s important to note that the choice of benzodiazepine depends on the specific medical condition being treated, the desired duration of action, and individual patient characteristics.


It’s important to note that the appearance and imprints can vary based on the manufacturer and the specific formulation of the medication.

Here are some examples of benzodiazepines and their imprints:

  1. Alprazolam (Xanax):

    • 0.25 mg: “XANAX 0.25”
    • 0.5 mg: “XANAX 0.5”
    • 1 mg: “XANAX 1.0”
    • 2 mg: “XANAX 2”
  2. Diazepam (Valium):

    • 2 mg: “ROCHE 2” (Roche is the manufacturer)
    • 5 mg: “VALIUM 5 ROCHE”
    • 10 mg: “ROCHE ROCHE VALIUM 10”
  3. Lorazepam (Ativan):

    • 0.5 mg: “WYETH” on one side, “0.5” on the other
    • 1 mg: “WYETH” on one side, “1” on the other
    • 2 mg: “WYETH” on one side, “2” on the other
  4. Clonazepam (Klonopin):

    • 0.5 mg: “TEVA” on one side, “834” on the other
    • 1 mg: “TEVA” on one side, “833” on the other
    • 2 mg: “TEVA” on one side, “834” on the other
  5. Chlordiazepoxide (Librium):

    • 5 mg: “LIBRAX ROCHE”
    • 10 mg: “LIBRIUM ROCHE”


Benzodiazepines are prescribed for various medical conditions due to their ability to produce calming, sedative, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects. Here are some common uses of benzodiazepines:

  1. Anxiety Disorders: Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to manage symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. They provide rapid relief from acute anxiety.

  2. Insomnia: Certain benzodiazepines with hypnotic properties, such as temazepam and flurazepam, are prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. They help induce sleep.

  3. Seizure Disorders: Benzodiazepines like clonazepam and diazepam are used in the management of certain seizure disorders, including epilepsy.

  4. Muscle Spasms: Benzodiazepines have muscle relaxant properties and can be prescribed to alleviate muscle spasms and tension.

  5. Alcohol Withdrawal: Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and chlordiazepoxide, are used to manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. They help prevent seizures and reduce anxiety during detoxification.

  6. Sedation for Medical Procedures: Short-acting benzodiazepines like midazolam are used for procedural sedation in medical settings, such as before surgeries or diagnostic procedures.

  7. Status Epilepticus: Intravenous benzodiazepines like diazepam and lorazepam are administered in emergency situations to treat prolonged seizures (status epilepticus).

  8. Agitation and Excitement: Benzodiazepines may be used in certain situations to manage acute agitation and excitement, such as in psychiatric emergencies.

Side Effects

Benzodiazepines can have both short-term and long-term side effects, and the severity of these effects can vary among individuals. It’s important to note that benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for short-term use due to the risks of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term use. Here are some common short-term and long-term side effects:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Sedation and Drowsiness: Benzodiazepines have a calming effect on the central nervous system, leading to drowsiness and sedation.

  2. Impaired Coordination: Benzodiazepines can affect motor skills and coordination, leading to clumsiness and difficulty with tasks requiring precision.

  3. Memory Impairment: Short-term memory and concentration may be affected, leading to forgetfulness or difficulty focusing.

  4. Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness or lightheadedness.

  5. Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea or gastrointestinal discomfort may occur.

  6. Paradoxical Reactions: In some cases, benzodiazepines can cause paradoxical reactions, such as increased anxiety, irritability, or agitation.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance: With prolonged use, individuals may develop tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same therapeutic effects.

  2. Dependence: Long-term use of benzodiazepines can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Abrupt cessation may result in withdrawal symptoms.

  3. Withdrawal Symptoms: Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, sweating, and, in severe cases, seizures.

  4. Cognitive Impairment: Long-term use has been associated with cognitive impairment, including memory and attention deficits.

  5. Increased Fall Risk: Elderly individuals, in particular, are at an increased risk of falls and fractures due to benzodiazepine use.

  6. Sleep Disturbances: Paradoxically, prolonged use may lead to disturbances in sleep patterns.

  7. Depression: Some individuals may experience depressive symptoms with long-term use.

  8. Risk of Addiction: The risk of addiction is higher with prolonged use, especially in individuals with a history of substance abuse.

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

How do Benzodiazepines work?

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, meaning it has a calming or inhibitory effect on nerve activity. Benzodiazepines bind to a specific site on the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid type A) receptor complex, which is a receptor for GABA.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of how benzodiazepines work:

  1. GABA Receptor Enhancement: GABA-A receptors are ion channels that, when activated by GABA, allow chloride ions to enter the neuron, leading to a hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. This hyperpolarization inhibits the neuron from firing and transmitting signals.

  2. Benzodiazepine Binding: Benzodiazepines bind to a specific site on the GABA-A receptor complex, which is distinct from the GABA binding site. This binding potentiates the effect of GABA by increasing the frequency with which the chloride channel opens in response to GABA binding.

  3. Increased Chloride Influx: The presence of benzodiazepines enhances the effect of GABA, leading to an increased influx of chloride ions into the neuron when GABA binds to its receptor. This further hyperpolarizes the neuron, making it less likely to generate an action potential and transmit signals.

  4. CNS Depression: The overall effect of benzodiazepines is central nervous system (CNS) depression. This results in a calming effect, reduced neural excitability, muscle relaxation, and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects.

The specific actions of benzodiazepines depend on the subtype of GABA-A receptor and the location of these receptors in the brain. Different benzodiazepines may have varying affinities for different GABA-A receptor subtypes, contributing to differences in their therapeutic effects.

Risks of Benzodiazepine Use

The use of benzodiazepines is associated with various risks and potential side effects, and it’s important for individuals to be aware of these before starting such medications. Some of the key risks and considerations include:

  1. Risk of Dependence: Prolonged use of benzodiazepines can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Dependence means that the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the medication, and abrupt cessation can result in withdrawal symptoms.

  2. Withdrawal Symptoms: Discontinuing benzodiazepines abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, tremors, sweating, irritability, and, in severe cases, seizures. Withdrawal symptoms are more likely to occur with long-term use.

  3. Tolerance: Over time, individuals may develop tolerance to the therapeutic effects of benzodiazepines, requiring higher doses to achieve the same level of relief.

  4. Cognitive Impairment: Benzodiazepines can cause cognitive impairment, including memory and attention deficits. This is more prominent in the elderly and can affect daily functioning.

  5. Increased Fall Risk: Elderly individuals, in particular, are at an increased risk of falls and fractures due to the sedative and muscle-relaxant effects of benzodiazepines.

  6. Addiction: Misuse or long-term use of benzodiazepines can lead to addiction, characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and continued use despite negative consequences.

  7. Disinhibition: Benzodiazepines can sometimes cause disinhibition, leading to impulsive or risky behaviors.

  8. Paradoxical Reactions: In some cases, benzodiazepines can cause paradoxical reactions, such as increased anxiety, restlessness, or agitation.

  9. Respiratory Depression: High doses of benzodiazepines, especially when combined with other substances like alcohol, can lead to respiratory depression, a slowing or cessation of breathing.

  10. Interaction with Other Substances: Benzodiazepines can interact with other substances, including alcohol and certain medications, leading to enhanced sedation and other adverse effects.

  11. Long-Term Cognitive Effects: Some studies suggest that long-term use of benzodiazepines may be associated with persistent cognitive effects, even after discontinuation.

It’s crucial for individuals prescribed benzodiazepines to use them only under the supervision of a healthcare professional and to follow the prescribed dosage and duration of use. Any concerns or side effects should be promptly discussed with the prescribing doctor. Benzodiazepines are generally recommended for short-term use, and alternative treatments may be explored for certain conditions. Abruptly stopping benzodiazepines without medical guidance should be avoided to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Syndrome

Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome refers to a set of symptoms that can occur when an individual who has been using benzodiazepines, either as prescribed or inappropriately, suddenly stops or significantly reduces their dosage. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and they are more likely to occur with long-term or high-dose use. It’s important to note that withdrawal should be managed under the guidance of a healthcare professional to minimize risks and ensure the safety of the individual.

Common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome include:

  1. Anxiety and Panic: Increased anxiety is a hallmark of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Panic attacks may also occur.

  2. Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be a prominent withdrawal symptom.

  3. Tremors and Shaking: Fine tremors or more pronounced shaking of the hands or other parts of the body may occur.

  4. Muscle Pain and Stiffness: Individuals may experience muscle aches, pains, and stiffness.

  5. Irritability and Agitation: Mood changes, including irritability and agitation, are common during withdrawal.

  6. Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting may occur.

  7. Sweating: Profuse sweating, especially at night, is a common withdrawal symptom.

  8. Headaches: Individuals may experience headaches or migraines during withdrawal.

  9. Depersonalization and Derealization: Feelings of detachment from oneself or the surrounding environment may occur.

  10. Visual Disturbances: Blurred vision or other visual disturbances may be reported.

  11. Hypersensitivity to Stimuli: Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and touch is common.

  12. Seizures: In severe cases, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can lead to seizures. This risk is higher in individuals with a history of seizures.

It’s crucial to emphasize that the withdrawal process should be gradual and conducted under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Tapering the dosage slowly allows the body to adjust gradually, minimizing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Abrupt discontinuation of benzodiazepines, especially after long-term use, can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms and an increased risk of complications.

What is Benzo Flu?

Benzo refers to the flu-like symptoms that occur during Benzo withdrawal. These signs and symptoms are the brain’s response to the withdrawal of the drug’s influence.

Each person will have unique benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Several variables, including the average Benzo dose consumption and the duration of Benzo use, may influence the severity and length of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of benzo flu include the following:

  •   Body aches
  •   Headaches
  •   Increased blood pressure
  •   High heart rate
  •   Nausea and vomiting
  •   Digestive problems
  •   Diarrhea and constipation
  •   Abdominal pain
  •   Weakness and fatigue
  •   Sweating and chills
  •   Insomnia
  •   Muscle spasms and pain
  •   Dizziness
  •   Blurred vision
  •   General malaise

Preventing the Benzo Flu

Preventing or minimizing the symptoms associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal, sometimes informally referred to as “benzo flu,” involves careful management and, ideally, should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Here are some considerations:

  1. Gradual Tapering: The most effective way to prevent or minimize withdrawal symptoms is through a gradual tapering of the benzodiazepine dosage. Abrupt discontinuation can lead to more severe symptoms. Tapering allows the body to adjust slowly to the reduced levels of the medication.

  2. Medical Supervision: Withdrawal from benzodiazepines should be supervised by a healthcare professional. They can create an individualized tapering plan, monitor symptoms, and make adjustments as needed. This is especially important for individuals with a history of seizures or other medical conditions.

  3. Patient Education: Healthcare providers should educate patients about what to expect during the withdrawal process. This includes information about potential symptoms, their duration, and strategies for managing them.

  4. Supportive Therapies: Supportive therapies, such as counseling, behavioral therapies, and stress-reduction techniques, can be beneficial during the withdrawal process. These approaches can help individuals cope with anxiety and stress without relying solely on medication.

  5. Nutrition and Hydration: Maintaining a healthy diet and staying well-hydrated can support overall well-being and may help manage certain withdrawal symptoms.

  6. Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can have positive effects on mood and may help alleviate some symptoms associated with withdrawal.

  7. Sleep Hygiene: Establishing good sleep hygiene practices can be crucial during benzodiazepine withdrawal, as sleep disturbances are common. This may include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants close to bedtime.

  8. Medications for Symptom Management: In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe other medications to help manage specific symptoms, such as insomnia or anxiety, during the withdrawal process.

It’s essential for individuals to communicate openly with their healthcare providers throughout the withdrawal process, reporting any changes in symptoms or concerns. Every person’s experience with benzodiazepine withdrawal is unique, and an individualized approach is important for successful management.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Benzo Flu

Based on these symptoms and the patient’s previous usage of benzodiazepines to treat other medical illnesses, a medical specialist may diagnose Benzo Flu in a patient. After the diagnosis is carried out, the patient can choose from two treatment options: pharmaceutical and nonpharmacological.

Medication is used in pharmacological therapies to decrease withdrawal symptoms and help in benzodiazepine tapering. Treatment methods that do not rely on medications include:

The treatment options for benzodiazepine withdrawal can vary based on the severity of symptoms, individual needs, and medical history. Treatment may include both inpatient and outpatient approaches, and the decision often depends on the level of medical supervision required. Here are common treatment options:

1. Outpatient Treatment:

  • Gradual Tapering: The primary approach for benzodiazepine withdrawal is a gradual tapering of the medication under the supervision of a healthcare professional. This is typically done on an outpatient basis.

  • Medical Supervision: Regular check-ins with a healthcare provider are important to monitor progress, adjust the tapering plan, and address any emerging symptoms.

  • Psychosocial Support: Outpatient therapy, counseling, and support groups can provide psychological support during the withdrawal process.

  • Education: Providing information and education about withdrawal symptoms, coping strategies, and the expected timeline is crucial for outpatient management.

  • Pharmacotherapy: In some cases, additional medications may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms such as anxiety or insomnia.

2. Inpatient Treatment:

  • Medically Supervised Detoxification: For individuals with severe withdrawal symptoms, a medically supervised detoxification in an inpatient setting may be necessary. This allows for close monitoring of vital signs and the administration of medications if needed.

  • Psychiatric Assessment: Inpatient treatment allows for a comprehensive psychiatric assessment to address any co-occurring mental health conditions.

  • Structured Environment: Inpatient treatment provides a structured and supportive environment, minimizing external stressors and promoting a focus on recovery.

  • 24/7 Medical Care: Inpatient settings offer round-the-clock medical care and supervision, especially important for individuals at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.

3. Detoxification Programs:

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Some detoxification programs may use medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms. This may involve the use of a long-acting benzodiazepine or other medications.

  • Supervised Tapering: Detox programs often involve a supervised tapering process to gradually reduce the dose of benzodiazepines.

  • Supportive Therapies: Counseling, psychoeducation, and other supportive therapies are often incorporated into detox programs to address psychological aspects of withdrawal.

4. Aftercare and Relapse Prevention:

  • Continued Outpatient Care: Following detoxification or inpatient treatment, individuals may continue with outpatient care, including therapy and support groups.

  • Relapse Prevention Strategies: Developing strategies to prevent relapse is an essential component of long-term recovery. This may include ongoing counseling, relapse prevention planning, and participation in support groups.

It’s important to emphasize that the choice between inpatient and outpatient treatment depends on individual factors, and a healthcare professional can help determine the most appropriate approach. Regardless of the setting, a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan is crucial for successful benzodiazepine withdrawal and recovery.

Medical detox

This is a method of safely withdrawing from benzodiazepines while under medical supervision. It involves gradually reducing the medication dosage to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral therapies

These can also be effective in treating Benzo Flu. These therapies help individuals identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors contributing to their addiction. This therapy can also teach coping skills to manage stress and prevent relapse.

Well-defined treatment plan

This is essential in treating Benzo Flu. This plan should include ongoing medical care, therapy, and support groups. Addicts and those in withdrawal may benefit from visiting a support group due to the emotional and customized help they provide.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

While it may not be easy to quit addiction and go through the drug withdrawal stages, you can be provided with the right support to make the process easier.

We understand the hazards and difficulties of benzo withdrawal and are here to help you get through it. Our primary objective is to provide you with compassionate, tailored treatment from our team of highly qualified medical specialists and ensure your physical and emotional wellness during and after.

Call California Prime Recovery today to get further details on how you can start your treatment and rehabilitation process. Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-208-2390

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