Tapering off Benzodiazepines Can Be a Challenge, But No One Has to Do It Alone
Benzodiazepines are meant for short-term use: generally for no more than two to four weeks. Tapering off them, by slowly reducing dosage and intake over a recommended period, is key to transitioning away from their short-term intervention toward more sustainable long-term management strategies. We’ve answered the common questions about tapering, and provided guidance on how to do it safely and with help from medical professionals.
Nearly 20% of all American adults struggle with anxiety, and many more have experienced symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are medications commonly used to target physical symptoms, relieving tension in the body and combating insomnia, among other effects. As many as 12% of American adults take benzodiazepines, whether prescribed from a doctor or obtained through alternative means.
But benzodiazepines, which act quickly and offer only temporary relief of symptoms, are meant for short-term use: generally for no more than two to four weeks. Tapering off benzodiazepines, by slowly reducing dosage and intake over a recommended period, is key to transitioning away from their short-term intervention toward more sustainable long-term management strategies.
Though tapering is a conventional practice, patients may find they lack information or support services when it comes to coming off benzodiazepines. Here are common questions about tapering, and guidance for how to do it safely and with guidance from medical professionals.
Why is it necessary to taper off benzodiazepines?
Prolonged use of benzodiazepines often results in both physiological and psychological dependency. Ceasing use abruptly can result in withdrawal, the severity of which varies depending on how much and for how long someone has been regularly taking the medication. Withdrawal symptoms vary, but can include irritability, insomnia, feelings of panic, headaches, and more. Severe withdrawal can even be life-threatening.
The process of tapering off benzodiazepines begins with determining how patients use them, and any withdrawal symptoms they may be experiencing. Lucid Lane offers individualized treatment and tapering strategies based on a mental health assessment.
What is the best way to taper?
There is no set schedule for tapering off benzodiazepines. How dosage is reduced, and over what period of time, is best determined by the patient themselves in cooperation with medical support. Tapering often works best in conjunction with other strategies, to combat both withdrawal and manage the symptoms that led patients to seek out benzodiazepines in the first place. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or talk therapy, has been shown to greatly increase the success rate of tapering.
Learning more about benzodiazepines and how they work on the body has also proven to boost success rates by up to five times. Educating patients about benzodiazepines, and one-on-one therapy with licensed counselors, are both part of Lucid Lane’s comprehensive strategy for helping people successfully taper off benzodiazepines. Support groups led by counselors also help patients understand that they’re far from alone in the process.
“Reaching the ultimate goal of tapering to zero can look different for everyone. The best chances for success come with comprehensive support services, and a commitment to utilize them when needed.”
What’s the best way to ensure tapering is successful?
Every person faces their own challenges when it comes to tapering, be they varied withdrawal symptoms, life circumstances, or other substance dependence issues. Reaching the ultimate goal of tapering to zero can look different for everyone. The best chances for success come with comprehensive support services, and a commitment to utilize them when needed.
In addition to private telehealth visits and therapy services, Lucid Lane offers 24/7 support whether patients are in crisis or simply have a question about treatment. Regular health checks also help track patient progress, which can offer concrete assurance that tapering is moving in the right direction.