Should I Quit Benzos Cold Turkey?

Should I Quit Benzos Cold Turkey?

If you’re struggling with benzo abuse and thinking through your options for quitting, you’ve come to the right place. There are ways to go about this process that are safer than others - read on to know what dangers to avoid and what could be most effective for you in your journey to recovery.

Benzos, short for benzodiazepines, are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other related conditions. However, abruptly stopping benzos (ie, quitting cold turkey) without proper guidance and support can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and health risks.

Understanding Benzos

What are Benzos?

Benzos are a group of prescription medications that act as central nervous system depressants. They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps to calm the brain and reduce excessive neural activity. Commonly prescribed benzos include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin).

Common Uses of Benzos

Benzos are primarily prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures. They are also sometimes used as sedatives before medical procedures. However, due to their potential for dependence and addiction, they are typically prescribed for short durations.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Benzos

While benzos can be effective in managing certain conditions, they also carry risks and potential side effects. Some of the common side effects of benzos include drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, and memory problems. Prolonged use or misuse of benzos can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction, making it difficult to stop using them without professional guidance.

The Dangers of Quitting Benzos Cold Turkey

Quitting benzos cold turkey can be extremely challenging and potentially dangerous due to the withdrawal symptoms and health risks involved. It is essential to understand the potential dangers and seek professional help for a safe and successful withdrawal process.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone abruptly stops taking benzos, their body and brain go through a period of adjustment, known as withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on factors such as the duration and dosage of benzo use. Common withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, nausea, headaches, muscle aches, and increased heart rate.

Health Risks

The sudden discontinuation of benzos can pose serious health risks, particularly for individuals who have been using them for an extended period or at high doses. Some of the potential health risks associated with quitting benzos cold turkey include increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, respiratory problems, seizures, and psychosis. These risks highlight the importance of seeking professional help and guidance during the withdrawal process.

Seizures and Delirium

One of the most significant risks of quitting benzos cold turkey is the potential for seizures and delirium. These complications can occur, especially in individuals who have been using benzos for an extended period or at high doses. Seizures and delirium can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. It is crucial to taper off benzos under the supervision of a healthcare professional to minimize these risks.

Seeking Professional Help

Quitting benzos cold turkey is not recommended without the guidance and support of a healthcare professional. Professional help can ensure a safer and more successful withdrawal process.

Consulting a Healthcare Provider

The first step in quitting benzos is to consult a healthcare provider who specializes in addiction medicine or psychiatry. They will assess your individual situation and develop a personalized withdrawal plan based on factors such as the duration and dosage of benzo use, overall health, and any co-occurring conditions. It is essential to be open and honest with your healthcare provider about your benzo use, as this will help them create an appropriate treatment plan.

Gradual Tapering

A common approach to quitting benzos is gradual tapering, where the dosage is gradually reduced over time. This method allows the body and brain to adjust gradually, minimizing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and reducing the risk of complications. Gradual tapering should be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional who can monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to support the withdrawal process. MAT involves the use of specific medications, such as diazepam or clonazepam, to help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. These medications are typically used for a short period and gradually tapered off under medical supervision.

Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to manage, but there are various strategies and techniques that can help alleviate discomfort and support the healing process.

Managing Anxiety and Insomnia

Anxiety and insomnia are common withdrawal symptoms when quitting benzos. To manage anxiety, techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation can be helpful. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine and practicing good sleep hygiene can aid in improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia.

Incorporating Self-Care Practices

Self-care practices are essential during the withdrawal process. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as taking warm baths, practicing yoga or tai chi, and spending time in nature, can help reduce stress and support the healing process. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can contribute to overall well-being.

Support from Friends and Family

Having a strong support system is crucial when quitting benzos. Friends and family can provide emotional support, understanding, and encouragement throughout the withdrawal process. It is essential to communicate your needs and feelings with your loved ones, and consider joining support groups or seeking professional counseling for additional support.

Alternatives to Quitting Benzos Cold Turkey

While quitting benzos cold turkey is not recommended, there are alternative approaches that can support the withdrawal process and reduce dependency on these medications.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that can be beneficial for individuals struggling with benzo addiction. CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with substance use. It equips individuals with coping skills and strategies to manage cravings, stress, and other triggers that may contribute to relapse.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation practices can help individuals develop awareness, acceptance, and non-judgmental attitudes towards their thoughts and emotions. These practices can be particularly useful during the withdrawal process, as they can help manage cravings, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into daily routines can support long-term recovery.

Natural Supplements and Remedies

Some individuals may explore natural supplements and remedies to support the withdrawal process. However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any supplements, as they may interact with other medications or have potential side effects. Some commonly used supplements include melatonin for sleep, valerian root for anxiety, and passionflower for relaxation.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive environment is essential for a successful recovery from benzo addiction. Several lifestyle changes and strategies can contribute to a healthier and more supportive environment.

Lifestyle Changes

Making positive lifestyle changes can significantly impact the recovery process. This may include avoiding triggers and situations that may lead to benzo use, adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise and a balanced diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

Stress Management Techniques

Managing stress is crucial during the recovery process. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, journaling, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in relaxation activities can help individuals cope with stress and reduce the risk of relapse.

Healthy Habits

Developing healthy habits can support long-term recovery. This may include establishing a regular sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and limiting the use of other substances such as alcohol or caffeine.

Long-Term Recovery and Relapse Prevention

Quitting benzos is just the first step in the recovery process. Maintaining long-term recovery and preventing relapse require ongoing effort and support.

Therapy and Counseling

Individual therapy and counseling can be invaluable tools in long-term recovery. Therapists can help individuals address underlying issues, develop coping strategies, and navigate the challenges of recovery. Different therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing, may be used based on individual needs.

Support Groups and Peer Support

Participating in support groups, such as 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide a sense of community, understanding, and accountability. Peer support can be instrumental in maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse, as individuals can learn from others who have gone through similar experiences.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Developing healthy coping mechanisms is crucial for long-term recovery. This may include finding alternative ways to manage stress, such as engaging in hobbies, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from friends and family. Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment can help individuals find healthier outlets for their emotions and reduce the risk of relapse.


Quitting benzos cold turkey can be challenging and potentially dangerous. It is crucial to seek professional help, develop coping strategies for withdrawal symptoms, consider alternative approaches to quitting, create a supportive environment, and maintain long-term recovery. Remember, everyone's journey is unique, and recovery takes time. With the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome benzo addiction and live a healthier, drug-free life.


Compassion Behavioral Health - 5 Signs of Benzo Withdrawal

Addiction Center - Benzo Withdrawal and Detox

Gratitude Lodge - Benzo Detox: How to Withdraw Safely

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