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How Long Does Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines Last?

Posted on December 8, 2023

How Long Does Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines Last?

Benzodiazepines are medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures.

They’re often sold in the UK under different brand names and products, including Valium and Xanax.

Benzodiazepines work by binding neurotransmitters called GABA to various other receptors throughout the central nervous system.

According to the Mental Health Charity Mind, [1] they work as a sedative which slows down the brain and body’s functions so that they are able to relax and fall asleep easier.

Benzodiazepines tend to stay in the body for longer than other types of sedatives and drugs, [2] which means that you should really benefit from taking benzodiazepines, and won’t have to take them every few hours to maintain their effect and benefits.

Unfortunately, this also means that people who consume benzodiazepines run a greater risk of becoming physically dependent on the substance, even if they take it as instructed by a doctor or medical professional.

To begin your recovery journey at a drug and alcohol rehab today, call our experts on 0800 088 66 86

When Might I Be Prescribed Benzodiazepines?

An individual might be prescribed benzodiazepines If they are struggling from severe anxiety or insomnia.

These conditions will only be classified as severe if they are having a major effect on your day-to-day life and are getting in the way of your work, your family life and your happiness. 

Benzodiazepines might also be prescribed to an individual who is suffering from a panic disorder.

It is important to understand that if you suffer from certain traumatic events, then you will not be prescribed benzodiazepines to help.

For example, if you are struggling with bereavement, then you will not be prescribed benzodiazepines to help, as this type of drug helps to numb your emotions, which is not necessarily healthy when it comes to grieving properly.

If you are prescribed benzodiazepines, then make sure that you take them as prescribed by your doctor.

Your doctor will tell you exactly how often you should be taking them and it’s important that you listen to this and follow their instructions carefully.

Otherwise, you might run the risk of accidentally overdosing on benzodiazepines.

If you are suffering from anxiety, a panic disorder or insomnia, then reach out to your local GP or mental health services for help and support. 

If you would like to learn more about benzodiazepines, call our team on 0800 088 66 86

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Symptoms


When an individual abuses benzodiazepines, they will become addicted and physically dependent on the drug over time.

They will be both physically and mentally addicted to the substance, which means that they will then go on to experience withdrawal symptoms should they stop taking the substance.

If you suffer from a severe addiction to this substance, then you might only have to withdraw from the substance for as little as a few hours or one day for you to experience withdrawal symptoms.

There are a whole host of withdrawal symptoms [3] that you will experience if you are addicted to benzodiazepine and withdraw, ranging in severity from severe to moderate and mild. 

How severe your withdrawal symptoms are depends on a number of different factors, including how dependent you are on the substance and how long you have been consuming the substance for.

Whilst none of the below symptoms are lethal and will end in death, they do make it incredibly difficult to restrain from relapsing and abusing the substance again, even during the detox process.

Below is a list of some of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal:

  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Heart tremors
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Seizures

If you experience any of the above symptoms whilst you are trying to withdraw from benzodiazepines then you might need treatment, including medication.

There are lots of different types of benzodiazepines, which all bring different withdrawal symptoms.

They all leave the bloodstream at different rates, which also makes it difficult to predict how severe an individual’s withdrawal symptoms will be and what those withdrawal symptoms will consist of.

Discover everything you need to know about benzodiazepines by giving our team a call on 0800 088 66 86

Duration Of Withdrawal

Everyone’s withdrawal is different. It is often hard to tell how severe someone’s withdrawal will be and what their symptoms are until they are undergoing a withdrawal.

Benzodiazepines all have shorter half-lives than other drugs.

This means that withdrawal symptoms from short-acting benzodiazepines start sooner than those from longer-acting benzodiazepines, because it doesn’t take as long for the drug to leave the individual’s body.

When you abuse a short-acting benzodiazepine, you should expect to experience withdrawal symptoms within just 6 – 8 hours after withdrawing from the drug.

When you consume long-acting benzodiazepines, you should expect to experience withdrawal symptoms within 24 – 48 hours after withdrawing from the substance.

Short-acting benzodiazepines tend to bring with them more intense withdrawal symptoms than long-acting benzodiazepines.

For more information on the differences between long and short-acting benzodiazepines, read more information below.

Get the help you need to overcome benzodiazepine addiction by calling us on 0800 088 66 86

What is the Difference Between Long and Short-Acting Benzodiazepines?

Pills spilling out of a bottle

There are a number of factors that influence how fast benzodiazepines are and how quickly you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

In order to understand why, it is important to assess and understand the half-life of different benzodiazepines, including short-acting benzodiazepines and long-acting benzodiazepines.

Short-acting benzodiazepines only have a short half-life. This means that the drug leaves your body quicker than other types of drugs and all have a longer half-life.

However, it is important to understand that as the drug leaves your body at a faster rate, you are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms faster, as your body will start to crave the substance more. 

This is mainly because your body will crave the substance more quickly once it realises that it has left your body.

However, long-acting benzodiazepines have a longer half-life, which means that they stay in your body for longer as your body processes it more slowly.

With this type of benzodiazepine, you are much more likely to feel groggy and tired once you withdraw from the substance, rather than experiencing the unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms that often come with withdrawing from short-acting benzodiazepines.

When it comes to what type of benzodiazepines you will be prescribed, short-acting benzodiazepines are much more likely to be prescribed to someone who is suffering from issues sleeping, such as insomnia.

Alternatively, long-acting benzodiazepines are much more likely to be prescribed to someone who is suffering from mental health issues, such as anxiety.

There are a number of different factors that will determine the duration of your withdrawal, along with whether you are prescribed short-acting benzodiazepines or long-acting benzodiazepines.

Below is a list of just some of these determining factors:

1. Potency and strength

The potency and strength of your benzodiazepine will determine how quickly it leaves your body and how severe your withdrawal symptoms will be.

This means that if the strength or potency of your prescribed benzodiazepines is high, then you might only need to consume a little bit of the substance to feel a greater effect.

2. Metabolization and breakdown in your body

Your body’s natural metabolization rate will also determine how quickly you experience the effects of the drug or substance, as well as how quickly you experience withdrawal symptoms.

Some benzodiazepines are known to produce additional chemicals in the brain and in the body as they are metabolising, meaning that they will stay in your body for longer, which subsequently means that you are able to go longer without experiencing withdrawal symptoms, as the drug is still being absorbed and metabolised by the body.

Learn more about benzodiazepines and their impact on your life by calling us today on 0800 088 66 86

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline

Doctor with clipboard

As discussed above, the withdrawal timeline of any benzodiazepine depends on a number of different factors including the type of benzodiazepine you are consuming and whether that is a short-acting or long-acting type of substance.

Most withdrawal symptoms start within the first 12 hours of withdrawing from a substance, and could last weeks or even months if you go on to suffer from what is known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, sometimes referred to as PAWS.

In fact, some studies have shown that PAWS can go on to last a number of months and is more likely to occur if you suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition alongside your addiction to benzodiazepine – what is called a dual diagnosis.

For any short-acting benzodiazepines, you are likely to experience your first withdrawal symptoms within 10 – 12 hours of initially withdrawing.

Your withdrawal symptoms will likely be quite intense and short. 

For any long-acting benzodiazepine users, you should expect to first notice and experience withdrawal symptoms after a few days, as the half-life is longer and it will therefore take longer for the substance to leave your system, slowing the onset of any withdrawal symptoms.

Get everything you need to know about the benzodiazepine withdrawal timeline by calling us on 0800 088 66 86

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Phases

A doctor typing with a stethoscope beside the laptop

As with any withdrawal, there are a number of phases involved.

With withdrawal from benzodiazepine, there are three main phases. 

These phases include early withdrawal, acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal.

These different stages all have different withdrawal symptoms which need to be managed differently.

1. Early withdrawal

The early withdrawal stage of your withdrawal from benzodiazepine will start anytime between the first 6 – 12 hours after withdrawing from the substance.

You will most likely experience anxiety and insomnia during this time and it will start to feel like you are regressing, with a lot of your previous symptoms that benzodiazepine has been suppressing coming back in full force.

2. Acute withdrawal

Acute withdrawal symptoms start within a few days of initially withdrawing from benzodiazepines. During this time, you will be experiencing your peak withdrawal symptoms. 

You will likely still be feeling anxious and struggling with insomnia, but will also start to struggle with feeling and being sick, blurred vision, muscle spasms and muscle tension.

During this time, you will also start to experience diarrhoea, mood swings and feeling irritated on a regular basis. You will also likely experience brain fog and severe drug cravings.

If your symptoms become too severe, then you will likely be prescribed some form of medication to help you to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

It is important to understand that during this time, your symptoms might last a number of days or even weeks.

In some severe cases, some of these withdrawal symptoms can last a number of months.

It is also important to understand that you might also experience suicidal thoughts during this time, which are important to understand and seek help for should you require it.

3. Protracted withdrawal

Only a small percentage of individuals go on to experience protracted withdrawal, which is also commonly referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). 

These withdrawal symptoms can last for months after initially withdrawing from benzodiazepine. During this time, they might start to experience prolonged anxiety, mood swings, irritation and insomnia.

If you do experience protracted withdrawal, then you might want to continue receiving treatment during this time, including therapy.

If you are suffering from a mental health issue alongside your addiction, then you are said to be suffering from a dual diagnosis, which will usually require ongoing therapy in order to recover from even after your withdrawal symptoms end.

 Find the support you need to recover from benzodiazepine addiction by calling us on 0800 088 66 86

Suicide Prevention

People holding hands

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self harm, then it is important to seek help.

You should ring 999 if you think that you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else.

There are a number of helplines available to you, which are all free to call around the clock:

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, then please seek help from professionals. 

If you are suffering from an addiction issue alongside a mental health problem, then you might be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis, which will be treated separately.

Don’t let addiction control your life – call our expert team on 0800 088 66 86

Antidepressants and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

blue pill

Some people who withdraw from benzodiazepines and experience severe withdrawal symptoms might be prescribed antidepressants after coming off of benzodiazepine.

This is because lots of people who withdraw from benzodiazepine might suffer from depression afterwards.

However, a number of studies have found [8] that antidepressants aren’t as effective as treating symptoms of depression caused by benzodiazepine withdrawal, compared to how effective they are at treating depression triggered by natural causes.

Make sure that you get the help you need to recover from benzodiazepine addiction by giving us a call on 0800 088 66 86

Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction


If you are addicted to benzodiazepine and think that you need to withdraw in order to recover from your addiction, then you might need to attend drug and alcohol rehab.

If you are addicted to benzodiazepine then you will sufferf from both a physical and mental addiction.

This means that if you stop consuming the drug for even a day or two, you will likely experience some very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which need to be managed.

Upon arrival at a rehab treatment centre, you will be placed within a detox unit, where your withdrawal symptoms will be managed and monitored carefully. 

Your withdrawal will be managed and monitored around the clock [9] from healthcare professionals with experience in detox and rehabilitation.

Once your detox from benzodiazepine is complete, you will then most likely remain in the rehab facility for a number of weeks, where you will undergo therapy.

This will usually consist of the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, holistic therapy as well as group and family therapy.

Once you leave the rehab facility, you will be expected to continue your treatment via outpatient and aftercare facilities. This might include self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Meetings.

Get the treatment you need to recover from benzodiazepine addiction at a drug and alcohol rehab near you by calling us today on 0800 088 66 86

Talk to Rehab Recovery

Woman with painted nails holding a mobile

If you are struggling from an addiction to benzodiazepines, then speak to a member of the team at Rehab Recovery for help and support.

Our team of professionals are on hand to provide you with help and support on how to qualify for and receive treatment.

You can call our team for free on 0800 088 66 86.

All your conversations with our team are entirely confidential and our team will never judge you or your circumstances. We will also never put any pressure on you to attend rehab unless you want to.

For help and support with an addiction to benzodiazepine, call our team at Rehab Recovery today.











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