Benzo Belly: Benzodiazepine Abuse and Withdrawal

benzo belly

Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are powerful prescription medications primarily used to treat anxiety disorders. Some of the most recognized names in this class include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan. While these drugs can effectively alleviate anxiety symptoms, misuse or abrupt cessation can lead to adverse side effects, one of which is the lesser-known “benzo belly.”

The Dangers of Prescription Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines function as central nervous system depressants that decelerate brain activity. Their mechanism primarily involves amplifying the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, leading to a calming effect. Benzos are addictive because they enhance dopamine, a crucial neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

After continuous use for a few weeks, the brain may become reliant on these drugs to release such neurotransmitters. This dependency can have twofold implications – it can magnify anxiety and cause physical and psychological addiction.

Benzos’ addictive nature makes them particularly challenging to quit. Abruptly discontinuing them can provoke severe withdrawal symptoms, compelling many to return to drug use. Symptoms that indicate dependence on benzodiazepines include:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Cold sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety flare-ups
  • Intrusive and obsessive thoughts
  • Decline in focus and concentration
  • Elevated heart rate

What Is Benzo Belly?

Benzodiazepines influence nearly every cell in the body, including those in the gastrointestinal tract. Benzo belly is a catch-all term for the stomach and digestive discomfort typically associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal. This condition includes symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, fluctuating appetite and abdominal pain.

Though benzo belly can persist for weeks past the last use of anxiety medicine, some people might experience it for an extended period – possibly due to post-acute withdrawal syndrome. While no specific cure exists for benzo belly, making dietary modifications can alleviate its symptoms. It’s beneficial to consume light, digestible meals, say no to acidic food and beverages and avoid any known food sensitivities.

Where Healing Begins

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is uncomfortable and dangerous. You may find yourself grappling with heightened anxiety and irritability for an extended period. Medically managed detoxification is the safest way to mitigate benzo belly and other unpleasant symptoms, ensuring you are stable enough to begin therapy to address the root cause of your addictive behavior.

Acworth Outpatient Detox allows you to recover from addiction on your terms, without leaving home to enroll in a rehab facility. Our team uses cutting-edge withdrawal symptom management that will ensure your comfort throughout the entire process. Prioritize your health and well-being by opting for our professional detox program. Contact us today to learn more.