Melatonin: Can It Help Ease Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
This natural chemical’s main function is to help individuals sleep at nighttime. But can melatonin also help ease the uncomfortable side effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal?
What Is Benzo Withdrawal?
Benzodiazepines, which are better known as “benzos,” are prescription depressant drugs that impact the central nervous system. As the most commonly prescribed category of drugs in the United States, benzos are available in several brand names including Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. These medications are usually prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia or sleep disorders, and seizures. While they can be very effective and can have relaxing effects, benzodiazepines can be extremely habit-forming and dangerous even when used correctly.
All drugs in the benzodiazepine category have the potential to cause dependence and addiction. If someone is addicted to benzodiazepines and suddenly stops taking their prescription or decreases their dosage, they are likely to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This is because the body becomes dependent on benzodiazepines and is adjusting to functioning normally without them again.
Withdrawal is a set of undesirable side effects that occur after someone stops using benzos or adjusts their dosage without a doctor’s recommendation. This process can be extremely dangerous if not treated properly – withdrawal should be administered under medical supervision and is not safe if done alone. This is because of the intensity of its symptoms.
What Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Feels Like
The process of benzo withdrawal can be both difficult and dangerous, but can be maintained if handled in a medical environment. Here are some common symptoms of benzo withdrawal:
- Abnormal body sensations
- Hand tremors
- Weight loss
- Muscle spasms
- Racing pulse
- Grand Mal seizures
- Body aches and pains
- Detachment from reality
- Trouble concentrating
- Panic attacks
This process can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Someone who experiences benzo withdrawal may feel anxious or on-edge for up to three weeks. Since these side effects can be very uncomfortable and can get in the way of daily life, some people may seek additional treatment methods to help ease them.
It is rumored that melatonin, a natural chemical that is also available as a lab-made supplement, may help ease some of the side effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal. But is this treatment method actually effective and safe when it comes to withdrawal?
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone in the body that plays a huge role in how and when we sleep. Our body releases and produces melatonin at certain times of day to ensure we sleep when we are supposed to. Darkness, for instance, triggers the body to make more melatonin so we can effectively fall and stay asleep. When people have insomnia or another type of sleep disorder, their body isn’t producing enough melatonin. Individuals with jet lag, chronic pain, depression, or dementia may also struggle to produce appropriate levels of melatonin.
This is why people may seek the melatonin supplement, which is created in a lab. Melatonin supplements are most commonly in the form of an oral tablet or capsule, but are also as a cream, gargling liquid, or gel. This supplement is generally safe for short-term use, but should be taken under medical supervision. Possible side effects of melatonin supplements include headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Can Melatonin Help With Benzo Withdrawal?
Even though melatonin can help increase sleep and reduce headaches, it is unlikely to be effective in withdrawal treatment. This is because the effects of melatonin are usually inactive when combined with substances like benzodiazepines. If melatonin works for someone’s insomnia before they start using benzos, it will not be effective during withdrawal. So, therefore, if someone with insomnia or another sleep disorder decides to take melatonin at night to reduce withdrawal symptoms, it probably will not work.
Effective Treatment Methods For Benzo Withdrawal
While melatonin can not help treat or ease symptoms of benzo withdrawal, there are many other accessible options that can. The first step of benzo withdrawal treatment is detoxing, which is typically administered in a hospital or rehab facility. During benzo detox, a medical professional will create a unique treatment plan to suit the patient’s needs. Treatment plans will usually require a combination of therapies and medications to curb cravings and give patients the tools they need to understand and overcome their benzo dependence. Individuals suffering from anxiety, for example, will likely receive CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), mindfulness training, antidepressant medications, and a light exercise routine to follow.
If you’d like to learn more about benzo withdrawal and how you can ease the symptoms call 267.719.8689.