Benzodiazapines (benzos): how to get help

You can cut down and stop using benzos on your own, but it may be easier if you get support from a drug and alcohol service like WithYou.

Benzodiazepines (benzos): how to get help

Benzodiazepines are a group of sedative drugs. Some people may be prescribed a type of benzodiazepine, while other types are only available illicitly (sometimes called ‘street benzos’). Street benzos often contain several different drugs, which can increase the risk of overdose.

Benzos include diazepam (Valium), temazepam and alprazolam (Xanax).

A drug and alcohol services like WithYou will work with you to understand the reasons for your benzo use and make a plan to cut down safely.

We can help if you’re buying benzos illegally or we can help you make a plan with your prescriber if they have been prescribed.

Avoid stopping benzos suddenly

Stopping suddenly can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures (fits).

Benzodiazepine withdrawal signs, symptoms, and what to do

If your body develops a tolerance to benzodiazepines, you may feel you need to take more to get the same effects. 

You can become dependent on benzodiazepines, and regular use can lead to physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or cut back.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be fatal. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, call 999.

If you’re dependent on benzodiazepines we can help you cut down safely, as stopping suddenly can lead to withdrawal complications. 

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What do I do if I think someone has overdosed on benzodiazepines?

If someone passes out or falls asleep and you can’t wake them up after using benzodiazepines, put them in the recovery position and get help fast by calling 999, telling emergency services what you know.

Symptoms of benzodiazepines overdose include:

  • Problems with breathing
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Feeling extremely dizzy (caused by low blood pressure)
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Muscle weakness or tremor
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Altered mental state
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Falling into a coma

If you suspect someone has overdosed, it’s always best to administer naloxone. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl. Drugs bought illicitly can contain a mixture of substances, including opioids, so use naloxone if you have it. If someone hasn’t overdosed on opioids, naloxone won’t harm them. 

You can get a naloxone kit and training on how to use it from your local WithYou service. 

More information about naloxone, including how to use it.

What you need to know before you cut down

If you want to start cutting down your benzo use, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • It may take a while to reduce or stop – we’ll work with you to stabilise your benzo use before you start to reduce. Reducing or stopping can take several weeks, depending on how many benzos you're taking and how long you've been taking them.
  • You may need to use your own supply to reduce – we can’t usually prescribe benzos but we can support you to reduce safely using your own supply.
  • Be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms – we'll work with you to make sure any withdrawals are as manageable as possible. We may be able to prescribe medicines to relieve some symptoms, such as nausea or difficulty sleeping.
  • Clear some space in your calendar – coming off benzos can be challenging. You may want to take some time off work or at least not expect too much of yourself for a few weeks.
  • Mental health problems like depression and anxiety may get worse for a while – in some areas we can refer you directly to mental health services for support with this, or you can contact your GP.

How WithYou will work with you

When you join one of our services, you’ll be paired with a named person who will be your main point of contact.

They will work with you to put together a plan to get you where you want to be, whether that’s cutting down benzos or stopping completely.

Your plan will be based on what you want to do at a pace that suits you.

If you need any medical help, they can help you to access this as well.

If you want to try reducing on your own

It’s easier and safer to reduce benzos with support from your GP or a drug and alcohol service, but if you want to try reducing on your own:

  • don’t stop suddenly
  • start with a small reduction and see how that goes
  • once you feel stable at a lower dose, you can try another reduction
  • be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety or difficulty sleeping
  • get medical advice if you get any severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures

Get help with benzos

For help and support with reducing your benzo use, you can contact a drug and alcohol service near you or talk to us online.

You can also get advice from your GP.

Get help with Benzos

It's always better together.

No matter how often you use benzos, you can access support. We can help you cut down, make safer choices or quit altogether.

Search for your local service to see how we can help you.

Finding services

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10-15 miles - Generally between a minimum of 30 mins to 1 hour travel time expected via public transport or personal vehicle. This may depend on form of transport, time of day and/or road layouts.
20-25 miles - Generally between a minimum of 50 minutes to 1.5 hours travel time expected via public transport or personal vehicle. This may depend on form of transport, time of travel and/or road layouts