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A Compassionate Path to Benzodiazepine Recovery

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

CONCERNING THE RISE IN BENZODIAZEPINE USE


Over the past decade, there has been a concerning rise in both the legitimate medical prescriptions and illicit use of Benzodiazepines. The number of Benzodiazepine prescriptions has increased substantially, with a significant surge noted over the last ten years. As of the latest figures, millions of individuals are currently prescribed Benzodiazepines in the United States alone. These medications are primarily prescribed for their anxiolytic and sedative properties, with common medical uses including the treatment of anxiety disorders, panic disorders, insomnia, and muscle spasms. However, the increase in prescriptions has also led to a surge in off-label use, where Benzodiazepines are prescribed for conditions not formally approved by regulatory authorities, such as mood disorders, depression, and social phobia. Additionally, the growing availability of Benzodiazepines through illicit channels has led to misuse and abuse, posing significant community wellness concerns.


TOLERANCE, DEPENDENCE & ADDICTION


Benzodiazepines are highly prone to problem use due to their pharmacological characteristics. When used regularly, the body develops tolerance to Benzodiazepines, leading to reduced effectiveness over time. As a result, individuals may increase their dosage to achieve the desired therapeutic effects, inadvertently escalating the risk of dependence and addiction. Despite their intended use for short-term relief of anxiety and insomnia, long-term use can lead to the development of physical and psychological dependence, making individuals more susceptible to addiction. When individuals attempt to discontinue Benzodiazepines, they are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms due to the body's adaptation to the drug's presence. These symptoms can be physically distressing and include rebound anxiety, insomnia, tremors, and even seizures in severe cases. The potential for addiction, coupled with the challenging withdrawal process, underscores the importance of using Benzodiazepines cautiously and for short durations whenever possible, and exploring alternative treatments to manage anxiety and sleep disorders.


The issues surrounding Benzodiazepines, including their potential for abuse, dependence, and withdrawal problems, have been well-documented and recognized by pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. The concerns about their problematic use and comparison to the opioid epidemic have been raised by healthcare professionals, researchers, and advocacy groups. Pharmaceutical companies are required to conduct clinical trials and submit safety data to regulatory agencies before obtaining approval for their medications. This process is intended to assess the risks and benefits of drugs like Benzodiazepines. However, there have been instances in the past where the potential for abuse and dependence has not been fully communicated or understood until after the drugs were on the market.


GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION


Government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and other regulatory bodies worldwide, play a crucial role in monitoring and regulating pharmaceutical products. They are responsible for reviewing drug safety data, updating labeling information with warnings about potential risks, and issuing safety communications to healthcare providers and the public when necessary. Government efforts have been made to address the risks associated with Benzodiazepines; however, despite these efforts, some critics argue that more could be done to address the overprescribing and inappropriate use of Benzodiazepines, especially for long-term management of anxiety and insomnia. The comparison to the opioid epidemic has highlighted the need for proactive measures to prevent another crisis.


DRUG TREATMENT CENTER COST


The average cost of a three-week stay at a full-time drug treatment center in the United States can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the location, level of care, amenities offered, and specific treatment services provided. On average, residential treatment centers in the United States may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more for a three-week program.


As for Mexico, the cost of drug treatment centers can also vary widely depending on the location, the facility's reputation, the level of care provided, and the specific treatment services offered. Generally, drug treatment centers in Mexico tend to be more affordable compared to those in the United States. On average, a three-week stay in a residential drug treatment center in Mexico may cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, but costs can vary depending on individual circumstances.


CURRENT DRUG TREATMENT MODEL CRITICISM


A treatment plan to help someone addicted to Benzodiazepines should involve, at least, addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. It's essential to note that the process should be individualized and tailored to each person's specific needs and circumstances. It is also important to note that addiction recovery is a highly individualized journey, and success rates cannot be universally quantified. Relapse is a common challenge during the recovery process, and setbacks should be viewed as opportunities for growth and adjustment to the treatment plan rather than failures. Sustained recovery often involves a combination of multiple treatment approaches, ongoing support, and a commitment to making positive lifestyle changes.


The current drug treatment centers and models for helping people maintain sobriety have faced various criticisms, which highlight the need for ongoing improvements and more comprehensive approaches to addiction treatment. Some of the biggest criticisms include:

  • Lack of Accessibility: One significant criticism is the limited accessibility of treatment centers and services, especially in certain regions or underserved communities. High costs, long waiting lists, and a lack of available resources can hinder individuals from accessing timely and appropriate treatment.

  • Short Duration of Treatment: Many traditional treatment programs have relatively short durations, often lasting 30 days or less. For some individuals, this may not be sufficient to address the underlying issues contributing to addiction or to build the necessary skills and coping mechanisms for long-term sobriety.

  • Focus on Detoxification Only: Some treatment centers primarily focus on detoxification and acute withdrawal management but may not offer comprehensive therapies to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction.

  • Relapse Rates: Relapse rates after completing treatment programs are relatively high, which indicates that some traditional approaches may not adequately equip individuals with the tools and support needed to maintain sobriety in the long term.

  • Lack of Holistic Approach: Critics argue that some treatment centers may not adopt a holistic approach, neglecting to address co-occurring mental health issues, social determinants of health, and other factors that may contribute to addiction.

  • Overemphasis on Abstinence-Only Models: While abstinence is a goal for many individuals in recovery, some critics argue that an exclusive focus on abstinence without considering harm reduction strategies may hinder progress for those who may not be ready or able to achieve complete abstinence immediately.

  • Stigmatization: Some individuals may feel stigmatized or judged when seeking help, potentially deterring them from accessing treatment or continuing with the recovery process.

  • Insufficient Aftercare and Support: The transition from treatment back into everyday life can be challenging. Some critics argue that the current model does not always provide sufficient aftercare and ongoing support, which is crucial for maintaining sobriety in the long term.

  • Lack of Personalization: The one-size-fits-all approach to treatment may not be suitable for everyone. Tailoring treatment plans to individual needs and preferences is essential for improving outcomes.

Addressing these criticisms requires ongoing efforts to improve addiction treatment models, increase accessibility, reduce stigma, and provide comprehensive, individualized care to support long-term sobriety and recovery.


AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION


Full extract cannabis oil, also known as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), is an alternative medicine for Benzodiazepine withdrawal and managing anxiety-related conditions. RSO is a concentrated form of cannabis oil that is rich in cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). It is named after Rick Simpson, a cannabis activist who popularized its use for various health conditions. Some anecdotal reports suggest that RSO may help alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines, such as anxiety, insomnia, and muscle tension. This is thought to be due to the interaction between the cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system in the body.


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors, endocannabinoids (naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body), and enzymes that play a role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, sleep, pain, and inflammation. Cannabinoids from cannabis, like THC and CBD, can interact with the ECS and modulate its activity.


In theory, using full extract cannabis oil like RSO might help in the following ways during benzodiazepine withdrawal:

  • Anxiolytic Effects: Some cannabinoids, especially CBD, have been suggested to have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties. During benzodiazepine withdrawal, anxiety can be a significant challenge, and RSO may potentially help reduce anxiety levels.

  • Sleep Aid: Certain cannabinoids have been associated with improved sleep quality. Insomnia and sleep disturbances are common during benzodiazepine withdrawal, and RSO might aid in promoting better sleep.

  • Neuroprotective Properties: Cannabinoids have been studied for their potential neuroprotective effects. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be associated with neuroexcitatory effects, and RSO might help mitigate some of these issues.

  • Pain Relief: Cannabis has been used for pain management, and during benzodiazepine withdrawal, individuals may experience physical discomfort, muscle tension, and headaches. RSO may help with pain relief.

Proponents of RSO suggest that it may help alleviate anxiety, insomnia, and withdrawal symptoms associated with Benzodiazepine discontinuation due to its potential anxiolytic and sedative effects. Some individuals claim that RSO can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation without the same risk of dependence and withdrawal as Benzodiazepines.


It is essential to note that while there may be potential benefits, using RSO to manage benzodiazepine withdrawal is not without risks. Cannabis products, especially those containing high levels of THC, can have side effects such as increased heart rate, impaired cognitive function, and potential psychological effects. Moreover, abruptly stopping benzodiazepines can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms and it is helpful to have support during the the weaning process.


Individuals considering RSO or other cannabis-based treatments for Benzodiazepine withdrawal or anxiety should consult with a compassionate care professional who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis. They can provide personalized advice, consider potential drug interactions, and help determine if such treatments are appropriate for their individual needs and health conditions. It's essential to prioritize safety, wisdom, and experience when exploring alternative treatment options.


COMPLIMENTARY CARE


Seeing healthy models of human relationships can be highly important for the new habit formation of an addict during their recovery process. Addiction often isolates individuals from healthy social connections and can lead to a breakdown in interpersonal relationships. Therefore, witnessing positive and supportive human relationships can have several significant benefits for those recovering from addiction:

  • Role Modeling: Healthy relationships serve as positive role models for individuals in recovery. Observing others engage in respectful, empathetic, and constructive interactions can provide a blueprint for developing healthy communication and interpersonal skills.

  • Social Support: Recovering addicts often need a strong support system to navigate the challenges of sobriety. Healthy models of human relationships offer social support, understanding, and encouragement, which can be instrumental in maintaining motivation and resilience during the recovery journey.

  • Building Trust: Addiction can erode trust in relationships, both with oneself and with others. Observing healthy models of human relationships helps individuals learn to trust again, promoting a sense of safety and security in their interactions with others.

  • Emotional Regulation: Positive human relationships can contribute to emotional stability and regulation. Witnessing healthy expressions of emotions and conflict resolution helps individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduces the need for substances to manage stress and emotions.

  • Empowerment: Observing others succeed in maintaining healthy relationships can instill a sense of hope and empowerment in individuals in recovery, motivating them to work towards building meaningful connections in their own lives.

  • Reduced Relapse Risk: Studies have shown that having strong social support is associated with a reduced risk of relapse for individuals recovering from addiction. Healthy relationships can provide a buffer against relapse triggers and offer accountability in maintaining sobriety.

  • Addressing Loneliness: Loneliness is a common challenge during recovery, and healthy relationships can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Having positive connections with others can enhance overall well-being and happiness.

  • Creating a Sense of Belonging: Healthy models of human relationships can help individuals in recovery feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. This fosters a positive environment that encourages personal growth and a commitment to sobriety.

Incorporating healthy relationships into the recovery process may involve participating in group therapy, support groups, family therapy, or building new friendships with individuals who are supportive of the recovery journey. It's important for those in recovery to seek out positive influences and surround themselves with people who contribute to their growth and well-being. However, it's equally crucial to remember that the process of forming healthy relationships takes time, effort, and vulnerability, and individuals should be patient with themselves as they rebuild their social networks.


Here is what our latest client has said regarding coming to work with us:


“Jody and Abbie helped me through a benzo detox with an intensive RSO protocol. They were extremely attentive and provided a healing, nurturing atmosphere that adequately addressed the physical symptoms of withdrawal, while also focusing on the spiritual struggle one faces when going through such a difficult process. Their home is like a secret in the mountains—a perfect place to regroup and get away from the world while the body and spirit heal itself. It feels very safe being entirely immersed in nature. Even their children and pets—2 huge, funny dogs and a precious little kitty with a big personality—play a significant role in re-normalizing a person to a natural way of living. It’s really a family operation, where you, the client, is invited in as part of the family, rather than a patient undergoing treatment. My favorite part about my experience is that it wasn’t just treatment; I feel that I’ve made friends that I’ll know forever. They are just real people, and they are really trying to make a difference in this bizarre new world.”


Our 3 WEEK 24/7 COMPASSIONATE CARE offering:


We open our home to clients in need of significant support to shift from such things as depression, addiction, pharmaceutical dependency, and worsening illness.


We focus on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being.


3 weeks with us does not cure anything; rather, it shifts you from a stuck place, or changes the direction you are headed. We create a space for, offer tools to, and suggest our wisdom regarding regulating oneself out of patterns that do not serve and toward life-affirming habits. In the case of chronic illness or terminal disease, we focus on the value of life and peace with illness or death.


Specific areas we focus on include rest, movement, nourishment, mind/body/emotional processing, connection to Nature (which includes connection to others), and service.


Our 3 week 24/7 compassionate care offering is a serious commitment to self. You are stuck or headed in a direction that is not serving you, you are scared, and you aren’t sure what else to do. But, you have a deep desire to get through it.


Most people that choose to work with us in this capacity have experienced Western Medical Institution trauma, and/or know they are looking for alternative support rooted in compassion, connection, and personal autonomy.


Our home is a small rustic palapas off-grid in the Southern foothills of the Western Sierra Madres just North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We are secluded, yet accessible nestled in the jungle of a small local village. Within thirty minutes by car, there are ample coastal nature destinations and bustling pueblos.


Please contact us if you have questions regarding our compassionate care offering for supporting Benzodiazepine weaning. Our approach is applicable to a variety of problem substances including prescriptions and illicit use of a variety of pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs, and those wanting to shift from problem relationships with food, nicotine, and alcohol.


Components of this blog post were written with the support of ChatGPT

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