What is Benzo Withdrawal/BIND?

Benzodiazepine withdrawal (BWD) is a constellation of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms that sometimes occur when you reduce your dose or stop taking your benzodiazepine.

You can also experience withdrawal symptoms even if you have not reduced or stopped taking your benzodiazepine. This is called tolerance withdrawal. (Your body has become tolerant to the dose.)

You may also experience withdrawal symptoms in-between doses. This is referred to as inter-dose withdrawal. 

Withdrawal happens when you have become physically dependent on the medication.  Benzodiazepines work on GABA receptors, and in some people, the GABA receptors “down-regulate” and are no longer functional. More of the medication is then needed. In some cases, no matter how much the dose is raised, withdrawal symptoms will not go away.

It is estimated that up to 80% of people who take a benzodiazepine for more than a few days will experience some degree of withdrawal symptoms. Some of those people will experience severe symptoms.

Sadly, most doctors are uneducated about benzodiazepines and prescribe the medication without warning the patient about the dangers, and will not correctly diagnose the patient’s symptoms as benzodiazepine withdrawal or BIND.

The term benzodiazepine withdrawal describes symptoms that occur until the medication has withdrawn from the body, about thirty days after cessation.

The term BIND, benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction, describes symptoms that occur after the medication has left the body.

Withdrawal/BIND symptoms can be mild or extremely severe. On rare occasions, death can occur from a rapid taper or cold turkey from the medication. Suicides have occurred when the symptoms are felt to be unbearable.

The average time it takes to recover from the damages caused by a benzodiazepine is roughly six to eighteen months. If one experiences BIND symptoms past eighteen months, it is considered “protracted withdrawal.”

Symptoms usually become milder over time, with a “windows and waves” pattern. Windows are when the symptoms are absent or milder, and a wave is when symptoms are stronger, or new symptoms appear.

For a list of symptoms reported by people in withdrawal/BIND, please go here.