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Benzodiazepines are a grouping of drugs that are sometimes referred to as “tranquilizers”. They’re generally prescription drugs given as a treatment for insomnia, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, muscle relaxation, or as an anesthetic or amnesia-inducing medication. Benzodiazepines include the following drugs and medications (among others):
- Valium (alprazolam)
- Xanax (diazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
Benzodiazepines work by increasing the production and release of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is responsible for producing feelings of relaxation in the body and mind when administered in high doses, but it’s also needed to help a person with reasoning, memory, emotional intelligence, and even some automatic functions such as breathing. Benzodiazepine addicts usually become addicted to these drugs because they need a way to relax. Some symptoms of long term benzodiazepine use include memory loss, weight control problems, feelings of irritability or overall “dullness”, lack of focus, and trouble connecting to emotions and emotional responses.
Here are some supplements, plant medicines, and alternative treatments that can help people addicted to benzodiazepines to break their addiction and reclaim normal brain chemistry:
- Intravenous GABA supplementation – Although oral GABA supplements are available, there is limited evidence that oral GABA supplementation has any noticeable effect on brain chemistry and function. However, intravenous GABA can be administered at many boutique health clinics and hospitals. Intravenous administration of GABA has been shown to be more effective for recovering addicts than oral administration, and it may help them feel more like themselves, especially during the withdrawal process.
- Mucuna pruriens – Take 6000 mg daily in divided doses. Take 1500 mg in the morning, 1500 mg again at noon, 1500 mg at 3:00 pm, and finally 1500 mg again at 6:00 pm or at bedtime.
- Vitamin B6 – Every day you need to take between 25-40 mg of vitamin B6 to ensure that your brain has enough of this nutrient to convert Mucuna pruriens into dopamine. Take this liquid vitamin product along with the multivitamin below to fulfill this daily requirement.
- Multivitamin – Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. Make sure the multivitamin has plenty of vitamin C and zinc. I recommend Thorne Research brand multivitamins for people who are trying to overcome an addiction.
- Amino Acid supplement – Take 1 dose per day separately from the Mucuna pruriens. Taking this supplement at the same time as the Mucuna could prevent the L-Dopa in Mucuna from passing the blood-brain barrier.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) – Take 1000 mg every 4 hours (it may be taken at the same times as the Mucuna pruriens). This supplement will help your brain and body recalibrate so that you don’t feel as much like engaging in compulsive behaviors, even if you’re not actively trying to not engage in them.
- Magnesium – Take 400mg in the morning, and 400mg before bed. Magnesium is essential for brain health, but it will also help your muscles and mind feel more calm and relaxed.
- L-Tryptophan – Take 1000 mg at night 1 hour before bed.
- Melatonin – Take a 3-10 mg extended release supplement before bed. Do not turn on the lights or expose yourself to light from electronic devices after taking melatonin for best results.
- Honokiol/Magnolia bark – Take 1 supplement of 200mg right before bed (you may take it as you’re settling into bed and beginning your nighttime relaxation rituals). This will help you get a restful night of sleep.
- Kava Kava – Kava Kava reduces symptoms of benzodiazepine detox and withdrawals.
Recovering benzodiazepine addicts should also take amygdalin and Lugol’s iodine every day to ensure that sex hormones and thyroid hormones remain balanced.
Certain nootropics may also be beneficial for recovering benzodiazepine addicts:
- Moclobemide – Scientists have also found that the antidepressant Moclobemide can help benzo users overcome an addiction to their drug of choice. We talk more about Moclobemide in depth later in this book. In the U.S. this drug is a prescription medication, but it is available online in Mexico. This is an antidepressant that heals the brain over time while helping patients avoid feeling depressed.
Individuals who have abused benzodiazepines may have trouble with relaxing their bodies, feeling calm and composed, or with sleeping and resting in general. Trouble being restful can cause other problems, too, in terms of being able to focus and feeling awake during other times. Breathing exercises like the Wim Hof Method can help recovering addicts both with relaxation as well as with focus while also helping to repair the brain. Other treatments that may be valuable for recovering benzodiazepine addicts include meditation, yoga, movement therapies, music or sound therapies, and sacred indigenous plant medicine healing (read more about these later in the book).
Tomko, R. et al. (2018). N-acetylcysteine: A potential treatment for substance use disorders. Retrieved September 23, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5993450/