If having a swollen stomach, painful bloating, and gastrointestinal troubles sound familiar, you could have benzo belly. The term benzo belly refers to a common and long-lasting side effect from benzodiazepine use that can be triggered by withdrawal. Today, we will discuss the causes behind benzo belly, its symptoms, and how you can find relief from this concerning medical condition.
Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
To first understand why the symptoms of benzo withdrawal are so serious, you must look at the way that this drug works within the body. Benzodiazepines, benzos for short, are typically prescribed by doctors to patients with the intention of treating anxiety, depression, seizures, or difficulties with sleep. The way that benzos work is that they calm the nerves from overreacting to certain stimuli or activity. This usually results in a relaxed, pleasant feeling.
Unfortunately, benzos are highly addictive because of this reason, and studies show that the rate of addiction with this drug is rapidly increasing due to various factors. In fact, the FDA now requires all prescribed benzodiazepines to contain a warning on the box. This warning indicates that taking benzos, even at the recommended dosage, comes with a high risk for addiction. Addiction, of course, then comes with the consequences of physical dependency, mental health distress, and the risk of accidental overdose.
When the body becomes dependent on benzodiazepines, it will not know what to do in situations where the nervous system does react to external or internal stimuli. In essence, the body and mind begin to crave more and more of the drug’s effects. So, when somebody tries to stop taking benzos, there is often a drastic reaction as the nervous system becomes alert again.
Common benzo withdrawal symptoms include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Panic attacks
- Muscle pain
- Benzo belly
Benzo withdrawal symptoms can be serious and require medical attention immediately. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can also be protracted or chronic, meaning that they do not go away easily. Thus, all efforts to detox from benzo dependency should be done in a safe, supervised environment made for people who struggle with addiction.
Benzo Belly Symptoms
Benzo belly might not seem like one of the worst symptoms of benzo withdrawal, but the main reason why it plagues so many people is that it does not go away overnight—in fact, benzo belly can last for up to a year after someone stops taking benzodiazepines. In addition to the chronic nature of benzo belly, the symptoms of this condition can involve:
- Painful and tender-to-the-touch stomach
- Discomfort during or after eating
- Extreme bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight gain
People who have benzo belly bloating often feel as though they look pregnant because of how far the stomach can expand outward. This can greatly harm somebody’s self-esteem as they become self-conscious of the way that they look. If you also feel as though you do not look or feel like you normally do after you stop taking benzos, you might have benzo belly.
How to Ease Benzo Withdrawal
When it comes to benzo belly, there is not one guaranteed answer to ease the discomfort and reduce the bloating. Some people find it helpful to make changes in their diet or even receive nutrition education to learn about the types of foods that can increase and decrease bloating. Others rely on probiotics to balance the good bacteria found throughout the gut.
Additionally, syncing the body and mind through complementary and alternative medicine therapies (also known as CAM therapies) can help the body find strength and peace through gentle movement through any pain or discomfort benzo belly might bring. Yoga, qi gong, and tai chi are all CAM therapies that are proven to ease chronic pain, mental health distress, and even aid in digestion.
Most importantly, benzo belly can only go away if you do not introduce the drug back into your system. The stomach, the mind, and the entire nervous system need time to heal after benzo withdrawal. Though the symptoms can be uncomfortable, they will eventually become easier to cope with as you go through your recovery journey. Relapsing or going back to using benzos could restart the whole process and leave you with benzo belly or other benzo withdrawal symptoms for an unknown amount of time.
The best way to protect yourself during benzo withdrawal is to find a professional rehabilitation setting that can guide you through the detox process. Getting benzo withdrawal relief involves more than just your physical health. In reality, the right treatment program for you should include options such as:
- Trauma-informed treatment
- Individualized counseling
- Recovery maintenance skill building
- Group and family therapies
The physical and mental health support you receive in treatment from drug addiction can assist you in finding your confidence and your strength to maintain recovery well after your time in the program.
Get Support Through Recovery
At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, we specialize in all of the above care and more. Whether you need support for benzo belly, chronic pain, opioid addiction, or other addiction issues, you can lean on us until you are ready to stand strong.
Don’t wait until the discomfort from benzo withdrawal becomes too much to handle—give us a call at 888-828-2623 for assistance or take the very first step by submitting a confidential form with your story that needs to be heard.
Benzo belly describes the gastrointestinal problems that often arise when people stop taking benzodiazepines. The characteristics of benzo belly include bloating, nausea, and stomach pain. These symptoms frequently stick around for months or longer after benzodiazepines have completely left somebody’s system.
There are two main types of withdrawal experiences: acute and protracted withdrawal. The main difference between these two terms is that the symptoms of protracted withdrawal last longer than in acute withdrawal. This means that the withdrawal symptoms, such as benzo belly, can be long-term or chronic side effects of addiction that take a longer period of time to go away.
As of right now, there isn’t much research on the type of diet or supplements that help benzo belly. The most effective way to help benzo belly is to receive treatment for benzodiazepine addiction as soon as possible—the sooner this drug leaves the body, the sooner it can begin to heal.
In short: yes, benzo belly will eventually go away. However, there is no guaranteed timeline for benzo belly and these symptoms can be challenging to cope with on a physical and emotional level. This is why it is essential to get the right type of support in your addiction journey. With the right people, treatments, and opportunities, you will learn how to confidently walk into your new sober life through all the ups and downs that come with it.
Located in dynamic Las Vegas, Nevada, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center (VJRC) a 44-bed facility is run by a skilled multi-disciplinary team of medical and behavioral health professionals that includes nurses, counselors, and doctors, along with complementary and alternative medicine specialists to provide our clients with a transformational experience that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Our approach is holistic and grounded in research and evidenced-based best practices that help people develop the awareness and skills required to achieve and sustain recovery.