ARTICLE SUMMARY: Here, we outline what withdrawal from flunitrazepam feels like, how long it lasts, and how you can manage it safely and effectively.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 20 minutes
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ready to Quit?
- Defining Withdrawal
- What Causes Withdrawal
- Signs and Symptoms
- Do I Need Detox Help?
- Cold Turkey Dangers
- Are You Afraid of Withdrawal?
- Effectiveness of Treatment
- Does Dependence = Addiction?
Ready to Quit Flunitrazepam?
Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) – also known as “roofie” – is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. As a benzo drug, withdrawal from it can be extremely challenging. You are not alone! Failed attempts at flunitrazepam withdrawal can leave you feeling:
If you have tried unsuccessfully to overcome withdrawal from flunitrazepam on your own, then medical detox may be the best option for you.
Don’t you wish your need for flunitrazepam to be a thing of the past?
Withdrawal can be managed…We can help!
Withdrawal is a array of physical and psychological symptoms that manifest when a person dependent on a psychoactive drug quits or significantly cuts back the usual dosage. Withdrawal comes as an expected outcome of regular dosing of a drug like flunitrazepam. In this case, the DEA states that:
” [Rohypnol] can produce physical dependence when taken regularly over a period of time.”
Just how long? Like most benzodiazepines, the time is takes to develop drug dependence is highly individual, but can occur in the window of daily dosing between 3-6 weeks of daily use (sometimes less).
Withdrawal is different for each person. It may be a display of severe reactions for some, or moderate with only flu-like symptoms for others. The duration and severity of flunitrazepam withdrawal, vary depending on several individual factors such as a person’s:
- Level of tolerance
- Age and metabolism
- Frequency and length of flunitrazepam use
- Occurrence of other mental illnesses
Chances are, you may have already attempted to quit flunitrazepam, but were unable to succeed due to the severity of withdrawal. Luckily, medically managed withdrawal is far safer and more comfortable than attempting to quit on your own. Thus, your likeliness of success also increases.
What Causes Withdrawal
Using flunitrazepam chronically, even for a short period of time, can lead to a number of brain and body changes, that are later responsible for the occurrence of withdrawal.
1) BRAIN CHANGES: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, flunitrazepam acts on the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. Long-term use or abuse of flunitrazepam down-regulates and modifies the GABA receptors, thus changing the way your brain works. Your brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug. As a way to maintain chemical balance, the brain creates “stimulant effects” as a counter balance. Then, when you try to stop using the drug, your brain struggles to regain normal functioning and manifests withdrawal symptoms.
2) TOLERANCE: When you take flunitrazepam regularly, you can also quickly develop a tolerance to the drug due to its high potency and fast-acting effects. Tolerance to flunitrazepam means that you require higher and more frequent doses of the drug to achieve the initial effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With continued use, your body adapts to the regular presence of a drug’s chemicals – a natural adjustment also known as physical dependence. When these chemicals are absent, your body experiences a shock and reacts in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Flunitrazepam withdrawal symptoms present themselves in the form of physical or mental effects, and may include the following:
- abdominal cramps
- muscle pain
- tingling in hands and feet
… and many more.
Flunitrazepam withdrawal can be severe, distracting. and uncomfortable. In some cases, if not managed properly, it can even have fatal consequences. This is why it is important that you work with your doctor or a professional benzodiazepine drug detox and treatment facility on a strategy for withdrawal.
Generally speaking, the length of time that it takes to complete a withdrawal process from flunitrazepam depends on your individual health state, co-occurring disorders, and the length of time that you have been using. Here is a more precisetimeline of what you can expect as you withdraw from flunitrazepam:
EARLY WITHDRAWAL: 12-24 HOURS
Withdrawal symptoms may occur as soon as 12 to 24 hours after the last dose. However, people with slower metabolism such as the elderly or people with impaired liver function may not feel any symptoms for as late as 4-7 days afterwards.
PEAK OF WITHDRAWAL: 3-4 DAYS
This is the stage of withdrawal when symptoms can be most severe. During the peak of flunitrazepam withdrawal you may experience strong cravings, as well as acute anxiety, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and extreme irritability. Also, seizures may occur, which is why it’s recommended to be under medical care.
LATE WITHDRAWAL: 10-14 days
During this time, symptoms may still persist, but they begin to drop in intensity. You may continue to feel nauseous, shaky, depressed or anxious. Also seizures and suicidal thoughts are still a possibility, so 24-hour medical supervision and attention are mandatory.
PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome)
These symptoms can continue to linger for several months after the initial withdrawal period, but eventually subside. During this time, strong peer and psychological support can help keep you focused on your goal and moving forward.
Withdrawal is not an easy process, and it can be potentially risky due to the possibility of seizures and other health complications. This is why the best way to withdraw from flunitrazepam safely is under the supervision of medical doctors and nurses.
Here are the two general steps of withdrawal management programs that can help you detox from flunitrazepam safely:
STEP #1: Dose Titration
The first stage of withdrawal management involves gradually weaning off of flunitrazepam, or switching to another long-acting benzodiazepine (e.g., Valium or Klonopin) and weaning off of that medication. A doctor will develop a tapering schedule that you will follow over a specific period of time. This process of titration allows your body to adapt to lower and lower doses of the drug without experiencing an abrupt and violent reaction.
You can learn more about best practices in weaning off benzos like flunitrazepam by reading the work of Dr. Heather Ashton in the Ashton Manual. Not only does she offer experienced advice, but provides a benzo equivalence table specific to tapering.
How quickly and how much of your current dose you can taper is different for each individual. Light users can usually be weaned off over a period of one month. Long-term and heavy users, however, are usually weaned off very slowly over the period of many weeks or months.
STEP #2: Medical Detoxification
The safest way to quit flunitrazepam is to enroll into a detox facility during the acute phase of withdrawal. Medical detox allows you to rid your body of all traces of flunitrazepam safely and comfortably. During your detox process, medical staff provide medications that reduce or eliminate certain withdrawal symptoms, monitor you 24/7, and work to ensure you experience minimal health risks associated with withdrawal.
In addition to providing a safe and comfortable environment in which to recover, some detox centers offer therapies that complement the withdrawal process with services such as low-impact exercise, nutrition therapy, and yoga to help you recover more safely and quickly.
Anyone can benefit from help during detox, be it emotional, physical, or medical.
Do I Need Detox Help?
Yes, most people need help during this type of drug withdrawal.
The level of medical assistance you require, however, will depend on your general health state and needs. Some people, especially those who have used flunitrazepam shortly and have not developed significant dependence, can detox at home. Those, however, with more serious levels of dependence will require more hands-on medical approach on withdrawal.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) differentiates 5 levels of detox care that match different levels of treatment intensity. After a doctor’s initial assessment, you will be referred to one of the following levels of detox care depending on your needs.
Level 1: Outpatient Detox without Extended Onsite Monitoring
The first level of detox care is the least intensive one. If your detox needs require minimum level of medical involvement you will withdraw from flunitrazepam at home. Still, you will need to show up for daily or bi-daily appointments with your doctor or with an outpatient detox program.
Level 2: Outpatient Detox with Extended Onsite Monitoring
If your detox management needs are still not in the more severe stages, you can still go home at the end of each day. However, at the second level of detox intensity, you still need to spend a significant portion of each day under nursing observation at a clinic.
Level 3: Clinically Managed Residential Detox
At the third level, detox takes place at a residential social detox facility where you stay until physical stabilization. Staff members at social detox provide 24-7 monitoring, support and care, but have no medical training. Level 3 detox is characterized by an emphasis on peer and social support.
Level 4: Medically Monitored Inpatient Detox
The fourth level of detox care intensity is designed for people who suffer from severe, unstable problems. People at a level 4 detox usually require round-the-clock medical monitoring, nursing care and daily physician visitations. These services are provided in a medical detox clinic.
Level 5: Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Detox
Level 5 is the most intensive level of detox care. At a level 5 detox you will receive significant medical monitoring, with medication management of symptoms on an hourly basis, if needed. Teams of nurses and doctors in an acute care inpatient settings (e.g., psychiatric hospital inpatient center) provide care 24 hours a day.
Although there are no specific medications currently approved by the FDA to treat flunitrazepam withdrawal or to address possible addiction, there are several ways to use medications to lessen and manage symptoms. These medical strategies may include:
- Weaning off flunitrazepam slowly and gradually.
- Switching to a long-acting benzodiazepine and then tapering doses down.
- Using Valium (diazepam) for seizures.
- Using Halopreidol in case you experience hallucinations.
- Using Melatonin for sleep problems and insomnia.
You can also ask your doctor or a pharmacist at the local pharmacy for suggestions on short term over-the-counter medications that can help relief some specific symptoms.
In addition to the symptomatic prescription of medicines during detox, your doctor will refer you to relapse prevention groups, support groups, and perhaps an addiction treatment facility (if you show signs of addiction). Flunitrazepam addiction can be managed with a combination of pharmacotherapy, counseling, and support.
Attempting to go cold turkey off flunitrazepam is NEVER a good idea. It can be dangerous – or even deadly – if you don’t have medical supervision. Major risks include:
- suicidal thoughts and actions
In addition to these health risks, quitting cold turkey can also lead to a relapse. You see, when the painful symptoms set in, you may quickly start to use flunitrazepam again just to end the suffering. What’s worse, going back-and-forth can have a strong psychological impact and make you believe that you can never be free of flunitrazepam.
Are You Afraid Of Withdrawal?
You might already feel like you are at the point where you seriously doubt or don’t believe that you can live a life without flunitrazepam use. If you find yourself saying the following:
“I am afraid to try to quit flunitrazepam because of withdrawal.”
“I can’t quit. Maybe this is just something that I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
“I can’t imagine what my life would be like flunitrazepam-free.”
We understand that your goal seems distant now. It may feel impossible to make progress when fear settles in your mind, always stopping you from making the right choice. But there is a way out!
YOU can win your inner battle with the fear of withdrawal by not going through the process alone. There are professionals who can help you with the struggles you are facing. Call us to talk about it. Our addiction recovery specialists can connect you to detox and treatment centers based on your individual preferences.
Effectiveness of Treatment
Flunitrazepam detox programs are effective. Withdrawing on your own is not safe or recommended, so the key to quitting flunitrazepam once and for all is seeking help. Not only will you have the needed guidance and support, but medical detox and treatment centers ensure that you have no access to tempting substances that could cause a relapse until you reach a state of physical and mental stability. These programs can also help you:
- Overcome the fear of flunitrazepam withdrawal.
- Start building a new, substance-free future.
- Get back on track with your life and achieve goals.
- Go through the detox process in safe conditions and with constant care.
- Discover who you are without flunitrazepam.
So, why wait?
Call us TODAY.
You can live a drug-free life!
Does Dependence = Addiction?
Although closely related, physical dependence and addiction are NOT the same.
DEPENDENCE may be a component of addiction, but it does not signal a drug use problem when it is one symptom on its own. Physical dependence is a natural and expected outcome of long-term therapeutic use of flunitrazepam. Also, not all cases of dependence develop into addiction.
ADDICTION is considered a primary, chronic, neurobiological disease. Signs you may be addicted to flunitrazepam include physical, behavioral, and psychological changes. If you use this drug and suspect that your use has gotten out of hand, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel a need to keep using flunitrazepam regularly (cravings)?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not using flunitrazepam?
- Have you been increasing doses gradually in order to feel the wanted effects?
- Have you been using flunitrazepam more frequently than before?
- Do you keep making excuses to justify your use?
- Do you use alcohol and other drugs along with flunitrazepam?
- Is your use interfering with your work, relationships, and school?
- Have you tried to quit flunitrazepam in the past to no avail?
Basically, when you attempt to stop flunitrazepam, you can see if compulsion to use continues to exist, or not. Addicts will continue to use. On the other hand, dependent people do not crave the drug or feel a compulsion for drug use.
If you recognize two (2) or more of these signs of addiction, it may be time to seek help. Free, Confidential, and Anonymous advise on withdrawal and treatment options is available 24/7.
Do you still have questions about the management of withdrawal, symptoms, or treatment? Please leave us your real-life questions in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly!