When used short-term and with careful monitoring by a healthcare provider, benzos can be a tool to help people develop coping mechanisms for anxiety or to normalize sleep patterns. But these drugs are being prescribed more often and for longer amounts of time. From 1996 and 2013, benzo prescriptions rose a whopping sixty-seven percent .
Early Withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours or as late as a few days of stopping benzos. Anxiety and insomnia may return as the brain adjusts to functioning without the drugs. This phase can last for several days.
What are “Benzos?”
CBD can help in several different ways:
Benzos, or benzodiazepines, are a group of prescription sedatives meant to help those with anxiety, insomnia, and sometimes seizure disorders. They’re one of the most widely prescribed drugs and are designed for short-term use. However, the risk of becoming dependent on them is incredibly high. Even when taken under a physician’s care and with carefully prescribed dosages, addiction is still a possibility. Luckily, CBD (cannabidiol) may offer a lifeline to those wishing to taper off of benzos and manage withdrawal symptoms.
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to consult with a medical professional before stopping. Often doctors will taper off the dosage to avoid intense withdrawal symptoms. Other times they’ll switch patients to a longer-acting equivalent benzodiazepine so that they can take it less often. These measures are necessary though, because of the changes that the brain experiences as a result of benzos–specifically, there’s a massive imbalance of neurotransmitters.
For those times, I’ve been prescribed Xanax. And it helps, for sure. But the thing is, I get nervous about taking it. (Yes, that’s right—I get anxious about taking the medication that’s supposed to make me less anxious. I am a disaster, y’all.)
It took me a while to actually take the plunge and try CBD for anxiety because I had trouble finding sources that felt trustworthy. (As someone who quite literally obsesses over product purity—it’s one of my OCD fixations—this is the best argument I can think of to legalize marijuana. Legalization means regulation and research [ source ]!)
CBD for anxiety—does it work?
I tend to carry tension in my body, and I’m never still. I drive everyone around me crazy by constantly fidgeting and bouncing my legs. The CBD made my body feel calm and quiet.
Anxiety has been part of my life for so long that I don’t really know who I am without it. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and also just a high-strung, anxious nature. When things are going well, I tend to take a glass-half-full perspective and link my drive and work ethic to the ever-present anxiety that pushes me to always do more. But when things are going badly, sometimes it’s hard to function like a normal person because I’m so paralyzed with fear.
In 2018, the FDA unanimously recommended approval for an epilepsy drug made from CBD called Epidiolex [ source ], and it is now the first CBD medicine available in the U.S. [ source ]. Because of its FDA approval, it is now regulated and does not have any of the safety concerns that other forms of CBD carry. A few studies have been carried out that show inaccuracies in the labeling of CBD products sold online [ source ] and from retail outlets [ source ], revealing large ranges of variability in the product contained.