New Leaf Treatment Center (NLTC)
Lafayette, CA
Outpatient Sedative-Hypnotic Detoxification:
Symptom-guided Detoxification Using Replacement and Adjunctive Medications Alex Stalcup, M.D., Linda Hickman, R.N., B.S.N., M.A., Gantt P. Galloway, Pharm.D. Introduction: Addiction and dependency are a disease of the pleasure-producing chemistry of the brain.
The principal mechanism of addictive disease is the brain's relentless neuroadaptation induced by over-
exposure to psychoactive chemicals. A period of regular sedative-hypnotic substance use will produce
these adaptive changes in the brain. As a result of this neuroadaptation, sedative-hypnotics are often
used addictively and when prescribed patients all too easily fall into dependent use patterns. For
dependent individuals, abrupt discontinuation of sedative-hypnotics can result in life-threatening or fatal
withdrawal symptoms.
The harmful effects of sedative-hypnotic dependency include impaired cognition (memory and
concentration are challenged), emotional blunting (failure to process emotional experiences such as
loss), weakness and poor coordination (increasing the risk of injury) and worsening anxiety as tolerance
develops. Whether the dependency is the result self-administration practices or arises out of the all too
common over-prescribing of benzodiazepine tranquilizers and addictive sleep aides, the fact remains
that managing the appearance of side effects or withdrawal poses a difficult challenge to the user and the
Withdrawal from any psychoactive drug results in mood and functional disturbance: dysphoria, anergia,
anhedonia and craving for the drug. Cessation of sedative-hypnotic drug use (or tolerance unmet by the
current dose) typically causes a cluster of withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms tend to be
the opposite of the symptoms the sedative-hypnotic drug was designed to control. As such, the hallmark
of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptom is anxiety. Dependence produces withdrawal symptoms which
range from tachycardia, hypertension, confusion, with delirium and seizures characterizing the most
severe cases (see NLTC website for a copy of the Sedative-Hypnotic Symptom Assessment Key which
provides a list of typical withdrawal symptoms and a method for scoring symptom severity). Dependent
individuals begin to report withdrawal symptoms between doses because tolerance needs are not being
met with the current dosing regimen The intensity and health risks of withdrawal symptoms will be
influenced by many variables (e.g. which sedative-hypnotics have been used, dosage, duration of
dependency, number of withdrawal experiences producing kindling effects and individual physiology).
We note that it has long been known that chronic alcoholics are at risk for fatal seizures if alcohol is
abruptly discontinued, yet all too often the same logic is not applied to abrupt discontinuation of other
sedative-hypnotics when in fact the same risk exists.
The protracted suffering and distress of withdrawal leaves the user dysfunctional and at high risk of
relapse. Therefore, optimal treatment of any addiction or dependence ought to focus on minimizing, and
11 February 2014 when possible eliminating, withdrawal symptoms, including the symptom of craving. Good management of withdrawal symptoms is a vital step toward enabling the user to stop the compulsive use of the drug. At New Leaf sedative-hypnotic addiction or dependence treatment focuses on managing withdrawal symptoms using long-acting replacement medication with a dose titration geared to controlling the individual's withdrawal symptoms. The ultimate goal is to taper (and in most cases discontinue) the long-acting replacement detoxification medication. The following is an overview for managing sedative-hypnotic withdrawal using a symptom-guided
approach to detoxification. This approach is consistent with the available science of sedative-hypnotic
dependency and extensive clinical experience. This method is significantly different from more common
protocol-driven approaches.
Note: Appendix A of this document provides a summary of the sedative-hypnotic detoxification
protocol without the added background and educational information.
Definition - Sedative-Hypnotics are substances which depress or slow down bodily functions. This class
of medications are often referred to as tranquilizers, sleeping pills or sometimes as sedatives or hypnotic
medications and these medications are commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia and as muscle
relaxants. The "party" or "date rape" drug GHB is a sedative-hypnotic. Any form of alcoholic beverage
is a sedative-hypnotic (tranquilizers and other sedative-hypnotic prescription medications are essentially
alcohol in pill form). See Appendix B for a list of sedative-hypnotic adverse effects.
Table 1: Categories and Specific Examples of Sedative-Hypnotic Substances
Anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) medications, the Xanax (alprazolam) , Ativan (lorazepam), benzodiazepine classification of tranquilizers Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam) (commonly called "benzos") Sleeping pills, barbiturates or hypnotic medications Ambien (generic name zolpidem), Seconal, pentobarbital, Lunesta, Sonata Muscle relaxants Soma (generic name carisoprodol) Any type of alcohol Other Central Nervous System Depressant/intoxicant NLTC Sedative-Hypnotic Outpatient Symptom-Guided Detoxification Protocol: A compassionate
approach to the treatment of sedative-hypnotic dependency. This protocol was developed over many
years of working with individuals dependent on various sedative-hypnotic substances. This protocol
uses the term "Symptom-Guided Detoxification" because symptom management is the primary goal.
This goal is accomplished using three basic strategies; 1) Discontinuing all short-acting sedative-
hypnotic use, 2) Substitution with a long-acting replacement medication and 3) Monitoring withdrawal
11 February 2014 symptoms to guide dosage titration to find the replacement medication dose that matches the individual's sedative-hypnotic tolerance. The term, "The Promised Land", is used to denote the ideal replacement medication dosage. Clients appreciate knowing the clinician is working to get them to "The Promised Land". While a general estimate of the replacement medication dose should be calculated (see Tables 3 and 4 in Phase 2 for dose equivalency information), the goal of eliminating withdrawal symptoms is made possible by using symptom monitoring to guide dose titration of replacement medication. Each phase of the NLTC protocol is presented in the table below and then discussed in detail in the following pages. Table 2: Phases and Advantages of Symptom-Guided Protocol Advantages
Client's history and treatment needs are evaluated, client and their support system are informed and participate as valuable members of the treatment team Symptom monitoring allows replacement dose titration to match Induction
individual tolerance, detoxification is comfortable, drug craving is eliminated, treatment outcome is optimized Detoxification continues to be comfortable, client receives additional Consolidation/Stabilization treatment based on NLTC Craving Identification and Management
(CIM) and receives treatment and learns strategies for managing underlying mental health issues Symptom monitoring allows tapering to proceed without causing withdrawal symptoms, kindling (central nervous system damage) is avoided and long-term healing is promoted.
Phase 1: Intake (Appendix A Steps 1 – 8)
Have the client stop all short-acting sedative-hypnotic substance use (including alcohol)
Attitude - patience, patience and more patience is required of clinician and client
o Clinician: A trusting, non-judgmental and supportive relationship is established. The client is encouraged to feel safe and able to be honest about use history. Fear of withdrawal is acknowledged and discussed. Optimism regarding success is encouraged. o Client: Fear is normalized; client and family/friends are reassured. Clients and their support system approach treatment with an optimistic attitude. • Patient Medical History – thorough medical history including:
o Current medication list o Medication and substance abuse history o Amount used (doses, estimation of alcohol or other intake) o Length of use for each addictive medication or substance o Experience with developing tolerance as evidenced by increasing doses or adding another medication or substance to control withdrawal symptoms 11 February 2014 o Some sense or estimate of the number of withdrawal episodes for each substance o Time and date of last use for each addictive substance or medication Notes: It is virtually impossible to conduct an adequate sedative-hypnotic detox if other short acting
psychoactive medications continue to be in use. For example if opiate addiction is also an issue and
short-acting opiates are being used, this dependency must also be addressed. If stimulant use is
concurrent, safety becomes an issue.
Expect some clients to present with Axis II pathology. Before induction and during early detox, signs of Axis II pathology can appear to be an issue simply due to the side effects of long-term sedative-hypnotic use. Persevering with the detox will enable the clinician to determine whether or not personality disorders are a likely reason for the original prescribing or self-medication with sedative-hypnotics. Regardless of the cause Axis II pathology can make persevering through the detox process quite a challenge. • Physical Assessment: General PE including neurological assessment, orientation (consider using
a standardized evaluation tool such as the Folstein mini-mental exam), DTR's, clonus, pupils, EOEM, including check for nystagmus, check for tremor, evaluate balance, coordination (closed-eyes-finger-to-nose touch test, one leg balance test) and gait (tandem gait assessment). • Is Detox Appropriate?: At this point the clinician will have a sense of the client's condition and
support system and can determine if out-patient detox is an appropriate expectation. Out-patient detox requires that the client is capable, or has reliable, supportive assistance with correct medication dosage and insuring medications are taken at the prescribed times. To insure proper use of medications support and assistance is always preferable. • Attitude of Family and Friends: Do not underestimate the attitude of family and friends toward
detox. If the client's support system is convinced of the efficacy of detox and understands the potential challenges (i.e. symptom variability is to be expected and is not a sign of failure) and the long-term commitment requirements, then they can serve as valuable allies. If such understanding is not in place family and friends can sabotage the process, and may even convince the client to give up and even try some other "quick-fix" treatment. • Using the Symptom Assessment Key: The NLTC Sedative-hypnotic Withdrawal Symptom
Assessment Key is available on the NLTC website. Assist the client with filling out the assessment key in order to obtain baseline symptom scores. • Length of Treatment – Explain the protocol and discuss what to expect. Key issues to cover:
o Symptom-guided detox works precisely because it is not a "quick fix" form of treatment. o The exact length of time from induction to the end of the replacement medication taper is impossible to predict. o Monitoring during the dose titration phase:  Follow up appointments are more frequent initially, becoming less frequent once symptom management has stabilized  Clients must be advised to call for advice and concerns as needed 24/7  Monitoring is necessary throughout the taper and discontinuation phase 11 February 2014 • Stress and Environmental Stimulation – Stress and being over-stimulated complicates
assessments of withdrawal symptoms and negatively impacts brain chemistry. Stress intolerance is normal and expected. • Fear – Patients requiring detox will be in withdrawal, uncomfortable and fearful. Being
encouraged to contact the on-call clinician will greatly assist in managing concerns and improve compliance. • Detox Life-style Considerations – In addition to controlling stress and environmental
stimulation, a monk-like lifestyle is ideal in early detox. Despite anergia and anhedonia, a predictable daily schedule, mild exercise, enjoyable, minimally stimulating distractions and optimal nutrition is most helpful. • Therapy – Intensive individual psychotherapy is not appropriate initially, however, combinations
of individual, family, and group therapy can be helpful when used to provide support and encouragement during the detox process. More intensive 1:1 psychotherapy may be added later as appropriate. • Symptom Fluctuations – During detox withdrawal symptom severity will vary from one hour to
the next and from one day to the next. Many factors have an effect on withdrawal symptoms - stress, environmental stimulation, number of experiences with untreated withdrawal (kindling), underlying health and mental health conditions, etc. Once a period of good symptom control has been achieved (assessment key scores of mostly 0), do not be tempted to change a medication dose based on reports of a "bad day". • Evaluating Causes of Symptom Fluctuations – Symptom variability is associated with recovery,
however it is important to look for possible causes of symptom flares: 1) Verify compliance with medication dose and dosing intervals, 2) Review the importance of stress reduction and an undemanding and predictable life-style, 3) Discourage over-focusing on symptoms, 4) If symptoms scores remain increased for an extended period of time (length of time is a judgment call) an additional degree of tolerance may have been "uncovered" and further dosage titration may be required (see discussion below on "uncovering"). • Harm Reduction - Caution clients not to drive, operate machinery or make important life-
decisions until the dose of replacement medication has been stabilized and absence of intoxication or signs of over-medication has been confirmed. Caution clients that mixing detox meds with other sedating medications can result in overdose and possibly death. Encourage the client to report any spike in drug cravings or any actual return to using sedative-hypnotic or other psychoactive substances. No medication changes should be made without a consultation. Encourage complete honesty about past, present and future use history. • Obtain consent for treatment and a commitment to treatment.
Phase 2: Induction (Appendix A Steps 9 – 10)
Induction Dosage Titration Goal: Eliminate withdrawal symptoms without causing intoxication or
signs of over-medication
Note: Inadequate dosing or too-rapid tapering can cause malignant hyperthermia and withdrawal
11 February 2014 Chlordiazepoxide and phenobarbital are the long-acting replacement medications used for detoxification. The starting dose of long-acting replacement medication is based on an equivalency calculation using the client's current dose of sedative-hypnotics, including any regular alcohol intake. Table 3: Sedative-hypnotic equivalents to 30 mg phenobarbital* Barbiturates
Chlordiazepoxide Z-Drugs
Other sedative-hypnotics
*equivalents for purposes of detoxification; higher or lower doses may be required depending on a variety of factors including whether the patient is intoxicated or in withdrawal when taking their usual sedative hypnotic dose; if the calculated daily replacement dose is greater than 180 mg it may be advisable to administer one-third of the daily dose and observe for 90 minutes; inpatient treatment should be considered for doses of greater than 600 mg per day 11 February 2014 Table 4: Sample calculation for estimating the starting dose for the long-acting replacement medication
Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
Valium 60 mg per day Ativan 8 mg per day Alcohol 2 oz per day = 300 mg per day. This should be = 360 mg per day. This should be divided into 3 or 4 doses per day divided into 3 or 4 doses per day on a fixed schedule. on a fixed schedule. Calculate the equivalent dose of Librium or phenobarbital for the current amount of each sedative-hypnotic substance being used to determine a starting dose for replacement medication. During the initial period of detox this total daily dose will be divided into 3 or 4 equal doses to be taken every 6 or 8 hours. If doses cannot be divided evenly the extra amount is typically added to the nighttime dose. Long-acting replacement medication supply or prescription - having an in-office supply of chlordiazepoxide or phenobarbital will facilitate induction. Alternating the client or a member of their support system should be given a prescription to fill for an estimate of the quantity that will be needed for at least the first seven to ten days of treatment. Filling a prescription brings up the issue that induction and dosage titration can be managed
outside the office if the client is relatively stable and the clinician and client firmly commit to
monitoring and advising via telephone calls every 60 - 90 minutes until withdrawal symptoms
scores are essentially 0 - 1. Because seizures can result from sedative-hypnotic withdrawal
facilitating induction becomes very important when a client is experiencing significant
withdrawal symptoms.

Phase 2: Induction (continued) (Appendix A Steps 11 – 23)
Begin Long-acting Replacement Medication Note: Induction is started when the client is experiencing
withdrawal symptoms with elevated symptom scores on the withdrawal assessment key.
• The client should begin replacement therapy by taking the calculated induction dose (1/3 of the total daily replacement dose) of chlordiazepoxide or phenobarbital. • Reassess withdrawal symptoms scores 60 - 90 minutes after the initial induction dose • Use the scores on the withdrawal symptom key to guide administering additional replacement medication doses as needed. • The amount of the next titration dose is a judgment call based on the degree of change in the withdrawal symptom scores. If symptom assessment scores on the key indicate there has been little or no improvement then administer the same dose again. If symptom scores show moderate improvement in withdrawal scores an appropriate portion of the starting dose should be given. The goal is to move the withdrawal symptom scores relatively quickly to the 0 -1 range; waiting 60 - 90 minutes between doses and repeating the symptom assessment key scoring until this is accomplished. 11 February 2014 • Note: to avoid over-medicating and symptoms of intoxication, it is not necessary to achieve complete symptom control at this point • The goal (or "promised land" dose) is reached when symptoms scores on the assessment
key are 0 -1 and there are no signs of intoxication.
• Reaching the "promised land" can take some time. Reassurance and encouragement will help the client manage any impatience with the process. • Induction is essentially complete once the client's vital signs are in the normal range and their most troubling withdrawal symptoms (usually anxiety and agitation) are manageable. • The cumulative dose required to reach withdrawal symptom assessment scores of 0 - 1 is the dose to be divided evenly to be taken on a strict dosing schedule. • Another judgment call is required to determining whether a Q 6 hour dosing schedule versus a Q 8 hour dosing schedule is best. The patient's general condition and the degree of difficulty required to achieve reasonable withdrawal symptom are considered. • If the client is on a Q 8 hour dosing schedule and withdrawal symptoms reappear before the next dosing interval, the total dose required to achieve withdrawal scores of 0 - 1 is then divided into four even doses and he dosing schedule is shifted to Q 6 hour intervals. • After about a week of stable dosing all clients can typically be shifted to the more convenient Q 8 hour dosing schedule. This is possible because the full accumulation of active metabolites has been reached at around the 7 day mark. Reconfigure the total daily dose into three even doses and shift to Q 8 hour dosing intervals. Monitoring, Assessing and Managing Sedation
• All reports of excessive sleeping and fatigue are not signs of intoxication and over-medication.
Clients should be strongly advised not to drive, operate machinery or make important
decisions until a stable, non-sedating dose is well established.
• Most clients require a few days or even weeks of extra sleep during the early detox period. Extra sleep is required because sedative-hypnotic dependence has been interfering with normal sleep cycles, sometimes for many years, significantly disrupting sleep and creating an extreme sleep deficit. • Because it takes about a week for the active metabolites of the replacement medication to be fully established during dosage titration it is possible exceed the client's level of tolerance. • A replacement medication dose that exceeds the client's level of tolerance will produce typical intoxication symptoms: nystagmus, slurred speech, impaired coordination such as ataxia and imbalance. Excessive sedation and feeling intoxicated are at the very least annoying and can be dangerous if intoxication is not recognized and addressed. • Differential diagnosis for complaints of fatigue and excessive sleeping include: o Over-medication (client will have physical symptoms of intoxication) o Expected sleep debit (this need is more profound and lasts longer for some clients) o The client may have returned to use/abuse of sedative-hypnotic substances. A non- judgmental attitude encourages the client to be honest about this issue. Random urine drug screens can help determine if clients are mixing other sedating medications with detox medications. 11 February 2014 • Managing return to use/abuse of sedative-hypnotic substances o Review the importance of abstinence from all sedative-hypnotics other than the replacement medication. o Evaluate and treat typical reasons clients may resort to self-medication o Insomnia and mental health issues are common problems. Appendix C provides some basic information about managing these issues during sedative-hypnotic detox. o Individual therapy can work with the client to help the client learn techniques for managing stress and anxiety o While every attempt is made to avoid discontinuation of treatment, if the client remains unable to initiate abstinence this may need to be considered. • Intoxication caused during dosage titration is managed by having the client skip a dose or two, then return to regular dosing intervals using a lower dose of replacement medication. The amount of the dose decrease is another judgment call, but don't rush to skip doses. Carefully assess for symptoms of intoxication versus the more likely explanation which is often a continued need for additional sleep. • During dosage titration and the early stabilization period of detox most clients benefit greatly from assistance with monitoring for intoxication. Someone other than the client will be much quicker to notice slurring of speech and other signs of intoxication. Due to memory impairment clients often require assistance with taking the correct medication dose, adhering to the dosing schedule, basic support and help with stress reduction and the chores of daily living. Reappearance of Withdrawal Symptoms and Managing "Uncovering"
If withdrawal symptoms reappear after a period of several weeks (or more) of symptom control several
things should be assessed:
• Is the client being diligent with their replacement dosing regimen? • Is the client making decreasing medication doses without consultation? • Is the client experiencing normal symptom variability, basically having a "bad day"? As discussed earlier, there is an expectation for periodic symptom flares and variability in symptom scores. • Is the client simply being impatient with the process? Unmet expectations can be distressing and cause a symptom flare. • Is there something going on that is stressful? Is the client being reinjured or at having symptoms due to some increase in their stress? If none of these issues are likely consider that a new level of tolerance may have been "uncovered". This simply happens to some individuals during detox. For persistent symptom flares with a sustained escalating trend to withdrawal symptom severity documented on the symptom assessment key, return to the process used during the initial dose titration. Post-Visit Monitoring and Dose Titration
Whenever the switch to monitoring at home is made the client will need to know how important it is to
follow the detox protocol. The client (hopefully with assistance) must continue self-monitoring as
11 February 2014 recommended on the symptom assessment key and taking replacement medications at the correct dosing interval at home. The client and clinician should discuss whether there will be regularly scheduled follow up calls or if calls will be made on a PRN basis. A client should be able to contact a clinician 24/7 in case there are concerns, symptom scores are not stable or signs of intoxication occur. At this point the client continues with the process of monitoring the severity of withdrawal symptom scores using the assessment key, but should not be overly focused on symptoms. A degree of symptom fluctuation is expected. Self- assessments are documented on the assessment key. Self-assessment schedule for the first week: • Before each dose of replacement medication • 60 - 90 minutes after a dose, • Anytime the intensity of withdrawal symptoms increase • The client and those involved in providing support must also monitor for and immediately report to the clinician and symptoms of intoxication • As long as withdrawal assessment scores are consistently 0-1 the client will continue taking the calculated dose on the recommended dosing interval. Phase 3 Consolidation/Stabilization (Appendix A Steps 24 – 34)
Consolidation/Stabilization - a period of time on a stable dose of long-acting replacement medication is required once the "promised land" dose is reached and withdrawal symptoms have been eliminated. A minimum of two to four weeks on a stable dose of long-acting replacement medication is required, allowing brain chemistry time to repair. With proper medication dosage titration the client will eventually feel reasonably comfortable. Physical damage from withdrawal will be avoided. A comfortable patient is less likely to return to self-medicating with short-acting sedative-hypnotics. At some point during this phase it is the time to consider whether the issue is sedative-hypnotic dependency or addiction. For some clients sedative-hypnotic dependency is iatrogenic and they do not require addiction treatment. For some clients the underlying reason for the dependency (Axis II disorders such as dependent personality disorder or generalized anxiety disorder) may need to be addressed. If it is apparent that the client has addictive disease (history of self-medicating, using un-prescribed medications, etc.) addiction treatment will be necessary. At NLTC treatment is individualized, however, addiction treatment usually involves the following components: • Medical management - ongoing sedative-hypnotic medication supervision and appropriate treatment of other addictions as well as treatment of other medical and/or mental health conditions 11 February 2014 • Education - NLTC uses its own education and treatment model based on Craving Identification
and Management (CIM) Clients are taught about the four causes of cravings which are
summarized with the acronym EWMS: Envionmental cueing (exposure to substances),
Withdrawal (it is important to reassess for signs of withdrawal particularly whenever drug
craving is significant), Mental health (for some clients underlying mental health conditions,
particularly generalized anxiety disorder and depression, may be present and require treatment)
and Stress (stress causes drug craving). Typically clients dependent on sedative-hypnotics have
not developed adequate stress management skills. Not only are client taught how to recognize
(identify) when they are experiencing cravings, but they how tools for managing cravings.
• Individual and Group therapy can be an important part of treatment, however, decisions about if and when to employ group, individual or family therapy are highly individualized. In the early stages of sedative-hypnotic detox, therapy would strive to avoid creating any stress or anxiety. Dealing with issues such as PTSD is typically delayed for a period of time and is focused on the client learning how to feel safe. Important adjunctive sedative-hypnotic detox treatment components - N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and
Baclofen are typically included in the detox regimen. NAC and Baclofen are used to aid the repair of
brain's neurotransmitters. NAC helps repair GABAA receptors and Baclofen works on the GABAB
NAC - n-acetylcysteine: an amino acid greatly assists with detox management by minimizing glutamate
rebound during sedative-hypnotic withdrawal. This glutamate rebound is responsible for the
hyperactivity associated with insomnia, anxiety and autonomic hyperactivity. Typically clients are
instructed to start taking NAC very early in the detoxification process. Researchers have used daily
dose ranges between 1,800 mg - 3,600 mg per day taken in divided doses three or four times per day
(typically taken at the same time as the long-acting replacement medication dose). A client-oriented
handout that provides detailed information about NAC is available on the NLTC website.
Baclofen: Baclofen is a weak GABA B receptor activator (agonist) with effects similar to GHB.
Baclofen's much lower affinity for this receptor decreases the effects of the sedative-hypnoticand
significantly reduces abuse potential. Researchers have found that Baclofen is appropriate for
replacement/substitution therapy as it assists with mitigating withdrawal and craving. The typical
Baclofen dose is 80 mg daily, taken in divided doses. The dosing schedule is the same as the
chlordiazepoxide or phenobarb schedule. When a Q8H dosing schedule is established the first two doses
of each day should be 20mg and the HS dose should be 40mg
Phase 4: Taper (Appendix A Steps 35 – 43)
Once the individual has spent some time on the long-acting replacement medication a slow tapering process is undertaken. The length of time spent in the stabilization phase depends on many factors, mainly how severely affected the client was and the degree of difficulty involved in establishing a stable replacement medication dose. 11 February 2014 Tapering off of the replacement medication becomes possible as the body and mind repair from the
damage caused by dependence on sedative-hypnotic substances. The amount of each dose taper is
approximately 10% of the current dose of replacement medication. It is reasonable to attempt a dose
decrease every 1 - 2 weeks, however just as with replacement dosage titration, dosage reduction is based
on symptom monitoring using the NLTC Sedative-Hypnotic Withdrawal Symptom Assessment Key.
Anytime withdrawal symptom scores increase noticeably during a taper, the timing and/or the amount of
the dose decrease should be adjusted. Typically it is advisable to return to the previous dose for another
week or more and then proceed with a smaller dose decrease. There is no reason to rush the taper and
every reason to approach the taper process with slow deliberation. Keep in mind that withdrawal
symptoms cause re-injury to the brain chemistry.
Be aware that a client may exhibit signs of sedation on a previously well-tolerated dose of replacement medication. This lower tolerance is a positive sign and indication that brain chemistry repair has taken place. When this occurs, a dose decrease is required. 11 February 2014 NLTC Sedative-Hypnotic Outpatient Detoxification Summarized
Phase 1: Evaluation and Client Education
1. Discontinue all short-acting sedative-hypnotic medications and substances including alcohol.
2. Create a sense of trust and acceptance.
3. Complete the intake history and physical including a neurological assessment (including evaluation
of DTRs, tremor and nystagmus). 4. Explain how to use the NLTC Sedative-Hypnotic Withdrawal Assessment Key. Detailed instructions are provided on the key. All NLTC Withdrawal Assessment Keys are available on the NLTC website. 5. Work with the client to record current symptom scores and required assessment key information 6. Explain the detoxification protocol, treatment expectations and goals. 7. Provide all harm reduction information. 8. Obtain consent for treatment, commitment to the process. Phase 2: Induction - proceed with induction as indicated based on elevated scores on the assessment
9. Calculate the estimated replacement medication dose using the equivalency chart in Table 3. An
example calculation is provided in Table 4. 10. Obtain supply of replacement medication from office stock or have the client fill a prescription. The issue of filling a prescription brings up the issue that induction and dosage titration can be
managed outside the office if the client is relatively stable and the clinician and client firmly
commit to monitoring and advising via telephone calls every 60 - 90 minutes until withdrawal
symptoms scores are essentially 0 - 1. Because seizures can result from sedative-hypnotic
withdrawal facilitating induction becomes very important when a client is experiencing significant
withdrawal symptoms.

11. Administer the calculated starting dose of replacement medication. 12. Have the client fill out the assessment key again 60 to 90 minutes after the initial dose 13. If withdrawal symptom scores remain elevated the induction process continues with PRN dosage titration. The amount given for titration doses is a judgment call based on the amount of progress made in reducing withdrawal scores. If symptom scores improvement is more substantial the titration dose will be some fraction of the initial dose. Continued dosage titration is based on the degree of progress toward eliminating withdrawal symptoms. 14. In another 60 - 90 minutes the client should again fill out the symptom assessment key. If symptoms scores remain significantly elevated give another titration dose. 15. Repeat this cycle until withdrawal symptom scores are generally in the 0 - 1 range. To avoid over- medicating and causing symptoms of intoxication it is not necessary to achieve complete symptom control at this point. 11 February 2014 16. See section on Monitoring Assessing and Managing Sedation in the body of this text. 17. Once good symptom control is achieved add up the total amount of replacement medication administered. This is now the total daily dose that will be prescribed and administered in evenly
divided doses on a regimented schedule.
18. Typically replacement medication doses are given on a strict Q 8 hour schedule. If doses can't be evenly divided the extra amount is added to the last dose of the day (the HS dose). Note: If the client is on a Q8 hour dosing schedule and withdrawal symptoms reappear before the next
dosing interval, the total dose required to achieve withdrawal scores of 0 - 1 is then divided into four
even doses and he dosing schedule is shifted to Q6 hour intervals. After about a week of stable dosing,
all clients can typically be shifted to the more convenient Q8 hour dosing schedule.
19. Advise the client and/or their support person to set alarms for each dosing time. 20. Continue monitoring symptoms at home and proceed with dosage titration as required.
21. At this point the maximum interval between symptom assessments should be 8 hours.
22. Once the daily dose has been determined and a dosing schedule has been determined the client should continue to fill out the withdrawal symptom assessment key several times a day for the next week while the "promised land" dose becomes well established. Scores should be recorded on the assessment key before and after each replacement medication dose per the instructions on the assessment key, skipping scoring after the last dose of the day unless the client is struggling with insomnia. 23. Because a proper amount of sleep and a proper sleep cycle is so important insomnia should be treated with an appropriate non-addictive sleep aid. See Appendix C for a detailed discussion regarding managing insomnia. Phase 3: Consolidation/Stabilization
24. Clients must agree to call if symptoms of intoxication or inadequate withdrawal symptom control 25. Clients should be encouraged to call for questions or concerns are needed while striking a balance of not being overly focused on symptom fluctuation. Clients should understand symptom management and improvement are not expected to be completely linear during detox. Expect some intervals of "bad days". 26. "Uncovering" - If withdrawal symptoms reappear after a period of stability, it is a judgment call whether a new level of tolerance has been uncovered versus an episode of symptom variability. Replacement medication doses can be increased if needed based on a sustained increase of withdrawal symptom scores. This issue was discussed in detail earlier. 27. Follow up office visits are scheduled at appropriate intervals based on the client's condition. Some key issues to monitor include: 1) adequacy of withdrawal symptom management (replacement medication dosage titration continues as appropriate), 2) check for nystagmus and assess for other symptoms of over-medication (intoxication), 3) random urine drug screens confirm safety and compliance, 4) provide support and encourage continued stress reduction and other detox friendly 11 February 2014 life-style considerations, 5) evaluate and treat mental health issues, insomnia and other issues as needed with appropriate medications and other therapeutic interventions, 6) monitor for appropriate time to begin addiction treatment for appropriate clients. 28. Clients should be encouraged to call anytime if symptoms of intoxication develop (ataxia, slurred speech, gait appear unsteady or signs of imbalance or problems with coordination develop). 29. Clients should not be overly focused on symptom variability, but clients should be encouraged to call if they have concerns or questions about detox or a change in condition occurs. 30. To whatever degree possible it is important to live a calm, predictable, life style during this period of 31. Once the "promised land" dose is reached and withdrawal symptoms have been eliminated, no medication changes should be made for a period of at least two week, usually longer. This will allow the brain chemistry time to repair. 32. Periodic office visits continue to as described above to monitor, treat and support the client during 33. Expect some clients to present with underlying Axis II pathology. This can make persevering through the entire detox process challenging for the client and clinician. 34. As discussed earlier addiction education and treatment should be provided for appropriate clients as their condition stabilizes. Phase 4- Taper
35. After a period of time on the long-acting replacement medication a slow tapering process is
36. Allow at least 2 - 4 weeks of stabilization on a detox dose that has allowed the patient to be relatively comfortable and able to function normally before considering any dose tapering. 37. The length of time spent in the stabilization phase depends on many factors, mainly on the client's overall condition and how severely the client appears effected by this and other dependency issues. The degree of difficulty in finding an ideal replacement medication dose is another factor to consider. 38. Tapering and discontinuation is also a Symptom-Guided process therefore tapering can be halted and the dose of replacement medication can return to the dose that was previously working to control symptoms. 39. Whenever the tapering process is started have the client resume tracking symptom assessment scores on the NTLC Sedative Hypnotic Withdrawal Assessment Key. Symptom scoring will take place just as it did during the initial dose titration period. 40. Tapering schedule is open ended and depends on the how the patient is tolerating the process. 41. Anytime withdrawal symptom scores increase, it is advisable to return to the previous dose for a period of time. After another week or more try another taper using a smaller dose decrease. 42. There is no reason to rush the taper and every reason to approach the taper process with slow deliberation. Keep in mind that withdrawal symptoms cause re-injury. 11 February 2014 43. Most clients can eventually discontinue their replacement medication. For individuals with an extensively damaged central nervous system sometimes this is not possible 11 February 2014 APPENDIX B
List of sedative-hypnotic adverse effects
• Impaired cognition (negatively impact on thought process) • Memory impairment • Impaired mental alertness (over-sedation), lethargy and decreased motivation (anergia) • Increased incidence of accidents • Emotional blunting, impaired emotional processing, impaired emotional development. Interruption of natural and necessary emotional processes. For example, if the substance is used to treat generalized anxiety, emotions are dulled and the process of developing appropriate psychological adjustment is suppressed. The ability to learn and use appropriate coping strategies is delayed or entirely prevented. Reactions to loss and other traumas can become buried and may create chronic emotional disturbances. • Mood changes, new onset depression or worsening of existing depression, anxiety or worsening of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia • Dementia (often this is temporary if the causative medication is discontinued following an appropriate detoxification process) This is more common in the older adults • Tolerance: the original dose progressively has less effect. For the original effect to continue, a higher or more frequent dose is required. • Physical dependence (the phenomenon of tolerance is why dependence on a drug develops). • Tingling, numbness and burning sensations - sometimes described as electric shocks • Menstrual disturbances • New or increased severity of chronic pain - aches, pains and flu-like symptoms • Stomach and intestinal upsets • Changes in appearance - glazed eyes, poor complexion • Visual changes - corrective prescription instability, light sensitivity • Urinary symptoms (similar to those of a urinary tract infection such as burning and frequency) Some symptoms caused by dependency may not appear until use of the substance is discontinued. In
general, the symptoms caused by dependency will resolve with proper detoxification treatment, healthy
life-style choices, patience and time. To a large extent, the repair process, including improvement of
memory and cognition in general, will occur over the first six months. For some individuals repair
appears to continue over a longer period of time. In some cases complaints of various physical and/or
psychological symptoms individuals do not entirely resolve. A common long term complaint is a
decrease in the ability to tolerate stress. For most, the ability to tolerate stress does improve significantly
over time.
11 February 2014 11 February 2014 Miscellaneous Notes Treating insomnia or other sleep disturbances: If difficulty falling or staying asleep continues to be
an issue once the replacement medication dose (Librium or phenobarb) is properly titrated, a trial of
Trazodone is appropriate. The dose range is quite wide: 50mg - 300mg. A reasonable starting Trazodone
dose is 50mg at HS. This dose may be repeated every 30 - 45 min. as needed up to 200mg. If it becomes
obvious that 50mg is not an adequate starting dose, change the start dose to 100mg and repeating 50mg
doses PRN Q 30 - 45min. Remeron 15-30mg is an alternative sleep aide typically used if Trazodone is
ineffective. If an antidepressant is required Remeron could be appropriate as both an antidepressant and
the first choice sleep aide.

Mental Health Considerations:
Benzos may have become a dependency issue if they were prescribed
or used to self-medicate for psychiatric symptoms. The potential for underlying mental health issues
range from generalized anxiety to more complex disorders such as major depression, bipolar affective
disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc. Those most likely to experience disruptions to the detox
process are those individuals with previously undiagnosed mental health problems. Undiagnosed and
untreated mental health issues may become apparent during the detoxification process.
Special Precautions for clients on antihypertensive and cardioplegic medications: BP and heart rate
can't be used as valid indicators for titration. Hypotensive crisis is a possibility once detox meds are
optimized. Increased fluid and salt intake can help minimize this possibility. Careful weaning off the
medication may be appropriate. Many clients have been prescribed these meds by physicians who are
unaware they were dealing with someone with hypertension caused by sedative-hypnotic withdrawal
(For example: If a daily drinker stops drinking for a day or two before a medical appointment and
doesn't to their drinking pattern and dependency an elevated BP and heart rate due to withdrawal may be
diagnosed as a cardiac disease or primary hypertension.

Necessity for Rapid Taper:
If there is a need for a rapid typical taper schedule 30mg Phenobarbital
reduction every two to three days. Individuals starting on a dosage of < 100mg per day are usually
withdrawn in 15mg increments. If using Librium 25mg reductions are made on the same schedule. For
individuals on lower end starting doses 5 and 10mg Librium capsules are available.
Use patterns that create dependency and/or damage to brain chemistry: Dosing can be as
infrequent as once a day. For example: Ambien (zolpidem), used once a day, every day for more than
about two weeks (some reports indicates a little as ten days of regular use) creates dependency. In the
case of alcohol, excessive intake once a day as well as binge drinking is damaging. Any psychoactive
drug taken on a regular basis can adversely affect brain chemistry.
11 February 2014


RIASSUNTO DELLE CARATTERISTICHE DEL PRODOTTO aumentata dopo l'espansione della volemia. In alcuni pazienti affetti da insufficienza cardiaca con pressione arteriosa normale o ridotta, la 1. DENOMINAZIONE DEL MEDICINALE Zanipril 20 mg/20 mg compresse somministrazione di enalapril può provocare un'ulteriore riduzione della rivestite con film.


Servicio de atención personalizada (de lunes a viernes, de 8 a 20 h) SegurCaixa Negocio Condiciones Generales Mod. S.RE.442/01 (Ed. 11-2012) Port_Cond Negocio es.indd 1 Port_Cond Negocio es.indd 1 Cian de cuatricromía Cian de cuatricromíaMagenta de cuatricromía Magenta de cuatricromía Negro de cuatricromía Negro de cuatricromía Mod. S.RE. 442/01 Este contrato se rige por lo dispuesto en la Ley 50/1980, de 8 de octubre, de Contrato de Seguro, así como por el Real Decreto Legislativo 6/2004, de 29 de octubre, por el que se aprueba el Texto Refundido de la Ley de Ordenación y Supervisión de los Seguros Privados, y por las demás normas españolas reguladoras de los seguros privados. Asimismo, se rige por lo convenido en las Condiciones Generales y Particulares de este mismo contrato.

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