The Gallus Benzodiazepine Taper Program

difference in substance abuse and dependency

The Gallus Benzodiazepine Taper Program is an extension of the patient’s inpatient medical detox treatment. It is specifically designed to help the patient complete their detoxification and begin their recovery in a tapered, safe environment, ensuring next steps towards recovery are in place. The Benzodiazepine Taper Program works by slowly decreasing the patient’s consumption of the substance, allowing them to fully focus on improving their health and wellness.

The Need

According to a new book, The Benzodiazepines Crisis, benzodiazepines (BZD) are among the most frequently prescribed drugs in the world. They are indicated for short-term use of no longer than two to four weeks, yet healthcare providers often prescribe BZDs for long-term use in patients, even over the course of many years. In any given year 15% of the US population has taken a BZD, and about 6%, or 18 million people, have abused sedative hypnotic agents. Patients build up tolerance to the therapeutic effects of BZDs, but still experience side effects, which may worsen as doses increase. The cognitive side effects of BZDs are so well known as to merit their own name: BZD-induced neurocognitive disorder. Individuals who take BZDs over a protracted period of time can become dependent on them.

 

BZD use is a serious problem in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 30 percent of opioid-related drug overdoses also involve benzodiazepines. NIDA reported that between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased 67 percent, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) stated that BZD use is highest among 50-64 year olds.

 

“The benzodiazepine crisis has unfortunately been overshadowed by other drug epidemics, including opioids, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, but just because we’re not talking about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening and that many people aren’t suffering from severe and even life-threating addictions,” says Patrick Gallus, D.O., Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Gallus Medical Detox Centers. “Even more alarming is that many patients are unaware of their addictive properties and how dangerous they can be when combined with other prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as alcohol. By expanding the Gallus Benzodiazepine Taper Program to include virtual services, we will reach more patients who are struggling with an addiction and are seeking a road to lasting recovery.”

 

With the increased percentage of patients using BZDs and its dangerous long-term effects, the Gallus Benzodiazepine Taper Program has been created to ensure patients can be safely tapered off BZDs with industry-leading medical care. Because the time it takes for the impact of benzodiazepines to diminish, it can be physically and psychologically taxing for patients to go through withdrawal. The program can last from three weeks to six months depending on the patient’s specific medication history. It involves both medical and therapy visits, and encourages patients enter into aftercare, typically a long-term rehabilitation facility.  In addition to a personalized treatment plan, each patient’s recovery plan includes aftercare planning which identifies resources and next steps toward long-term recovery.

Our Expertise

As a Center of Excellence, and with 10 years of experience with substance use, Gallus has created a Benzodiazepine Taper Program to ensure maximum comfort for the patient, and overall success and sobriety for the future. Our program was carefully curated from years of knowledge and highly trained staff on how best to safely detox from benzodiazepines.

 

With our new Benzodiazepine Taper Program, our staff can ensure the patients will successfully taper off BZDs and continue their taper in either a home setting or a long-term treatment facility, on track towards sobriety.

How It Works

Towards the goal of successfully tapering patients off benzodiazepines, when you are admitted to a Gallus Medical Detox facility and enrolled in the Benzo Taper Program (BTP), Gallus Medical Staff will begin the process of tapering the patient’s benzodiazepines. Tapering will begin during the inpatient stay, allowing for close monitoring of the patient’s response to gradually decreasing doses, in order to determine the rate of tapering each patient requires. Factors such as amount and length of time of benzodiazepine usage, patients age, comorbidities, and support systems, are all factored in when developing a tapering schedule.

 

Once stabilized on a taper as an inpatient, the benzo taper program team, in coordination with the Medical Director at the facility, will develop the patients home tapering schedule. The Program Coordinator/Case Manager will speak with the patient prior to discharge from the facility, to review the tapering schedule and the Benzodiazepine Tapering Contract, discuss and schedule the counseling sessions and physician visits, as well as the process of obtaining weekly prescriptions and any other follow up items that are needed. The program expands patient recovery support to include virtual patient services, including telehealth medical and therapy sessions that coordinate with aftercare providers to facilitate recovery.

 

After enrollment into the program, the patient will:

  • Follow up with the aftercare plan determined during the inpatient stay.
  • Have a weekly visit with the BTP physician to discuss the taper progress, any symptoms being experienced, and the plan for the following week.
  • Have a weekly visit with the behavioral health team member.
  • Have a weekly call with the program coordinator to discuss adherence to program, any issues or assistance needed in coordinating care with outside providers, and to receive the weekly prescription.

 

Patients will be referred for residential care, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, or regular outpatient based on history obtained in a bio-psychosocial assessment. The recommendations are based on severity of substance use disorder, mental health co-morbidities, trauma history, treatment attempts, social support networks/recovery environment, periods of sobriety, etc. This process is informed by ASAM criteria.

 

For patients going to residential treatment, PHP or IOP programs, the Program Coordinator will speak with the aftercare provider to review the taper being prescribed, and will coordinate any appointments with Gallus, based on the treatment facilities preference. Gallus will continue to monitor and recommend any changes to the benzo taper as needed throughout the patient’s aftercare program.

 

In addition to medical care, case management, and regular monitoring by nursing staff, patients will be provided direct therapeutic support. Patients will be offered a minimum of one hour of individual therapy per week with additional opportunities for group or other individual contacts offered based on need and progress of the patient.

Insurance

Insurance may cover all or some of your Benzodiazepine Taper Program costs. Gallus Medical Detox accepts most insurance plans.

We work directly with your insurance company to help you understand your exact coverage and make sure you are fully aware of any potential out-of-pocket costs.

 

In order to verify your coverage, we will need:

  • Your full name, address and date of birth
  • Member identification and group number
  • Toll-free number to your insurance carrier

 

Verifications will be completed promptly. All information will be explained in detail regarding your specific coverage and any out-of-pocket cost.

Call Gallus Medical Detox Centers today and see how we can help you or your loved one take the best first step toward recovery: 866-358-6446.