Protracted Benzo withdrawal

Posted by aarniek @aarniek, Oct 30, 2016

Taken of 8mg of Ativan daily in 3 weeks and suffering terribly nearly 4 years now! Unable to walk ,have insane muscle tightness,no memory,tinnius is unbearable,unable to picture things in my mind ! After 45 months it’s worse than ever and 2 neurologists have tried only medications which all made me even worse!

@elsa1000

After eleven and one half years on 3mg of xanax per day I started having break threw anxiety. Taking more was an unsustainable choice so I decided to slowly and gently discontinue the xanax. My GP added 50mg amitriptyline at bedtime and I was able to comfortable reduce my intake by half (to .5mg, three times a day) over the course of two years. I ran into trouble when I reduced to .5mg twice a day. It was horrendous and I only stayed at that dose for about 2 weeks. I ran into even bigger trouble when I went back up to my previous stable dose of 1.5mg a day and things stayed horrible. After researching the discontinuation of benzodiazepines online (and scaring the heck outta myself!) I found the Ashton Manuel's titration protocol. I discussed it with my doctor and we switched me to valium, 10mg three times a day. I was supposed to take a month to transition from one med to the other, valium slowly taking the place of xanax. But I ended up switching in a little over a week. It was such a relief! I think the longer half life of valium had a lot to do with ending the apparently continuous withdrawal I was in. After stabilize at 30mg tid for about three weeks I began lowering the dose by 2.5 grams every two weeks. After I reached 10mg per day, I slowed the reduction to 1mg every two weeks. I'm currently at 4mg per day. I started the titration June 20th and I'll be done in mid February. My doctor respects my decision, but also clearly thinks I'm taking a ridiculously long time. She also said that withdrawing from benzodiazepines is brutal and much worse than any opiate. And yet, despite our supposedly being on the same page regarding titration (Ashton Manuel!) she initially wrote for me discontinuing 30mg of valium in 1 month. As in, 5mg reductions every week! I think I would have been hospitalized. I have no idea what the rush was but after discussing the situation we continued on the schedule I described above. And here is my experience – benzo withdrawal does not have to be brutal. Mine hasn't been. In fact, it hasn't even been difficult. I'm convinced that is because I'm going at a very slow and measured pace, allowing my body/mind to adjust to each reduction. Traumatizing someone who already deals with debilitating anxiety with a rapid and agonizing withdrawal is downright cruel and certainly unnecessary. I wish everyone on this thread success, peace and serenity in 2019!

Jump to this post

thanks

REPLY
@aarniek

Seems with the brain damage the cold turkey causes,and as its a strong muscle relaxant ,some like me ,get severe muscle tightness ,no mental symptoms for me ,but as anxiety can cause muscles to tighten ,maybe it’s still anxiety causing it and if so what’s the answer to this insane tightness,as I got off due to the Ativan causing blackouts ,I don’t dare go back on it! I don’t feel sad or have panic attacks and I actually would be fine if I could get rid of muscles so contracted walking is impossible and I actually worry my back will break !

Jump to this post

Have you tried cbd oil? It has helped me tremendously

Liked by annfsd

REPLY
@bluna282

Have you tried cbd oil? It has helped me tremendously

Jump to this post

No,as it's said nothing one can take will help,but send me exactly what helped you and I will try to get some and try it!

REPLY

Hi.. I'm just trying to determine the difference between whether I have a mental health problem or I'm just going through benzodiazepine Tolerance/Withdrawal?? When I was 22yrs old huge into sports living a great life, my doctor proscribed me Klonopin 1mg at night & 1mg in the morning for very mild anxiety, at first it felt amazing! I thought to myself I never have to worry about anything again, well I was defiantly wrong! After time went by I'd say around 3 months later I was working & I started having some sort of anxiety that I had never felt before the medication, like I would kinda get a shaky/trembling type feeling & I still remember I would get off my 8hr shift at work & go to my car & I would literally be sweating & feeling so unrelaxed, so I knew there was something not right, i thought it was only my anxiety getting worse so I would go home & take more of the klonopin.. Anyways after time this problem got worse & worse I started having horrible sleeping problems that I never had before, then I started getting headaches, nausea, muscle tension, agitation & heart palpitations, I guess from just lack of quality sleep from what was going on I'm not really sure.. So the doctor put me on a very low dose of seroquel for sleep which helped for awhile then it lost its effectiveness so now it's been about 7-8yrs down the road I'm now 29yrs old & have almost no life because I cant sleep & feel good, I can barley even work.. I just want to know & I've been wanting to know for along time because I cant get any answers from my doctors what the heck is going on?? I've tried coming off the medications & it literally feels impossible because I'm already having a lot of horrible symptoms.. So my biggest question to everyone, does it sound like I have a mental illness or have I been going through tolerance withdrawal from the medication for years?? Has anyone out there went through anything like this? I'm just trying to get my life back.. Any input or advice would be awesome & greatly appreciated.. Thanks so much..

REPLY
@num1boxer1919

Hi.. I'm just trying to determine the difference between whether I have a mental health problem or I'm just going through benzodiazepine Tolerance/Withdrawal?? When I was 22yrs old huge into sports living a great life, my doctor proscribed me Klonopin 1mg at night & 1mg in the morning for very mild anxiety, at first it felt amazing! I thought to myself I never have to worry about anything again, well I was defiantly wrong! After time went by I'd say around 3 months later I was working & I started having some sort of anxiety that I had never felt before the medication, like I would kinda get a shaky/trembling type feeling & I still remember I would get off my 8hr shift at work & go to my car & I would literally be sweating & feeling so unrelaxed, so I knew there was something not right, i thought it was only my anxiety getting worse so I would go home & take more of the klonopin.. Anyways after time this problem got worse & worse I started having horrible sleeping problems that I never had before, then I started getting headaches, nausea, muscle tension, agitation & heart palpitations, I guess from just lack of quality sleep from what was going on I'm not really sure.. So the doctor put me on a very low dose of seroquel for sleep which helped for awhile then it lost its effectiveness so now it's been about 7-8yrs down the road I'm now 29yrs old & have almost no life because I cant sleep & feel good, I can barley even work.. I just want to know & I've been wanting to know for along time because I cant get any answers from my doctors what the heck is going on?? I've tried coming off the medications & it literally feels impossible because I'm already having a lot of horrible symptoms.. So my biggest question to everyone, does it sound like I have a mental illness or have I been going through tolerance withdrawal from the medication for years?? Has anyone out there went through anything like this? I'm just trying to get my life back.. Any input or advice would be awesome & greatly appreciated.. Thanks so much..

Jump to this post

Hi, @num1boxer1919 – wanted to let you know I've moved your post here, just because there are so many members present in this conversation about benzo withdrawal I thought may have some input for you on whether you may be experiencing mental illness symptoms or side effects from benzo withdrawal.

Just to clarify, @num1boxer1919, so other members here can offer what they have gleaned from their experiences: Are you talking about effects from withdrawing from clonazepam (Klonopin) or just diminished response from this drug at this point? You are trying to determine whether you are experiencing one of these or whether your symptoms are from an anxiety disorder? What was your diagnosis when the doctor put you on the clonazepam (Klonopin)?

REPLY

@num1boxer1919 – For many years I accepted the diagnosis that I had a debilitating anxiety disorder and would likely need to be on medication forever. It was an easy diagnosis to accept because I felt so unwell. Exhausted, sweating and shaky, poor sleep. It never occurred to me that my constant state of
dis-ease was caused by the medication I was taking (Xanax, in my case). I finally started having such bad anxiety that I knew the medication was no longer working. But I was also physically dependent on it. What a lousy situation!!! My doctor wasn't terribly supportive of me discontinuing the Xanax. "Do you want to become housebound?" was one demoralizing quote I remember. Also, "this class of medication is almost impossible to discontinue." Geez, that's a helluva thing to mention after 13 years. And as if to prove her point (albeit not intentionally cruel) she put me on a waaaaaay too fast titration schedule. I almost agreed with her that, yes, this was too difficult. But I'm stubborn. I found the Ashton Manual's suggested titration schedule which recommended switching to a benzodiazepine that has a much longer half-life (Valium), stabilizing on that, then SLOWLY reducing the amount every two weeks. I switched from Xanax .5mg 3x a day to Valium 10mg 3x a day. I reduced by 2.5mgs every two weeks (easy to do by splitting a 5mg tablet). When I reached 10mg per day, I slowed the reduction to 1mg every two weeks. I am now at 1mg of Valium per day for three more days, then done! I don't expect any withdrawals from such a low dose. The whole titration process was more comfortable than being on my previous full prescription of Xanax. As in, no withdrawal symptoms to speak of. I used other means of help by way of diaphragmatic breaking, relaxation tapes, good sleep hygiene, etc. But it was the Ashton titration that made it painless. Best of luck!

REPLY

@num1boxer1919 It is a long, slow, painful process to taper off. DO it slowly. Have the mindset it can be done, and you can (I keep telling myself this). I have gone from 6mg Klonopin per day down to 1.5mg now. I am working on a plan to go to 1.25 to 1.00 to 0.75 to 0.5….. cold turkey is impossible. But after getting off it, I am sure it will be worth it as the medication is worse than actually living with some other issues. It is impossible to get off this drug. Was invented to help. but now a means of torture.

REPLY
@elsa1000

@num1boxer1919 – For many years I accepted the diagnosis that I had a debilitating anxiety disorder and would likely need to be on medication forever. It was an easy diagnosis to accept because I felt so unwell. Exhausted, sweating and shaky, poor sleep. It never occurred to me that my constant state of
dis-ease was caused by the medication I was taking (Xanax, in my case). I finally started having such bad anxiety that I knew the medication was no longer working. But I was also physically dependent on it. What a lousy situation!!! My doctor wasn't terribly supportive of me discontinuing the Xanax. "Do you want to become housebound?" was one demoralizing quote I remember. Also, "this class of medication is almost impossible to discontinue." Geez, that's a helluva thing to mention after 13 years. And as if to prove her point (albeit not intentionally cruel) she put me on a waaaaaay too fast titration schedule. I almost agreed with her that, yes, this was too difficult. But I'm stubborn. I found the Ashton Manual's suggested titration schedule which recommended switching to a benzodiazepine that has a much longer half-life (Valium), stabilizing on that, then SLOWLY reducing the amount every two weeks. I switched from Xanax .5mg 3x a day to Valium 10mg 3x a day. I reduced by 2.5mgs every two weeks (easy to do by splitting a 5mg tablet). When I reached 10mg per day, I slowed the reduction to 1mg every two weeks. I am now at 1mg of Valium per day for three more days, then done! I don't expect any withdrawals from such a low dose. The whole titration process was more comfortable than being on my previous full prescription of Xanax. As in, no withdrawal symptoms to speak of. I used other means of help by way of diaphragmatic breaking, relaxation tapes, good sleep hygiene, etc. But it was the Ashton titration that made it painless. Best of luck!

Jump to this post

Thanks so much for the reply.. So did you have any sleeping issues while being on the benzo or physical effects like headaches or anything? & I literally can't sleep without it.. If I come off of it will that get better after awhile.. Will my own natural sleep drive come back like it was before I was on benzo's because right now it's like a can't get sleepy without my sleeping pills I have no sleep drive what so ever without them.. Before I got on them I just automatically got sleepy when my body got tired like normal people.. But its like now even if I get extremely tired I can't sleep is that normal with dependence? & my sleep is extremely fragmented I wake up all night long it's rough..

REPLY
@happy_ira

@num1boxer1919 It is a long, slow, painful process to taper off. DO it slowly. Have the mindset it can be done, and you can (I keep telling myself this). I have gone from 6mg Klonopin per day down to 1.5mg now. I am working on a plan to go to 1.25 to 1.00 to 0.75 to 0.5….. cold turkey is impossible. But after getting off it, I am sure it will be worth it as the medication is worse than actually living with some other issues. It is impossible to get off this drug. Was invented to help. but now a means of torture.

Jump to this post

Thanks for the reply & Exactly this is a nasty freaking pill to come off that's for sure, have you had a lot of sleeping problems coming off of it & have headaches like all day because those our my main issues, if i could just sleep I wouldn't feel as bad.. & the same thing I asked the other person does your natural sleep drive go back to normal once you get off the drugs because thats my main priority if I can get proper sleep I'll feel so much better..

REPLY
@num1boxer1919

Thanks so much for the reply.. So did you have any sleeping issues while being on the benzo or physical effects like headaches or anything? & I literally can't sleep without it.. If I come off of it will that get better after awhile.. Will my own natural sleep drive come back like it was before I was on benzo's because right now it's like a can't get sleepy without my sleeping pills I have no sleep drive what so ever without them.. Before I got on them I just automatically got sleepy when my body got tired like normal people.. But its like now even if I get extremely tired I can't sleep is that normal with dependence? & my sleep is extremely fragmented I wake up all night long it's rough..

Jump to this post

Yes, my sleep was terrible on Xanax. Light sleeping at best and waking with a startle response at 4am no matter how exhausted I was. And yes, also tension headaches all the time. Insomnia was (and is, truthfully) a huge concern but it's turned out better than I had hoped. I take 50mg of amitriptyline in the evening which helps in actually getting to sleep. Reducing the benzodiazepine in my system has only helped the length and quality of my sleep. I had steeled myself for the exact opposite so it's been a happy surprise.
I really can't recommend the Ashton protocol highly enough. By switching to Valium (diazepam) I was able to do the SMALL reductions necessary to avoid acute withdrawal. As an added benefit, Valium is also used as a muscle relaxer and sleep aid so my tension headaches disappeared and sleep has been a non-issue.

REPLY
@num1boxer1919

Thanks for the reply & Exactly this is a nasty freaking pill to come off that's for sure, have you had a lot of sleeping problems coming off of it & have headaches like all day because those our my main issues, if i could just sleep I wouldn't feel as bad.. & the same thing I asked the other person does your natural sleep drive go back to normal once you get off the drugs because thats my main priority if I can get proper sleep I'll feel so much better..

Jump to this post

Life does get better and my sleep is finally returning to normal. My withdrawal was last march I didnt realize I did it too fast but was only on .50 klonopin at night then, but for 14 years. My body felt like I was shaking all the time but it wasn't visible to anyone but me, anxiety was bad, and couldn't sleep and my vision seemed distorted. My worst issues were my mind was in a major fog all the time and my memory was so bad I thought I had Alzheimer's. It was almost 7 months for the fog to finally start to lift. I tried CBD oil to help with sleep and it helped some. Beware of adding any meds in withdrawal, my depression got so bad my dr added another antidepressant to my normal meds. All my fog and memory issues came back worse then before so I got off that med after 3 weeks and took another month to get back to where I was before it. About 3 weeks ago I realized I was feeling as close to normal as I had for years! What a relief all from a small does of such a horrible benzodiazepine!! They say to stay positive but I found that wasn't easy. I wish you all the luck because it can and does get better. I wish the drs would stop prescribing these meds for such an extended time and explain what they can do to you.

REPLY
@beckysn

Life does get better and my sleep is finally returning to normal. My withdrawal was last march I didnt realize I did it too fast but was only on .50 klonopin at night then, but for 14 years. My body felt like I was shaking all the time but it wasn't visible to anyone but me, anxiety was bad, and couldn't sleep and my vision seemed distorted. My worst issues were my mind was in a major fog all the time and my memory was so bad I thought I had Alzheimer's. It was almost 7 months for the fog to finally start to lift. I tried CBD oil to help with sleep and it helped some. Beware of adding any meds in withdrawal, my depression got so bad my dr added another antidepressant to my normal meds. All my fog and memory issues came back worse then before so I got off that med after 3 weeks and took another month to get back to where I was before it. About 3 weeks ago I realized I was feeling as close to normal as I had for years! What a relief all from a small does of such a horrible benzodiazepine!! They say to stay positive but I found that wasn't easy. I wish you all the luck because it can and does get better. I wish the drs would stop prescribing these meds for such an extended time and explain what they can do to you.

Jump to this post

Are you taking an anti depressant now,because after 6+ years I am still getting worse,memory gone,muscles contract so strongly upon standing that I can't walk more than a few feet,tinnitus,head pressure,mental fog,and more and if an antidepressant fixed those issues,tell me and tell me which one! I am past desperate ,thank you.

REPLY
@num1boxer1919

Hi.. I'm just trying to determine the difference between whether I have a mental health problem or I'm just going through benzodiazepine Tolerance/Withdrawal?? When I was 22yrs old huge into sports living a great life, my doctor proscribed me Klonopin 1mg at night & 1mg in the morning for very mild anxiety, at first it felt amazing! I thought to myself I never have to worry about anything again, well I was defiantly wrong! After time went by I'd say around 3 months later I was working & I started having some sort of anxiety that I had never felt before the medication, like I would kinda get a shaky/trembling type feeling & I still remember I would get off my 8hr shift at work & go to my car & I would literally be sweating & feeling so unrelaxed, so I knew there was something not right, i thought it was only my anxiety getting worse so I would go home & take more of the klonopin.. Anyways after time this problem got worse & worse I started having horrible sleeping problems that I never had before, then I started getting headaches, nausea, muscle tension, agitation & heart palpitations, I guess from just lack of quality sleep from what was going on I'm not really sure.. So the doctor put me on a very low dose of seroquel for sleep which helped for awhile then it lost its effectiveness so now it's been about 7-8yrs down the road I'm now 29yrs old & have almost no life because I cant sleep & feel good, I can barley even work.. I just want to know & I've been wanting to know for along time because I cant get any answers from my doctors what the heck is going on?? I've tried coming off the medications & it literally feels impossible because I'm already having a lot of horrible symptoms.. So my biggest question to everyone, does it sound like I have a mental illness or have I been going through tolerance withdrawal from the medication for years?? Has anyone out there went through anything like this? I'm just trying to get my life back.. Any input or advice would be awesome & greatly appreciated.. Thanks so much..

Jump to this post

Just to give you an idea of equivalencies: https://www.benzo.org.uk/bzequiv.htm So if you take 1mg klonopin twice a day, the diazepam (Valium) equivalent would be 20mg twice a day. You can then reduce by 2mg (or I did 2.5mg) every two weeks. If you stay with klonopin and reduce by .25mg, you'll be reducing exactly twice as fast as I did. IMHO, this is an unnecessarily traumatic route. Initially, I tried to discontinue directly from Xanax. Holy cow, what a mistake! Not only did I keel-haul my nervous system, but I failed as well. The benefit of valium/diazepam is that it has a long half-life, meaning it leaves your system very, very slowly. So there is no "between-dose" withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is something you want to avoid. I think it can be avoided if you are careful and gentle with yourself.

Liked by num1boxer1919

REPLY
@elsa1000

Just to give you an idea of equivalencies: https://www.benzo.org.uk/bzequiv.htm So if you take 1mg klonopin twice a day, the diazepam (Valium) equivalent would be 20mg twice a day. You can then reduce by 2mg (or I did 2.5mg) every two weeks. If you stay with klonopin and reduce by .25mg, you'll be reducing exactly twice as fast as I did. IMHO, this is an unnecessarily traumatic route. Initially, I tried to discontinue directly from Xanax. Holy cow, what a mistake! Not only did I keel-haul my nervous system, but I failed as well. The benefit of valium/diazepam is that it has a long half-life, meaning it leaves your system very, very slowly. So there is no "between-dose" withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is something you want to avoid. I think it can be avoided if you are careful and gentle with yourself.

Jump to this post

I get nterdose WD from Valium.

Liked by num1boxer1919

REPLY
@jossm

I get nterdose WD from Valium.

Jump to this post

I should have prefaced by comment with "for me". My interdose withdrawal from Xanax was intense so that's what I'm comparing it to. I am so sorry you're struggling. I was using diazepam as a titration tool. If someone is taking it as a muscle relaxant then apparently the withdrawal can be entirely different.

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.