Tapering off clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril)

Posted by mmussak @mmussak, Dec 19, 2018

Hi my name is Mary and I am a first time user of ever using a discussion blog online but have felt in my heart I need some advice and help with an issue I am having. My dr I have seen for many years moved out of state and referred me to another phychiatrist within his office. At the time of his moving away he had me weaning off clorazapam slowly and doing it as slow to not make it not so difficult as you all know , and I was doing well at it until I was having extreme chest pain and they put me in the hospital for 2 days to check to make sure it wasn’t my heart, with all this happening I knew it was the weaning off the meds that was causing it so i went back up in dosage and it all went away again, and I was almost off it…My old dr started me on this med 27 years ago and I had no idea what it was but my body anxiety was shutting down my body and it helped it all go away so i didnt question it, well not until I went to school for nursing did I find out what it was all about. He put me on .5 mg three times a day and that stayed that way for 27 years not knowing what It does later in years, so I asked my dr to help me with the weaning off it, so our weaning process was as follows: Take .5 in a.m. ,25 afternoon and ,5 evening dose for 2 weeks then cut morning dose to .25 afternoon to .25 and evening .5 for 2 weeks then finally .25 three times a day for 6 weeks and then starting the last of the wean at this point the same as we did the first .25 till i was off. My new dr went from .50 3 times daily to .25 two times a day starting right away to get off it, that is over 1.0 mg a day off it all in one day and forward , I am already sad and crying because I dont know what to do, I have been there and I know how hard it was just to get off the way my old dr did slowly…..anyone out there that can help me with what to do I am so scared and I don’t think she knows how extremely hard it is to get off this stupid stuff or that I really do want to do it, but please make it as painless as possible if there is such a thing with these meds. At 56 I didnt think I would have to go through menapause and this hell(sorry about the word but so true) all at once…at times I think it would be easier to just get cancer or something and die. Sorry but its true if you have been there you will understand. PLease help me!!!

Liked by Leonard, falon

@gettingbetter75

Most people do best by cutting their taper schedules by 10% or the nearest 1/4 tablet increment. I followed this schedule to get myself off of 2.0mg Rx for the last 20+ years. I also used CBD to help with side effects. I've been completely off since mid-June. My doctor also wanted me off Benzos. In retrospect, I'm glad I broke the dependence. Now I only need to deal with these sleep issues which I hope is only part of the process. I'm taking gabapentin 2 x 200mg + 1/2 tab of UNISOM + 5mg melatonin to help combat insomnia, it seems to be working to some effect.

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How were the withdrawals? Tolerable?

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@gettingbetter75

Most people do best by cutting their taper schedules by 10% or the nearest 1/4 tablet increment. I followed this schedule to get myself off of 2.0mg Rx for the last 20+ years. I also used CBD to help with side effects. I've been completely off since mid-June. My doctor also wanted me off Benzos. In retrospect, I'm glad I broke the dependence. Now I only need to deal with these sleep issues which I hope is only part of the process. I'm taking gabapentin 2 x 200mg + 1/2 tab of UNISOM + 5mg melatonin to help combat insomnia, it seems to be working to some effect.

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Was withdrawal tolerable? How long did it take you?

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@doorman

Can you remember any details? How long did it take?

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@doorman
I don’t remember for sure how long my taper took. It was a long time ago that I took it. It probably was between 12 -18 months. That isn’t all that long for some people while others think it’s to long. However my taper was uneventful. I also can stop a medication relatively quickly. Also when tapering it’s important to keep in mind the length of time your on the medicine and also the strength. I was on a very high dose, 18mg. When I was ready to finally stop altogether I still needed to take a very small dose, chips actually until I could completely quit.
Good luck,
Jake

Liked by Lisa Lucier, doorman

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@jakedduck1

@doorman
I don’t remember for sure how long my taper took. It was a long time ago that I took it. It probably was between 12 -18 months. That isn’t all that long for some people while others think it’s to long. However my taper was uneventful. I also can stop a medication relatively quickly. Also when tapering it’s important to keep in mind the length of time your on the medicine and also the strength. I was on a very high dose, 18mg. When I was ready to finally stop altogether I still needed to take a very small dose, chips actually until I could completely quit.
Good luck,
Jake

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It took me about 6 months to end a 20year relationship at 2.0mg every night. I think that was a bit fast in retrospect but my doctor really wanted me off this stuff. I think you really need to gauge it for yourself and your withdrawal symptoms. CBD certainly did help with those.

Liked by Leonard

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@gettingbetter75

It took me about 6 months to end a 20year relationship at 2.0mg every night. I think that was a bit fast in retrospect but my doctor really wanted me off this stuff. I think you really need to gauge it for yourself and your withdrawal symptoms. CBD certainly did help with those.

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@gettingbetter75
Yep, I’d agree a bit quick. Did you have any side effects getting off?
Jake

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@jakedduck1, Yes, rebound insomnia for me. I was only sleeping 45min – 90min a night for about a 4 week period. It was awful.

I tried several medications at the beginning with the support of my GP. I tried mirtazapine which worked for about a week then the insomnia came back full force. The brain fog on this medication was also substantial for me. I then tried Trazadone, which worked for about a week then nothing, back to insomnia. Doxepin was the next thing we tried and it didn't work at all, it might as well been a placebo. The last thing we tried was gabapentin and thankfully, it worked for me!! Important to note that the above medications do work for some people, just not for me. Gabapentine works decently for me with very few side-effects and NO brain fog.

I'm lucky to have a sleep clinic where I live. I had my first consultation yesterday and I think I'm in good hands. He wants me to continue with gabapentin, he feels that is a good medication for insomnia as it helps to bring on sleep as well as induce deep sleep. For now, he has increased my gabapentin from 600mg to 900mg with the goal of restoring sleep fully. He would like me to get off antihistamines (UNISOM), I take half a tablet currently. Once I learn and get a handle on sleeping techniques like CBT-I, we could then consider reducing the medication. First and foremost is to restore the sleep, no more "white-knuckling". My follow up is at the end of October. He shared that since I was taking clonazepam for the last 20 years, it could take up to 18 months to let the brain rewire itself so I need to be patient. I think this is going to be part 2 of this journey I'm on.

To summarize, I glad I'm off clonazepam, there was an absolute blunting effect that is not entirely perceptible to the person taking the medication and once it is out of your system, it's like having a veil lifted. Pretty remarkable!

Just want to stress these are my experiences only.

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@gettingbetter75

@jakedduck1, Yes, rebound insomnia for me. I was only sleeping 45min – 90min a night for about a 4 week period. It was awful.

I tried several medications at the beginning with the support of my GP. I tried mirtazapine which worked for about a week then the insomnia came back full force. The brain fog on this medication was also substantial for me. I then tried Trazadone, which worked for about a week then nothing, back to insomnia. Doxepin was the next thing we tried and it didn't work at all, it might as well been a placebo. The last thing we tried was gabapentin and thankfully, it worked for me!! Important to note that the above medications do work for some people, just not for me. Gabapentine works decently for me with very few side-effects and NO brain fog.

I'm lucky to have a sleep clinic where I live. I had my first consultation yesterday and I think I'm in good hands. He wants me to continue with gabapentin, he feels that is a good medication for insomnia as it helps to bring on sleep as well as induce deep sleep. For now, he has increased my gabapentin from 600mg to 900mg with the goal of restoring sleep fully. He would like me to get off antihistamines (UNISOM), I take half a tablet currently. Once I learn and get a handle on sleeping techniques like CBT-I, we could then consider reducing the medication. First and foremost is to restore the sleep, no more "white-knuckling". My follow up is at the end of October. He shared that since I was taking clonazepam for the last 20 years, it could take up to 18 months to let the brain rewire itself so I need to be patient. I think this is going to be part 2 of this journey I'm on.

To summarize, I glad I'm off clonazepam, there was an absolute blunting effect that is not entirely perceptible to the person taking the medication and once it is out of your system, it's like having a veil lifted. Pretty remarkable!

Just want to stress these are my experiences only.

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@gettingbetter75, Thank you for describing your journey with new medications. It is important that we know more possible outcomes and so that we can evaluate our steps along this path which appear to be unique for every individual.

We all take different medications for often different reasons, are different ages with different symptoms. Hats off to our physicians who try very hard to hit the nail on the head with regularity.

I do have a question. Would you please expand on your statement about "brain rewire". How do you calculate the unwiring time to let go of one medication and then the rewiring time for the new medication? Grab some joy today. Chris

Liked by Leonard

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Hi @artscaping, this was a passing comment from my sleep specialist yesterday during my consultation. When I asked him to expand on that comment he said that I basically have to retrain/rewire my brain to sleep after being dependant on Clonazepam for such a long time. Now that I'm off this drug and experiencing these symptoms, it would be difficult to argue with him. Again, this is my subjective experience with Clonazepam. He has clinical experience with this drug and he's the sleep expert so I'll be relying on him for this next chapter and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm in good capable hands.

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@gettingbetter75

Hi @artscaping, this was a passing comment from my sleep specialist yesterday during my consultation. When I asked him to expand on that comment he said that I basically have to retrain/rewire my brain to sleep after being dependant on Clonazepam for such a long time. Now that I'm off this drug and experiencing these symptoms, it would be difficult to argue with him. Again, this is my subjective experience with Clonazepam. He has clinical experience with this drug and he's the sleep expert so I'll be relying on him for this next chapter and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm in good capable hands.

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@gettingbetter75, That’s important…..good capable hands. Let me know if you learn more about rewiring. This was a great example. I wonder how It works with pain? Be free and protected today. Chris

Liked by Leonard

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please tell me how to wean safely . Thank you

Liked by Leonard

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@rogue

please tell me how to wean safely . Thank you

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@rogue – welcome to Connect. Since you posted a query about tapering off clonazepam, I've moved your post here so that you can connect with others discussing this same issue, like @artscaping @gettingbetter75 @jakedduck1 @doorman and others in this conversation. Hoping they can provide some support and input as you walk through this taper. Did your doctor have a tapering schedule he or she wanted you to follow, rogue?

Liked by Leonard

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@lisalucier

@rogue – welcome to Connect. Since you posted a query about tapering off clonazepam, I've moved your post here so that you can connect with others discussing this same issue, like @artscaping @gettingbetter75 @jakedduck1 @doorman and others in this conversation. Hoping they can provide some support and input as you walk through this taper. Did your doctor have a tapering schedule he or she wanted you to follow, rogue?

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No 1 psychiatrist said I should not come off it even tho i was never anxiety free. My other doctors freely admit they have no idea how to do it

Liked by Leonard

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@rogue

please tell me how to wean safely . Thank you

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@rogue
I believe in the 5- 10% taper. Using a Compounding Pharmacy would be an ideal taper method depending on if you insurance would cover it. If not and you could afford it to private pay it would be money well spent.
My experience getting off Klonopin was uneventful. I believe the reason why is because I did it so slowly although at the very end I was literally chipping and taking small flakes. My taper was much slower than most but it was withdrawal free. I did it slowly mainly due to my low seizure threshold at that time. I had a high propensity for Status Seizures which virtually always required me being put into an induced coma for a week to months. I wasn’t about to take even the slightest risk since I knew what the probability of the seizures not ever stopping was and the chance of never coming out of coma was.
Wishing you an easy & uneventful taper.
Whatever you do don’t decrease your dose every 2, 3 or 4 weeks by a specific milligram. In the beginning you may be decreasing by a relatively small percentage but that percentage will increase and change as your dosage decreases. Some people are able to decrease by a higher percentage in the beginning but that doesn’t mean 50%. If you want off this med withdrawal free do it SLOW and when it comes to reducing this medication SLOW has a different definition than the regular meaning of slow. Here we’re talking SLOOOOOW, very SLOW, snail pace slow. Get the point? If you do it SLOW ITS VERY DOUBTFUL YOU WILL HAVE ANY PROBLEMS! Do you understand what I mean by slowly? Also, it depends on your dose and how long you have taken it. SLOW! Really SLOW!!!
Got it? Getting off this is no joke.
Jake

Also I’d like to mention something else;
There was a Psychiatrist in Europe who was depressed and had a drinking problem so he started taking Klonopin, unfortunately when it came time to stop he took his own advice and stopped it in 10 days. Needless to say he suffered greatly. He learned something from the experience though. Now he is an advocate of the 5-10% taper.
Wishing you well,
Jake

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HI @rogue,

I think @jakedduck1 summarized it nicely. I also did the 10% taper method and got myself off a 20+ yr dependance of Clonazepam (2.0mg) over a 6-7 month period. I won't say it was easy. It absolutely requires some self-determination and motivation to finally free yourself from its grip. There are a lot of free resources online that helped me out, check out a channel called Benzo Brains. She's is very knowledgeable and has gone through the 10% taper herself. I'm pretty sure I watched all her videos during my taper.

Other things that helped me personally on this journey were meditation, nothing crazy, you don't need to move to Tibet, just try the HEADSPACE app or other meditation apps, just to help calm the mind. There are lots of free resources online as well but HEADSPACE is very good and provides guided meditation. Something that helped me take the edge off was CBD oil. I live in Canada so I have access to reliable supplies of CBD oil and capsules from licensed producers, these are, however, very expensive. Also, abstain from alcohol, sad but true, it will help your GABA receptors recover.

As I said, it's not easy but well worth it. Even though I've successfully tapered from clonazepam, my journey is not yet over as I now battle insomnia, which is most likely what the clonazepam was actually helping me with all these years. Long-term use of clonazepam will most likely make your anxiety worse which was absolutely the case with me.

Good luck!!

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