Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by richyrich @richyrich, Nov 2, 2016

I have been taking Effexor/Venlafaxine for years and tried to get off it a few times but each time I try to give up the chemical withdrawal symptoms are a horror story and I give up giving up. Anyone got any tips or tried and tested strategies? Thank you

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@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@ GRANDMAr8. I saw a psychiatrist…nut..but anyway. Was told the tabs were only good for 8-19 hours then your body goes into withdrawal..that I wasn't having panic attacks! Said to increase my dosage. Crazy man. I've had panic attacks since my teens. I take Zanax when I feel the panic coming on. I took Effexor for depression. So much misinformation out there!!!
Remember everybody is here for you. Each situation is different!

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

I agree. I also think that a lot of Doctors really dont have a lot of knowledge about drugs.

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

@tennessegirl
I am on a very high dose of Effexor. I do have terrible brain fog and memory issues. Beyond that, I am not sure what else I have since I take a number of prescriptions.
I really never thought of going off Effexor because it has kept my anxiety attacks at bay.
I see my psychiatrist every 6 months for a med review. She asks how I feel and adjusts accordingly.
She tells me I am at the highest dosage and would have to use something else if this stops working.
She is the 2nd psychiatrist I have seen and no one has ever mentioned side effects, neither has any of the therapists I have seen.
I think I need to talk with her.
Thanks for your input!
And believe me, I know that each person reacts (or not) to things differently.
There is no 'one size fits all.'
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY

I tapered myself down to the 37.5 MG then was doing every other day for a while before just stopping about two weeks ago. I can’t believe I still have symptoms of withdrawal even after that. My dizziness has gotten better and the brain zaps are few and far in between, but I am quick to get angry, super tired, and very confused. I am trying to make it in a new job and has been brutal to deal with.

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

@cotentandwell
I had a conversation with my husband about some of the reasons people are getting off Effexor and the terrible withdrawal. He knows I have brain fog and a horrible memory as a result of the Effexor. He asked me if I had known, would I refused this drug????
Good question….
After a while, my PCP suggested I come off them since I was doing so well. She told me to do it VERY SLOWLY. I can no longer remember (of course) what system she suggested.
I do remember I was taking 1 pill in the am and 1 pill in the pm (of course I do not remember the strength either). I remember I was still on my am pill. I started the system with the pm pill. Soon after I started the process, I was at a very good and enjoyable work shop. I was laughing and having a good time. After the workshop my hubby and friends were picking me up for a my favorite dinner. Life was good.

Before the workshop was over, I had to use the bathroom. Please pardon the TMI….I was sitting down when all of a sudden my entire body started to quiver, I felt like I was burning up, my mouth got dry and I felt like I was going to die. I hadn't felt like this in months. I realized my anxiety attack returned with a vengeance!!!! I quickly called the psychiatrist for an appointment. She said I should not have tried to go off the Effexor. Of course I was doing well because I was on the right medication. I told her I tried to go back on but nothing was working. I was told that once you go off, but cannot go back on for x amount of months. She tried me on 2 or 3 other meds and nothing worked. Yes, I gave it time. After x months, I asked if I could go back of the Effexor. She put me back on and the anxiety stopped. It did not work as well as it once did, but it was fine enough.

So, I am guessing since I went back on it, I would probably have gone back even knowing what I know now. Even so, I think I need to talk with my psychiatrist.

Sorry this was so long.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

@grandmar……..Girlfriend..I am sooo glad I could help. You made my day. I made a typo however. The tabs only last about 8-10 hours! Before withdrawal. I have to edit that comment. But so true …everybody is different and not all psychiatrists know all the answers. I'm here for you! Hang in there.

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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hi…I've taken effexor for long periods of time twice in my life now. the withdrawal can be awful for sure, but the drug saved my life so it was worth it for me. anyway, the first time i got off of it, my doctor prescribed prozac for me to start taking during my last month of effexor. it totally worked and i had hardly any withdrawal symptoms. after a month or two off of the effexor, i was taken off of prozac which does not cause withdrawal symptoms. might be something to consider!

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

THANKS

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

cONGRATS TO YOU

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@charleyxx
I feel pretty much the same way you do about the Effexor.
After all I have read, I really don't know what I want to do.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

yOUR EXPERIENCE highlights whats so bad about these drugs

REPLY
@cdileonardo4

Hey how do you get down to half of a 37.5 my doc said do every other day. Better today last two been nauseous. Had no withdrawals until the last few days. Was on 150 then 75 then 37.5

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Guess this is how MD's are' trained' Much improvement is needed asap

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@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Amazing but true Big pharm pushes some really bad drugs

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

Also…in regard to doctors not warning of the side effects of effexor…my doctor 100% was honest with me about the potential side effects while taking Effexor and the difficulty most people have when stopping the medication. at that point i had tried 5 different anti-depressants over the course of 9 months and NONE of them were working and i was in the darkest place in my life. effexor was a last resort and it was 100% worth it for me. i think it is a slippery slope to tell people not to take a specific drug because of personal bad experiences with it, when the truth is the reason it's been around for so long is that it actually does help a lot of people. 10 years after I got off of effexor the first time, i was hit with another depression, this time even more severe than before. i tried EVERYTHING to get better before turning to effexor again. Yoga, exercise, acupuncture, cupping, cryotherapy, meditation, a vegan diet, a paleo diet…literally everything. I was taking well-butrin and increased my dose of that as well. absolutely nothing worked and i was sinking deeper and deeper into a black hole so i asked my doctor to prescribe effexor, and within 1 week, the depression started lifting. i know for me personally, all the brain zaps and confusion and night sweats (UGH THE NIGHT SWEATS!!!) and anger and irritability i dealt with for a few weeks when stopping the medication were 100% worth it because it quite literally saved my life. i am in no way disregarding people's horrible experiences with the drug as i know they are VERY common. i just wanted to tell a different side of the story. that being said, the suggestions in coloradogirl's post are really really good. Advil and a LOT of exercise and eating right definitely helped me feel better during withdrawal. all i wanted to do was lay on the couch with a box of doughnuts and a large pizza (and maybe some french fries and ice cream too) but the days i worked out and ate right were infinitely better than the others. good luck to everyone!

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@charleyxx
About the Prozac, Thank you! I will definitely ask my doc about doing that when I get to that point. I’m still early stages. Ive been on Effexor for 15 years. 225mg. 75 in the morning & 150mg late afternoon. My doc started tapering me off with the morning dose by cutting it in half for 2 days a week and then every 3 weeks addiing another day at 37.5. It’s been pretty smooth so far. Fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, some dizziness, foggy brain- but most of the time it’s ok. I’m worried the worst withdrawal will happen when I get down to the lowest doses.

REPLY
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