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Thread: Benzo withdrawal

  1. #1
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    Default Benzo withdrawal

    Hi folks, was searching online for my own condition and came across this, thought it might be useful for other users. That said, I know I am addicted.

    Benzodiazepines are among the easiest drugs to become addicted to and among the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from. The safest bet is to use prescribed “benzos” only in extreme cases—as with severe anxiety disorders or seizures—and only long enough to clear the head for planning longer-term coping strategies. Think very long and hard before using benzos in any circumstances, if any of the following descriptions fit you:

    You are already taking an opioid-based medication (benzodiazepine–opioid interactions can be extremely dangerous).
    You or anyone in your family ever had symptoms of being addicted to any sedative, including alcohol (alcohol is similar enough to benzos that the latter are frequently used as alcohol detox drugs—if you’re at special addiction risk with one, you’re likely at special addiction risk with the other).
    You drink alcohol, however responsibly. (Double doses of sedatives equal double risk of accidentally “putting yourself to sleep” permanently. If you’re sure you don’t have an actual drinking problem, and don’t want to give up alcohol forever, at least abstain from it for the duration of your benzodiazepine prescription.)

    If you do accept a benzo prescription for any reason, make sure the prescribing doctor understands the risks. Take the prescription strictly according to directions, and call your doctor back immediately if you experience recurrence of anxiety or sleep difficulties; unexplained headaches, dizziness, perspiration or muscle tremors; shortness of breath; or difficulty thinking clearly. If you’re really worried and can’t see your own doctor immediately, go to an emergency room or 24-hour clinic for advice, but don’t just stop your pills abruptly—if real addiction has taken hold, the results could be lethal.

    If you have already reached the addiction stage, whether it’s the result of a recent prescription or has been a problem for years, you’ll need professional benzodiazepine detox. Find a good drug and alcohol detox center that has experience with benzodiazepine addiction treatment specifically: caring for patients with this form of chemical dependence often requires carefully prescribed medication and special understanding of the symptoms. Here are the basics on what you can expect during detox, and how long it will take.

    1. Be prepared for around two weeks of physical symptoms.

    If you’re lucky, it may take less time than that, but it’s a good idea to accept in advance that you may be in for the long stretch—if only because you’re going to experience anxiety enough without worrying over whether it’s “taking too long.” Ten to 14 days is the standard period recognized by medical science for “withdrawal syndrome” in benzo detox.

    2. With “short-acting” or “ultra-short-acting” benzodiazepines, first withdrawal symptoms usually manifest 4–12 hours after the last dose. With “long-acting” benzodiazepines, it may take several days.

    Typically, the initial symptoms are fairly mild—which accounts for the fact that even experts disagree on the “real” typical time of onset; what one person reports as the first withdrawal symptoms, another may hardly notice as anything unusual. In any event, symptoms of benzodiazepine detox begin with twinges of anxiety, increased difficulty sleeping or relaxing, and body aches.

    3. Physical and mental withdrawal symptoms usually take a few days to reach their peak, and persist in that stage for several more days.

    In other words, you’re going to feel increasingly worse for a noticeable while, and then feel absolutely horrible for what seems like forever—if you have enough mental clarity left to compare symptoms or notice the passage of time. That isn’t meant to scare you away from benzodiazepine addiction treatment, but to underscore the necessity of professional care: you’ll need qualified and experienced providers to minimize discomfort, keep you hydrated and nourished, administer medication, and treat any dangerous symptoms. They’ll also provide reassurance (and gentle restraint) if you start to lose emotional control—a major risk in nearly every type of drug detox is that the patient will become suicidal.

    Other possible symptoms during the “peak” stage of benzo detox include:

    Hurting-all-over, “flulike” pains
    Heavy perspiration
    Nausea and vomiting
    Inability to sleep
    Bouts of panic or despair
    Hallucinations or psychosis
    Pounding heart
    Loss of muscle coordination
    Violent muscle spasms, or even seizures

    It’s a good idea, in the days before you enter detox treatment, to affirm regularly that withdrawal syndrome won’t last forever—you’ll be in poor condition to fix that truth in your head once withdrawal actually starts.

    4. Even after the worst of detox is over, it may take months before symptoms abate completely.

    Since benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to alleviate anxiety and insomnia—symptoms that become seriously intense during detox—it can be difficult to tell whether you’re experiencing lingering withdrawal symptoms or a recurrence of the original problem, especially if you or your benzo-prescribing doctor overlooked the necessity of developing alternate coping strategies as part of treatment. Regardless, it’s fairly common to experience periodic “withdrawal” symptoms—depression, loss of concentration, spontaneous pains or muscle spasms, fatigue, low energy levels—long after official detox is complete. A long period of post-detox inpatient care, combined with intensive therapy, will help reduce that risk; treatment specialists familiar with your individual case will advise you further.

    We conclude with a list of “lifehacks” for staying clean for the long term (remember these are not a substitute for professional detox treatment.


    Continue with therapy, to root out deeper stress and anxiety issues.
    Get active in an addiction-recovery support group (ask your treatment specialist or therapist for referrals).
    Make friends who affirm you and see the best in you—and in the rest of the world.
    Have at least one person you can call for immediate support if fresh benzo cravings develop.
    Eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.
    Practice daily deep-breathing/yoga exercises, meditation, prayer or other forms of relaxation and spirituality.
    Keep your daily to-do list to a maximum of 3–5 items—and do the most important ones when your energy levels are highest.
    If you are in a relationship or job that is particularly stressful, ask your therapist for help deciding whether to leave the situation or find ways to live with it.
    Practice not caring so much about what others think of you (or what you think they think of you). If someone is critical without cause, don’t feel obligated to appease their bad attitudes.
    Participate regularly in leisure activities or hobbies you enjoy. Include projects that require full concentration, to help you practice living in the moment.
    Follow your dreams and set long-term goals. Keep optimism for the present and faith in the future!

    I post this not to scare anyone, but because I plan on soon planning a withdrawal for myself, the time seems right and I am concerned about my addiction.
    Anyway, everyone is different and it may not be so bad

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Withnail View Post
    Hi folks, was searching online for my own condition and came across this, thought it might be useful for other users. That said, I know I am addicted.

    Benzodiazepines are among the easiest drugs to become addicted to and among the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from. The safest bet is to use prescribed “benzos” only in extreme cases—as with severe anxiety disorders or seizures—and only long enough to clear the head for planning longer-term coping strategies. Think very long and hard before using benzos in any circumstances, if any of the following descriptions fit you:

    /snip/

    Practice not caring so much about what others think of you (or what you think they think of you). If someone is critical without cause, don’t feel obligated to appease their bad attitudes.
    Participate regularly in leisure activities or hobbies you enjoy. Include projects that require full concentration, to help you practice living in the moment.
    Follow your dreams and set long-term goals. Keep optimism for the present and faith in the future!

    I post this not to scare anyone, but because I plan on soon planning a withdrawal for myself, the time seems right and I am concerned about my addiction.
    Anyway, everyone is different and it may not be so bad

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
    Hi, @Withnail. Good post. I would also suggest that you do some online research about the "Ashton method" or the Ashton Manual, which use a procedure for tapering down to total elimination of benz0s, in the safest way you can. Done well, this process can work with minimal bad effects, although it still requires attention and dedication.

    Best of luck, and Merry Christmas back atcha!
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    @calgal99: A long time ago I did read somewhere about the Ashton method, thanks for reminding me about that.

    All the very best to you and yours.
    Helpful Hymee Rated helpful

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    I agree with the Ashton method.
    Helpful Hymee Rated helpful
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  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Withnail View Post
    Hi folks, was searching online for my own condition and came across this, thought it might be useful for other users. That said, I know I am addicted...
    Super-helpful post and great information; thank you. A week or so ago I posted about how to avoid ending up being exactly where you have described. I'd been given my first benzo script to help deal with chronic insomnia. I got the goods and promptly put them in a drawer, unused, because they frankly scare me to death...
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    If you've taken benzos for a long time, like say years, it doesn't matter what Ashton method or other plan of withdrawing recommends. Other serious studies will say 6 months to years worth of suffering. I've tapered for months, switched to longer half-life's, name it and I've tried it. 6 months later and I still couldn't climb out of my head. Maybe Stevie Nicks can get past 8 years of use by 24/7 round the clock help for 46 days from a high dollar Bev. Hills place but I'd bet she's still not " right." In my case, I'd just as soon have some till I die in lieu of the horrific suffering many go through for years. BEST of ALL... NEVER even start down this road. My guess is even Leo took them till he died at 97.
    Helpful blueroan17, M77 Rated helpful
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    Stay Thirsty My Friend

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    Ashton appears the very best,,, need a very sympathetic. forward looking care giver

    Quote Originally Posted by Grits_M View Post
    I agree with the Ashton method.
    Likes Withnail liked this post

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dos Equis View Post
    If you've taken benzos for a long time, like say years, it doesn't matter what Ashton method or other plan of withdrawing recommends. Other serious studies will say 6 months to years worth of suffering. I've tapered for months, switched to longer half-life's, name it and I've tried it. 6 months later and I still couldn't climb out of my head. Maybe Stevie Nicks can get past 8 years of use by 24/7 round the clock help for 46 days from a high dollar Bev. Hills place but I'd bet she's still not " right." In my case, I'd just as soon have some till I die in lieu of the horrific suffering many go through for years. BEST of ALL... NEVER even start down this road. My guess is even Leo took them till he died at 97.
    Can you offer the kind of "regularity" of use that got you where you were before you started to taper? The script I got works reasonably nicely on the insomnia, but getting hooked on a benzo scares me to pieces. So I'm collecting anecdotal observations from folks as to what frequency led to dependency, with the intent of never getting to that level of frequency.

    Right now I'm only relying on that particular pill once every 6-7-8 days. I literally put on the calendar when I last took the stuff and shoot for waiting a week before the next dose.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by tycho View Post
    Can you offer the kind of "regularity" of use that got you where you were before you started to taper? The script I got works reasonably nicely on the insomnia, but getting hooked on a benzo scares me to pieces. So I'm collecting anecdotal observations from folks as to what frequency led to dependency, with the intent of never getting to that level of frequency.

    Right now I'm only relying on that particular pill once every 6-7-8 days. I literally put on the calendar when I last took the stuff and shoot for waiting a week before the next dose.
    I don't want to encourage anyone, but if you can manage to take one every 6-8 days, you are at a low risk for major physical withdrawal. Mental addiction is a totally different thing, and your brain can trick you into feeling a dependance on pretty much any med, regardless of how much time in between. I personally can taper very easily, to very low amounts of my prescription Alprazolam, and I do take as little as possible. I have inadvertently skipped a dose, and I am totally shocked that I have no problem, if I skip by accident. But stopping completely? No way. I tried to do 72 hours, and I was climbing the walls.

    The only reason I try to take as little as possible, is I don't like being a slave to any med, but various benzodiazepines have been part of my life for much longer than I care to admit. I have to be happy with taking very low amounts, and the fact that I can do this keeps me happy. I don't ever take a lot, to chase a "high." I am not judging anyone, but I would suffer with anxiety attacks, if I didn't take them every day.

    I was prescribed 2mg, 3 times a day, and I was able to taper down to .25mg, 2 times a day, without a problem. Not sure why I could, but I definitely proved that I am more mentally dependent, than physically. This is not to meant to keep anyone from using extreme caution, if trying to stop. They can cause SERIOUS physical withdrawal, including seizures, or worse.
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  11. #10
    Thanks so much for the detailed reply. In my case you are not encouraging: I've had my sleep issues since I was a teen and I apply for Medicare next month so it's taken me this long to get even here. As I wrote in another post getting reasonably good sleep 1 out of 7 days is probably better than what I've had most of my life. I'm OK with some limited risk to achieve that but because I am regrettably so used to horrific sleep just moving the dial a bit is good enough.

    I understand the mental dependency issue and will strive so very hard to keep that at bay. I think I can because I have had the option to "go benzo" (or pseudo benzo) for years -- hell, decades -- and never took it all that time, so I'm reasonably confidant.

    Example (different med, sure, but...): got trams in 2012 (I think) to deal with an issue and still have at least one full sheet from that original IOP purchase (perhaps 90 pills?) left in a drawer.
    Helpful M77 Rated helpful

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by tycho View Post
    Thanks so much for the detailed reply. In my case you are not encouraging: I've had my sleep issues since I was a teen and I apply for Medicare next month so it's taken me this long to get even here. As I wrote in another post getting reasonably good sleep 1 out of 7 days is probably better than what I've had most of my life. I'm OK with some limited risk to achieve that but because I am regrettably so used to horrific sleep just moving the dial a bit is good enough.

    I understand the mental dependency issue and will strive so very hard to keep that at bay. I think I can because I have had the option to "go benzo" (or pseudo benzo) for years -- hell, decades -- and never took it all that time, so I'm reasonably confidant.

    Example (different med, sure, but...): got trams in 2012 (I think) to deal with an issue and still have at least one full sheet from that original IOP purchase (perhaps 90 pills?) left in a drawer.
    @tycho
    I'm glad if anything I posted was helpful.

    Interestingly, I found that Trams increased my insomnia. I know a lot of people find them extremely helpful, but I, like you, deal with severe insomnia, and Trams made it worse. I take Xanax for anxiety, but I rotate the Z-drugs for insomnia. I try not to take a hypnotic every night. Sometimes even with an Ambien, I am staring at the sun coming up at 7:00AM. As much as I need the anxiety meds every day, I try to skip the sleep meds, because if I ended up with a real tolerance, I would be really screwed. As long as I don't take them every night, they usually help, but not always. Of course, having alternating pins & needles, switching to a burning sensation, and back again, in my legs and feet, doesn't help much with sleep!
    Helpful tycho, peppergirl Rated helpful
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  13. #12
    More helpful information; thanks again!

    I was doing an "off-script" application of Trams to deal with a weird "restless leg syndrome" that I had developed. Boy, did THAT keep me up! And that's one thing that Trams are purported to help with. In my case, they did, and then the RLS just went away, so no need for trams for that purpose anymore.

    I had thought I was also experiencing a mild, almost hypnotic effect from them, so I kept taking it for a while because it seemed pleasant and lulled me to sleep. But after a while of not-at-all constant use, I think I experienced -- like you -- a worsening of my sleep so I dropped using it for that purpose.

    Maybe once every couple of months, or even longer, I check it out again. I understand that it is potentiated by Acetaminophen so I typically would take one tram cap (can't remember as I sit here if they are 50 mg or 100 mg) with one 500 (or 350?) Tylenol tab. Results have been "iffy." Once or twice I took 2 of the trams and swear that they made me nauseated most of the next day -- like a bad hangover stomach.

    (Oh: I re-read my earlier post and what I wrote could be misinterpreted [or maybe not. ]. You said "I don't want to encourage anyone." I replied "In my case you are not encouraging." That could be misinterpreted as meaning "what you wrote is not encouraging." No, I meant "don't worry; you aren't guilty of encouraging me to go down some dark path..." *heh*)
    Last edited by tycho; 01-24-2019 at 10:40 AM. Reason: fixed typo
    Helpful M77, Blackbird123, peppergirl Rated helpful

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by tycho View Post
    More helpful information; thanks again!

    I was doing an "off-script" application of Trams to deal with a weird "restless leg syndrome" that I had developed. Boy, did THAT keep me up! And that's one thing that Trams are purported to help with. In my case, they did, and then the RLS just went away, so no need for trams for that purpose anymore.

    I had though I was also experiencing a mild, almost hypnotic effect from them, so I kept taking it for a while, because it seemed pleasant and lulled me to sleep. But after a while of not-at-all constant use, I think I experienced -- like you -- a worsening of my sleep so I dropped using it for that purpose.

    Maybe once every couple of months, or even longer, I check it out again. I understand that it is potentiated by Acetaminophen so I typically would take one tram cap (can't remember as I sit here if they are 50 mg or 100 mg) with one 500 (or 350?) Tylenol tab. Results have been "iffy." Once or twice I took 2 of the trams and swear that they made me nauseated most of the next day -- like a bad hangover stomach.

    (Oh: I re-read my earlier post and what I wrote could be misinterpreted [or maybe not. ]. You said "I don't want to encourage anyone." I replied "In my case you are not encouraging." That could be misinterpreted as meaning "what you wrote is not encouraging." No, I meant "don't worry; you aren't guilty of encouraging me to go down some dark path..." *heh*)
    @tycho
    I knew what you meant, but thank you for being kind enough to double check! I never had any kind of insomnia from any other pain med, except Tramadol. I even thought it was a coincidence, so I wanted to verify if it was the Tram, so I didn't take it again for maybe 5 days, or a week. Then, the same thing, I absolutely was miserable. I wasn't feeling any other side effects, but it was like I had a huge amount of coffee, but without any of the other noticeable caffeine effects.

    When I was in my twenties, I could drink coffee day, or night, without it messing with my sleep. I have had to deal with insomnia since my teens, as you also mentioned, but it was never worse from coffee back then. Now, I won't touch it, after maybe 7 PM, and that's pushing it. I can lay in my bed, in the dark, and force my eyes to stay closed, for hours, with no sleep. If I add coffee to that equation, not a chance I would sleep, at all.

    Edited to add: Now that I think about it, I know what you mean about a hypnotic state. It was almost like a heightened awareness, that kept me wide awake.
    Last edited by M77; 01-19-2019 at 11:54 PM.

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    I got through it

    Quote Originally Posted by Dos Equis View Post
    If you've taken benzos for a long time, like say years, it doesn't matter what Ashton method or other plan of withdrawing recommends. Other serious studies will say 6 months to years worth of suffering. I've tapered for months, switched to longer half-life's, name it and I've tried it. 6 months later and I still couldn't climb out of my head. Maybe Stevie Nicks can get past 8 years of use by 24/7 round the clock help for 46 days from a high dollar Bev. Hills place but I'd bet she's still not " right." In my case, I'd just as soon have some till I die in lieu of the horrific suffering many go through for years. BEST of ALL... NEVER even start down this road. My guess is even Leo took them till he died at 97.
    - - - Updated - - -

    What exactly is it that you may say, I am curious for sure. Many Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Dos Equis View Post
    If you've taken benzos for a long time, like say years, it doesn't matter what Ashton method or other plan of withdrawing recommends. Other serious studies will say 6 months to years worth of suffering. I've tapered for months, switched to longer half-life's, name it and I've tried it. 6 months later and I still couldn't climb out of my head. Maybe Stevie Nicks can get past 8 years of use by 24/7 round the clock help for 46 days from a high dollar Bev. Hills place but I'd bet she's still not " right." In my case, I'd just as soon have some till I die in lieu of the horrific suffering many go through for years. BEST of ALL... NEVER even start down this road. My guess is even Leo took them till he died at 97.
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    I broke my own rules and I'm now tapering off 1mg Xanax to 0.1 Xanax at night for sleeping. I have tapered off of a lot of medication which sounds bad "I know" But I know what works best for me, my body and mind. If anyone else is tapering off anything I hope it goes fast and easy for you.
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  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by medi1 View Post
    I'm now tapering off 1mg Xanax to 0.1 Xanax
    I guess I wonder how you guys can cut pills into such teeny-tiny pieces.
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  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by tycho View Post
    I guess I wonder how you guys can cut pills into such teeny-tiny pieces.
    @tycho
    I use a pill splitter, even though that is its name, it is more like a pill cutter. I can (although sometimes I don't get it perfect) take a round pill and after I cut it once diagonally, and once vertically (by rotating it) I can cut the quarters into eights. Of course that is only with a larger pill, and they cannot be soft enough to crumble. With the Alp's, with the 2.0mgs, those are scored and you can easily break them into 4 - 0.5mgs with your fingers. The inexpensive splitters are usually no more than $2 -$3. Get the type that have two rubber "holders" that form a v, with a slit at the bottom of the v, and the blade falls right in the slit. The rubber pieces hold the tablet in place, and you push it into the v, so it's held steady. With practice, you can do even smaller ones, and softer types of pills. They are made for round tablets, but they will cut even the semi-square ¼ of a 2mg bar in half. So you can actually get 8 separate 0.25mg from one bar. Very convenient for tapering.
    Helpful Withnail, tycho, pinkflower Rated helpful

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by M77 View Post
    @tycho
    I use a pill splitter, even though that is its name, it is more like a pill cutter...
    Oh, I've got a pill cutter (or whatever its name is), and it sounds to be exactly the kind you describe: two rubber "holders" that form a v, with a slit at the bottom of the v, and the blade falls right in the slit. I can cut a pill into quarters OK, but the thought of cutting it into =tenths= (to go from 1mg to .1mg in your case) is what was flummoxing me.

    Works well for round and square. Never tried it with a bar, but could see how it might work. And if any pill is anything but hard-hard pressed it can just crumble.
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  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by tycho View Post
    Oh, I've got a pill cutter (or whatever its name is), and it sounds to be exactly the kind you describe: two rubber "holders" that form a v, with a slit at the bottom of the v, and the blade falls right in the slit. I can cut a pill into quarters OK, but the thought of cutting it into =tenths= (to go from 1mg to .1mg in your case) is what was flummoxing me.

    Works well for round and square. Never tried it with a bar, but could see how it might work. And if any pill is anything but hard-hard pressed it can just crumble.
    @tycho
    That was @medi1 that can do the 0.1mg, I don't think I could do a 0.1, but since Alps come in 0.25mg, you can break them with your fingers down to 0.125mg, no splitter necessary.
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  21. I've been off benzos for nearly 2 months now following a 5 month taper.
    I'm not at 100% but I do feel much better.
    For those of you still tapering, hang in there! It will get better!
    Helpful M77, Carter, pmpl Rated helpful
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