This article explores five reasons why drug and alcohol detox or rehab facilities are inappropriate for withdrawing compliant, prescribed benzodiazepine patients.
1. Inappropriate Model
It is important to note that physical dependence and addiction are not synonymous, nor are they always mutually exclusive. Having developed a physical or physiological dependence to benzodiazepines means that persistent change in GABA receptor conformation has occurred due to repeated prescribed dosing of benzodiazepines. More simply, the body now relies on a benzodiazepine to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence is a normal and predictable outcome and one that should be expected after chronic exposure to many commonly prescribed tolerance-forming medications, not just benzodiazepines.
Unlike physical dependence, addiction is defined as a set of destructive behaviors, often driven by uncontrollable cravings, including compulsive drug use, drug-seeking, and the inability to control drug use in spite of resulting harms to self and/or others. A person can be both physically dependent and addicted to a drug or drug(s) simultaneously, but someone can also be physically dependent and not addicted. Thus, physical dependence in and of itself does not constitute addiction, although it can often accompany addiction. Patients who took their benzodiazepines as directed by their prescriber are physically dependent, not addicted.
Nearly all residential rehab/detox centers in the United States utilize a 12-step model. This model focuses on the compulsive use and behavioral problems of addiction and maintaining abstinence through fellowship and completing “the steps”—admitting that one cannot control one’s compulsion; recognizing a higher power; examining past errors; making amends for these errors; learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior; helping others with addiction—and is therefore inappropriate for those made iatrogenically physically dependent on benzodiazepines through prescribed, compliant use. None of those steps safely reverses the physiological changes in GABA receptor conformation (where the receptor won’t react to host GABA and only to the benzodiazepines) that occur in benzodiazepine physical dependence; only a slow taper addresses this problem and may restore function.
Patients are, often unknowingly and without informed consent, being made iatrogenically physically dependent on benzodiazepines. Once tolerance sets in, or some other reason or motivation for an attempt at stopping the drug, the patient tries to discontinue the benzodiazepine and cannot without intolerable withdrawal. Prescribers may try to solve this problem by parking them permanently on the drug, increasing the dose, or the proverbial “buck” is passed, perhaps due to equating evidence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms with an incorrect assumption that the patient is addicted, and these patients may be unloaded on rehab/detox facilities.
This is not a problem unique to the United States. Dr. Malcolm Lader, one of medicine’s few benzodiazepine experts and Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, stated on BBC Radio 4 Face the Facts:
It is very difficult to come off these drugs and the facilities are just not available and the great scandal is that the NHS [National Health Service] claims to be dealing with these people by referring them to addiction centres, where essentially they’ll sit next to a street user who’s injecting heroine and of course a housewife who’s been put on tranquilizers by her doctor is very upset by this…
If a medical need develops for specialized services that do not exist, the solution is not shove patients unknowingly into an inappropriate system, like a round peg into a square hole, potentially causing harm or to the detriment of their health, but rather to provide the medical education to prescribers that is lacking and develop and make available the appropriate facilities and resources that are required.
Lastly, we rarely hear reports of people taking prescribed antidepressants being sent to detox or rehab centers to discontinue their use—in fact, the mere suggestion of that might be viewed as quite unnecessary or silly by most—in spite of the fact that that class of medications can also cause physical dependence and withdrawal syndromes not that dissimilar to the benzodiazepines. Instead, antidepressants are typically discontinued outpatient and via taper. Because the withdrawal syndromes from benzodiazepines are notably more dangerous than from antidepressants, sometimes causing psychosis, seizures, or death, one might argue this is a reason to medically supervise the withdrawal in a rehab/detox facility, but those severe outcomes typically occur with overly-rapid or cold-turkey withdrawal, which is often the only type of withdrawal offered at those inpatient facilities.
Benzodiazepines are also a schedule IV controlled substance, which may explain why these patients are referred to rehab/detox when antidepressant patients are not. However, just because a drug is controlled, this does not indicate that it has been abused. Besides, other controlled substances are often appropriately utilized in a medical setting. For example, a motorcycle crash victim on a morphine drip in the hospital may develop physical dependence. In this instance, the patient is not deemed an addict and sent to rehab or detox, but instead tapered off once the pain management is no longer required.
The prescribers of benzodiazepines should hold the burden of being knowledgeable about the differences between prescribed physical dependence and addiction— in other words, not automatically equating evidence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms with assumptions that the patient is addicted. Sadly, when they get it wrong, patients are inappropriately sent to detox/rehab centers, often resulting in dangerous and sometimes protracted suffering.
[For even more information and clarification on the distinction between physical dependence and addiction as it relates to benzodiazepines, read here, here, and here.]
2. Not Enough Resources or Time
In 2013, annual industry revenues were about $35 billion for addiction treatment centers—attending these places proves unaffordable for most, the cost usually ranging anywhere from $15,000 to the low six-figures for a 30-day stay at a private facility. That aside, as some government agencies or psychiatric wards offer free or more affordable detox programs, the facilities usually do not offer programs or stays lasting any longer than 7-90 days. These time frames are too short and unsafe for a large percentage of people who struggle to discontinue benzodiazepines. Some physically dependent benzodiazepine patients report requiring upwards of 12 to 18 months or even years to complete a tolerable withdrawal program.
These detox/rehab facilities, which are grossly ill-suited for iatrogenic benzodiazepine physical dependence, are sometimes being utilized solely due to a lack of resources specifically dedicated to deprescribing. Since most reputable guidelines for benzodiazepine discontinuation call for a slow, patient-controlled taper, the common sense solution, in addition to prescriber education and training, is that withdrawal-specific resources and facilities need to be developed and offered to patients—much like what is available through the UK withdrawal charities and in Australia, set up specifically with withdrawal advisers educated and experienced in aiding benzodiazepine- and Z-drug- (and sometimes antidepressant- and opioid-) dependent patients with withdrawal via slow taper.
3. Poor & Dangerous Outcomes
Many rehab/detox facilities, if called and queried about benzodiazepine detox, will refuse service or indicate that it is not even offered—this may be due to fears of liability for poor outcomes, prior experience with poor outcomes or difficulties rapidly withdrawing benzodiazepine patients, or due to awareness that overly-rapid or cold-turkey benzodiazepine withdrawal can increase the risk for developing protracted withdrawal, psychosis, seizures, and/or death and that most guidelines recommend a slow, gradual taper for cessation.
The rehab/detox facilities that do accept benzodiazepine-dependent patients will often abruptly stop the patient’s benzodiazepine(s) and/or Z-drug, replacing them with a short (one week or so) phenobarbital or Librium “taper,” sometimes followed by the prescription of adjunctive medications like gabapentin, Lyrica, beta blockers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, etc. to “manage” the withdrawal. In these cases, patients can be admitted to the facility on one drug—the benzodiazepine— and are then discharged home on prescribed polypharmacy, including drugs which carry their own similar risk of physical dependence and withdrawal and requirements for taper. This in spite of the fact that the British National Formulary specifically states of the benzodiazepine withdrawal process, “The addition of beta-blockers, antidepressants and antipsychotics should be avoided where possible.”
Also, after a rapid “taper” or cold-turkey withdrawal, some patients anecdotally report a “delayed (or tardive) withdrawal syndrome”—one where the severe symptoms of withdrawal do not fully manifest until a few months post abrupt cessation—so, those patients are discharged from their rehab centers with little to no support or aftercare in place, only to go on to develop psychosis, seizures, suicidality at home a few weeks or months later. At this point, due directly to the detox from benzodiazepines, patients may also find themselves in an even more precarious position as is explained by Dr. Heather Ashton in her manual: “Many benzodiazepine users who find themselves in this position have withdrawn too quickly; some have undergone ‘cold turkey’. They think that if they go back on benzodiazepines and start over again on a slower schedule they will be more successful. Unfortunately, things are not so simple. For reasons that are not clear, (but perhaps because the original experience of withdrawal has already sensitised the nervous system and heightened the level of anxiety) the original benzodiazepine dose often does not work the second time round. Some may find that only a higher dose partially alleviates their symptoms, and then they still have to go through a long withdrawal process again, which again may not be symptom-free.”
Lastly, according to Dr. Heather Ashton, benzodiazepine expert who ran her own withdrawal clinic for 12 years and Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, “Nobody should be forced or persuaded to withdraw against his or her will. In fact, people who are unwillingly pushed into withdrawal often do badly”. Anecdotally, this proves true in the over-rapidly tapered or cold-turkeyed patients BIC has encountered, via they or their families contacting us directly or online in the withdrawal support communities, many reinstating to attempt a slow taper, others emailing us or posting desperately in the support groups looking for help or advice on what to do, and even some sadly taking their own lives via suicide, the severity of the withdrawal syndrome too severe or protracted to continue to endure.
4. Russian Roulette
Each person’s experience of benzodiazepine withdrawal will be unique, varying in severity and duration. Some people, even those who took high doses of prescribed benzodiazepines long-term, will experience only minor or, in some cases, no withdrawal. According to Dr. Heather Ashton, “Some people can stop their benzodiazepines with no symptoms at all: according to some authorities, this figure may be as high as 50% even after a year of chronic usage. Even if this figure is correct (which is arguable) it is unwise to stop benzodiazepines suddenly”. Dr. Malcolm Lader states, “I estimate about 20-30% of people who are on a benzodiazepine like diazepam have trouble coming off and of those about a third have very distressing symptoms.” His figures are conservative, as Reconnexion, a nonprofit organization in Australia offering counseling and support for benzodiazepine dependent patients, states: “It is estimated that between 50-80% of people who have taken benzodiazepines continually for six months or longer will experience withdrawal symptoms when reducing the dose.”
Regardless of the exact figure of those affected, it is unwise to stop a benzodiazepine prescription suddenly or rapidly in a detox or rehab facility simply because there is no medical testing or crystal ball available when it comes to benzodiazepines—in other words, there is absolutely no way for anyone to know in advance which patients, specifically, will experience a withdrawal syndrome upon attempts at cessation, which patients will go on to develop severe or protracted withdrawal, or which patients could cold-turkey or rapidly taper with minimal to no symptoms. For this reason, medical providers and patients should not play “Russian roulette” when it comes to benzodiazepine cessation, as it puts patients at unnecessary risk for the sometimes-devastating outcomes detailed just prior in the ‘Poor & Dangerous Outcomes’ section of this article.
*Note: There may be some instances where a patient is exhibiting symptoms of a paradoxical reaction to the prescribed benzodiazepine, or some other severe adverse event or complication, in which case the prescriber will have to use their own discretion or consult an expert as to the best course of action in regards to tapering versus a rapid or cold-turkey withdrawal. This circumstance would be rare, however, and not the norm.
5. Tapering Is Most Successful
Dr. Heather Ashton, reports a 90% success rate for her stepwise, gradual, patient-controlled taper plan found in The Ashton Manual, developed by her after working one-on-one for twelve years in a clinic with physically dependent benzodiazepine patients wishing to withdraw.
This study, done to establish the efficacy of an intervention program which included tapering to reduce the chronic use of benzodiazepines, resulted in 45.2% of patients in the intervention group discontinuing their benzodiazepine compared to 9.2% in the control group. For every three interventions, one patient achieved withdrawal. 21.9% of subjects from the intervention group and 16.7% of the controls reduced their initial dose by more than 50%. The study concludes that “standardised advice given by the family physician, together with a tapering off schedule, is effective for withdrawing patients from long-term benzodiazepine use and is feasible in primary care.”
This study assessed the effect of a direct-to-consumer educational intervention—the EMPOWER brochure, which contains a 4.5 month taper plan—on benzodiazepine discontinuation in people aged 65-95 taking chronic benzodiazepine prescription. A total of 261 participants (86%) completed the 6-month follow-up. Of the recipients in the intervention group, 62% initiated conversation about benzodiazepine therapy cessation with a physician and/or pharmacist. At 6 months, 27% of the intervention group had discontinued benzodiazepine use compared with 5% of the control group. Dose reduction occurred in an additional 11%.
This study compared “the effect on withdrawal severity and acute outcome of a 25% per week taper of short half-life vs long half-life benzodiazepines in 63 benzodiazepine-dependent patients. Patients unable to tolerate taper were permitted to slow the taper rate. Ninety percent of patients experienced a withdrawal reaction, but it was rarely more than mild to moderate. Nonetheless, 32% of long half-life and 42% of short half-life benzodiazepine treated patients were unable to achieve a drug-free state. The most difficulty was experienced in the last half of taper.” So, utilizing a taper where the rate was controlled by the patient, 68% of long half-life benzodiazepine treated patients did successfully withdrawal, as did 58% of short half-life benzodiazepine treated patients.
More studies which more closely examine variables such as taper methods (dry cutting, liquid titration, microtapering, gram scale, compounded liquid, tapering strips, cut-and-hold, etc), duration of taper, rate/speed of taper, longer half-life versus shorter half-life drugs utilized, etc. are needed to determine the absolute best discontinuation practices with most favorable outcomes. However, it is clear that slow patient-controlled tapers are safer, more successful, have better outcomes, and are recommended overwhelmingly in respected published guidelines and medical literature for appropriate benzodiazepine cessation. For these compelling reasons, detox/rehab facilities are inappropriate and substandard for physically dependent benzodiazepine patients.
I was forced to rehab to quit my 2mg X 3 daily klonopin, 1500 gabapentin and a mood stabilizer. I had been on the benzo for ten years. After an episode of suicide ideation, my daughter threatened to no longer let me be in her life if I didn’t go to in-patient. I went in not knowing what was going to happen. I was forced to cold-turkey and attend twelve-steps meetings that labeled me as an addict. I was given unnamed medications and forced to participate in classes regardless of my emotional/physical state. I had seizure- like shaking, auditory hallucinations and the worst panic ever experienced. I tried to leave but was lectured by the staff…It was hell.
Today, 9 months later, I stutter, have constant tremors, have a fear of meeting strangers, mania, paranoia. I was an out-going woman turned into a zombie of who I was. I am
starting ketamine infusions next week. While I am nervous for this journey with Ketamine, I have to try it to help right me. Don’t let ANYONE force you into a cold turkey. It is a horrific experience.
What you’ve been through is criminal. I’ve had one ketamine treatment and was wondering what your experience was like in Ketamine. I have been prescribed benzo‘s for decades and my current doctor says he can only taper me off in a five day one size fits all detox. I’ve had seizures and no one seems to care. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. firstname.lastname@example.org Please contact me if you would like to chat Michael
What you’ve been through is criminal. I’ve had one ketamine treatment and was wondering what your experience was like in Ketamine. I have been prescribed benzo‘s for decades and my current doctor says he can only taper me off in a five day one size fits all detox. I’ve had seizures and no one seems to care. I’m so sorry for what you are going through.
I just found out my psychiatrist no longer works for the health facility I go to and I’ve been on 1mh Clonazepam 3× a day for 10 years I’ve tried every antidepressants in the book all different non benzo medication for my anxiety and depression but nothing has worked but Clonazepam. I’ve been on the same dose for years and years never ask for more or other drugs. But now the doctors I talk to refuse to prescribe me them. I’m terrified and don’t know what to do. One wants a rapid detox the other wants to give me 3 different meds with worse side effects and just as addicting but not controlled. How does that even sound smart replace one med with 3. And more dangerous plus I take Wellbutrin which enhances seizures. I’ve been buying benzos from the streets and stashing them for emergencies because it looks like it’s what I have to do. I’m willing to do a valium taper but over at least a year of a slow gradual taper so I can at least be somewhat comfortable. What do I di I’m scared ?
I can relate to most everything in this story. It has been both an unacceptable and horrific experience and it still is! Peace and wellness.
I also can relate!!
Pushed into a fast taper and blew a heart valve.
Now I’m frightened
It is great that there is so much more awareness around the correct way to get off benzos, NOT to do rapid detox or cold Turkey. However none of this addresses the wreckage of lives that benzos cause. We now know how to get off but we’re not told how to endure withdrawal or how to put the pieces of our lives back together. Obviously, there can be no detox facility because tapering takes such a a long time, for me 15 months which I know is short compared to some. But what can we do when withdrawal can make us unable to work and can wrench marriages, etc,etc? I’d like the drug makers and prescribers to be held accountable with prison and payments to sufferers. Not gonna happen.
I agree with you! I have been subscribed Zanax for 21 years and now doctors are wanting me to go down from 1mg x5 a day to 3 it only took me 2 days and literally thought I was going to die! I had to start buying them from other people to just feel normal again “ normal to me” there is nothing around any state that I live in Illinois that has the the help I desperately want and need ! I agree we the people should definitely sue the manufacturer’s of the company! They know and knew dang well that was it , but yet they help people on opieds what a disgrace for us that cannot live without our Benzodiazepines! I think I have found 1 place in the United States in Hawaii that is on a island no way off or nothing comes in everyone is completely under 24 hour care, but the cost WOW is ridiculous no way I could afford it and do not take insurance! I’m just saying we need help , am I scared hell yes ! But what else can we do? I know longer can barely walk pain is almost intolerable, I have digestive issues “gastric “ I could literally go on and on! Believe me if I could go back in time I NEVER EVER would have taken just 1 , but I trusted my doctor at that time.
You are a leader and you are powerful in your testimony. You may have found your destiny of helping yourself first and documenting in order to help thousands of others. I will follow this string….and spread the word.
I am 62 disabled, for mental illness I have anxiety, depression, panic attacks. I’m on sertraline and have been on lorazapam for 10 years. I take these medications to function day to day. My doctor has me on .5 3 times a day. Now she has moved further away. I want people to know some people need medication to function, and I can not tell you how many doctors have called me a addict. Which cause a person’s self worth diminish. And I’ve left doctors offices in tears. It is not fair. And if I change doctors it starts all over again. Need help in az
I Absolutely agree & relate to your story. I’m now physically addicted to this terrible drug.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve said, If I could turn back time I would have never taken the first pill 25 yrs ago during a very stressful time in my life. Like you I trusted my doctor. I’m scared as hell should I ever have to go into a rest home.., NO XANAX OR NORCO IN THOSE Places..!!!
We definitely need to bind together and sue the pants off these manufacturers & doctors. The only problem with that is I could never deal with that kind of stress without the pills.
My entire family has disowned me they call me a low life drug addict. Throughout my life I worked 43 yrs, raised two Sons, did elder care for my parents, and made my contribution to the church and society.
NOW I NEED HELP at age 70
I have been taking Xanax for 35 yrs..!!
Feeling helpless in California
PLEASE FIND THE CURE..!!
I only learned of the ‘witch hunt’ this year after 36 years on anti-anxiety meds
when my Dr.left and all of a sudden I needed a new Psychiatrist. Never had a problem- ever, finding even Primary’s willing to write a script. Now my dose –
which had been 1mg 4times a day as needed (same all those yrs. no requests for increases or drug seeking – new term to me) All of a sudden I’m addicted
to ‘Benzos’ and have to get off them. I resent the word itself – and actually had a Dr. tell me I was “no Spring Chicken and should never have been allowed to stay on them”. Reduced to 1mg 3x a day- now have unbelievable insomnia and erratic blood pressure. – Went 48 hrs w/out meds. because of Dr. not refilling script. Back on 1 mg 3x- but have had a month of ‘Mental Hell’ – roller coaster of multitude emotions, new and different and intense every day. Scariest is
“Anger Attacks” – I’m afraid to be around people or drive. This has ruined my life – Oh yes- always fearful now. All that was wrong with me before and was successfully controlled was general anxiety and occasionally depression.
Now, I don’t know who I am anymore. What ever happened to “First do no harm”- or was that simply dialogue from an old TV episode about compassionate Drs. listening to their patients???
I’m reading these posts and crying for all of us. We are a ‘Lost Generation ‘
No one seems to be paying attention. I keep thinking – ‘United we stand, Devided we fall.’ Yet why is there no advocacy for managing these patients
and treating us either with a ‘Grandfather clause’ or an ‘Informed consent
that releases Drs. to safely prescribe and eliminate DEA involvement.
The Medical Community is doing great harm to a large population( many
suffering silently with worsening conditions) How can they live with themselves with all of this suffering and lives being shortened and being made intolerable. The Drs are complicit- they are remaining quiet– no one
talks of 10 – 40 year dependence as a category- all articles describe long term dependence in a few weeks or months. Where are the articles from
Psycology Professionals addressing the suffering on these pages???? We are like ‘Lepers’ to be shunned as in Biblical times. Shame on Them!
I’ve been on 2 mg of Clonazepam for over 20 yrs but the last 5 years my short term memory is horrible. It’s a side affect to Clonazepam . I went to a sleep hospital 20 years ago and they put me on it. I’ve never felt the craving for my meds but I guess that’s because I take it every night, I am terrified to go off for 2 reasons the side affects and me thinking I won’t be able to sleep is my big fear. This is my choice to go off and I want to but just affraid. I’m going to go through my doctor on tapering. I just wonder does my short term memory come back or is it just brain damage?
It’s criminal that some of us spend years trying to recover and our lives are changed forever. Suffering becomes a normal part of life both mentally and physically long after we taper off.
Interesting that your email literally contains the word “hackers”….if that isn’t your money-you’re stealing it from some unsuspecting person OR what’s more likely-this is just a big scam-you’re asking people to pay for a card that they supposedly can withdraw all these funds from? Where are the funds coming from? But to target people in these comments in a space that many already not be in a good mindset-and are looking for medical advice-Shame on you. get a real f-ing job so you can stop stealing money and scamming people . Ffs, please don’t anyone fail for this bs
I need help the justice system is rapidly detoxing me I’m in trouble with court I’m in crisis
I’m so sorry ?! They do not understand what we the people go through on benzodiazepine!
Sounds crazy I know I’ve been on it 36 years they took me off 2 mg of the 6 mg I was taking a day I don’t feel right now and I want to go up two more mg to see how I feel unfortunately I think that maybe your wife should go back on it better than feeling like hell I’m sorry to say but I pray for you
They are SADIST Criminals Pimps for BIG Pharm get us hooked and then Run for the hills or set up so called recovery rehabs. BULLSHIT LIES So FED up Sicken to Revenge insanity FUCK em all Ive had enough my Last statement If I suffer As many many times I have then They will suffer I plan to End Every Fucken Charlitan Doctor and Burn their Buildings Yeah Im insane EnRaged
I promised four years ago that if I survived the terror of this Hell, I would try and return with water buckets. Please Everyone feel to watch my Videos on YouTube under my name, especially the 75 minute Podcast on my 30 years on Benzo and the mental havoc on me and my family. Those who have never experienced this Agony have No Idea. None. God Bless. Yes. We Do Recover from This. I Promise.
I’m 71 and I’m in my fourth year of benzo withdrawal syndrome, off allmeds since November 2017.. but still having withdrawal syndromes. I’ve only seen a GP and he is minimal help I’m on Medicare seeing a neurologist help?
Please any info….serious replies only please ?
I was on 1mg 4 times per day. Alprazolam. Years. I had a wonderful counselor who I talked to once a week during this time. He took me through getting off it by taking me down 10% at a time every two weeks. Sometimes longer if symptoms were too severe. Yes, I was a little nervous most of the time, Sometimes very nervous but not often. Worst symptom was only being shaky and nervous, nothing severe. I would go for walks and meditate at different times. This worked for me.
You rule Phil!!! I continually watch your videos
Hi Im tapering off x by being put on v 5m 4 times daily due to tinnitus. Now im hearing it wasnt a good idea . please any help would be helpful Im new and confused what to do.
Please let me know how you fixed yourself from all of these evil meds? Please I need severe help. I am worse of than you.
Your not alone I went to a detox center in Manhattan to taper me off lorazepam. When I got out of there after 6 days I felt like hell worse than I ever did before. I’m working with a hollistic physchiatrist and he has me on a program and I still have a hard time lowering the doses because I went back on the drug after coming out of the detox program I feel helpless and in pain everyday.
I just began reading this fantastic article about tapering off Benzos. I am a 61 year old female. This past November I had a mini-stroke from having very high Systolic blood pressure and was in the hospital. I have been on Clonazepam for almost 5 years and every time I tried to taper I was unsuccessful. My Doctor who prescribed it told me he
wants me to stay on the 0.5 mg two tablets a day dose for life. I want to taper.
I disagree with the article. Detox is for people who have lost the ability to make basic decisions. Detox programs are typically run by health professionals who specialize in addiction and withdrawal. They are there for one reason.
I have detoxed from benzodiazepines unknowingly at home and it was a nightmare. I knew nothing at the time. You mentioned tapering as the most successful action. What do you think happens at detox? They don’t just watch you suffering
I’ve heard stories of withdrawal from heroin addicts while at detox. Awful.
Death from heroin withdrawal is a rarity. Death from benzodiazepines is even more of a rarity. In either case it would not hurt to have a knowledgeable professional by your side.
Yes they do just watch you, especially at the lesser facilities. It’s basically a step down from a holding cell. Sandwiches brought to your room at 9PM, breakfast at 6:00AM.
Meanwhile you aren’t detoxing, you’re going through hell. I blame myself for 20 years using, but cmon. If 18 yr old heroin addicted can get Suboxone and be “partying” in some rehabs 3 days later, it’s about time big pharma releases the “cure” for benzo w/d. We are older, less years left for them to rebook us.
I checked myself into treatment in July 2020 for alcohol. I was told at that time that I would have to give up my Xanax that I have been taking for over 25 years. 1 to 2 mgs a day. It is now going on 5 months and the physical pain I am going through is very extreme and relentless. The confusion, dizziness’ and whatever else I am going through seem trivial to the pain. I don’t know how much longer I can keep on going like this.
My wife went through a rapid detox at the Coleman Institute which uses Flumazenil infusion over an 8 day period; the benzo’s are removed over a 3 day period. 52 days post treatment she is going through hell and back. The doctor recommended lyrica to ease the withdrawal symptoms and a topical Flumazenil cream; she is taking ~ 1/2 the lyrica dose that the doctor recommends. Not sure if she should increase the lyrica dose as recommended. The Flumazenil cream seems to help if applied every 2 to 4 hours. Where do we go to get help?
Richard, I am just curious if anyone has responded to you? I came very close to going to Coleman institute this year for the same reason. I’m so grateful I didn’t after reading your wife’s experience. That said, I started a very very slow taper, regardless, my withdrawal symptoms remain a daily struggle. I’m personally tired of going through this alone. I’m afraid to tell anyone because I feel like I’m going crazy. I am not myself anymore. I just want to talk to other people who are able to understand what this can be like.
I was just on the verge of going to Coleman myself. What a blessing to happenstance come across this. Were you ever able to receive any other information. Oh it sounded too good to be true.
I have a friend who had a very positive experience here and was just looking into it for my husband. Unfortunately, they cannot even get the medicine right now for the detox.
Hello all, I now am in worse shape. 3 autoimmune diseases plus the benzos controlling my life. Please help me.
Colleen, I would be more than happy to talk with you as far as peer support. I’m tapering off of clonozepam and I feel very alone in all of this. It’s a nightmare that’s hard to believe no one is being held accountable for what they’ve done to us. Just respond and let me know your email or I can give you mine. Hang in there <3
Thank you Nicole for you’re reply. A year later I’m on 1mg Clonazepam & 2mg Alprazolam. Now comes the hard part in reducing my medication. No help from Dr. as he doesn’t understand the horrible effects. How do I reduce with the least amount of effects? I read the horror stories of going unto rehad. Just lost my job & health insurance. Any advice w8be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I had been on doctor prescribed clonazepam for 37 years!! I’m not lying. 37! As anyone who has been on them for a good amount of time, you don’t skip a dose. There’s that ugly rebound anxiety rearing its ugly head. Then all of a sudden, the government decided that it was just too bad for us. They told the doctors to get everybody off…..now! And so, two years ago, it was decided I had to stop. Or else. What, I asked? Or else, what? Well, she said, I’m not going to prescribe it anymore to you. Now, I’m the person who does not hold doctors in high regard for no reason. They are like everyone else. Though I didn’t respect this particular doctor in rural Wisconsin, I knew in my heart that it was time. I was 67! I noticed some adverse side effects over the years. So, I tapered. It was………hell. It was over 3.5 months. Another professional I saw much later said she would have had me on a year long taper at best. Soon after began the withdrawal. I think I have PTSD from the whole thing. But I made it. Through therapy helping me with issues I should have dealt with 37 years ago, and a wonderful doctor, I made it. Resentment toward the doctors and (the government) was eating me alive. I had to let it go. I still have pretty bad anxiety at times. There is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A BENZO! That is the sad truth. Let me know if you all would like to talk.
I am a 20 year user of ativan since 9-11 and live alone. I have to work although I am in my mid 60s. in order to survive. i would love to hear more about your experiences and bravo to you! I started at 4.0 mgs a day and now take 2.75 and everyday is a kind of h-ll!!I would love to hear what got you through. My dr, has not cut me off but I am moving soon and dread the search for a doctor to help me.I dont know if we can talk through this forum. if we cant, your comment has inspired me even with your ptsd, which i know is awful!
I’m 71 and I’m in my fourth year of benzo withdrawal syndrome, off allmeds since November 2017.. but still having withdrawal syndromes. I’ve only seen a GP and he is minimal help I’m on Medicare seeing a neurologist help?
Please any info….serious replies only please ?
Just got cut off from my psychiatrist. Suffering. Trying to get a new psychiatrist to do a responsible and safe taper.
I started out taking 0.5 mgs moved to 1 and then 2mg I did fine when I went from 90 to 75 to 60 maybe I didn’t taper fast enough I took them as prescribed. After the 60 I’m out and won’t see my dr. For a month. Or hopefully it’ll drop again gradually but it was not discussed. Did I not taper fast enough. I did go through about a 4 month drinking spout but haven’t had a sip in a little over a week.
Although it has been found effective for the treatment of certain conditions, there is a high potential of becoming addicted to it. Taking the medication even for a few weeks and exactly as prescribed by the doctor has been known to cause the addiction.
I would like to get in contact with someone because I have been detoxing and went to California from Michigan 3 months ago for detox off Benzodiazepines and now I’m feeling horrible again.
There is not enough support for us.
Last October 31st I went to a detox clinic for alcohol. I had been on clonazepam as prescribed for 15 years. 1mg per day, with no issues with abuse, or of building a tolerance problem. The detox used librium for the alcohol detox. They pressured me to ‘relinquish my benzo’ since it would ‘defeat the purpose of detox’ if I didn’t. After 4 days, I was discharged. For days later, i entered severe withdrawal from the rapid cessation. With that began a nightmare of two more detoxes when I gave into drinking to get some relief. Each time, they used benzos to detox, and the pattern continued. I was discharged from my last hospitalization 24 days ago. The withdrawal is disabling. I have taken to occasional glasses of wine to ease it a bit, but I know it threatens to become a problem again.
So, I recognized I had a problem with alcohol. I sought help at an appropriate place. I was pressured to stop the clonazepam. 3 months of chaos was begun, and now I am not dealing unpleasant alcohol withdrawal… I’m waiting to see if my SSDI application is going to be approved since I cannot work, have no income, and only my mothers couch stands between me and being on the street. Absolutely unbelievable.
I’m extremely scared. PTSD general horrific anxiety disorder bipolar.
I’ve never abused meds. It took years to find combination that kept me out of the mental ward in Oklahoma
Then my dr passed away this last November and the new drs took me completely off my meds.
3 months have passed and I’m a mess. Terrified like someone has a shotgun to my head.
I don’t understand why dr takes you off what they made you a Guinea pig to find out that it worked and then just take you off because of the epidemic with other people other people that don’t have mental illness who are just seeking drugs I don’t believe that it’s fair I’m not homicidal or suicidal but I am hallucinating I believe I’m having psychotic episodes I don’t think that I can last much longer anybody out there know how I can talk to my doctor to get them to understand how for people like me and possibly others like you How detrimental it is to our lives
I’m so sorry you are going through this. You are not alone. There’s a great website and podcast that might help you called Benzo free. This weeks episode is about how to talk to doctors about Benzo problems. Link here: https://www.benzofree.org/podcast/tips-for-talking-about-benzos-with-doctors-therapists-family-and-friends-bfp058/
Its December the 17th at 8pm. I’m a 65. I was put on ativan at 20 years old and in all this time have had two failed and terrifying forced withdrawals that sent me to hell.
Now on low dous clonazepam my current dr who is only for prescribing has informed me he is taking me off in three months.
I swore to myself after the last nightmare I would NEVER EVER ALOW ANY DR DO THIS TO ME EVER AGAIN AND I STAND BY THAT NOW. I have been down every Avenue and looked into every possiable support and trust me there is none at least for me. I wish u all the best but as for me I’m the one who will take charge of my life not them.
The same thing happened to me but nobody explained to me the side effects the possibility for addiction and the effects of the sudden withdrawals. My doctors refused to refill my meds and watched me do a sudden withdrawal with no taper for a year and never informed me what was happening. I am now on SSI label is a drug seeker and never even knew what was happening.
my heart goes out to you jesse.I too have alcohol and benzo addiction.This time im going for a long slow taper……several months long. God bless us both my friend.
You made some really good points there. Anyway, I am glad to be one of many visitors on this awesome site. Most individuals will go along with your views.
What if you go to rehab for alcoholism, and you get taken of a benzo, cold turkey. It was Klonopin for me. It has been almost 7 months, and I still have major cognitive issues. When I was at the treatment facility, I was taken of klonopin cold turkey, had taken it for over 10 years to sleep. I admittantly had taken more than I should have, as I was using for anxiety, due to alcohol abuse, as well. Regardless, I am getting really angry. I love this particular facility. But, they just said, NO to taking klonopin anymore. Cold turkey. The should have known better, shouldn’t they have?
This is a great article, really glad I came across it. I’m wondering what to do in my situation. I started taking clonazepam for panic attacks about 3 and a half years ago. At first, all I needed was a quarter of the 0.5 mg prescribed, and I was only using it for panic attacks (once a month at most). Fast forward a year later, and I eventually ended up on SSRIs, during which time I was able to keep my klonopin usage confined to mostly “as needed”, however, I began taking clonazepam more frequently for GAD/PTSD symptoms, thus was taking it anywhere from 1-3 days/week, anywhere from 0.25 mg – 1mg in a single day. I stayed at this dosage and frequency until foolishly, last October I asked my psychiatrist to try a different benzo as I felt that it was sometimes difficult to tell when the clonazepam had started working. I was prescribed lorazepam at 0.5 mg, which I found effective for the first two months, however I found I needed at least 1 mg. Cue a series of stressful events and my frequency of usage started to increase, as well as my tolerance. Or at least I think. From what I’ve read, clonazepam is much more potent per weight so I’m not sure how much it’s actually increased, but on the days I do take ativan, I need at least 3-4 mg throughout the day now (1-2 mg at a time), and even then sometimes finding that ineffective. As of the past two months, I’ve been taking benzos at least 4 times/week, but in the last three weeks, that’s increased to 5-6 days in a week. I keep a detailed diary of my usage. Now I understand that this article recommends a long taper for people taking them everyday. But what about in this scenario, where I’ve just recently run into a wall? I keep trying to stop but can’t make it past 1-2 days. It’s been quite hard to separate my actual anxiety from a developing dependence or addiction. On top of the fact I have an extremely distressful job and living situation, as well as the fact that I recently tapered off Prozac about two weeks ago (a separate nightmare entirely). I am attempting to chalk up my side effects (profuse sweating, hot and cold spells, flu like symptoms, depression, disinterest, anxiety, etc) to the lack of prozac, but when I read that I could be risking a prolonged withdrawal from benzos if done incorrectly, I wonder what the best course of action is, or if that advice even applies to someone in my situation. I want to stop completely now but I just don’t want to make things worse in the end than they already are. Thank you.
Hello. I’m a 30 year old man. I was taking as prescribed 10mg of Diazepam (5 in morning and 5 at night) originally for sleep and anxiety. I have been taking for 4-5 years. My prescription ran out a couple weeks ago so I just decided to stop. Was mostly fine for the first week but for the last 4 days have experienced withdrawal symptoms. They are tough but I’ve been able to manage so far. However, after learning all this information I’m concerned whether I’m on the right path or not? Is it required that I go back on and start tapering in order to be successful? Information/suggestions much appreciated!
I’m sorry to hear that but they must not be to bad or you would be having seizures like I am when I run out or don’t take my dosage at the correct time of day(sometimes I don’t realize the time) and I will feel completely normal and all of a sudden I wanna wake up on the floor with my family around me telling me I had a seizure. If you aren’t having seizures when not taking it I recommend stopping NOW before you develop a stronger addiction and more severe withdrawal.
I went on a website found on Google searching for things to help with when I completely stop taking valium, Ive tapered down to 2mg, and it tried to push me into finding an addiction treatment center. That’s ridiculous, I was simply searching for ways to ease the symptoms of mild benzo withdrawal when I stop taking valium, Im really close to stopping the medication. Some people in my boat may have decided to go with the route of addiction treatment. It’s not needed; I cant even find answers to help with the mild withdrawals from valium without being told I have a dependency issue and need to go to rehab. I am physically dependent, not addicted. These addiction centers are just trying to made money off anyone.
Best wishes with your attempts. Sometimes there is psychological dependency with physical dependency and maybe not on other short use occasions. It is difficult to tell initially for the person using.
Hey, thanks for writing this. I do have a dependence issue with alprazolam (Xanax), but the incredible fear mongering stories have kept me on it longer than anything else.
I read two years ago and was so terrified to try (“you’ll get seizures!”, etc.) that I didn’t even try going for it.
I’m terrified to give this a go, especially with a job that’s stressful and being isolated from family, but it seems like the biggest risk is taking it longer and longer. I’m on 1.25mg once per evening and I’ve kept it locked there except for Monday’s when I typically abuse it and take an extra 0.5mg.
Anyway, I’ll be damned if I come back in another two years and I’m still on this stuff. I’m pretty sure I would be able to handle daily stressors better if I got off it two years ago – even with protracted withdrawal – than I will now.
I’m hoping that the 24 hour spacing between each dose has somehow protected the sensitivity of my glGABA receptors. I feel each dose just about as strongly as I did a couple years ago, so I can only imagine that’s a good sign.
Anyway, I’m half ranting and half venting. It’s terrifying to read the stories of what people are going through and what might lie ahead of me.
Anyone who wants to join me in trying this with as little fear and as much educationas possible going into it, feel free to contact me. I’d love some emotional support!
We can see that the carnage is not only continuing; it is escalating. When natural disasters hit, the “mental health” people come out of the woodwork. Benzos are the first line of treatment. Because of long-lasting damage that these disasters do to lives, it is
likely that quickly prescribed drugs will be prescribed indefinitely. We understand the consequences. How can we act proactively to prevent these disaster-related benzo-hells?
The medical providers that caused my own benzo-illness and then denied the well-recorded acts was provided tax money via FEMA to treat disaster-victims. I don’t want to remain here having recovered but watching the benzo-carnage occurring as government-paid victimization.
While I am not a decent activist, I want to work toward warning potential victims of disaster-related drug damage. We are watching people walk blindly to their own destruction after having survived natural disasters. Two well known TV show people actually admonished disaster victims
to “take their meds”. Does any reader have an idea of how we might warn disaster-victims and provide more relevant help?
Maybe CDC or Surgeon General or MD in services. Ultimately best for patient to be educated and then able to say “no, thanks anyway”.
FIrst off, let me just say that nobody should ever be forced to cold turkey or taper off any medication to fast, be it a stimulant, ssri, or benzodiazepines.
On a personal note, I think the severity one goes through during benzodiazepine tapering or cold turkey is all relative. For example, clonazepam, is just as good if not safer and more effective than using diazepam as a taper. Both being long acting benzo’s except with key differences. Clonazepam comes on more subtly, has a much longer duration of action, whereas diazepam is a bit trickly. It comes on fast like xanax, but also has a very short duration of action(therapeutic window) This is important for many doctors to understand as although diazepam stays in the system, is extremely lipid soluble, therefore less duration of action by binding to organs and tissues unlike other benzodiazepines. It breaks down multiple active metabolites of other benzos(temazepam to name one), THE VERY fact diazepam last as long as it does in your system compared to the actual therapetic window is concerning. It is why for those who choose to do slow tapers maybe using diazepam whether it be young or old in those with compromised livers, or other co morbid psychological/physical disorders(memory issues, balance problems, tinnitus, vertigo, etc.. this benzodiazepine from my non professional opinion should not be used. I recognize and respect Professor Ashton for her work but it’s been years, and with that being said, I wonder if what she knew then would differ in whether to use diazepam or instead prefer a longer therapeutic one, with strong anti-convulsant properties like clonazepam. IT also is not nearly as lipid as diazepam, thereby does not have it’s metabolites sticking around in your CNS and peripheral system for weeks, even for slow metabolizers even months, potentially leading to tissue, organ damage. I could go on, but I understand people like me all have different opinions on this subject and did not come here to hurt others, be insensitive or start any argument. I was prescribed diazepam 20mg daily for severe generalized anxiety. While it was effective and I did not need to ever up the dosage, as I personally never build a tolerance towards it’s anti-anxiety properties. That being said, I found out my liver enzymes were elevated possibly due to the valium. I switched to clonazepam, and did a 4 week taper. Used effexor during this time to upregulate my serotonin and norepinephrine levels the diazepam could have suppressed. I have been off all benzodiazepines for over a year now and feel much more clarity(energy, alertness, executive functioning and better sleep patterns)
I just wanted to say how well written and put together this article was, thank you.
Help !! In Illinois…no one has a clue what us wrong w me !! After 5 yrs on Clonazepam, Dr told me to go off…new nurse in same office just diognosis’d me w withdral from it! Bad symptoms. Been to New psch Dr, NO CLUE !! I had to go to new person to get diognsd! Any suggestions would b huge help !!
I was prescribed Xanax and clonazepam for 30 years – not at the same time. My psychiatrist told me in March of this year that she thought I was addicted to the benzo’s. I went into an in-patient treatment center for 42 days. They put me on Librium for 2 weeks and stopped the benzo’s I was taking which was .05, 3x a day. The third week they stopped the Librium and I was a mess. I knew something was wrong, but no one knew what was happening. They put me on the Librium again for 1 week and I did better, but they stopped the Librium the day I was discharged and I was a mess again. I have my LCSW and have a masters in social work. I loss my job as a therapist as I could not work, no income, applying for disability, and I am currently separated from my husband of 8 years. I am living alone dealing with this mess.
My psychiatrist does not understand what I am going through. What can be done if anything none. I am just well enough to understand what I am reading. Should I go back on the clonazepam. It has been almost 8 months since I took the last clonazepam.
Thankyou for this article.
I have been off for two months and my stomach is so swollen, I look 9 months pregnant
I too am basically going through this alone, my husband of 23 years and I split up over the summer.
I guess I just wanted to let you know you are not alone.
Ask about the experience of providers who treat addictions or dependence.
DG, This part of your post pasted below interested me greatly as it addresses a question I’ve had on my mind for a long time, that is … though the half life of Diazepam is between 20 to 70 hours, its “therapeutic window” is tiny … in my experience around four hours 45mins to 5 hours max.
(This means I take 5 evenly spaced doses of a cut down 2mg tablet per day, … I use a jewel scale to weigh them. A 2mg tablet weighs 175mg, I’m now on 147mg per dose so 1029mg per week as opposed to 1225mg for uncut whole tablets.)
I shall stay on 147mg for at least 3 weeks then reduce to 142mg … very slow but I’ve learned from experience that I can’t go any quicker and that the smaller the dose as you get towards the end of the taper,schedule, the more careful, … the slower, you have to be! (I use a fine file to remove some of the 2mg tablet after cutting a piece off with a sharp penknife and then weigh the remaining tablet, … repeat filing until 147mg is seen on the scales.)
I believe people should be more aware of the possibility of what you have said, being correct. It needs research by each of us in this tapering situation as the doctors are completely useless in this regard. The better professional to speak with is a professor of pharmacology and this I shall do. Thanks a lot for putting this into my mind.
“Clonazepam comes on more subtly, has a much longer duration of action, whereas diazepam is a bit trickly. It comes on fast like xanax, but also has a very short duration of action (therapeutic window) This is important for many doctors to understand as although diazepam stays in the system, is extremely lipid soluble, therefore less duration of action by binding to organs and tissues unlike other benzodiazepines. It breaks down multiple active metabolites of other benzos(temazepam to name one), THE VERY fact diazepam lasts as long as it does in your system compared to the actual therapeutic window is concerning.”
As said, an excellent point … I shall look into Clonazepam and discuss it with my doctor who, like 99.9% of doctors will be clueless on the matter but they need to write the prescriptions of course.
Could you talk more with me via email?
Please let me know how you fixed yourself from all of these evil meds? Please I need severe help. I am worse of than you.
I’m scared now that I’m tapering slow with Valium to get off Kolonpin That I’m setting myself up for a bad withdrawal. I’m following DR. Ashtons manual
“…THE VERY fact diazepam last as long as it does in your system compared to the actual therapetic window is concerning. ”
That’s exactly why valium is in fact amongst the most dangerous benzodiazepines compared to other benzodiazepines .
I just want to say that people should take what you wrote into consideration. Because many people switch to diazepam ( following the Ashton manual ) for their taper which is again never sure to be successful and end up over time with an accumulation of benzodiazepines in their system even if they maintain on a very low daily dose of diazepam. This is problematic and can be more dangerous than the withdrawal itself. ( I hope I made myself clear as English is not my mother tongue).
Thanks. My doctor (née one) was going to switch me from Clonzapam to Diazepam and I was told bad decision. Chip slowly away at what you have.
I was sent to detox (reduced dose only) by my doctor and now he refuses to prescribe Helped me reinstate for 2 years. Counted his money for 25 years for writing my prescription but has now abandoned me to someone else.
Not sure I ever make it totally off. Started on 4 mg of Xanax and down to 2 1/2 of Clonzapam. Progress.
Hi DG – my husband had some sever panic and anxiety about a month ago. He has been tapering very slowly off of 1mg Clonazepam on his own for over 4 years. He was basically at .3 per day. However, the anxiety was so severe after having a health scare, he went to a medical detox where they took him off the Clonazepam and put him on 7.5mg Valium. Everything was manageable for about a week or two and then the rails came off. He started having extreme pain, extreme anxiety, more extreme insomnia (was already an issue) and completely panic stricken. After 4 ER visits in 7 days, he decided to go to a 30 day detox/rehab program to be safe. A week later and he is still in pain. They did put him on Cymbalta and have taken him for additional bloodwork. I guess I am curious if it is too late for him to go back on Clonazepam and if that would be better to continue the withdrawal. He is still so upset and sad. Any advice or suggestions would be very helpful.
I’m so sorry that the same thing happened to you. Such a nightmare. How do you deal with the resentment? I was actually refunded fir the $12,000 I paid out of pocket to be harmed by being cold turkey & being treated as an addict… after literally 100’s of calls to my insurance telling them how negligent the detox center was.
It took a long time to heal, and I do still have a hard time with PTSD of the nightmare I went through needlessly. I felt that nobody believed me as to why I was so sick for years- not my teams of specialists, my family, friends… I continue to heal & appreciate you and your advocacy!
I also have PTSD from a 16 day CT with pheno at Hazelden and I have been trying to sue them ever since for ruining my soul. Such an absolute tragedy as now I am all over the place and cannot work anymore. I can’t believe they held me hostage and didn’t believe anything I was trying to tell them.
Clonipin and Xanax for the last 20yrs, detox centers 6days and you’re out phenobarbital to control withdrawal not going.
I have read ashton manual. I am left on diazepam after depression started four years ago. I take 5mg at night, does very little to help sleep at all now. I need 2mg in daytime. I would like anyones experience of lowering slowly here. Should i go to 4.5 at night, then to 4 etc over a long period, am i ever going to be able to ditch these. As discussed the psychiatrists are totally out of touch with this and of no help.
Ann, join one of the many benzodiazepine support groups. There you will be able to find peer-to-peer assistance on the different tapering methods and such. Those can be found here: benzoinfo.com/resources
I am on low doses of benzo’s, also on medicaid. Moved to different state due to my son’s job. Dallas tx. area gives children overdoses and gives adults a hard time. Went to dr today and he cut my benzo’s in half and told me to take benadryl. You can only take benadryl a few times. Not long term like that. Any suggestions? Most of these Dr’s out here are sneaky and trick you into their office by lying that they take your insurance and they try to charge you anywhere from 150 dollars to 500 dollars for no visit. There out there the drs. I just need pointed in the right direction without being taken off what took years of being stabilized with after being torched with so many different meds. they finally found a stable balance for me. Will travel a bit. What harms one may help another. With anything. Thank you.
So sorry to hear that your current doctor has cut your BZ dose in half, as opposed to allowing you, the patient, to take control of your own tapering plan at a rate and speed comfortable to you (or allowing you to stay on if that was your desired outcome).
The only thing I can suggest is that you perhaps consult this resource: https://www.benzoinfo.com/doctors/
If you can’t find one at that link above, you might also join some support groups/forums (FB has many) where you could post and ask if there’s anyone in the group/forum in your area who has a benzo-cooperative prescriber/doctor they could offer as a referral. A list of the groups/forums can be located here (on the left side): https://www.benzoinfo.com/resources/
This article may also be of help: http://w-bad.org/cutoff/
Wishing you luck in finding a knowledgeable and supportive medical provider, even if it does require the inconvenience of you having to keep looking; sometimes that is required.
Our very best to you. Be well.
I need to add that that happened in 2012. It took me FOUR years to start to feel even half normal.
Now, I DO feel fine. On occasion, I have a couple weird symptoms show up again, but now I dont let them frighten me. I know why – and knowledge is a good thing.
I am so glad this site exists. SO many people ouot there are going through withdrawal that might even top mine.And doctors STILL dont know squat about this. I find that pitiful.
I used benzos almost every night for 30 years. Not all of those pills were legally prescribed, something I am ashamed of. The last 12 years, however, a psychiatrist presribed them plus several anti-depressants. HUGE doses. At the end I was on 6 mgs Klonapin every night, Serzone and Zoloft. Also muscles relaxers. My health had slowly gone downhill over many years. I became weak, tired, didnt think straight, made poor decisions, and I kept falling. A LOT of falling, almost every day. Those falls broke something in my neck, my right femur and my right knee replacement. Serious injury, and I almost lost the leg.Over time, not a single doctor suggested my troubles were because of my meds. Finally, my PCP did and he spoke with the psychiatrist. I was suddenly cut off from ALL of those drugs, and threatened to be Baker Acted if I did not sign into a local psych hospital for detox. Here is the real kicker: I had worked at that hospital, on the acute unit, which were they sent me. I knew all the staff, and I also knew they didnt know squat about benzos. At that time, all I knew was the addictive properties and withdrawal could cause seizures, even death. I rapidly went into acute WD…hallucinating with all of my senses. I was terrified of everything, even food! The staff never once asked if I had any withdrawal symptoms, Nor was I given anything for my BP, which was very high. After five days, I was abruptly discharged home, because my insurance was refusing to pay. I was sent home in a truly massive withdrawal. For about 2 months, I continued to hallucine. My skin itched all over, I had weird pains everywhere, I was paranoid, and I felt this immense and illogical fear of everything around me. Even my own cats scared me. Over that first year, I stumbled upon BenzoBuddies, and that is when I slowly began to learn what was causing those symptoms, and learned how to cope with them I owe my LIFE to that site.
Hi Annie I am in a similar situation .. I desperately need some help , advice and support … I am also a victim of the rapid detox program from long term chronic use of Xanax with the many times of kindling ( which I knew nothing about until now realizing and learning the real situation I am in … I am beyond devestsred that I am now in this post cold turkey/rapid detox trap in living hell . I was clueless for so many years that so many of my health issues were rooted in the ongoing damage from the years of xanax.,I also have a past history of chronic off and on alcohol use cigarettes for MANY years and few other psych meds which I successfully tapered off of all of those myself several years ( about 7-8 years ago) soon after the onset of many health issues w chronic fatigue , adrenal exhaustion, severe food allergies / intolerances ,leaky gut syndrome Lyme disease, heavy metal toxicity, severe chemical sensitivities etc .. I fell ill fast and had an abrupt awakening … I immediately turned towards more alternative /,holistic / functional medicine approaches to find healing and cleansing ( detoxing ) my body .. I was very sick ! This all happened in mid 2012 and I have fought hard to restore my health !
HOWEVER . even w removing all other toxic substances .. all pharm drugs, chemicals of any kind, fragrances , food , 12 amalgam mercury fillings from teeth etc .. I mindlessly continued to take the xanx for extreme insomnia ( 1 mg nightly ) and occasionally used 1/2,- 1mg for anxiety during the day off and on for years ). Xanax was used for over 20 years.
I look back on my entire journey and reliaze the Xanax was the huge white elephant keeping me sick and I had no clue how dangerous and damaging it was .. I am no paying the consequences and suffering and wasting away fast.. physically & mentally ! I went thru hell last couple years when my health began to decline fast again ..enormous amount of stress in my life,,food allergies returned again , digestion completely shut down, lost dangerous amounts of weight .. ended up in hospitals and while in hospital did not have the Xanax and NOW I know all the horrid physical symptoms I was experiencing were from Xanax kindling & onset of withrdrawals .,
The INSOMNIA was intense and every hospital visit was beyond traumatic toconly go home barely alive and weak and still very sick ! I wasn’t expecting healing from any kind of conventional “treatment” .. but I ran out of desperation and fear and nowhere else to turn . I was crumbling over and over and literally dying but no one including myself connected the dots w the XANAX !
The last hospital stay was at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville and thy simply gave me fluids and BOOST liquid diet ( poison to my body) despite the severe bloat and gas and metabolic issues etc after 5 days BARELY even stable my insurance ran out and I was moved over to the “psych floor” for further “treatment “ I had refused taking any psych meds from the moment I arrived in the emergency room from beginning .. I told them I only could take xanx ( still clueless about the kindling I had been doing and the fact that was IN withdrawals this Whole time . And the so called medical professionals never caught that
Or inquired further about my Xanax use / history ..
once on the psych side they STILL didn’t recognize that I was in withdrawals despite all the obvious symtptoms and I told them I needed Xanax to sleep …they refused to give it to me and pressured me into taking zyprexa off label for sleep ! I did not want to take it and refused it or for days until finally caving under presssure and severe sleep deprecation .. all the while I am struggling to eat and digest and I knew I COULD NOT eat the horrid toxic food there .. I had to to adapt to a pure whole food organic diet many years ago and still struggled immensely w ongoing extreme digestive issues despite the perfect clean organic diet… my systems are wrecked and I now believe the ongoing Xanax use prevented me from healing and restoring many broken systems in my poor foundered body.
I ended up coming home on the zyprexa and still no Xanax .. I was no longer seeing a doctor to get Xanax but had many left over pills from past prescriptions … I was a rollercoaster nightmare w the Xanax by now and still completely unaware of the damage it was causing and how my off and use was only adding fuel to the blazing fire!
I came home on the zyprexa very weak , still very malnourished and quickly began to develop many more new horrid symptoms so after about a month on zyprexa w no Xanax I began to taper myself off the zyprexa quickly and immediately started having EXTREME anxiety that I had never experienced ever before in my life ! They quickly bacame more like panic attacks and I turned to pinching on Xanax as if Came on more and more and FAST ..before I knew it I was on 1mg Xanax every 6 hours to control the panic / anxiety .. I had developed fast onset tolerance and still not understanding this YET! I did realize I was in deep water w the needed frequent doses of Xanax ! This all happened in about a two week period ( using 1mg every six hours ) quickly new and horrid symptoms set in .. extreme flu like symptoms , shakes , severe body and joint aches, anxiety and panic, heart palps , an extreme sense of fear and did not want to be alone .. just disoriented , immense pain and fatigue etc .. I quickly started researching and found a detox center ! I had no clue what else to do.. I was desperate no docotor and knew I had to do something and fast and I was terrified sick and beyond exhausted .. so I contacted a “detox center “ in Nashville ( I am from Memphis and it is a nightmare even w conventional help ) we rushed me to the detox clinic .. I had no clue what I was getting myself in to .. I was weak sick and trapped .. beyond desperate ! I knew right way as they began to “detox me” w multiple other drugs that my body was in big trouble .. not only did I realize this was harming me further I couldn’t eat their nasty food .. I was so so so sick ..they ended up rushing me to ANOTHER “more advanced “ detox hospital where they basically did the same thing but it was more of a psych hospital setting and I saw a psych docotor here and he switiched me from the phenobarbital for detox to Valium .. my body was loaded w chemicals again ( I do NOT tolerate any chemicals much less these potent drugs ) I was malnourished, weak and hanging by threads .. burning up inside and all over ! I knew now I was really in worse trouble .. once the last dose of Valium was given .. i was put on Remeron and prpranolol !!!! I knew I wouldn’t tolerate them .. abut was trapped!
Symptoms began piling in slowly .. the doctors didn’t care and I am in an accute “drug addcif” detox hospital away from home …no support.. on top of that my mom was all I had and she was angry because she never believed how sick I was and how the drugs were making me even sicker.. she literally wanted me back on drugs no matter how much I told her they would kill me ! I was discharged and told to find a way home or I would go to a mission shelter !!!!!!!! I was very sick and my mom was absconding me ! I was already developing more symptoms from the drugs and from the withdrawal.. confusion, body aches, fatigue , heart palaps, paranoia, anxiety , etc
They ended up givng me a shot of GEODONE to calm me down … I reacted bad to that immediately .. I felt the urge to move constantly , fidgety, restless legs and arms .. panic , plus all the physical pain and inner agitation , burning from head to toe .. I was beyond terrified alone and nowhere to go ! I ended up riding 4 hours home in a van ( arranged by my Medicare insurance ) from Nashville to Memphis .. my mom no longer willing to let me live w her !!! My ex-husband let me come to his house ( I have a 15 year old daughter too )
I got home about 17 days ago and it has been a rapid onset of EXTREME symptoms .. I stopped taking the Remeron and propranolol.. was making me even sicker and further poisoning me! At this point I knew I was in a severe situation .. I began to feel worse than ever .. every day a new horrid symptom… I researched and learned quickly the real HELL I was now trapped in .. I was SHOCKED to say the least and every odd against me !
Everything I learned and read told me that everything I just went thru and put my body thru was the worst things that could happen .. the cold turkey turkey , and rapid detox , throwing in more daamagimg toxic DRUGS ..
any chance at recovery for me was already sounding slim then to know I am in the worst position now w no slow taper and a dangerous rapid detox ! I am terrified and feel beyond doomed
From all I have read and others I have seen on YouTube and learning about the MUST in Slow long tapering and how severe my particular case is.. I fall into that category ..the one nobody wants to be in .. the cold turkey group suffering immensely and knowing my protracted withdrawal symptoms aren’t even close to being at their worst yet and I can not even imagine it getting any worse than this ..
Excruciating body and severe nerve pain from head to toe, ears ringing painfully , continuation of severe sleep deprivation , tremors , jerks , twitches, body aches and pains that are indescribable,constant severe, nerve pain , inner agitation , feeling of coming out of my skin, cognitve decline, beoginnjng to experience some derealizaton ,,terrified of losing my mind and developing paychosis,FEAR.. fear and terror I have never known .. can barely leave my BED.. stuck in terro, rcan’t eat Again , malnourished and electrolytes depleting fast again .
I literally do not know what to do . No doctor or help, home alone often, no emotional support, misunderstood,
literally hopeless and the constant feeling of wanting to die … nowhere to turn
Terrified I will end up back in a hospital , land in a psych ward drugged up trapped in painful physical and mental Torture until I die a slow miserable death.. this is my reality and I dont know what else I can do but lay here and suffer,keeps trying to eat which is not going well at all .. and I am depelting fast
I am crying out from the depth of a darkness I have never known could be poissible
desperate for help .. for GOD to reveal to me the help I desperately need .. even if I had a doctor to get Valium to reinstate I don’t even know if that is the right thing to attempt … but I don’t even know where to begin to try to find a doctor that would take this on much less one that has even a slight understanding of the dangerous hell I am in with protracted withdrawal syndrome or even the willingness to learn and attempt to help .. the odds of that are slim and I would need HELP from someone to even find a doctor or figure out a reinstatement plan and dose etc .. and terrified to put another drug in this sick broken body ! Please HELP .. please someone help me !
I am heartbroken for you and so very sorry you have been put thru this horror of multiple c/t detox. I’m so sorry your mother has rejected you and thank god your ex was willing to take you in. I pray you are ok, and that you have found a dr who can see your situation for the disastrous mistreatments you have had to endure. Your story matters and so do you. Please try to stay strong and keep fighting. Let us know how you are doing… praying for you.
Renee,how are you doing today? Please reply..
Are you doing better and what did you do as to that I am doing worse than you. I need serious help. Have never eaten protein and my body is slowly dying. But it will not be without severe herniations and my spinal cord being trapped/compressed.
I’m also on benzo buddies and feel broken from CT. What helped you specifically on that website?
My only consolation is that others can hopefully be prevented from the same outcome by his story. It was so painful and tragic. The hardest part, aside from grieving, is trying to have the detox center where he was sent recognize their poor protocol. The owner is unbelievably arrogant and refuses to recognize that the abrupt cessation caused the changes in my brother’s mental state. I have a lawyer, many other professionals who treated my brother before and after the detox center, medical records from hospitals post “detox” and a psych ward etc., etc. that all agree to use his death as something to inform their practices. I am not going to go forward with a lawsuit even though I have been told there is a potential wrongful death suit, but it just will not bring my brother back, and it will not give me peace. I only want the center to stop harming people. I am frustrated at the lack of avenues to have the facility held accountable for the damage they caused. Because they will harm others. I cannot believe there is no recourse to have this facility change its protocol and/or legislation passed regarding the use of benzodiazepines. It is just unbelievable to me. If any one witnessed what my brother went through after he was stopped cold turkey, NOBODY would use benzos long term.
I wish my family had seen this article prior to my brother being sent to rehab. This center claims to specialize in klonopin detox. They stopped him cold turkey. He was never the same. He committed suicide 4 months out.
Thank you for your comment. I know it’s no consolation, but I do think your comment will help others (or their families) who might stumble across this article as they are researching or contemplating a detox from benzodiazepines. Everyone needs to understand that the tragedy that happened to your brother is a potential outcome of an over-rapid reduction or cold-turkey from this drug class. I also want to assure you that there are a great many of us who are committed to this cause and we will continue to campaign for more education, awareness, and change to hopefully prevent more senseless suffering and loss. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.
I’m so sorry that this happened to your family. I know he is at peace now.
I wish we would have had the information about ct detox. My wife was prescribed Xanax for 15+ years and when she wanted off the dr arranged a detox center. Needless to say her life is ruined up to this point. Nearly 2 years have passed and not much has changed. Constant nerve pain and psychological problems rule along with other symptoms which has made my wife almost totally nonfunctional. We pray and hope every day that she gets her life back one day although my wife just doesn’t believe that things will ever change. Thanks benzoinfo for being persistent and please keep up the good work.
Thank you for your comment. Although not at all surprising her outcome was poor, I am still so sorry to hear about your wife’s negligent detox. According to the therapist, Baylissa Frederick, who has worked with many detox (“cold-turkey”) victims for upwards of a decade, healing occurs in time. Similar sentiments come from some the withdrawal advisers at some of the withdrawal charities in the UK who have done this type of work for a long time (see: https://vimeo.com/84208592 and https://vimeo.com/83928671). Hopefully, those will provide her some hope for today. Wishing your wife a full restoration of her health. Take care.
I am in dire need of help. I was on 4mg Clonazepam & 2mg Alprazolam for 20 +years. By mistake by pharmacy mail order shorted me 30 days I am forced to cut by 50% two weeks ago. My Dr. won’t work with me as he thinks I sold them on the street which is ridiculous. Why would I put myself through this torture
I am suffering & don’t want to end up in a facility I don’t have many benzos left. My Dr. doesn’t agree with me that I need to do slow taper so I’m forced into a rapid withdrawl. Please help
See if there are any doctors near you on this list? benzoinfo.com/doctors
Otherwise, you can try to post in some of the support groups on Facebook or benzobuddies.org and see if anyone knows of any benzo-wise doctors near you.
Thank you Nicole for you’re reply. A year later I’m on 1mg Clonazepam & 2mg Alprazolam. Now comes the hard part in reducing my medication. No help from Dr. as he doesn’t understand the horrible effects. How do I reduce with the least amount of effects? I read the horror stories of going unto rehad. Just lost my job & health insurance. Any advice w8be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Pat try getting her a care giver who has gone thru wd herself. it would help you and your wife.