Home \ Forums \ Detoxification \ Benzodiazepine Withdrawal: What to Expect – How to Taper – How to Cope

83 replies, 66 commenters Last updated by Profile photo of Traumer Traumer 6 months ago
  • Profile photo of KnucklehedddKnuckleheddd

    SEROTONIN is an inhibitory, (not an “excitatory”) neurotransmitter – which means that it does not stimulate the brain. Adequate amounts of serotonin are necessary for a stable mood and to balance any excessive excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter firing in the brain. If you use stimulant medications or caffeine in your daily regimen – it can cause a depletion of serotonin over time. Serotonin also regulates many other processes such as carbohydrate cravings, sleep cycle, pain control and appropriate digestion. Low serotonin levels are also associated with decreased immune system function.

    85% of serotonin is contained in the gut.

    Also, some doctors use barbiturates to ease withdrawal symptoms, but nothing hits the spot like real benzos. Terrible, vicious addiction.

    Otherwise, the article is pretty good.

    • Profile photo of John LeeJohn Lee

      Thanks for your comment,

      Serotonin is a neurotransmitter with a large number of different
      receptor subtypes. Serotonin has both excitatory and inhibitory effects. You
      mention that most of the body’s serotonin gets found in the GI system, and in
      the GI system 5-HT definitely plays some pretty important excitatory roles. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com….
      It clearly also plays a number of important inhibitory roles. In this article, I
      am not, however, working to argue a case to classify it as primarily excitatory
      (or inhibitory or dual purpose), I am simply paraphrasing from benzo Guru Professor Heather Ashton who describes serotonin as an excitatory transmitter in her influential paper, BENZODIAZEPINES: HOW THEY WORK AND HOW TO WITHDRAW http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual… (chapter 1)

    • Profile photo of blondieblondie

      I have been on benzodiazepines since about 2007. I started with 2.5 mg of Xanax a day then that got switched to 2mg of clonazepam and 4 mg of lorazepam a day. that got switched to just 2mg of clonazepam a day and I got off of the clonazepam once about 2 years later and my doctor tapered me off in a week. I was in hell. I begged her to help me and she began prescribing it again. 2mg of clonazepam a day. I could sleep and function again. That was the only time (about 3 weeks) that I have not been on benzos. Now I am on 5mg of nitrazepam and 3mg of clonazepam a day and its been like this for at least 4 years and Im so thin I cant gain weight, food tastes different I don’t like foods that I used to like.. I get nauseous and get sick very often. I found out I have severe GI disease and Im terrified. Im only 25. Im also on methadone and Im tapering off that at the moment. I know Im addicted to these pills but I don’t know what to do about it. I know the right thing is to probably get off of them but I have school and work and coming off methadone is difficult as it is. My doctors refuse to talk to me about changing my benzo doses because Im on methadone. what should I do?

    • Profile photo of DGDG

      Listen to knucklehead.Other than something like Soma, which contains Miltown, a barbituate but soma being a very short acting medications, hence would not be wise to use when tapering final dosages off a long acting benzo like diazepam, phenobarbital is a good choice. However, other than a doctor who is now in his 60’s even 70’s that holds a old school mentality, when barb’s were prescribed more frequently than benzo’s, attaining phenobarbital would be quite difficult to get prescribed outside off in patient which I personally would not do or recommend especially for long term benzodiazepine users. While not directly hitting the GABA receptor or even an analogue of GABA, clonidine was useful in tapering as decreased my anxiety, allowed me to sleep much better than diazepam did, and also helped me with impulsiveness. Again, every person’s different.. Knucklehead’s also absolutey right about serotonin and it’s properties.

    • Profile photo of DGDG

      Also, an example how it controls nausea, gastrointestinal functions is the medication odensatron(zofran), a 5HT-3 antagonist. That my friends, helped greatly with nausea, vomiting. It’s primarily used for pregnant woman, but let me tell ya, when using it not daily but only for severe cases and bouts of nausea, works well. Don’t keep using it even for a couple of weeks however or like anything, your body will possibly depend on it and get conditioned to it’s anti-nausea properties, making you extremely nauseas when you don’t take it.

    • Profile photo of DGDG

      Sorry, one more thing. I do not agree with the mg per mg dosage showing the different benzo’s and what mg they are in relation to diazepams. In fact, I’d say for example .5mg xanax equals 10mgs of diazepam, .05 clonazepam=10 also of diazepam….

  • Profile photo of crystalcrystal

    I commend anyone who can get off these types of drugs…I myself have struggled for many years with this…and it was not until 2012 that i started my journey to get off of these types of drugs…I could no longer manage my life without these pills because i thought it made me a better mother a better wife and a better person.I had taken them for so many years it had became a way of life for me…but now that i have started to try and find myself it has been a hard task at hand .but i am very grateful that God has let me see the light and I have been Sober for 1 Year and 6 months now…. i still struggle but i have found a new peace with myself and my family….<3 I want to Thank everyone who has supported me through this times in my life …Thank You all…

    • Profile photo of RobertRobert

      Good for you. It’s a hard process but worth it.

  • Profile photo of BirdByrBirdByr

    I was experiencing panic attacks in 1983. It was effecting my work with co-workers. I went to a psychiatrist. He tried Busbar which didn’t help at all so He prescribed xanax. That helped me cope because I was experiencing Agoraphobia. Shortly after this prescription, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m sure the high blood sugar was causing this anxiety but here it is 2013 and I’m still taking xanax. 1mg in the morning and 1mg at night before bed. Half my life I’ve taken xanax. It frightens me to try tapering off or checking into a rehab facility to break this habit. So, I was 30 and now I’m 60. John what do you suggest I do?

    • Profile photo of John LeeJohn Lee

      Hi BirdByr,

      I apologize for taking so long to respond back to you. I missed your comment.

      OK – for starters, I am not qualified to dispense medical advice. So please take that into consideration!

      1. I think I would start off by getting very informed about what I was up against. One good place to start would be by reading Professor Heather Ashton’s seminal work known now as The Ashton Manual. It’s probably only about 40 pages long and it gives you a very solid overview of what you’re up against and how to proceed. http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual

      2. Before you get started with tapering, I would also recommend that you get some professional help to assist you in the process. You will obviously want to get your doctor on board with what you’re planning and make full use of his or her advice, but you will very likely also benefit from working with a counselor or psychologist with expertise in at least substance abuse, and preferably with sedative hypnotic addictions or dependencies. Countless studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help a lot as you go through the tapering process, both to decrease the anxiety of the tapering and the rebound anxiety and to improve your overall likelihood of success.

      One really attractive thing about CBT too is that it doesn’t take too long to learn (maybe 8 to 12 sessions) and it’s something you can put into practice for the rest of your life.

      If you decide to go ahead with tapering, you are going to need to take it very slowly. A fear of tapering and withdrawal symptoms can actually cause you to perceive these symptoms as more severe.

      By talking things out with a therapist and by practicing CBT you can eliminate some needless anxiety about tapering. It’s obviously not going to be an easy thing to do, but it is doable.

      3. Try to find a support group, whether online on in person, and use the expertise and support of those that have gone before you. NO matter how rough your situation is there’s always someone who’s started from a worse position and made it through OK – so this can be very encouraging.

      So I hope this helps you in some small way. If you get started with tapering, I would love to hear how it goes for you, from time to time.

      Best of luck,

      John Lee

    • Profile photo of FirefoxFirefox

      You have been taking xanex for a long long time.
      I just got off it and have seven days without any.
      I tapered very very slowly. Although I was not taking more
      than 1mg. a day.
      I feel better in a way that I off however I do have some withdrawal.
      It is bearable though.
      Maybe you need the help of a rehab. or a doctor to help you get off the stuff.
      2mgs a day of xanex is equal to 20 mg. of Valium.
      So you know you were taking a lot.
      You can get off. It will just take time.
      Be patient with yourself and give your body a chance to heal by going
      very slowly.,
      Good Luck

    • Profile photo of viveca pomeroyviveca pomeroy

      the best thing you can do, if you want to try, is switch from the xanax to diazepam (valium). valium has the longest half-life out of any benzo and eases the withdrawal somewhat. you are much better off going to a doctor and having them supervise you. rehab does not work for benzos and the likelihood of your suffering significantly is almost a given. slow and steady is what wins this race. check out the ashton manual, benzo.co.uk or benzobuddies. this comes a little late, but i wish you all the best and am thinking a good thought for you. try not to be afraid. you will be okay.

  • Profile photo of Daily BiPolarDaily BiPolar

    The one symptom that is not mentioned here enough… is seizures….. you can get seizures… multiple, deadly seizures from benzo withdrawl. Do not do it alone. After being prescribed lorazapam by my physician for 6 years I ended up on a dosage of 12 mg a day of lorazapam. That was 6 pills a day at 2mg a day. That is ALOT of lorazapam. I never knew it was an issue. I was taking the medicine just as the doctor prescribed it to me, I was able to function normally, and in terms of the dependence issues.. I knew I was dependent on them but I also knew my mom was dependent on her blood pressure med. So, depending on it was a tolerable evil. When I finally decided to get off this medicine… I needed professional medical help – I needed hospitalization for the initial switchover to diazapam… then it took me over 10 months to finally taper down to 1/2 mg a day of diazapam. Finally I was able to stop. It was very hard, the symptoms were not so much physical as they were stress related… any stress.. no stress was tolerated at all, and going to AA meetings helped alot. What i learned was that I was an addict, yes because of the prescription… but it transfers to all other addictive stuff as well. So I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t use benzo’s I couldn’t take pain medications… I became a chemically addicted person and my body reacted the same way to any drug…I would develop a dependence on it and would crave more. Thank Goodness that I went for help to get off that Lorazapam and than goodness I was successful. Go to a doctor, go to a meeting… it works if you work it.

    • Profile photo of TiedyedTiedyed

      I am on 8 mgs of Lorazepam per day. According to this taper schedule, I can go down almost a mg every week or two. I can’t go to detox, rehab etc…I am a caregiver for a family member and cannot be very sick or take time off. Do you think it is safe to try .5 mgs every ten days or so? I have been on Lorazepam for 12 years, and It is ruining my life.

    • Profile photo of HannahHannah

      Hi. I’m glad I found this page.I was prescried xanax about 19 years ago. 0,5mg 2X a day. I started the medicine, but kept it at 0.5mg for about 15 years until my best friend died and I had a hard time dealing with it so the good Dr.raised my dose to 1.5mg a day and so did I I increased my dose from 2X a day to 3Xa day.
      I tried to get off xannax about 3 years in and prob tried to taper to fast and when I finally quit it I felt like i was on LSD ( former Hippy) I told my psycholgist n he said go home n take one so I did. It worked n I felt normal again. Now I have been trying toget off of both opiods and xannax, slowly tapering the opiods from 125 mg of morphine and 6 #4 codienes a day, to 3 #3codines a day. I sat on that dose for about a year. I went through heart stent surgery, I am a type 2 diabetic, and I am hlab-27+. I have Anklosing Spodylitis, a pretty serious case of it. I take doxycycline 100 mg 3X a day, for the last 20 years and have been in remission for most of them.
      I fell out of remission a few months ago due to the doxycycline being reformatd or a placebo, I know not which, and my pain levels have increased so I asked my doctor to increase my codiene back up to 5 a day, and get my original doxycycline prescription back. He also chose this time to taper my xannax from 2.5 mg to 2 mg. I’m down to the 2 mg by cuttng back .25mg for about 6 months before this last visit and was comfortable with that. It’s been 20 days since I cut back another ,25mg and from 3x a day to 2x a day. I find Im going a bit nuts while waiting for that nightly dose. The missed middle of the day one, for the last 10 days has been hard. I was expecting a herxhiemer reaction from the doxycycline, I am on day 20 of the correct antibiotic dose. So that’s how it goes for me. I wonder if I would be better off sticking to my 2x a day or split up the remaining 1mg daily to 3 times or even 4X a day, every 6 hours for example take .25 mg to keep it from hiting the short 1/2 shelf life. I am parinoid prob from the withdrawl of the xannax that the doxycycline is still a placebo and the dr took this time to taper the xanax to make me mistake xannax withdrawl for a herx reaction IDK. Good luck everyone. I know it’s sure not easy!

    • Profile photo of HannahHannah

      I just posted and meant to say I take doxycycine 100 MG 3X a week, not a day!

    • Profile photo of Resigned2BResigned2B

      From Medicinenet.com
      “Physical dependence means that if you were to suddenly stop a medication you would have withdrawal affects. This also happens not only with pain medicines, but also with many of the commonly prescribed medicines for blood pressure management, for epilepsy management, for depression control, and for many other conditions. Therefore, many people, both doctors and nondoctors, confuse withdrawal symptoms with being addicted to a drug. This is a tragic confusion because it isn’t true.”

  • Profile photo of JamisonJamison

    I’ve been taking Clonazepam for bout 3 years. I was prescribed them for muscle spasms and general anxiety. At one time I had good insurance and was able to go to a local neurologist. He had no problem prescribing them to me because they helped with my medical problems.
    A couple years go by and I lose my job due to cut backs and I no longer have this insurance. I am forced to go to walk-in clinics… they had no problem Rx’ing them to me as long as I stuck to my dose (2mg a day)… then on my next visit some new Dr at the walk-in says she isn’t going to give me anymore. I pleaded with her to just lower my dose and call my neurologist to see that I was suppose to be taking these. But she wouldn’t hear it.
    I left with a Rx of 15 total (1mg) pills. I tapered myself down as best I could to 1MG /day (I did still have some left from previous Rx, but not many)… then I ran out.

    Every single symptom I had before came back with a vengeance.

    I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t sleep, eat, be around people, every muscle in my body was twitching out of control.

    I tried again with this Doctor and a few more walk-ins but they all thought I was just some junkie.

    Well… a couple weeks go by and I have to start thinking like one. I was able to track down someone who had some Xanax… it seemed to help a little… but my body was use to Clonazepam. I can’t take Xanax. I have since found a steady supply of Clonazepam and take 1/2MG of it 2x a day (1MG/day). I have a good job again and when I get insurance again I will go back to my neurologist and make it legal again.
    Some people… like myself legitimately need low dose of benzos to live a ‘normal’ life.