Friday December 9th 2016

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Getting through benzodiazepine withdrawal: INTERVIEW with Dr. Jennifer Leigh, Psy.D.

Jennifer Leigh holds a doctorate – a PsyD – in psychology and is an award-winning author and spiritual growth coach for people in recovery from alcoholism, addiction or psych med withdrawal. Today, we speak to Dr. Leigh, Psy.D. about benzodiazepine medication(s) withdrawal and invite you to share your thoughts and questions on this topic in the comments section below.

ADDICTION BLOG: Let’s begin with these two burning questions: “Why are benzodiazepines such a widely prescribed class of drug (mostly to women and the elderly)?” and “Why does treatment with benzos tend to last a lot longer than the recommended few days or weeks?”

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: Those are two questions that we who have been harmed by these drugs ask, too.

It is hard to come up with an answer that defends the current prescribing practices, as it has been widely known for 40 years that benzodiazepines are addictive and cause brain damage. The problem is that benzos work to reduce anxiety, pain, insomnia, etc. so they do have short-term efficacy. Long term that is not the case, but doctors don’t seem to take that into consideration.

One of the reasons treatment may last so long is that when a patient attempts to reduce their current dose, they feel withdrawal symptoms, which the doctor diagnoses as either the return of the original complaint or a new “illness” or disorder that needs medicating. Stopping a benzo can be so intolerable, that many stay on the drugs, even though they drugs are making them sick, literally.

ADDICTION BLOG: Tolerance is quickly formed after taking a benzo med every day for several weeks, and then, the effects subside. Why do doctors keep upping doses and continue prescribing to patients?

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DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: When you hit what is called tolerance withdrawal, your brain needs more of the medication to continue to feel any effects from it. What happens is the drug remodels the brain. The current theory is that GABA receptors that they drug interacts with in the brain, are either absorbed into the neuronal axon or they become detached.

No one really knows.

All we know is the drug changes the brain and there are less viable working GABA receptors. That means that the patient will experience anxiety, panic, paranoia, intrusive thoughts, and a host of body symptoms, unless the dose is increased.  At some point, however, even with increased dosages, withdrawal symptoms will not be kept at bay. The patient will be sick both mentally and physically from the damage done by the drug.

ADDICTION BLOG: What would you recommend is the best method to withdraw or detox from a benzo drug?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: I’m not a medical doctor so I can’t practice medicine without a license so cannot say anything here that would infer that I am.

But I can voice my opinion and say that Dr. Heather Ashton, the world’s leading benzodiazepine expert recommends a very slow taper off of the drug. She has a manual called the Ashton Manual that is the “Bible” of most benzo users who want to get off of their medication.

The worst way to get off a benzo is to go to a detox or rehab. Most are uneducated about withdrawal and will remove the drug far too quickly, or they give other medications to help with benzo withdrawal and the medications actually get in the way of the brain’s healing. A cold turkey withdrawal from the drug, or too rapid of a taper can be fatal.

What most doctors and detox or rehabs don’t understand is that once the drug is removed, recovery can take years. The suffering a person experiences in withdrawal is intolerable. A percentage take their own lives to end the suffering. It is important to get off of the drug slowly, so the withdrawal symptoms are lessened.

ADDICTION BLOG: How do you advise families to work together and help a loved one that’s become benzodiazepine dependent and is going through withdrawal?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: That is a wonderful question and I am so pleased that you asked it.

First, it is important that family members educate themselves as to the extreme suffering benzo withdrawal can cause. The suffering is mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. It affects every aspect of a human being-s existence. It is important to be aware that suicide is a very real risk in withdrawal. It is also important to reassure your loved one that they will heal. Reassurance will be needed many, many times throughout a day, for a very long time.

Also, it is important to understand that most doctors are ignorant about benzo withdrawal, so it is best to avoid insisting that your loved one visit a doctor for help, or to tell them that “the doctor knows best.” Usually, the doctor doesn’t know best, and the treatments offered to people in benzo withdrawal are actually harmful. Listen to your loved one, have compassion and above all, tell them they will recover, because they will. Don-t think that their symptoms are “all in their head.” They are not. They are very real, and very horrible.

ADDICTION BLOG: Are there things friends, family and loved ones should avoid doing when a person is withdrawing from benzodiazepines?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: Yes, family members should avoid insisting that their loved one do anything that is beyond their capabilities in withdrawal. We are truly very sick in withdrawal so the suggestion that we go to the gym, or suck it up and go on vacation, etc., really is hurtful and harmful.

Please avoid drama, and overly stimulating conversations, or activities. Benzos stay in the system for a long time and the central nervous system of a person in benzo withdrawal is quite fragile. We need calm and quiet. Please don’t tell a person in withdrawal to stop talking about their symptoms. Preoccupation with benzo withdrawal is a benzo withdrawal symptom. It will fade away like the other symptoms will.

ADDICTION BLOG: Long-term benzodiazepine use can have damaging effects on many organs is the human body, including the brain. You, yourself have experienced benzo dependence and withdrawal. Would you like to share your the details of your recovery process?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: (Laughing) No, it was too horrific. But of course, I’ll share the highlights.

I had panic attacks in my mid thirties. I was put on Clonazepam. I was kept on the drug for 18 years. I never abused it, and took it only as prescribed. Nine years into taking it, I started having strange health issues; my bladder, stomach, heart, bones, muscles… I didn’t feel well a lot of the time.

Not one doctor ever told me I was in tolerance withdrawal, even though I clearly stated that I was on a benzo and had been for many years. In 2010 I was having a lot of tolerance withdrawal symptoms and made the decision to taper off. My doctor (who is one of the “best” in the area”) gave me very bad advice which I followed.

I tapered for 8 months. I became bedridden and unable to sleep during the night. Another doctor gave me Phenobarbital and sent me home to cold turkey on my own. I ended up in the hospital, deathly ill and out of my mind with terror, the hallmark benzo withdrawal symptom. I had almost every symptom that one can have in withdrawal. I was lucky I never had a seizure though.

The 18 month off of the drug was exceedingly cruel. I prayed for death every day. I had intrusive thoughts, looping thoughts, severe anxiety, terror, panic, paranoia, depression, hopelessness, and an inability to feel joy or comfort. I developed bizarre fears and phobias.

My body was a mess too. I had horrific pain in my bones, joints, muscles and eyes and ears. The fatigue was crushing. I also had severe cognition problems. I couldn’t use a computer for awhile as I forgot how. I lost things, and forgot things. I went days without showering as I had developed POTS, postural orthostatic hypotension. Standing was almost impossible some days. I used a walker or a cane for awhile. I was unable to work, and unable to participate in normal life. I felt removed from everything and the only emotion my brain could create was fear or shame.

It took three years for the mental symptoms to go away, and I-ll be four years free this June, and my body still is healing from the damage. I have blogged honestly about my journey so as to give hope and comfort to others who are suffering in benzo withdrawal. It is an almost unbearable suffering. It is primal suffering. And the sad thing is is that doctors are doing this to people, all over the world.

ADDICTION BLOG: Benzodiazepines tend to produce the same withdrawal effects that they are prescribed to treat. Usually, when people stop taking a benzo they do not realize that symptoms can be part of the withdrawal effect. What, in your opinion, needs to be done to better educate people who are receiving benzodiazepine therapy?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: First, it would be best to avoid taking a benzo for any reason other than a one time dose pre-surgery or to stop an uncontrollable seizure in an emergency situation. Other than that, there shouldn’t be a market for them, unless you are in the market for brain damage.

I’m not sure who would be better to educate, the general public or doctors. But if one is currently on a benzo, please know that your brain and body will function better if you slowly get off of the medication and allow your brain to return to its normal state. It’s important to know that not everyone taking a benzo will suffer horrible withdrawal symptoms. We don’t know what causes some people to be able to take the drug with little harm, while others are decimated by it. Don’t avoid tapering off because you are fearful of withdrawal. Long-term use of the drug may cause dementia. It certainly can cause cognition problems and memory loss, along with the terrible benzo withdrawal symptoms.

Know that your doctor may not be educated about benzo use, tolerance and withdrawal. Please educate yourself. There are many blogs, websites, Facebook groups and an online forum where you can get information about benzos and withdrawal. Once you are armed with the facts, stand your ground when you talk to your doctor.

ADDICTION BLOG: When other successful anxiety and insomnia treatments become available, do you think that benzodiazepines will still be as widely needed? Also, are there currently successful treatments out there?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: There are many ways one can deal with anxiety. A good therapist can help, as can yoga, meditation, prayer and exercise. Benzos are not “needed” per se as anxiety is a normal human emotion. It isn’t pathological. Knowing that benzos can restructure the brain and cause anxiety/panic/terror/paranoia, it doesn’t make sense to treat someone with something that can cause the same, if not worse, feelings and thoughts.

I am hopeful for two things.

  1. As we learn more about the brain and how it functions, better medications can be invented to help those who have brains that cause mental/emotional problems.
  2. In time, I hope that the public becomes educated about all psych meds and they learn the inherent dangers in each and every one of them. There are no “safe” psych meds. Yet we all believe that if we are anxious or depressed, a quick trip to our doctors and a pill will solve those feelings. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that pills are the answer and they are safe. Neither is really true.

ADDICTION BLOG: What would you recommend needs to be done to change the benzo prescribing practices of clinicians and healthcare professionals?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: I am hopeful that here in the U.S. that the FDA will step in an laws will be created and enforced so that these drugs can not be prescribed long term. The manufacturers of benzos say 2-4 weeks is the maximum they should be prescribed. (Even that is too long for some people. Addiction has been recorded in 10 days. )

Legal battles have been waging for decades in the U.K. over these drugs, with very little headway made. It is discouraging that profits are more important that people.

Education about the side effects, tolerance withdrawal, interdose withdrawal and the withdrawal syndrome that occurs upon lowering or ceasing the medication needs to be available to every doctor. The dangers with benzos needs to be taught in med school.

There is so much information now on the web from people who have survived benzo withdrawal, it is a shame that the powers that be discredit it, or don’t read it.

ADDICTION BLOG: Finally, is there something we missed that you’d like to add and share with our readers?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH: I want the public to know that these drugs are very dangerous. Not everyone will be so grossly affected by them, but many, many will be. The health issues that arise while taking them can be debilitating. And doctors are unaware that the source of the problem is the benzo. You can go for years with sub-optimal health, while you are one them, and not know why you are so sick.

I’d like your readers to know that there are very, very few doctors here in the U.S. who are educated and truly understand the damage that a benzo can cause, and how very long, frightening and debilitating the recovery can be. Even doctors, who claim they understand, don’t, and they prescribe more drugs or supplements and vitamins that are actually harmful to us in withdrawal. It really is a health crisis.

I encourage anyone who is on a benzo to educate himself or herself by learning from those who have been in the trenches. They know the truth. They have more good advice than 99% of the doctors. (It’s not that doctors are bad, they just haven’t been exposed to the truth.) People who have been through withdrawal know about kindling, a very real complication that can occur, as well as what foods, beverages, vitamins, supplements, medications etc. must be avoided so the central nervous system isn’t more compromised than it already is. They understand why traditional talk therapy is counter productive in benzo withdrawal. They know what works and what doesn’t work.

It’s a shame, really, that there is such an enormous health crisis in our country, caused by doctors, ignored by doctors, and the only help is from fellow sufferers who have been through it. Hopefully one day, the medical community will wake up, get the message and stop damaging people with these drugs.

Please remember that there is no safe amount of a benzo to take. Just because your doctor prescribed it and you take it only has directed, doesn’t mean that you are not being harmed or becoming dependent on the drug.

Photo credit: David Goehring

Leave a Reply

43 Responses to “Getting through benzodiazepine withdrawal: INTERVIEW with Dr. Jennifer Leigh, Psy.D.
Cheryl-Ann
6:10 pm May 20th, 2015

Thank you for such a wonderful Blog,
At the age of 25 after giving birth to my son, I presented to my local G.P. with every symptom of Post Partom Depression. To cut a boring story short, within THREE MONTHS, he was prescribing over 100, 30mg Murelax without me even having to see him! When I’d ring for an appointment, the script would be waiting for me with the receptionist!
Now at age 49, I literally have NO FAMILY LEFT due to my 29 year old daughter refusing to believe the medication was beyond my control. I’ve been in numerous private detox and rehab clinics and have ‘beaten myself up’ over this for years. This article further validated that I’ve lost everything through this drug yet even though I remain vigilant, I’ve been tried and judged through pure ignorance. Relapse was always my fault, I was weak or didn’t care is the general concensos of my ‘family’ members and ex spouse. Thank you so much for recognising a battle I never intended on entering into. :(

Jocelyn
1:34 am May 22nd, 2015

Thank you for this. I was prescribed Ativan for sleep and 4 1/2 years later I’m suffering debilitating effects. I’ve started speaking out on YouTube, joined a class action lawsuit and assist in a support group. But I can’t be the mom and wife I used to be. I can never give back to my children what they have lost.

Bobbie
1:49 am May 22nd, 2015

Thank you so much for your message today. You give me reassurance that even though I’am overwhelmingly exhausted from not sleeping during withdrawal,there is hope and with time I will recover. I had the same experience with doctors so will never trust they would know how to help me. I finally took Dr. Ashton’s manual to my doc. He read it and agreed to help me withdraw by switching to diazepam from lorazepam. I have completed half my withdrawal,but wonder if I will ever sleep again. So very tired. You give me hope. Thank you with all my heart.

11:15 am May 22nd, 2015

I cannot say how happy I am that this interview and Dr. Jennifer Leigh’s answers have helped all of you. Stay strong, as benzodiazepine withdrawal is a hard road to walk, but by taking one step each day takes you further towards your goal. God bless!

MMC
6:54 pm May 22nd, 2015

Fantastic article that sums up the insanity of not only giving people psych poisons to address physical, psychological or emotional issues but that the people giving it to us i.e. doctors make things infinitely worse. Withdrawal IS horrific. It is beyond any human imagination the pain, terror, exhaustion, and bizarre symptoms (up to 50 at a time) hitting you every second of every minute or every hour of every day for weeks, months and years. How this can be happening and nobody is jailed for the horrific suffering done to people is baffling.

One thing I would note. Yes, stay away from all prescription drugs in w/d, OTC’s and processed foods too. But if you are still in the nine circles of hell a year later than your body needs help healing and you may uncover additional damage done by the drugs i.e. thyroid, adrenal, nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut, candida, sibo. These poisons damage the entire body…brain, liver, endocrine, muscles, bones, blood etc. So find a good Natrupath and get some functional tests done to make sure nothing else is amiss. Eat healthy and clean. Give your body the nutrients it needs to heal. No smoking, caffeine, alcohol, OTC, sugar, processed foods etc.

Depression, anxiety, mania, schizophrenia are mostly caused by physical issues such as nutrient deficiency, sugar issues, hormones, thyroid/adrenal, leaky gut, candida, sibo, poor diet, allergies. Our body’s aren’t born with psych drug deficiencies. They need nutrients, vitamins, good metals, fresh food, water, air, sun for their physical aspect to work right. Yes, there is a spiritual/mental aspect too. Seek objective truth based in reason, logic and historical fact. Find God and surrender to Him on His terms. But we need both in line for our body’s to flourish:+)

Maybe post some links to groups that can support people in this:+) Benzo buddies, healing from psych drugs and others on Facebook etc. God bless you for writing such a great article!

Kristine
4:39 am May 31st, 2015

Hello,I took klonopin for 16 years,and got taking off to abruptly back in March and April of 2008. I did abuse it while I was on it and drank and did drugs and party on it,I know I must have done permanent damage to my brain,my withdrawl was very very severe abd horrific,till this day,my eyes are still red and glossy and I am dizzy and light headed and cannot walk right. I am depressed a lot plus I am still having menopause problems to. It has been 7 years and I still haven’t healed yet,I still remain on tegretol and remeron,I tapered those most of the way but still remain on tiny doses for now. It has been rough and sleep is just awful still. What can I do???? Kristine

steve
2:15 pm May 31st, 2015

My grandson has a very rare and deadly seizure syndrome. Its called Dravet syndrome. And he is only 2 years old right now and he has to take onfi 2 times a day. After reading this interview, it made me sick to my stomach knowing now that his brain is not even going to really have a chance to develop. And, who knows what else it is going to do to his little body. So now if we try to wean him of, he can’t tell us where it hurts etc. And might possibly give him his seizures back. And he has been on it for around a year.

Kan
8:33 pm May 31st, 2015

Can you give me some information on eye floaters and flashes. I went to the doctor for a check a few months ago. All was ok. But they have returned and are worse. I am in such an anxious state. P,ease help!

Lacy
8:26 pm July 13th, 2015

My previous doctor proscribed Klonopin 0.5 mg twice a day. I actually only took .25 mg before bedtime to help with sleep, as I have to get up in the middle of the night due to a bladder condition called IC. I thought it was a great drug for me. What a mistake. Never a word from the doctor about dependence. If I’d only read everything on the internet, it was all there, five or so years ago. When I finally reached interdose withdrawel, I rearched it and tried to talk to my doctor about switching to Valium to taper. She was cluless and said I had become a “drug-seeker” and dropped me by certified mail. It’s been a year and I’m sure she still handing out Klonopin and Xanax like candy. Luckily after much effort I found a GP willing to proscribe so I can taper. But I made the igorant mistake of asking him for a higher dose to get back to sleeping well. So now I’m at 2.75 mg nightly Klonopin and learning all the tapering options on Benzo Buddies. But just reading this article about the damage the drug may be doing to my body scares me even more. At least I’m now fully educated about what I face and am look forward to being completely off it.

Lynne
2:09 am July 15th, 2015

I was put on klonopin due to my husbands long illness for anxiety I took it for two years..I started tolerance very soon and was told I had lyme because of the pains and double vision.i went to seven eye doctors and every doctor imaginable only to be told …it was all in my head..my friends and family didn’t believe me either.i felt like I was in hell!! This to me is insane that doctors cannot help you and how a drug can cause brain damage! I now have anziety every time I go to doctor..and of course they tell me I need meds…unbelievable!! What a mess..I still have some pain and double vision but,as jeniffer says we Will heal it just takes time…sometimes longer than we like..I’m 22 months out and waiting my recovery..Jennifer’s story is a blessing..we will heal too.hang in it will come!! ..

Sachi
5:19 am August 6th, 2015

Thank you for this interview. I was prescribed Ativan for IBS by a GP and after a cold-turkey was then sent to a psychiatrist, misdiagnosed and prescribed clonazepam (klonopin) and antidepressants for the next 18 years. I then became almost always unwell in some way(s). I cold-turkeyed many times over the years, often while in a foreign country, thinking, “Why would I need antidepressants and sleeping pills while stress-free?” I was always trying to quit the drugs and I believe this has contributed to making my withdrawal worse due to kindling. When over the years I continued to be sick or “relapse”, the psychiatrist would change antidepressants, tinker with dosage and tell me it meant I needed to stay on all the drugs. The benzo withdrawal symptoms came on so delayed and were so insidious, I never connected it. And I was led to believe that clonazepam was innocuous and I should be able to just stop. Benzodiazepines never even seemed to warrant discussion. I stupidly trusted this.

While tapering the AD’s after self-diagnosing Celiac Disease and feeling some improvement, someone on an AD forum suggested benzos might be my problem. I researched and quickly learned the truth. I realized had been in in tolerance and interdose withdrawal which became unmasked as I lowered the AD. It took three years to taper off the AD because the psychiatrist said the symptoms were AD withdrawal and I should reinstate and taper more slowly. It didn’t help. He did not believe in and had not heard of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Yet, I’m sure he’d seen in many times. I brought and later sent him information and he stopped helping me. Arrogance, ignorance and/or denial? I don’t know. As soon as I raised and split the benzo dose, symptoms (including three years of daily nausea and Gravol), faded.

I tapered for 15 months and have been off the drug for 35 months. The withdrawal has been absolutely horrific, unrelenting and nearly unbearable. The anguish is mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. At three years off, I am incapacitated some days and less so other days. Overall, I continue to improve slowly. I long for the day I am well enough and I also for the day the truth comes out in mainstream media and the dangers of this drug is common knowledge. This is criminal.

Thank you again Dr. Jenn. I appreciate your continuing to speak so well on behalf of and to those of us afflicted. It is important. This message is essential.

Ryan
6:41 pm August 18th, 2015

I was on 2mg Klonopin a day for years an unfortunate situation that involved me serving 30 days in jail. I was forced to go cold turkey for the entire 30 days since the jail’s policy is that they do not issue “controlled substances.” Worst experience of my life.

Neal B. @ 58
4:07 pm August 21st, 2015

I have been on benzodiazepines of all kinds for 30 years. Just a few years ago I was prescribed as much as 8 mg of Xanax a day! Long terrible story cut short, I’m down to 1 mg of Valium and am coming back very strong. I thought about writing a book about my journey to help educate people but am not a good writer. To those who are suffering, you will get through, I promise you. When you get your first window of feeling back to normal, do me and yourself a favor. Write to yourself that how good it feels and a few reasons why. That window will close and re-open during your recovery. When it closes, that letter will be a guiding light to hold onto! I don’t think there are too many people that have been on benzodiazepines for as long or as much as I have been and I am proof YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH ALSO! You will feel such an appreciation for life again. I’m not sure about the best way I can help those going through this but I will find a way. Life will be good again I promise!

Kathryn
12:43 am October 14th, 2015

Is there a way to email this article? I’ve been devastated by these drugs and would love to send to family if possible. Please.

12:19 pm October 14th, 2015

Hi Kathryn. You can copy and paste the text of the article itself or just copy the URL and paste it into the body of the email message. Then, when they get the email, they will either read the text or open the URL to read it from the site. I hope this helps!

Sarah
5:07 am October 15th, 2015

Liked the interview, but just wanted to note it is redundant and incorrect grammar to call someone Dr. and additionally put the PsyD at the end of the name. One can refer to a psychologist as either Dr. (name) or name, PsyD (or PhD, as the case may be).

Harry
1:09 pm November 7th, 2015

You’re quite correct, Sara.
In addition to the language correction I would add that Leigh is not a psychologist. Leigh also is a benzodiazepine patient so her misunderstandings can be forgiven. She oversimplifies possibly because she cannot comprehend biological and medical science. Her work is counseling adolescent girls. Leigh holds no credentials to qualify her as a Benzodiazepine writer. I am quite familiar with Leigh. She is a patient and likely will remain a benzo patient.

1:58 pm November 9th, 2015

Thank you Sara for the constructive remark. I will make sure to correct all mistakes within the text where Dr. Leigh’s title is mentioned.

Hello Henry, Jennifer Leigh is a benzodiazepine dependence survivor and is a doctor in psychology. You can read more about her here: http://www.calsouthern.edu/online-psychology-degrees/psychology-alumni/?id=5803053558

Carolyn
6:10 pm November 27th, 2015

This is a great post and describes the hell I feel right now. Wish MANY psychiatrists, GP’s and other doctors would get this. I feel I am fighting alone 99% of the time in a medical world that is clueless and SHOULD NOT BE!!!

Arnold
5:37 pm November 28th, 2015

2 questions ,first so many have suffered in withdrawal over the past 30 years that is would seem enough publicity has been produced by those suffering and their family and friends ,it’s hard to understand that nothing has been put on the market for the doctors or people in horrible withdrawal,to help them.There must have been some ” connected ” people who suffered and would get something in the face of big pharmacy developed and out there. Second question is each year I have gotten worse and have never had a hint of what’s called a window ,so that concerns me that I may never get better ( 33 months off) – THANK YOU FOR BEING ONE WHO KNOWS .

Pj
1:25 am December 9th, 2015

Dr. Leigh hit all the issues relating to benzos right on the head. Originally suffering from a back injury, I went through a series of misdiagnosis and never ending prescriptions, including benzos. The last drug was Lorazepam, to which I was on 3 1/2 years. I have never suffered such a hell, and the road to recovery was a series of roller coaster rides.
My passion is to now join forces for a united voice for change. I have just begun a blog (Pjlaube.com) of my own to help people self-advocate for themselves and realize that those suffering withdrawal can make it to the other side.

john
3:50 am December 9th, 2015

I have a debilitating and painful neurological condition and take hydrocodone and morphine for pain as well as diazapam for a severe cramp in my leg. After my doctor retired (with him for 16 years) I couldn’t find a doctor in the county who would fill my diazapam script. As a result, I went cold turkey and not so gently into that good night. Somehow, the idea that doctors in general are largely uneducated regarding the monstrous effects the medicines have is just no excuse. Why isn’t the subject taught along with the other pharmacology courses in med school?

Five months now and no relief in sight.

JON
6:35 pm January 1st, 2016

MY WORST SYMPTOM IS STANDING UP POTS OR DYSAUTONOMIA HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR THIS TO GO AWAY AFTER THE LAST DOSE? I THINK OVER 1 YR?? I DONT HAVE THE PSYCH SYMPTOMS

Harry
7:10 am January 5th, 2016

An often ignored mistake is believing that mental health counseling or even a psychologist has training to coach benzo-recovery. However, here we need to recognize differences in degrees. A psychologist’s Phd requires far more than a PsyD.
However, people in severe states seem to crave someone to elevate and adore even as the elevated people aid their lack of education.
A medical problem requires a medical answer. Slathering on the counseling will not correct the damaged physiology. Many people are seduced into thinking that it does.

Sandra
5:25 am January 16th, 2016

Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve never heard another person say they prayed for death everyday. when I share my story about my ‘cold turkey’ withdrawal after 10+ years on it, I share that I had to hang a note typed in large, Bold font that said ‘Don’t think about suicide this second, this minute, this hour, this day’ because, I too, prayed every second of every minute of every hour of every day for a gun for weeks so I could end the mental torture that my Community Mental Healthcare workers put me through by telling me it was ‘just fine’ to abruptly stop taking my Klonopin. And I lost my Recipients Rights case against them for Neglect of Care when I ended up with hallucinations, extreme psychosis & seizures and ended up in the Psych hospital and then a week later in the emergency room. My case was DENIED because of the simple, one page consent form I had signed the year before that said nothing about withdrawal symptoms. So yea to all of us who survived.

JON
5:42 pm January 25th, 2016

DOES FLUMAZENIL WORK

Maui
7:51 pm January 26th, 2016

Does anyone know how to get into contact with Dr. Jennifer Leigh, please?

Manuel
5:26 pm February 6th, 2016

Hi, Dr, Leigh. My name is Manny from Spain. I went to my psyquiatric yesterday, and he reduced my klonopin from 1.5 mg to 1 mg. That amount is a 25 % reduction Can you recommend a new psyquiatrist here in Galicia,Spain?

RobL
11:34 am March 22nd, 2016

Hi, can anyone offer advice on bad headaches/ extreme hypotension of head/shoulders/back……it’s killing me! As is the constant screeching in my ears-10mths seems eternaI.I too was in the dark about what was happening too me thanks to building a tolerance to clonazapam / zopiclone over the past 10yrs. It amazes me the amount of ignorance there is in this country (New Zealand) I wish we had the right to sue. Any help would be great….

RobL
11:38 am March 22nd, 2016

One more thing…. To everyone who has posted or read this page ….. Hang in there. You are all great people

scott
5:03 pm March 24th, 2016

I’ve abused drugs for 35years now. The last 20 on opiates and benzos.when I take benzos I take copious amounts at a time then just stop. I’m now 50 and I would advise anyone not to go down this road. I suffer bad withdrawals that can last weeks or months at a time. Effects my breathing and many other parts of my body. Been hospitalised three times since just before Christmas. Lost good friendships and relationship s cause of my own stupidity in not stopping. My advice to anyone,young or old. DO NOT EVEN BOTHER. You are doing yourself NO favours at all. You are opening a door to dependency and years hell and a catalogue of health issues. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Take it from someone who knows.Leave well alone.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:15 pm March 25th, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Scott. Hope our readers will find your post motivational!

Sue
3:43 pm April 5th, 2016

HI: Sue: I just went off of Klonopin after 7.5 weeks. rapid melts. I was on .5 nite dose and .25 in the day (only once) as needed. Somewhere around 5 weeks I think I became resistant and the Dr. raised the nite dose. I only took .75 at nite a few days with one day going o 1.0 mg.

When I realized the medicine was making me sick, I asked to go off. The Dr. gave me a crappy taper starting at .375 and going down to .125 over a 6 day period. I started this but had to stay 9 days on the .375. This was before I read all the blogs!!!!! Now I see it was too rapid. I did 6 days on .25 and 1 day on .125.

Of course my stomach is churning now all night, and my nerves are shot. can’t sleep. How long before you would think I could recover? And get rid of the bowel problems. Literally shakes all night and muscles contracting all over.

Thanks.
Sue

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:50 pm April 8th, 2016

Hi Sue. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may be harsh and severe. I suggest you look into the Ashton Manual: http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/
It may help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal.

stephanie
3:18 pm May 2nd, 2016

God help me. I’m 73 days off ten years of klonopin. I dint know how to survive this.

Judy
8:49 pm May 5th, 2016

Hey Stephanie! I know of no one who is ever told by the medical community the withdrawal effects and harshness of it all. Realize the other side does exist.

Judy
8:50 pm May 5th, 2016

Hey Stephanie! I know of no one who is ever told by the medical community the withdrawal effects and harshness of it all. Hang in there and educate yourself without getting into the horror stories.

Neal
4:25 pm May 6th, 2016

For those suffering, Dr. Leigh is spot on in regards to what it was like when I was being tapered off “8mg of Xanax”. Brutal is to put it lightly but you will recover. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel! That light will slowly get wider and much, much brighter as you leave this tunnel, I promise. You will have a new appreciation of life like never before. One suggestion I would like to mention. If some way or how, you can find anything that can occupy your mind to direct you away from the constant looping of the repetitive thoughts is HUGH! I have a part time job that I go to from 5:00PM to 8:30Pm at UPS. I fuel the trucks as they come in and move them around as needed. When withdrawing (very slowly) from the Xanax I would push myself to work each day. It was not easy by any means. By the end of my shift I felt almost normal, IT STOPPED THE LOOPING! I then would go home enjoy a couple hours of normalcy and make me realize that I will make it back. Then of course, I would ask myself “Why can’t I stay like this and not wake up tomorrow feeling much better”, which was not going to happen. But it was my connection to saneness which gave me hope and strength. Keep in mind, my job forced me to think of my task while also making me move physically. Much like the gentleman that wrote the book, how Starbucks saved his life, or something like that. Think hard and try to push yourself to find something to cause you some obligation to someone else or a job with some simple duties to divert yourself from yourself. After a year and a few months I started to have small windows of normalcy! Then more and more and more. It’s been almost two years and I am BACK! I’m productive again and very very happy. Life is good once again, maybe even better. It’s a hard way to get you to appreciate the little things. God Speed, you will get better, I promise you! Meant to say, I was on benzo’s for bout 26 years, slowly increasing over those years.

Neal
4:32 pm May 6th, 2016

I will make an effort to start posting some thoughts that might be a comfort to those withdrawing and their friends and family. Love and patience are key words to all.

Heather
6:25 am May 24th, 2016

I was put on clonazepam for anxiety for the past 9 years. I was taking 2mg 3daily. I did so much stupid stuff, I had no clue was an effetc Iif the drug. I tapered my dose over the past 6 mos, finally completely off for 4 weeks now. The first 3 weeks were pure hell. I felt like a druggie you going thru real withdrawals. All I could really do was pray for God to walk me thru this & remind myself that I wasn’t dying. I could breathe, my heart isn’t goung to explode, it’s all in my mind. Quite literally it was definitely my mind. I tried benadryl, Advil pm, dramamine, promathizine. That gave me a stomach ulcer. But week 4, Amazing. I feel like a new person. I have energy. I probably cursed the people in week 2 & 3 that said “exercise!!!!” I was doing good to walk to the mail box & back without holding on to something. The blogs I read about it taking months to years depending on dose & ‘length of time were starting to scare me seeing I was on a high dose for a long time. But over 4 days I went from barely walking to going to the gym. It’s crazy. In the early stages I thought I might give in, but it was worth the torture to get out of that Benzo Funk & get my mind right. I’m praying for anyone struggling & hope my story might help someone.

Donna
3:02 am May 26th, 2016

I am in recovery and want know if this site is ongoing. I have already joined benzo buddies. I am interested in as much information as I can, as well as support

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:14 pm June 1st, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Heather. It means a lot to us!

John
2:54 am June 10th, 2016

I am looking for a compassionate doctor in albany ny area to provide help with my symptoms. I don’t take benzodiazepines everyday and am not addicted to them. I have anxiety and depression and the only thing that works is a .25 mg klonnopin. I take 1 to 2 maybe 2 Times a week and they have been a life saver. I need to find a compassionate doctor who can prescribe maybe 15 a month max as I don’t want to get addicted. This is very frustrating.

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