Monday May 22nd 2017

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The Five (5) MUSTs To Avoid “Detox Damage” In Benzo Withdrawal

Benzo withdrawal requires special protocols

Dr. Heather Ashton, a leading authority on benzodiazepines, ran a benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic in the U.K. She discovered that a portion of people who take a benzo have serious problems stopping the medication due to the brain changes it has caused. In fact, some people need to take a year or more to slowly taper off to avoid life threatening or debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

What do traditional drug detox clinics lack when it comes to benzos? What should you BEWARE OF and what should you avoid altogether? We review here. Then, we invite your questions and comments about benzodiazepine withdrawal at the end.

What’s wrong with traditional detox?

Detox centers are a safe solution for getting off of alcohol or drugs. However, if you want to get off of a benzodiazepine such as Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, or Xanax, a detox center may not be a viable solution. They can cause serious damage to benzo users, even users who have taken their medication as prescribed.

The problem is that detox centers take patients off of their benzos far too quickly. They are also notorious for prescribing medications that can hamper healing from benzo withdrawal and/or make withdrawal symptoms worse. In some cases, people will experience withdrawal from the newly added medications, in addition to benzo withdrawal.

Five (5) ways to avoid detox damage

Here are five (5) way in which you can avoid “detox damage” if you are benzodiazepine user and you want to get off your medication.

1. Do your own research.

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Don’t blindly trust medical professionals. Most are not educated about benzodiazepines, even psychiatrists and addiction specialists. Do not be tempted to go inpatient to come off your benzo as there is no way to know if you will be one of the people that a rapid taper causes severe withdrawal symptoms.

Google benzo withdrawal. Read the Ashton Manual. Read stories of people who are going through benzo withdrawal or who have survived it. Become knowledgeable about the possible withdrawal symptoms. Slowly reducing your dose by no more than ten percent every few weeks is the best way to minimize your risk of experiencing a severe withdrawal reaction.

2. Read stories of people who went to a detox and had a severe withdrawal.

You can find their stories through a quick Google search, or by registering for the free online benzo withdrawal forum at My own story, and Kate Fay’s story can be read at It may help convince you of the nightmare that people live through after going to a detox center.

3. Don’t be fooled by a detox center that claims they can get you off of your benzo quickly.

True, they can pull you off of your medication safely by using an anti-seizure drug to ensure you won’t seize, however, they can not ensure that you won’t have disabling, debilitating, and unbearable withdrawal symptoms that can and often do, last for years.

Plus, you’ll come home benzo free from the detox center, but you may not be able to endure the withdrawal symptoms. Many reinstate their benzo after they return home because the horror of benzo withdrawal is too much to bear. The problem with reinstating is that in some instances, returning to your dose doesn’t stop the withdrawal symptoms and the subsequent taper to get off can bring even worse symptoms. This is due to a phenomenon in benzo withdrawal called kindling.

4. Taper at a pace that your body can handle.

Getting off of your medication isn’t a race. Unless you are having a paradoxical reaction to your benzo, or it is causing serious illness, it is advisable to reduce the dose in very small amounts over many months.

Many benzodiazepines don’t come in small enough doses to dry cut. Unless your doctor is willing to have your medication compounded, you will be one of the millions of benzo patients who have to create a DIY taper. What are some ideas to consider?

Many use a water or milk titration method while others dry cut using a jeweler’s scale. Some cross over to Valium (diazepam) as it comes in smaller doses and is easier to taper. However, some people can’t tolerate the cross over, and for some, Valium causes extreme depression. You’ll need to decide for yourself which method you want to proceed with.

5. Ignore friends/family who insist you go inpatient.

Your friends and family mean well. However, unless they have experienced benzo withdrawal or have done extensive research about it, they won’t understand the dangers of seeking help from an uneducated professional or a detox center. Seek the help and advice of someone who has experienced benzo withdrawal and is knowledgeable about what to do and not to do in benzo withdrawal. There are many websites dedicated to benzo withdrawal help. There are many support groups on Facebook as well.

Damage from benzo detox can be avoided!

You may already have damage from your benzo. Don’t ad injury to insult. Don’t expose yourself to “detox damage.” If you follow our suggestions above, it’s a good start. If you have additional questions, please ask them in the comment section below.

Finally, consider this: You don’t need the hit to your wallet. Detox centers are usually tens of thousands of dollars. Recovery is a billion dollar industry. Remember that a detox center is a business, designed to make a profit first and foremost. They are not designed with your long-term welfare of minimizing benzo withdrawal symptom in mind.

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16 Responses to “The Five (5) MUSTs To Avoid “Detox Damage” In Benzo Withdrawal
8:56 pm December 26th, 2016

“Detox centers are a safe solution for getting off of alcohol or drugs.”

This is not necessarily true. Some of them USE benzos to get people off alcohol, then take them off the benzos abruptly when they return to outpatient status, throwing some into cold turkey benzo withdrawal. The patient doesn’t know the source of their horrible symptoms, and some return to drinking in order to stave off the benzo withdrawal. It’s terrible.

9:49 pm December 31st, 2016

Thank you. Excellent article. Wish I’d known before I went the detox route.

2:53 pm January 4th, 2017

I have been benzo free for 27 months and now having stomach problems and bladder problems very uncomfortable.Doctor have found nothing .I have a lot of fear and depression and still donot sleep.Sleep was the reason I was given klonopin for years.Was having Windows not any more .Help!!!!

2:54 pm January 8th, 2017

That’s what happened to me Jennifer , I was pulled off 8mgs xanax after 6 years , an addiction specialist put me on 20 Mgs Valium cutting 5 Mgs a week til cease . I completly flipt out didn’t sleep for 13 days and then tried to kill myself by poly drug overdose.
Then he did the same thing again 20 mg Valium off in a month , nearly had seizure had to reinstate , saw another addiction specialist he put me on 4 mg of xanax to try and stabilize but it didn’t work then they put me on 2.5 mg of klonopin am now down to 1.25 mg of klonopin and have been going completly insane for almost a year I have also been on circadin for 11mths which works great for sleep but I think it’s doing something awful to my brain , I need help badly feel like my time is running out , please , what do you suggest I do , Regards Dave

6:07 pm February 6th, 2017

Holding at 3 mg of valium..(used by my so-called Addiction Specialist Dr.) to crossover from Lorazepam. (Also was on klonopin for years at small dose, but for years in which my brain adjusted to needing it.) I’m in hell and have been. The horrible shaking (especially at night) and lack of sleep chronically for years is taking it’s toll) The cost of seeing the so-called “Specialist, although you may instantly know of him if I posted his name here, is beyond my budget and why should I pay to suffer like this? Had 6 count them six “windows” in all those years. Had one brief one in October and no more and my symptoms are horrific. I’m tempted to reinstate at a higher dose. Yes have been drinking wine in small doses to stop the shakes which I know depletes my brain more, but I can’t stand the physical symptoms. I also can’t stand how I’m treated by doctors. Their total lack of knowledge and many times one is treated like they are drug-seeking, which I am NOT. Who would opt for putting themselves through this torture voluntarily? I’m very close to just giving up.

1:21 am February 25th, 2017

Hello there. I was prescribed Xanax because of heart palps/fluttering that were attributed to anxiety. This was a missed diagnosis and my heart problem turned out to be left bundle branch block. But in the meantime I ended up on Xanax for about a year and a half now. The most I was ever on was .5 mg split into three doses throughout the day. About nine months and I told my doctor I didn’t want to be on it anymore Because we had figured out my heart problem. He told me to just quit and I went ahead and quit. I did no research about this Drug and knew nothing about it. I was gonna lose my mind that day and I almost ended up in the hospital. My psychiatrist put me back on it immediately and level me out over about two months. The last several months I have tried tapering and I’m down to .375 and have been for two months now. Some research and found a psychiatrist that is going to help me taper off the drugs so I can be free of this nightmare. But I have noticed that I am having terrible waves of anxiety that paralyze me and then maybe a day or two where I feel so so. From what I read these might be waves? Even though I haven’t completed tapering. What week we are going to start continuing with tapering and bring me off over a month or two. I’m very scared and when I get in this terrible anxiety state I want to run to a treatment facility to be monitored medically. I feel like sometimes I can’t make it through this long when I read people’s stories about how it took them a year or two to even feel better. I am aware of the Ashton manual and examine it further. I guess I just wonder if that cold turkey day really screwed me up. I hope I can be one of the success stories and I hope my brain is not too damaged so that I can still heal. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it because today is one of them really bad days.

10:53 pm April 9th, 2017

Been off 0.125 for 4; days and really feeling bad will it get better and the weakness scares me

3:22 pm April 11th, 2017

To Kevin I don’t know where you live but you say you found the psychiatrist that really helps you with the benzo’s can you tell me how you went about this I live in the Atlanta area

9:46 pm April 14th, 2017

If you’re looking for a benzo-wise doctor in your area, you might consider contacting the local compounding pharmacy to see if they’re working with a doctor who is prescribing compounded and/or liquid benzos to someone else for tapering purposes. Just a thought.

5:19 pm April 18th, 2017

Thank you, Vita, for sharing useful information here in the comments section. I am sure someone will find your comment very useful in a time of need.

3:10 pm April 24th, 2017

I started being prescribed .5mg 3 times a day 2 years ago. Having been a heroine user (not IV, rather I sniffed it), in the past, I jade used Xanax before as a means to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Needless to say .5 three times daily had zero effect. Two years later after very slowly increasing my dose (it almost seems like he’s afraid he’ll get in trouble if he gives me a more theraputic dose straightaway), he had me on 1mg 3 times daily. i asked him at least 3 times in 6 months to try klonipin, because the Xanax doesn’t seem to work unless I take double or more of the 1mgs. His response was to up my dose to 4mgs a day (1 bar in the morning, and on at night, increasing my total to only 1 additional MG per day. This is not working and I have been so patient. I have tried 1 and 2 MG klonipin on the street, and have read that often times, when Xanax no long is no longer theraputic, that many doctors will move to klonipin as a way to regain the desired reduction in anxiety. I even told him that I had my first debilitating (about 1.5 hr)panic attack two months ago for the first time since he began the refining two years ago. Can anybody tell me or speculate as to why he is unwilling to take my feedback seriously and at face value? He’s never treated me as a drug seeker, and he is aware of my past heroine use, and u do know that doctors are now required to register with the state or the federal government each time they prescribe a benzoyl, but jeez, im actually asking for a lower dose of a different drug, you’d think he would appreciate the fact that I’m being honest in my self assessment. What’s the deal here?

8:08 pm May 2nd, 2017

I have been on Ativan for 3 wks. Once a night for sleep. I take 0.5mg. I was also on Xanax off and on for 6 mos. Will I go thru withdrawals if I go cold turkey?

12:49 pm May 7th, 2017

Are you still operational? I’ve been on Xanax for 16years. Now I take 2-3 daily. At one time, I was up to 6.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:55 am May 11th, 2017

Hi Sharon. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Cold turkey is not recommended for quitting benzos.

11:31 pm May 14th, 2017

How long do pains goes away? I was on Ativan for about 3 years. It is liquid form. The psychiatry stop abruptly. My body is mess up. They won’t give back to me to wean off proper way. I used it for Tardive Dyskinisia. No medications since August. The pains is robbing my sleep. How to get rid of pains.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:08 pm May 15th, 2017

Hi Christine. I suggest that you enroll into a pain clinic to manage your pain. Also, check out the Ashton Manual: It is a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal.

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About Dr. Jennifer Leigh, Psy.D.

Dr. Jennifer Leigh is a Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Coach and award-winning author. She works with people worldwide to prevent and to heal addictions.

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