Have benzos ruined your life? You are not alone…

Dependence and withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be a living hell. More on the growing epidemic and problems behind benzo use here, with a place for you to share your own personal story at the end.

minute read
By Don Killian

There is a world that most people do not know about. It is a hidden world known only to those who are currently trapped in it or who were once its temporary occupants who somehow managed to escape with their lives and health.

It is populated by individuals one might meet on any day and in any place – at work, at home, on the street, in the supermarket, at a party, in church, on an airplane… anywhere. Usually, these people appear to be living and functioning in the same manner and with the same ease as any other person. There is nothing outwardly remarkable about them that would give anyone the slightest hint of the absolute horror residing inside each of them.

Benzodiazepines: Demons in disguise

This is a world of suffering so horrifyingly bizarre that it defies a description sufficient for anyone else to grasp. In fact, if one has not experienced this suffering, he or she will usually find it impossible to believe and will question the sanity of the sufferer. It is a world of torture in which the sufferer resides moment-by-moment but which also resides inside the sufferer. It is inescapable. It is infinitely pervasive. It yields to nothing – no thought, no force, no trick, no drug, no tactic or strategy.


It is immovable. It just “is,” and it rarely relents or gives a breath of air to its victim. The fear that it wields and bludgeons its victim with is pure and wholly irrational. It is a snail’s-pace, seemingly eternal walk through hell on earth.

It is benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Are you trapped in a personal hell brought on by doctor prescribed benzos? Well, you’re not alone. Learn more about the epidemic here and educate yourself on what doctors don’t tell you about benzos, and then share your questions or your personal story at the end. We’ll try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt reply.

What are the most common benzos?

Benzodiazepines are more typically known as tranquillizers to the general population. Some of the more common benzodiazepines are:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam) and
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)

There are dozens more. Benzodiazepines have been prescribed for many different symptoms including anxiety, panic, stress, post-traumatic stress, insomnia, pain, seizures, post-partum depression, as an add-on to other psychotropic drugs, and many others.

Why are benzos so bad for you?

Often, benzodiazepines initially seem to have a beneficial effect with respect to the symptom or symptoms for which they are prescribed. In fact, they may seem like a miracle drug providing sleep, calming anxiety and stopping fear and panic in their tracks. These astonishing effects may last for quite some time, but usually they are short-lived.

Quite often, benzodiazepines lose their effectiveness within a few weeks and leave one no better off than he or she was initially. This is called tolerance – when the drug no longer “works.” Typically, one is actually worse off at this point.

Increased tolerance to benzodiazepines

As tolerance is reached, the prescriber will often increase the initial dose of the benzodiazepine in hopes that a higher dose will re-establish the relief that was provided by the original dose. This usually does not work or may work for a short time until tolerance is once again reached, but this time at a higher dose.

At first blush, it may seem that one could simply discontinue the benzodiazepine and be no worse off than he or she was at the outset before taking the drug. For some individuals, this is sometimes true. They can discontinue the drug either all at once (called a “cold turkey”) or taper it gradually until it has been completely discontinued without suffering any adverse consequences.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case for literally millions of people who have taken benzodiazepines. It is widely known that benzodiazepines are extremely addictive and can cause physical dependence within a matter of weeks. Because of this rapid onset of dependency, it has been suggested that benzodiazepines not be prescribed for more than two weeks. This recommendation is often ignored by prescribers, and millions of people are now addicted to or dependent on benzodiazepines.

People are using benzos as prescribed!

There is a misconception, even within much of the medical community, that those who are dependent on benzodiazepines are hard core drug addicts who crave and seek benzodiazepines in an effort to somehow “get high.” Nothing could be more untrue. The people who are dependent on benzodiazepines are almost exclusively dependent because they were prescribed those drugs by medical professionals. They were neither seeking to get high initially nor are they when they need to discontinue them.

In fact, most who try to get off the drugs are suffering because they have developed a tolerance to higher doses which were also prescribed by medical professionals. The suffering is often extreme. The last thing the patient wants or needs is more drugs. Sadly, the anguish that is endured during tolerance withdrawal is often diagnosed as some sort of disorder resulting in the prescribing of even more drugs.

How do you quit using a benzo?

Q: How do you stop using benzos?
A: Get the facts about benzodiazepine withdrawal. Then, you’ll need to create and individualized plan.

It can be virtually impossible for someone on benzodiazepines to discontinue them. Multiple methods, ranging from micro-tapers which may last many months to relatively fast tapers lasting a few weeks, have been employed. The method used is often dependent on the individual. There is no “one size fits all” scheme. Under no circumstances should benzodiazepines be cold turkeyed.

No matter what discontinuation method is used, it is a near certainty that during the tapering process and during the ensuing withdrawal (after the individual has successfully discontinued the benzodiazepines), the individual will experience several of a myriad of withdrawal symptoms. These include both mental and physical symptoms which can be extremely intense and which may last for several months without the slightest bit of relief. In many cases, these symptoms render the victim completely incapable of living a life that would be considered even remotely normal. In the throes of withdrawal, many sufferers have referred to themselves as “zombies” – the walking dead. It is a very fitting description.

A truly hellish experience

Detoxing from benzos can be hell. While the victims of benzodiazepine withdrawal suffer beyond description, friends and loved ones who witness the anguish and who also care for the victim suffer in multiple ways as well. The victim often appears to be quite capable of functioning normally like anyone else, at least from the outside. When the victim insists that he or she is unable to accomplish or even attempt to accomplish the smallest task, it can be extremely frustrating to caregivers.

This is especially true when the victim complains incessantly and continually describes his or her often unbelievable symptoms of withdrawal. The sufferer is nearly always in a state of extreme irrational fear and enshrouded by a fog  of bleak, grey hopelessness. This is beyond perplexing to caregivers when they see nothing to be frightened of and everything to be hopeful for. There is also the matter of “benzo rage” that caregivers must deal with. It is demoralizing and can wear down even the strongest and most compassionate of caregivers.

You are not alone!

Whether one labels this problem with benzodiazepines as dependency or addiction, the profound suffering and ruined lives remain unchanged. Currently, millions of people worldwide have been prescribed benzodiazepines, and probably hundreds of thousands of these are in a life-and-death struggle with either tolerance withdrawal or post-benzodiazepine withdrawal. It is a deadly epidemic that has been virtually hidden from most of society.

Learn what exactly happens when you stop using benzos, what to expect from addiction treatment, the best ways to quit…and explore our GUIDE on benzodiazepine addiction treatment programs and help for more information.

Let us know you’re out there

Please know that you are not alone and that there is hope. We invite you to share your story in our comments section now.

About the Author: Don Killian is a survivor of forty years of addiction to alcohol and thirteen years of benzodiazepine addiction/dependence and the withdrawal from both. He is a former environmental scientist and author of From Fear to Freedom: A Story of Addiction, Misdiagnosis, Survival, Hope and Healing.He spends much of his time providing help and hope to others navigating the dangerous waters of benzodiazepine withdrawal at Merry, Joyous, and Free – a website “designed to help anyone who has been adversely affected primarily by benzodiazepines, other psychotropic drugs and alcohol abuse get to a place of happiness, joy and freedom…”
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I’m totally crippled during my taper. My nervous system is failing. I can’t walk, eat, talk, nothing.

  2. Only 8 weeks off Valium and I’m doing it tough. The extreme fear is the worst thing for me: sounds, crowds, daily activity, general responsibilities. Everything seems terrifying. There’s no one in my life who understands. I feel like such a failure. Is there even light at the end of the tunnel? I can’t see it. I only took it for panic (2 years) – this is much worse than panic. Anyone reading never take a benzo!

  3. My name is Laurie, I have been on benzo’s 8.5 years. I have been tapering 20mg valium, down to 1.5mg, where I stand now. I have never experienced such torture in my life. Symptoms I have experience were nausea, extreme weight and muscle loss, tremors, severe fear of everything, unable to leave my home, severe cog issues. Just simple thinking is difficult. Dp/dr, constant foggy state, extreme vision problems, blurred vision, pressure behind eyes, feel of vasoline in eyes, brain zaps, burning brain, severe skull crushing headaches that last for weeks, fatigue, no motivation, lack of interest in all things I once enjoyed, have aged 10 years in a year, irritability, crying spells that are uncontrollable, disconnected, sweats, vivid dreams, night sweats, tinnitus, muacle tension, dizziness, faint feeling, adrenal surges, flushed feeling, overstimulation, unable to handle any stress at all. I cld go on, but think you got it. This drug was prescribed by my gp for stress related anxiety. I was never told about its addictive quality, nor the effects it would have on my brain. Im mortified what it has done to me and many others. Im unable to get under 1.5mg valium at the moment due to extreme headaches. This is a long torturous process for all of us. I pray I am not permanantly damaged. Avoid benzos at all costs!

  4. Hi,My wife was totally addicted.I am in the middle of aanow thinking about leaving.My wife was just killing herself and the sadness I had almot killed me.Honest to god.

  5. I have been on and off( mainly on) benzos for almost twenty years. I wish I never took these to begin with,I’m in living hell, If I didn’t have children I would commit suicide happily because I can’t imagine anything worse then living a life where I am paranoid, I have no fuckn memory, I have a couple years I do not remember what so ever and still can’t remember anything unless I write it down, short term memory is almost completely gone, I cry easily and have a short temper, I feel as if I’m on a scary bad acid trip, I pray for death and cry every morning I wake up, well if I can sleep. Doctors do not believe me and think I am a pill seeker. I get the shakes, I have lost too much weight and look very unhealthy, no appetite ( except being put on seroquel, zyprexa and four other psych drugs to help with a taper that is too quick), my vision is blurry and I have haulinations visual, audittory and the one one where you feel something that is not true. Benzos have affected every aspect of my life, work, marriage, being a mom and friendships. I would not wish this living hell on anyone. I have been to many mental health inpatient hospitals and several rehabs all of them have not helped and I’m now on a taper again which isn’t helping, even though my doc is helping via the Ashton manual( but more quickly unfortunately) I have went to Mexico for a year straight at one point in my life snuggled bottles of Mexican Xanax (pharmapram) and it helped at the time but I would take way more then I intended and only messed up my life more as I go through withdraws even though I’m taking them! The whole United States is helping opiate users help but there is NOTHING that helps the people who are addicted to the BENZO DEVIL!!!!! I want to die and I will but it can’t come soon enough, sometimes I get a glimpse of my old self but fewer and far between these glimpse or waves of reality are coming. I feel retarded and if would of known what these pills were doing to my brain I never would of tried them!!! I have detoxed off of opiates and it was Disney land compared to the years of hell that benzo withdrawal has been, why can’t scientists and doctors please help, I’m so sorry for others who are going through this hell.

    1. Hi Jessica. Don’t give up on life! You can make your way to recovery. Many others have done so before you. Relapses doesn’t have to discourage you. The path to recovery is hard and long but not impossible. Call us for more information. We believe that you can change your life. Miracles DO happen.

  6. hi-i stopped benzo s 3 valium a day and night tablet for sleep9 years ago after breakdown and choose non-addictive meds for my manic-depression after spending 10 years on prescribed benzos up to 9 years ago..my life is now ruined…immuneo-comprimised also plus epilepsy in the end,,,the mental health department has won and have now abandoned me this side of things after managing me and my symptoms with benzo s for 10 years,,now i am almost homeless and alone in the end< no accountabilty by the mental health services now…alone-lost-abandoned because i did what i was told

  7. My husband walked away from me and my 2 kids and told me to set up a new life in a different country, left me a pile of credit cards and said goodbye. 4 months later after my daughter broke her neck in a horse riding accident i could not take anymore and had my first panic attack. Oxazepam was prescribed and i diligently took it. 10 years later i am calculating the nuclear attack on my life. I started Xanax after detox as i was told it was not as ¨potent¨. Lies all lies, as i screamed between throwing things at people, then lying sobbing on the bathroom floor contemplating suicide in what i was told was easy to withdraw from…
    Like anyone that has gone through benzodiazepine withdrawal, you are unable to understand how this can be happening. My anxiety over the 10 years on and off benzos has affected my children so much that that my son now has depersonalisation. I quit alcohol, prozac and other drugs myself and believe me they were a walk in the park next to Xanax. Unfortunately the withdrawal has left me with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a list of protracted symptoms. My physical side might be slowly repairing itself but the damage done personally, family and relationships is irreparable.
    I mourn the years i have lost, the dreams, the people, the plans…

  8. Prescribed Xanax 17 years ago, because I couldn’t fall asleep using a CPAP machine. Began to wake up at 4 o’clock each morning, so the doctor prescribed Remeron and the waking up vanished. Problem now is I’m having bad acid reflux and I’m wondering if these drugs have screwed up my sphincter on my esophagus? I tried stopping them, because I only take 1 pill before bedtime, but without the pill I cannot go to sleep. Try laying down during the day, no pill, no nap. If I was told this might be a long term issue, I would have dealt with my anxiety by some other means.

  9. Our children were victims to this also, Mine arev15 and 17, they have pulled away from me. What do we say, how do we get an understanding?

  10. Some say CBD Oil helps. After over 22 years now, of being meds free, am struggling very badly. So I tried CBD Oil Capsules & for the last 2 weeks, am even worse.
    I am very listless, lethargic, Mind & Body, just does not have any more Power left. Leaving me VOID of any abilities, with which to cope or deal with any one thing. Soul Less & just want to die now. I was 32 when I first tried ct off Tranxene & Halcion (Over Prescribed) followed a Horrendous, turbulent wd. Then another 5 years, being Bullied in to Polly drugging. Last ct January 1996. But did take Citalopram 4 years ago, for 4 weeks & Nothing. I am now 60. This is no Life. Its like living in a Permanent Torture Chamber. This all started at age 8, Vaccination issues. Mercury Teeth Fillings, then Motor cycle Accident 1974. When I left the hospital, after undergoing several ops, I was certainly Black & Blue, had bashed My Frontal Lobes & Olfactory Nerves. Lost Taste & Smell, had a Phantom Smell, which drove me to depressive states. But counselling would have helped, a little, by understanding, what had happened, not Ativan in 1976 & all the rest is a Nightmare.However, I was back to New career, months after my accident, very fit, strong & Mentally, no problem, until the Drugs. Now I remain lost & Trapped . I wish you all well.

  11. 69 years old .on a safe and mild med. I should take the rest if my life. Prescribed 23 years ago. In feb new doc told me to go home a drop morning dose..
    I have been in hell. Almost 70 and no end in sight.
    Had to go to the er two nights ago.
    I was given this for anxiety/sleep issue that surely hormones would have solved. After a doctor took my ovaries.ignoring my pleas to leave them.
    Worked all my life this was going to be my time. The time if my life.
    Its over.
    I barely remember who i was. Lay in the bed weak and sick. 50 pounds lost since feb.no more weekly hikes. Rides. Trips inside the store.i was attractive. Strong and viable 6 months ago. I am a invalid now.
    I am a victim of the medical profession.
    I was young and healthy before the surgery. Medicated and regained my life on something i would have never put in my body had i have known. Now taken off with the same cavalier uncareing determinaton by a doctor that knew i didnt know what i was on.left now .ignored to suffer this misery.
    Vulnerable victims of the medical profession.
    Millions of lives destroyed.
    Anyone else harm somone knwowingly would be in jail. Doctors do it daily.

  12. I have been on benzos for 7.5 years. Klonopin for 6.5 years then switched to valium for the last 1 year. This drug has changed me into a completely different person. I became a complete zombie. No emotions, timid, the anxiety increased 1000 fold. Not just anxiety, but utter terror of everything. I began researching benzos and realized the drug had become paradoxical. I knew I had to get off this evil drug. I began my taper 6 months ago. It has been sheer Hell. Anxiety, fear, nausea, severe weight loss, blurred vision, depersonalization, derealization, fatigue, agoraphobia, and the list goes on. I have 4mg valium to go, which will take months. I have been unable to work for the last 2 years due to this posion. I advise all people to never take this drug. It will destroy your life.

  13. Hello everyone. I took a myriad of psychiatric drugs over a period of 15 years due to death of my son. At that time I could not sleep and was grieving. So, I sought help and ended up on Xanax, then Klonopin, then Ativan, and finally Valium. One day at 53, I was cut off the Valium 10mg. a day. I thought no big deal since it was such a low dose. How naive I was. I suffered months of severe anxiety, inability to sleep more than 5 minutes at a time, fear of showers, fears of driving, burning skin like I had been burned all over. The list of symptoms are just to numerous to try to list. Many symptoms have waxed and waned, gradually becoming less and less over time. Today, 3 years later I am a new person. Life is beautiful again and it will be for you too. I struggled so hard to get to where I am now. With God’s help and the daily support of a certain benzo withdrawal forum, I have won the battle. You can win the battle too. Shame Shame Shame on the pharmaceutical companies and the ignorant physicians who prescribe these drugs. I will never take another drug in my life without first doing serious research first. If it is a new drug, that hasn’t been on the market more than 5 years, I definitely will not even consider taking it. In fact, they can keep their poisons. I use food and natural herbs as my medicine now. We must take care of our own bodies. There really are no magic pills for anything that ails a person. Big Pharma can get rat poison approved by the FDA for humans to take. In fact, they already have. The ingredients in Blood Thinners are the same as used in rat poison. What does that tell you? Do your homework first. Many natural substances will help a lot of health issues, but you have to do your research. Remember, just because they are natural doesn’t mean they can’t harm your health also. Epsom salt baths and Magnesium oil sprayed on topically helped me the most with the withdrawal, but everyone is different, so you have to find what works for you. Yoga and Meditation CDs were very helpful too. Good luck to all of you who have been victimized and God Bless.

  14. Was given 0.5 mg of Alzprazolam (Xanax) 15 years ago to help in going to sleep on CPAP machine. Now I have developed Acid Reflux that is horrible and I believe that Xanax is causing it. I’ve tried to taper off of it, but my sleep is non existent when I try. I can never just go lay down and go to sleep, I mean never without taking a pill. If I had the knowledge of the long term effects of this way back when, I’d dealt with my sleep issues in another fashion. Addiction is addiction, prescribed or otherwise.

  15. Hello Im here. A BENZO warrior that was given .5mg xanax. No diagnostic, malpractice of the med and no psyco counseling. Only take in sos situations. From july 21 2016 till april 2 2017 .my body became dependent on this script, and i was having wdsxs. I started to taper on april 2 2017..thats when hell started..i had over 80 wdsxs.still tapering. A slow taper is a healing process.

  16. Follow up to my previous comment on 26 of July.

    I tried getting off my clonazepam. I failed, however. I guess I am stuck with taking these for the rest of my life. The withdrawals are pure hell and I could not taper off of them and also work at the same time, due to some annoying withdrawal symptoms, such as needing to go #2 about every 10 minutes.

    Just…if you’re going to be prescribed benzodiazepines, you should only take them for about two weeks. If you keep taking them, you’ll be stuck with them for life, unless you somehow have a window of time of at least a year to get off of them and you don’t mind not being able to do anything, plus the increased risk of seizures. I was able to lower my dose to about 0.33mg a day, but only for a short while, because I actually started getting seizures. So I went back to 4mg a day. They’re relatively non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about your liver or kidneys at all with benzos.

    My advice for anyone on benzodiazepines that cannot get off of them, research “noopept” and “citicholine”, and take those two supplements if you don’t want to lose your memory.

    Also, these other adaptogens help with my memory so I don’t get too forgetful:

    -rhodiola rosea (as I previously mentioned)
    -Acetyl-L Carnitine
    -Citicholine / CDP Choline

    I only have one note for the last adaptogen/nootropic, the Noopept: take it sublingually and let it sit under your tongue for 5 minutes. Wash it down with something that tastes good, because the Noopept tastes horrible, but it will allow you to remember and focus. Take CDP Choline / Citicholine 30 minutes prior to taking the Noopept, otherwise you will get a massive headache.

    The Noopept + citicholine is the strongest nootropic/adaptogen out there, but both are neuroprotectants, and the Noopept has been shown to reverse Alzheimer’s, which, we undoubtedly will be at a much higher risk of getting if you are taking benzodiazepines.

    One last note on the Noopept — it’s just a peptide, but it’s a synthesized peptide. It is only effective for roughly 56 days, then you have to stop taking it for a week or so, then you can cycle back on it for another 56 days.

    No real side effects, just benefits, such as improved concentration, improved memory, and it puts the brightness back into your vision which benzodiazepines seem to dull. It’s like increasing your vision to high-definition. It’s hard to describe. It’s not an intoxicating effect…colors will just appear more pronounced and vivid.

    Noopept is not approved by the FDA, but it isn’t banned either. Only place I can find it is online. But, it’s relatively inexpensive (about $15 for 15 grams, and the recommended daily dose is about 30mg), so one of them will last quite a long while.

    Best of luck for those trying to get off of benzodiazepines completely.

  17. been on xanax a long time! 10 yrs or so. i tried to quit by tapering down and i experienced the hell on earth so im just taking my 2 mg a day and no more! still having protracted wd symptoms even still taking the med. my plan is just to take them until i die . the damage has already been done i think. i feel suicidal a lot but hav nothing to be depressed about.i am disabled with chronic pain and bipolar disorder. im tempted to try and quit on my own again but i know what will happen. just being a slave to them bothers me! once a month i see the doc 100 bucks then 4o bucks for the script but its 10 percent of my income! medicare wont help. if i run out or get cut off? i dont want to take any psyche meds ever again! for now it looks like xanax till death does me part…. maybe not. it would be great if medicine and or science could come up with some kind of gaba receptor restoration med wouldnt it? anyway im worried suicide has re purcussions so i have not done it but im very mentally ill and have become de personalized. chemical lobotomy in a bottle …. alchohol tobacco and opiates were a cake walk to quit but benzos? im just takin em now so i dont seizure or stroke. i have nver abused this med or taken it to get high. there is no help available for benzo dependence. doctors cant really do anything except attempt a slow taper[or giv u another toxic med] which in most cases dont work. support groups? there are none . really stuck! all i can do is take em till i die i guess. the with drawal symptems are pure hell and if i did run out or get cut off i think i would take my life ,i probably would have to . the bad side effects everyone talks about here ? i got every one of them! its my opinionion that they are permanent also .

  18. I was cold turkeyed off 1 mg Klonopin (per day) on May 12, 2015. I became dependent while under the care of a physician. I tried to do a slow taper after I realized I was dependent but failed. I am still suffering many terrible symptoms but am able to work with a great degree of difficulty. My working memory is practically destroyed and so I have to write down every thing I do in a journal. I am an IT professional and so my job is very technical. Every little task that I have to perform is a struggle and induces stress and anxiety. Every problem that I encounter on the job is like climbing a mountain. Even little things are a source of anxiety. I was hoping it would get better by now but my memory just isn’t coming back.

    I am 55 years old and I fear that it will never get better and with age, will only worsen. It is truly a living hell that I live in. Mornings are usually the worst because that’s when my anxiety is at it’s worst. I only my memory would improve I could handle all of the other symptoms. All I can do is take it one day at a time and try to stay positive and hopeful.

  19. 16 years, Autoimmune Disease, 5 behavioral units believing I was treating a host of anxiety disorders. I was only feeding the addiction with legal prescriptions. As a accident I only discovered I was feeding withdrawals twice a day. I only choose to back off a i feared tolerance an hopelessness wasn’t a option. I have nothing in my circle of life now I was so isolated to thought of anxiety. Everything requires thought, thoughts tied to anxiety is fear, fear is isolation.

  20. 28yo male here. I have been taking clonazepam for about 7-8years, at a dose of 4mg (which is equivalent to about 80mg valium, or more).

    Anyway, for a while I thought clonazepam was just such a wonder drug. Well, it isnt. It ends up stealing from you–by that I mean the cons severely outweigh the pros. After a while it takes away all desire to do anything, pretty much. That’s when I knew I had to get off them.

    I did a rapid initial taper where I just decided to cut down by 50%. I did this for about two months, taking 2mg a day instead of 4. I didn’t notice much in the way of withdrawal symptoms.

    Coming down from 2mg to 1mg however (which is where I am currently at, 1mg/day), there exists quite a lot of noticeable symptoms of withdrawal. I have not been able to get much sleep, and the sleep I do get is disturbed by very vivid dreams, so vivid that I don’t feel refreshed at all when I wake up.

    Along with difficulty sleeping, I have noticed hallucinations–these can best be described as my surroundings seemingly bulging a bit like being distorted by a rounded mirror. These, along with increased sensitivity to light, colors, and sounds, leaves me often with a splitting headache that lasts for hours. I have resorted to chewing maximum strength Tylenol, two of them, to get the headaches to mostly subside.

    The biggest terror is perhaps what i feel are little “mini seizures”, where the skeletal muscle surrounding my skull twitches involuntarily–this, along with the fact that clonazepam has an 8 hour half-life, has made me split the 1mg dose in half, so I take 0.5mg at around 4pm, and then the other 0.5mg before bed.

    After this 1mg dose, I am going to be slowing my taper because there’s no way I could do 50% of my current 1mg dose and be okay. If i am almost having what i think are seizures (I have no idea what they feel like, I had one at the age of 3 and obviously don’t remember), then I should take it slow.

    My advice though, is to take what are known as “adaptogens”, to help with withdrawals. These are natural remedies that you can find at the health food store. The one I found most solace with is Rhodiola Rosea. But please research it before you decide to try it.

    Biggest issue is the lack of appetite and the lack of sleep I have been experiencing.

    I withdrew from opiates before, that was a cakewalk compared to this. With opiates you can go cold turkey and you’ll get flu symptoms, but you won’t be at risk of death. With benzo withdrawal if you withdraw too quickly you can put yourself at risk of death. Also be wary of the “kindling effect”, which occurs if you decide to up your benzo dosage again and then re-taper–this will usually exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.

    Best of luck to everyone else going through this–we can get through this. There is no benefit to taking such high doses of benzos long term. I honestly wish I hadn’t been prescribed them in the first place.

  21. I’m a 62 year old woman. I was On klonopin for 20 years. Maximum dose was 2 mg. I spent the last 10 years feeling disconnected from everything and everyone. Nothing really interested me. I lost my live of nature. Something that sustained me my whole adult life. I was baffled by this loss but too emotionally numb to recognize the source as the klonopin. Then I read about the suspected link of benzodiazepines to dementia and other health issues in the elderly. Frightening. I am now going through withdrawal hell after slowly tapering off. I have no intention of ever taking this poison again. The physical symptoms of the withdrawal are terrible, most of it in my digestive system and nerve endings. But now, I want to see clouds, trees, birds are a symphony and nature is what is getting through the withdrawal.

  22. When I do not have my klonopin I feel so stupid in my head, I am lost. It makes you act like you are on something because everything you say ehen taking to someone comes out retarted. I have been on them for 10yrs. I don’t want to get off of them but I do incourage ANY WHO IS OFFERED ANY TYPE OF BENZO DO NOT TAKE IT. IT IS SO SCARY THAT I CAN’T HOLD A JOB BECAUSE I. WILL BE OKAY THEN I AM JUST SO DUMB. PLEASE WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN

  23. Benzo withdrawl=hell 6 yrs on xanax started 1mg increased over time to 3Mg to 6mg and now taper back to 3mg withdrawal is not just severe anxiety and possible seizures it’s also psychomotor retardation abnormal thinking possible dementia something I wouldn’t wish on my own enemy for god sakes I’m withdrawing right now waiting on my next dose as I’m typing this I have to hurry up and eat before I lose my appetite like I said hell on earth.

  24. Hi, my name is Ryan and i was prescribed benzo’s from the age of 16-30 and after multiple seizures and the most horrific withdrawal ever I am off all benzo’s. However I simply cannot function and have a normal life now without them. I have such extreme anxiety constantly that i barely leave the couch. My family and friends don’t understand. They all think I’m lazy, stupid and a drug addict. I don’t know what to do!!! Please any advice will be appreciated.

  25. I’m 29 and I’ve been off xanax for 3 years and im pretty sure my life is over. I cant function anymore. I have no joy no anything. Im brain dead from 2.5 years of xanax use. And the worst part is there is no justice for me or the people who lost me

    1. Hi Derek. Your life is not over… There’s always a way out! You are young and you can beat this horrible Xanax addiction. First, I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule. Also, look into the Ashton Manual:
      http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/ It is a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal. Finally, call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant. The helpline is free, confidential, and available 24/7.

  26. Don Killian, thank you for writing this article last year and I am truly sorry for everyone that is suffering.

    Don, is it possible for me to contact you directly? I need some hope and can’t explain my symptoms here.

  27. 20 months off benzo. I have yet to talk to a doctor who believes Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms exist. If I mention anything about it they immediately change the subject. I often wonder whether anyone has any idea how many people actually have had extreme difficulty getting of these drugs, mainly because no one has counted me .

  28. I’m 2 years off a c/t from 5 mg of Valium which I used for a sleep aide for 6-7 years. I healed by around 9 months off. I exercised for 2-3 hours per day 7 days a week. These drugs are the devil and they should never be prescribed. The good news is as long as you stay off a benzo every day you are healing. Time heals all wounds.

  29. 17 months off after a 7 month taper. I took klonopin for about 8 years , as prescribed. When tolerance really set in I knew something was really wrong. Memory and focus problems mainly. I didn’t know what it could be so I cut my Klonopin dose. Within 2 or 3 days I knew I was in for something unexpected. That was 3 years ago and it has been a battle to survive ever since.

  30. I stopped benzodiazepines cold turkey after 10 years of use. My psychiatric nurse practitioner (e.g. not a real doctor) was adamant to get me off them and wanted to prescribe me numerous poisonous SSRIs. I had a tough couple of days but months later my general anxiety is about where it was pre-benzodiazepine use – not great. We still don’t understand much about the brain and science is making progress but for me the benefit of these drugs greatly outweighed the bad.

  31. Four months off klonopin after taking it for ten years. Not sure how I’m still alive. Fighting fire my life.


  33. Im 6 years OFF ALL benzos and still very very ill. Cant work and i have 3 college degrees! This has NOTHING to do with addiction. It is brain damage plain and simple. Still people even within our own community dont seem to get this. I would rather die than put another one of those pills in my mouth. I have NEVER been an addict, never like meds. Took them for less than 2 years during an extreme life circumstance. Associating these poisons with the term withdrawal and addiction is the REASON why it is discounted by the public and is misleading the medical community as a whole when it comes to treatment.

  34. I quit xanax cold turkey after a nearly 10 year addiction/dependence. I began to have nightmares (possibly night terrors), hallucinations, delusions, I would lose track of days of time. I’m not sure how long that lasted because of my total loss of the concept of time, 2 weeks or more. I couldn’t drive or even have stable conversations for about a month. My anxiety has decreased so much, it’s amazing. Are these common xanax withdrawal symptoms? Is it possible I had seizures or did brain damage though? I’m happy I did it but I still don’t feel completely “right”.

  35. I was prescribed ativan for insomnia after a concussion. I took 1 mg most days for 7 weeks. On the days I did not take ativan I sometimes took a half pill of the smallest dose of xanax. I didn’t like the way xanax made me feel so I threw them away. After the 7 weeks I still had trouble sleeping so I saw an acupuncturist. This was so helpful I stopped the ativan. I had no idea it should not be abruptly discontinued. One week later I was having headaches, dizziness, nausea and a disconnected feeling. After some online research I discovered it was ativan withdrawal. I saw my dr and she agreed and recommended a taper. I took my 0.5mg tablets and cut some in half. I’ve been on this dose 0.25mg once daily for 13 days now and doing fairly well. Every few days I have some anxiety or sleep issues and headaches. I want to cut the dose every 21 days or so.

    I take herbal and homeopathic remedies to manage any symptoms. I also meditate, do yoga and qi gong. I don’t know how long it will take me to get completely off the drug but I am determined to do it. I missed several months of work after my head injury and am only just back to work half time. I cannot afford to miss any more work.

    I applaud everyone who is trying to get off these terrible drugs.

  36. I have been a Member of several Benzodiazepam withdrawl groups for 18 months. I have made connections with many members and I have follow hundreds of tapering stories.
    Your article is really spot on and many of us that are suffering horribly as we taper are greatful for it.
    Your comment about the range of time being sick is not accurate. You have said “Multiple methods ranging from micro tapers lasting many months to relatively fast tapers lasting a few weeks.” Many tapers take years. If they are micro tapering it is because they cannot bare the torturous symptoms and must taper for a very very long time, such as years to get off the drug. The majority of fast tapers in our group have made the members so sick they cannot sleep, function, take care of the most simplest of their activities of daily living. Their suffering seems like an eternity. Many end up reinstating on the Benzo to safe their life and proceed slower. Any way you do it many thousands of people are so sick they have lost their life, jobs, homes, sometimes their spouse, their friends, and their family’s, because they cannot comprehend this severely debilitating iatrogenic illness that lasts so long could really be true.
    To many friends and family it borders on unbelievable. But it is absolutely not. Many members are very saddened and hurt that their loved ones turn away, tell us just think positive, don’t let any negativity enter your mind. it will go away. You can’t possibly be sick this long. Just suck it up. There are so many symptoms as we suffer off of this, severe fear is one of the main ones. And there are days that you don’t know whether you can make it another day.
    Support is needed so badly to get through this. Thank you for putting out this description of what we are going through to help us.

  37. I would like to know if anyone has experienced balding hair loss, weight gain and loss , high blood pressure , cysts, diabetes , acne face and neck bad, dark eye circles, repeated kidney infections, and more after quitting benzos? I have had a colozapan for 10 months after taking benzos for 13 years. All of these symptoms seems like they me as soon as I stopped medication. My anxiety is tripled and I’ve become extremely agorphobic I now now studded when I talk at times and more . It’s he’ll!

  38. I was off benzo for a year end up not recognizing my sons or myself or able to walk. I am only 55 in a nursing home. I am in theraphy everyday.

  39. Karen, you bring up some interesting points. First, benzos really should not be prescribed for more than a couple weeks. That is often printed on the inserts for most of the different benzos. The reason for this is that one can become chemically/physically dependent on them very rapidly. However, from my own experience and from the experience described in thousands of stories I have either read or heard from others whom I have helped in the past four years, benzos are rarely effective for more than a couple weeks. After that, one is typically simply dependent on them. There is a neurophysiological reason for that. I won’t get into that lengthy discussion here, but it is something that I hope to address in several videos on my website in the next few months. I think it’s something that needs to be addressed in a very simple way so that it can be understood and help to empower those who are going through benzo withdrawal.
    I took alprazolam for anxiety and panic in 1997. It was a miracle drug for two weeks. Then it quit working and actually made me worse. Even up-dosing didn’t help. I was switched to clonazepam and a bunch of other psychotropic drugs. I took clonazepam for the next eleven years. I am certain I was in tolerance withdrawal that whole time, but I did not know it. Unknowingly, I drank more and more to lessen the withdrawal symptoms of the clonazepam – anxiety, inner burning, derealization, dizziness and many others. When I quit drinking, the intensity of the symptoms of tolerance withdrawal skyrocketed.
    Of course, I went to the doctor and spent much of the next year and a half being told by dozens of professionals in the mental health system that I was mentally ill (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder) and needed the anti-anxiety drugs. That simply was not true. Despite their woefully incorrect diagnosis and prognosis, I was able to make my way to the truth that the drugs were actually my problem. I got off them by myself and endured the very long, hellacious withdrawal – even though they insisted that the withdrawal symptoms were indications of my “mental disorders.” Today I am more alive and happier than I have ever been in my life.
    I know you will insist that others “need” the drug to live. Maybe you are one of them. During my thirteen years on clonazepam, that is what I thought and what I was told. Looking back, although I was functional, those were very “grey” years. I remember almost nothing from them with any specificity. Life was not fun or even enjoyable. I still had lots of symptoms that I thought were some of my “underlying anxiety and panic” surfacing, but they were simply tolerance withdrawal symptoms from the clonazepam itself.
    I have heard hundreds of variations of my story in the past four years. I am not an individual who insists that all psychotropic drugs are bad and evil. But, I have concluded that benzodiazepines serve no one well over a long period of time (more than a few weeks). It is quite the opposite really. We are at the beck and call, the mercy, of the benzodiazepines. Sadly, it often takes a crisis to realize and accept that truth.

  40. Big Garth gets 90 1mg clonazepam monthly TID for panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder. He is also prescribed flunitrazepam PRN for chronic insomnia, as Zolpidem (Ambien) and Zopiclone (Imovane) provide no relief. The flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) gives Big Garth a solid 7-8 hours of sleep nightly, and its anxiolytic effect has not dissipated at all for the four months he has been taking it nightly, thus requiring no increased dosage. Rohypnol is truly a miracle drug.

  41. Hello. I live in N.Ireland / UK & have been unable to get any help, support or recognition for any of my symptoms – from my dr or neurologist for 34 years. I was prescribed Benzos for 27 yrs for a prev misdiagnosed brainstem & spinal cord injury; due to unrecognised toxicity with serious symptoms & severe physical rigiditiy progressively effecting all muscles, my GP/dr restricted my meds & insisted c/t w/d. Muscles started to ease & relax but then (in 09) had a massive paralysing brainstem seizure & since has followed a serious & ever progressing all new ‘auto-immune type’ cycle of biochemical destruction effecting brain chemistry & dysfunction & directly relating to obvious physical changes & losses. Relevant SPECT scan November 13 showed significant abnormalities – diagnosis ‘likened to severe alz, dementia & Lewy bodies’ – but neurologist said ‘dont know what it means’ & refuses to contact an expert & simply ignore all symptoms & the related progressing damage since. Clearly my brain has an intractable biochemical dependence and cannot function properly without the meds & since withdrawal evidently attacks itself. To date I have been unable to get any treatment, help, support or proper recognition at all. When I’ve suggested enquiring from experts particularly in America of vitamin & iv supplements – Drs ridicule & ignore.
    Any advice / suggestions u may have would be much appreciated. Thanku.

  42. Horror, that’s how I remember w/d from Clonazapem. I had some issue before coming off which it’s hard to say if they were caused by Clonazapem, since I am off after a year of hell si lost a lot of weight. Is the Cicken or the egg? I don’t know. All I know that it’s evil, Clonazapen is the devil on earth. Doctors won’t tell you anything and in my case since I always ask questions they told me no to worry about that I will be just fine since I don’t have an addictive personality. It took me a year to come off 1-2mg. I took it for 8 years.

  43. I’ve been suffering from protracted withdrawal for nearly 2 years after just 4 days of iv Ativan use while in the hospital for pneumonia. I was overdosed and I had no idea I was even receiving this medication. No lawyer will take my case, nobody cares, and I wonder every day if and when I will ever feel normal. This madness needs to stop!

  44. I’ve Been Disabled from Clonazepam for 31 months. It was given to me because I had insomnia which gave me severe anxiety. I was taking under a 1 mg. 0.75 mg to be exact for five years. My Psychiatrist doctor told me it was very safe, it was a very low dose, I could taper off someday in the future very easily as long as I go very slow and I would be able to work. He kept trying to talk me into staying on it and I trusted him. He told me many people use benzodiazepines long time because they don’t have time to or don’t want to see a therapist or counselor. He said I could go up to 8 mg of clonazepam which is the max dose and by the time I would reach that dose they would have a new drug out that I could switch over to in the future. I Even asked him would you give this to your mom. He Said yes? I question now whether he likes his mom. I continue to use it for five years and see him twice a year to get my six-month prescription. With no warning 5 years later on 0. 75 mg I Went into the most horrific anxiety and depression imaginable at my home, I was alone. I was bedridden or on the couch for three months shaking not knowing if I was going to live. For 13 months my doctor polly drugged me with other drugs antidepressants Lexapro and Effexor up to the max doses made my central nervous system even worse. I was given gabapentin, then that was taken away and I was given amitriptyline, and I was given Zoloft. I was so fearful I thought I was going to be committed. Cried my heart out three times a day to let off the severe anxiety pressure I had and my husband of 39 years had to reassure me you’re going to feel better soon. My Husband suffered watching me go through this and trying to support me. I was being treated by my doctor and even my counselor like it was all coming from my thoughts. I suffered horrendously for those 13 months. I would tell the pharmacists how sick I was my primary care provider And a 0B GYN doctor that I needed to see. Over the last 13 months not one person told me it might be the benzodiazepine I was taking. I started looking up benzodiazepine on the Internet and I got very afraid there is so much bad information about these drugs. My doctor and counselor told me do not read about it online it’s only making you worse. I continued to feel like I was dying as I said for 13 months, my doctor wanted me to updose my Clonazepam, I fought it for months and finally gave in and I could not bear living such horror any longer. Went up to 1 1/2 mg it did not help I waited a little longer and then I had to go up to 2 mg it did not help. After 13 months I Finally decided to keep searching on the Internet until founed a benzo support group that is private. That is where I learned it was the drugs making me so sick and losing my life. They gave me a lot of kindness care support and a lot of information. I learned the best thing I could do is to start tapering off of that medicine. Must do it very very slowly.
    I was glad to tell my doctor at my next appointment that I have good news and I wanted to taper off he was surprised and said can’t I give you something else. I said no So after 13 months I began my taper and these are the symptoms I have had below as I taper.
    By the way 2 mg of clonazepam which my doctor said is a low dose is equal in equivalency to 40 mg of Valium. That is enough to knock four people out.
    I have Overwhelming Anxiety and fear / panic
    Need silence from The moment I get up in the morning and have to wear ear plugs all day
    No tv radio, phone ringer has to be turned off
    Small noises startle me, like phone ringing, a soft beep
    Get stressed when I talk on the phone, must put it on speaker and only talk briefly
    No patience
    Wear ear plugs at times
    Stomach aches
    Frightening nightmares, and sometimes can’t go back to sleep
    Intrusive thoughts
    Living so deeply within the misery and constantly trying to survive.
    Wake up many times throughout the night.
    Fear of how long I’ve been sick.
    Fear I could not get through this without my husband
    Brain fog – often can’t follow 2 sentences put together that are new, or are directions.
    My brain feels scrambled, stressed and wants to avoid because it is to upsetting.
    Can’t drive due to safety. I’ve made mistakes
    Can not cook, always did all The cooking for 39 years
    Only shower on Saturdays when my husband is home
    Tried to write out 3 checks with husband helping, ended up stresses and crying.
    Cannot multitask
    When my husband listens to voice mail on our answering machine, the noise upsets me, I plug my ears and want to scream because I can’t stand it
    Cannot work, cannot spend more than a few minutes with my grandchildren my son and his fiancée my daughter and her husband and children. The last three thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have been very hard and I just want them over.
    Cannot be a wife to my husband we cannot go to a concert a movie take a trip an hour away and stay overnight.
    We can only talk briefly to each other. We’ve been empty nesters for a few years and it’s supposed to be the good times in our life I was very happy when our son and daughter bought their own homes got married and are doing well before I became sick .
    I am now tapering Valium I asked my doctor if I could crossover hoping it might go a little faster because I’ve lost 31 months I have 24 mg to taper yet I’m tapering add a milligram a month and it is getting much harder I’m going to have to slow my taper down. By the grace of God when I get through this it will have taken me six years of my life away from me. And once you are off this horrible drug there is at least another 6 to 18 months of healing in your brain.

  45. If a person suffers from anxiety and panic attacks ,due to a type a personality along with several life challenges,I do not understand why taking a prescribed dose,2milligrams per day,would be bad for them.If they are not an addict and don’t up the dosage.This is a complicated issue because I have seen people really benefit from “taking their meds”.Their lives have gotten better and more manageable.This is what a quality doctor and a plan for a person that suffers from anxiety can do together.Not everyone gets addicted and needs to up dosages even after years of use.I have seen it go the other way too,but usually with people that have a history of addiction.I personally don’t think people should suffer because others abuse prescription meds.This is a very serious subject. I have seen many people get sober from years of alcohol abuse and take 1 milligram of lorazapan once a day,and celebrates 10 yrs, of sobriety. She relapsed many times before she found a quality doctor that prescribed it to her.Addiction is a very touchy subject.There are others that get off alcohol and get addicted right away to benzos.Very debatable subject.Love to talk about it though.

  46. Very difficult 30 month taper from 4mg Klonopin. Now 35 months free (65 months total) and still struggling. Still disabled. Slowly healing. The last five years of my life were destroyed and it looks like one or two more to go.

  47. I was on xanax for 20 years, started tapering myself and that did not go well, I was almost at the point of dying because my doctor or any doctor would not help me, until I found a wonderful doctor who tapers you slowly, He is a literal lifesaver for me…

  48. Absolute worst experience of my life! I desperately wanted to die! The ignorance and denial of the medical community added insult to injury. It should be required for them to disclose the truth of their addiction properties. I had 27 horrific symptoms for 3 years and still today, 2-1/2 years benzo free, have a couple remaining neurological symptoms including movement disorder that I wonder if permanent- although it is much less pronounced than it was and not noticed by others as much. I’m very angry that this can go on and neither the pharmaceutical companies who are making millions off of the suffering of others as well as medical professionals who are prescribing and destroying lives/ then turn their backs and blame the patient. This has been my personal experience. I would love to be part of exposing this travesty on both of these fields! I also want to be able to help people who are going through it. Thanks for hearing my story.

  49. I am a victim of my psychiatrist Rx benzos, then antipsychotic, then Remron all for sleep. Then gabapentin for wd. I’m totally toxic from these drugs. I need help please.

  50. The addictive properties of benzodiazepines have been known for decades. I live in the UK. In 1988 the UK Government issued prescribing guidelines stating that bentos should be prescribed for only 2-4 weeks. In the 1990s thousands of patients tried to sue the drug companies but the legal action collapsed. Tv documentaries were made highlighting the dangers. I watched and listened to all that was going on but I had been prescribed nitrazepam for myoclonic epilepsy. I assumed this was a lifelong condition. I assumed I would have to keep taking nitrazepam. The fact that I was now an involuntary addict seemed academic. 40 years on and I was advised by my doctor to stop taking nitrazepam. I no longer have epilepsy. I am also free from depression for the first time in 40 years. Withdrawal has been hellish and I have been bedridden for over two years. My symptoms are purely physical. Numb from the waist down for a year. Unbearable nerve pain, head pressure and brain squeezes. At 18 months I was able to sit up without head support, at 24 months I was able to walk outside for a short distance. At 34 months my cognitive functioning has improved a lot. I don’t know if I will make a full recovery or not. I hope I do. It makes me very angry to see that these drugs are widely prescribed in so many countries. The dangers are well-known. I now see at age 61 that we cannot trust pharmaceutical companies or governments or even the medical profession to protect us. I feel that I have been such a fool but I now see that there are many other fools like me around the world. We were foolish enough to trust our doctors’ knowledge and expertise. It is a sad lesson to learn.

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