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The Benzo Beast

It's devious and deceptive, confusing and cunning. It messes with your intellect, your sense of reality, and your emotions. It puts unwanted, frightening, catastrophic thoughts in your head. It's as if it were alive like some kind of demon or monster that holds on and doesn't want to let go. It's a war. But it can be won. It's insidious and all pervasive, but it can't win in the end if we are determined. We can rid ourselves of it and we do recover. Trust me. it's the truth. I did it!

Benzo Withdrawal Support Resources - Testimonies and Stories

Last Modified August 9th, 2009


This was posted on on August 8, 2009. The name of the individual is withheld for obvious reasons.

In a nutshell.......

I got PTSD from being raised by mentally ill people who drank and did drugs and lived in condemned homes and abandoned apartments in big cities and sometimes homeless. I didn't get to go to school nor to have friends. I was moved every few months on average. I was hungry, cold, beaten, raped, molested and afraid. then I was kidnapped and taken to white slavery and bought by one of the pimps who wanted to keep me. with him I had four children and I was an object and punching bag. EX came to America then got hooked on heroin and I found myself from riches to rags again. lived in the streets with pimps and drugs for a few years. I finally saved enough money to take my children and escape when I found I was pregnant. I needed that money to have this child who was born in a roach infested motel. Ex left this newborn and 4 years old with me as he took my two other children to the Middle East to his mafia family. he didn't tell me and I got home from a walk one day with two little ones and he was gone with my kids. the motel people said that I don't have a room anymore. Ex was gone and he didn't leave me a dime. I walked across the street to a crack house with some nice people who let me stay there for a few weeks. a lot of violence there. I found a job at 7/11 but the walk was 4 hours. I pushed the stroller for 4 hours to work each day and back to crack house. soon I was given a few hundred dollars as a gift from a rich relative. I went straight to SF mission district deep into the heroin country to retrieve my tiny old car from a drug dealer who got it for a bag (dope) from my EX. now the children and I had a place to sleep close to work and their childcare. we slept in a car. finally I saved enough money this way to travel to the Middle East on pretense that I would stay there with EX. EX said that the only way I would ever see my children again was to go there and live with him like a "good girl". I did and was beaten severely the night I landed. his family was cruel to me and his brother raped me. everyone knew and no one cared. took me two years to save money, forge papers and sneak l the hell out of that horrid country so I can arrive back in new York city with no money, four children, no job, no place to live.............that time I was so happy to be back that I considered my stress to be done so I CT's from 60 mill valium. thinking I am done with stress. a year later, one of my girls told me she was being touched in private parts by a person I trusted. hell broke out in my heart and soul and started having panic attacks. I went on xanax and that is when my real stress and PTSD started. only then did the real stress in my life start. Warning package on benzos should say "never mix benzos with stress". such hell came my way then that I can't even talk about it. then......................the PTSD from the failed attempts to get off the xanax! no wonder why therapist and doctors told me not to get off of benzos. "you don't want to remember". honest. I was told this my therapist I hired to help me get off xanax in 2002. Hindsight being 20/20 as we know with benzo poisons. The purest of my hells would not have happened if I was not on benzos. I suspected that once but now I know it to be true. So benzos takes home the gold on stress in my life. I now see a good future.


I'm in a really bad place right now. My mother has totally lost it; she kept updosing until she literally went insane. She's skin and bones, lost at least 50lbs.... I can actually overpower her and I'm 5'0" and 110lbs.

I had to find this out the hard way. I really don't like to get too personal on the Internet but at this point I don't care because I'm just a trainwreck.

On and off since I was 18 I have been abused and my home life has become a toxic environment. Ironically I was 18 years old when my parents both got on Xanax. My parents used to be amazing; I wanted to be just like them - they took me hiking, camping, fishing, biking,even mountain climbing! My dad was like my best friend.

But since they've been on the Xanax I have not recognized them since. When my dad was on higher doses (4mg) he would wake up and cry out all hours of the night, he purposely wrecked my car and I couldn't do anything about it because both mine AND his name was on it, etc. My mother began stealing money from me and when I put my money in the bank she began ....well... you get the picture.

Fortunately my dad got himself down to like .25mg Xanax at bedtime and now has his wits about him but my mother continued to updose until she literally lost her mind.

Me nor my father know what to do for her, she's so out of control and irrational you wouldn't even believe it.

The other day we got into one of our noxious fights and she threw my computer chair at me. So I tried some psychology on her and began to treat her like a misbehaving child.

It must have really pissed her off because then she tried to hit me; now, when I was 18 I only weighed 87lbs and she was not benzo sick and feeble - so it would have ordinarily knocked me down.

But I was able to grab both of her arms and she could not get out of my restraint - I backed her up into our recliner, forced her down into it and told her to calm down, get ahold of herself, and realize that she was just about to hit me and that is against the law.

It was after that I got scared. I did not realize how weak and sick my mother has become, and she refuses to admit it's the Xanax. she says she needs more, more, more, to cope.

My mother has been irrational (and so has my father) since I was 18 but she went downhill fast within the last year.


It has been one year since i have ingested benzos or any other prescription drugs. I consider myself completely recovered and would like to offer hope to all of you still on this journey.

My journey began approximately four years ago when I began to taper off the antidepressant that I had been on for 15 years. I no longer felt I needed it and I was not sure if it was really working any longer. With my doctor's blessing, I began a taper that only lasted one month. This was my first mistake of many that were to follow. About one month off the drug I began to experience what I now can identify as a hypomanic state--insomnia, reckless behavior and spending, excessive talking, the life of the party, and rapid mood changes, irritability and inappropriate anger. Deep depression followed rapidly and my doctor mistakenly told me that I needed to go back on the Lexapro as my body definitely needed the drug to balance out my body chemistry. He used the "diabetic needs his insulin" talk to convince me I needed the Lexapro. The Lexapro however did not work when I reinstated and I continued to get worse and worse. My mental health continued to decline and I could not sleep. This is when the doctor began to prescribe many different drugs with no washout period between drugs. i was given many different anti-depressants, sleeping meds,benzos, and antipsychotics. I would take one for awhile until it stopped working and then try another. I continued to get worse and worse mentally and physically. I spent many days and nights crying and thinking I was truly losing my mind. I wanted to die many many times. I isolated myself in my house. My thinking became irrational and I was very paranoid. I developed akathasia, constant nausea, painful joints and muscles but the mental symptoms were the worst. Finally, my doctor said he could no longer help me and steered me towards psychiatry. Another huge mistake!!! The psychiatrist then diagnosed me as bipolar 2 at the age of 52. He then c/t me off all the current drugs I was on and added Klonopin (as needed) and antipsychotics. I continued to get worse and worse and I was now into 2 years of pure hell. I truly did not want to live anymore. I entered therapy to deal with my bipolar and that also was a huge waste of money as my symptoms and problems were drug induced, not related to a bad childhood. I began to doubt the expertise of my psy doctor and began searching the internet for more info. I found this website and found a whole community of people who had all my symptoms and believed they might be caused by the very drugs that were supposed to help. It was then that i decided to get off the drugs. I was a very high functioning woman who excelled at my job for 30 years prior to this mess and I desperately wanted her back. I began to believe the drugs were my problem.

I found an integrative med doctor who believed in my assessment and supported me in getting off all my drugs. I started to eliminate all the drugs one by one until I was left with only Klonopin. I then did the valium taper. Make no mistake, this has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was hell!!! The entire taper was difficult and the first 10 months off all drugs were not any better. But I started to have very brief windows about 4 months into the taper that kept me hopeful. I wanted to give up many many times but i always came to the forum for support and this is what kept me going.

My worst symptoms have been intrusive memories and thoughts, dark suicidal depression, and insomnia. The physical symptoms included muscle pains, nausea,hot and cold flashes, migraines, and brain zaps. The depression left for good at 10 months off and it virtually disappeared overnight.

What helped me recover? I have no idea if any of the things worked that I implemented but I will list what I did. i exercised throughout the taper (I ran 3 marathons), I practiced yoga and deep breathing exercises, I quit alcohol and all supplements, I tried EMDR and EFT. I forced myself to call my friends and be social even though I could not really connect with any of them. I read every self help book I could get my hands on. I did jigsaw puzzles as I could not concentrate on reading or following the plot of anything I would read. I spent days on the forum just reading and crying. I tried to keep my diet organic and healthy. I journaled my feelings daily. I practiced yoga and deep breathing. I prayed. I snuggled with my cats and cried. I truly believe that time is the greatest healer.

Fast forward to today. I awoke this morning with a deep feeling of gratitude and anticipation for the day. I went to coffee with friends, cross country skiing, tutored a student at the local school, picked up groceries at the store, and met friends for dinner. I enjoyed all the moments of the day!! My personality has returned and I am "myself" again. Last year at this time, I thought my life truly was over and I would live out my life in misery.

My message to all of you is that we all heal. Please allow your body the time it needs to repair all the damage the drugs has done to you. If at all possible, do not add other drugs or supplements to aid in your healing. At one time I felt a victim, then a survivor. Today I am thriving. You will also. I have absolutely no fear of the future anymore as I KNOW I have already been to hell and I made it to the other side.

I pray for all of us.

From: I am a teacher

A member here asked me to share my story... blessings to all

The Saga:

  1. I had been a normal person, a teacher, for years.
  2. Relocated High stress corporate job... 1st panic attack.
  3. Put on Xanax by ER doc.
  4. Tolerance w/d in 2 weeks did not know what was wrong c/t off.
  5. Switched to Klonopin tolerence w/d set in c/t off.
  6. 14 nights of no sleep checked into hospital for 4 nights.
  7. Saw many horrors people screaming strip searched polydrugged for sleep.
  8. Got out saw another doc polydrugged 7 meds now.
  9. Lost my cognitive abilities lost in a fog.
  10. Mom found Ashton M started to taper 7 meds myself.
  11. Last taper to benzo Ativan razor pain in my back felt slashing pain for hours on end hours spent screaming in pain...1/16 of Ativan switched to 5mg of V after 5 docs turned me down one saved my life & helped me taper.
  12. Symptoms came and went couldn't walk or read muscle twiches razor shots in my back weight loss dp dr severe physical pain.
  13. Windows came slowly things started to come back.
  14. Nearly 2 years off I teach again full time, No more back pain, I sleep 7-8 hrs. a night I work out play tennis run stairs, I give speeches and talk about my ordeal. I help others over the phone who need encouragment. I have my life back, I want others to know there is hope and life beyond the betrayel of the medical field. I am here to answer any of your questions. I never want to forget that others are in need. I made that promise if I ever got better I would not turn my back on those who are on that journey to recovery. Never give up.

Ms.T, June 05, 2008, 11:32:45 AM

Following post from

My God,What is Happening!!!!

I been coming off of 12 mg's of Klonopin as you people know.My father controls my meds for a reason,i am an addict in recovery.And i do suffer from some emotional problems,been misdiagnosed my whole life buy these dumb shrinks.MY friend Karen is very educatated in physcology,very high IQ,photograpic memory,incredible what she can do.Exremely intelligent person,trying to help me so much through this.I love her so much,we are such great friends,thank God there are people here for me for support,whole family,friends in AA,sponser,ex wife and Karen..My friend Karen said the first time she met me ,she said i am not Bi-polar.She said i have severe Post Traumatic Stress disorder and very bad ADHD and very obsessive and compulsive.My God i feel like i am the only one in the world who is a recovering alcoholic and addict with also all these emotional problems,i feel so lonely and in great emotional pain.It feels like God ,i'm not religous gave me a raw deal,why me!!!why me!!!!why me!!!!I was in the military from 1981 to 1984 and was in a hot zone,meaning war zone,when in 1983 beirut,lebanon was demolished and they drove a tank into the barracks and killed 200 of our marines.I was on an ammunition ship,called the USS Suribachi AE-21,it was an ammunitin ship and we carried many bombs and nuclear weapons,i remember being so scared we would be hit,no one slept at night with all the bombs going off and flares flying around.When we were told by the President,we went full throttle straight to lebanon,took about a day at full knots ,about 25 knots maxs we could do,we went right to full general quarters.When we got to the bay in Lebanon it was so dramatic,every building was bombed by planes,the city was demolished,then we heard about the marines in the barracks.After 2 days for ammunition support,conflicts starting happening in Grenada,now we were told to head straight there at full knots,another dramatic expierience to see,devastating.Sorry if i am rambling,i need to get this out of me,i never told anybody the feelings i went through during these 2 conflicts.Now when the world trade centers were hit and collaped i worked for the city of New york right next to the towers,i saw everything.Planes going in,people jumping out of the windows ,80 floors and more,and seeing them come down.Was totally devastating.I was involved in getting many supplies down there for search and rescue,to injured people on the street and the fireman who lived,who didn't go into the building just as they came down,when i was down there i saw the #7 building collapse,100's of people running for there life with work trucks in reverse at full speed and smelling dead bodies and seeing parts of people all over the street,sorry to sound so dramatic,but this is what i expierienced.The first time i went down to ground zero,everyone was in a quite state of shock,i just could not believe what i saw,what you seen on TV didn't come even close to being right there.Everyone perished in the 2 towers,over 3000 people and over 300 of our bravest.I will be going into a Post Traumatic stress disorder clinic program starting this month at the Veterans Administration.I get more thoughts,more and more of the towers coming down.I am obbessed with watching the video's and can't stop.after 5 days of digging in huge lines passing buckets down a row of 100's of people.No one alive.They had to stop at some point with the search and rescue and the mayor decided everyone is gone.So he ordered the heavy equipment in to start the clean up,no one came out of the rubble alive,i was totally devasted and everyone else involved.Really sorry to ramble with this negativity.Right after that i was put on anti-depressants,the benzo's were later on.I am down to about i think 8 1/2 of Klon a day from 12 now in over a month and a half about.The last few days were not that bad.very tired,needed knapps all day,lethargy,very weak,no energy or motivation to do anythig and crying alot.I don't even have the energy to tie my sneakers,but forcing myself helps,i scrubbed the kitchen floor yesterday,it was so had but i did it,the more i force myself to do things,i think the easier things will get done,that need to be done and not be a vegatable.It is 3:30 eastern time and my sleep is horrible waking up every 2 hours like clockwork.And having vivid scary dreams sometime.This morning was the worse day yet for me.I just woke up after the second 2 hours sleep and just starting crying so hard,i could not control it and could not stop shaking.I feel better now writing on here.With my obsessiveness,i am driving my parents crazy about coming off these benzo's,always talking about,we are doing it wrong,it's not enough,etc. etc.I put my father in a deep depression.I feel alot of guilt about this ,and i don't need more crap on my shoulders right now,i feel very very guilty about what i am doing to him and my mother with the obbession of getting off these benzo's.I have to stop talking about it and let my father do what he thinks is best and have the patience to fully feel myself again,patience is hard,it's a long process,thank God i was only on a big dose of Klonopin for 1 year and not many many years as alot of you were,so i hope my wittdrawel will be better being on this stuff for only 1 year instead of 10 or 20 years,is that possible,or it don't matter?Will my witdrawel end quicker then someone on them for many years?Thank you all for listening,sorry for all the talking and the bad expieriences i went through in 25 years of my life.God Bless,Oiler,Billy.

Hi everyone,

[June 14th, 2008]

I decided I'd start a slower withdrawal process and thought I'd write about it cuz

1 - other people's blogs helped me feel less alone in my tapering and the symptoms we live through, so if I can help would it be only one person in the future, I'll feel like I've contributed something cuz this is NOT easy but must be done.

2 - serve as some kind of place where I can get some feedback if things go hellish at times (like it did in the past week for me due to a too quick withdrawal).

So where do I start? First, I'm 26, male, from Canada. I've been taking Benzos, Rivotril (Clonazepam a.k.a Klonopin or "Klonopoison" as Theresa2 would call it:P ) for the last 9 years. At first 0.5mg's daily, then 1.0 mg's to end up at 2.0 mg's daily in the past year. On may 1st 2008, 1˝ month ago, my psychiatrist told me to get off cold-turkey. That was really a bad decision, and I don't recommend it to anyone. My psychologist prescribed me a 3-week tapering the day later, but three weeks still wasn't enough. I decided to do it over a period of 5 weeks instead, and by May 21st I was down at 0.5 mg's daily and came down to ZERO June 8th. Two days later, I had to take another 0.5 tablet cuz things became too hellish, same with June 12th and today, June 14th. So the second day at zero on such a tight and quick schedule is the worst, where things get out of control physically as well as mentally.

I must also mention, cuz Benzo's can be prescribed for a couple of reasons, me it's GAD and acute panic disorder. I also get health anxiety, or some people call it hypocondira, when my symptoms get bad, where I start worrying about diseases such as cardiovascular related, diabetes, etc. I prefer calling it "health anxiety" as some other sites call it since my worrying only lasts mostly when I get episodes of anxiety-related symptoms.

Today, I decided, with advice from people like you ( and documentation like and this very site, to go about a longer withdrawal process, where my withdrawals symptoms will atleast be controllable and not put me into hyperventillation states for long hours run and extreme panic and symptoms as it did every "Day 2 of 0 mg's". So what counts as Day 1 of my withdrawal. I'll keep May 2 as my first date cuz it made me drop significantly where I was gonna end this for good but just couldn't, and I'll reinstate at either 0.5mg's or 1.0mg's from today.

So how was today: until almost 3pm (approximate time where my 0.5 mg's of Rivotril kicked in): HELL. Symptom-wise, mental-wise, and also my control or rather lack of control, incapable of escaping the impending thoughts of death or going crazy. Right now, I feel okay. I can't confirm I feel great, but afterall, I'm in withdrawal, and it's MUCH better than my ZERO consumption of some days this past week. This is where I'll keep an update of how I feel about my weanage, and ask questions if needed in the appropriate forums / sub-forums. Good luck to myself.


OK,I have been on benzos pretty much for 18 years,laast may i stopped xanax cold turkey went into a mental hospital,there i was put on cymbalta risperdal and ativan i was there 2 weeks,,,later after getting out i wa sput on and they stopedd the ativan.Moving on eventually all meds except klonopin were stopped then this last jan a dr stop the klonopin and put me on low dose of ativan back intoa hospital i went.. there the dr put me back on xanan that was Feb 7 08 in april i asked to be taken off it so he started tapering me off 1 mg 3 times aday of xanax using 0.5 mg of klonopin 4 times aday.....i got down to 1 mg of xanax and he started tapering me off the klonopin on may 28 he said drop one pill every 10 days so i dropped to 3 pills...tried to go to 2 but reallly fekt bad so i went back to 3 now i have been doing 2 1/2 pills of the klonopin and still the 1 mg of xanax......i feel awful lots of one sided head pain but i do have bad sinues and have to have surgery the past week my blood pressure and heart rate have been doing wierd things.......and everyone keeps telling me i could have a seizure so now im so scared i dont feel like doing anything.and im home alone to day and i have a headdache so i think im having a seixure..........should i be conceened about dr is on vacation and the oncall dr says he doont hink i will have a seixure but im dizzy shakey and so scared i am tapering slow i think/is there a big chance i could have a seizure.................................i know im so full of stresss thats its affecting my whole body and even after taking my klonopin and xanax they dont calm me down..........this is gonna kill me.......Please any advice .I dont want to have a seizure...

S - 6/26/08

June 2008   

During recovery from a minor stroke In 2002 I realized something else was wrong; in 2004 I learned that I was in tolerance withdrawal from Klonopin. My prescribing doctor, in hot water for a potential liability case, tried to convince me that I was having psychiatric problems and wanted to put me on Seroquel, which I rejected. After 15-years of Klonopin/Clonazapam usage under a doctor's direction, withdrawal was successfully completed in June 2006. It is 2-years now and everyone says I am a different person.

I suffered with gastrointestinal problems since birth and while seeking help with pain management I was prescribed benzos for anxiety 1992. They misdiagnosed me, told me that my problems were in my head, and put me on Klonopin. Three years later I had emergency surgery for a ruptured intestine. Six months after a second surgery that reversed my colostomy I was put on Prozac for benzo induced depression. I was unknowingly addicted and unaware of what was happening to me.

Tolerance withdrawal began after 12-years of Klonopin usage in early 2004. My doctors misdiagnosed me with bipolar disease, although there was no previous history of bipolar disorder. Combined with the stroke and my other health issues, I was disabled. That year I found new doctors who I am still with and with their help I was approved for disability within a few months. 

Early 2005 I began a straight taper and dealt with most of the common and excruciating symptoms. February 2006 I threw out the bottle and went cold turkey and ended up in the hospital. They prescribed 2mg of valium and I tapered slowly, taking my last dose June 2006.

During the first few months after withdrawal, I thought the worst was over, bipolar symptoms were gone, and everyone was amazed at my recovery. Sleep issues and depression crept in and after a few months until I was waking 5-times a night. I went for a sleep study and learned that I was having night terrors and not achieving stage 4 sleep – REM or dream state. The doctor who did my sleep study offered me Klonopin, which I turned down. There was no other help and I learned that the sleep issues were a result of withdrawal.

Progress was slow; two steps forward and one step back, but improvement continued. At 1-year I was still dealing with sleep problems, cognitive issues, intermittent anxiety, depression, light sensitivity, phantom itching on my palms and feet, but I was improving.

At seventeen months, I suffered a setback and had a couple of rough months during the climb back. My blood pressure was up and I was prescribed Lisinopril - big mistake. After a night in the emergency room I took myself off and decided to manage my blood pressure with diet and exercise.     

These last few months have come with great improvement. I am 90% symptom free and improvement continues. Everyone in my life remarks about the dramatic change. Two months ago, a friend's wife whom I met while in the throes of interdose withdrawal 4-years ago, remarked at how mellow I was and asked if I was on meds. She was blown away when I told her that it the opposite was true.

Withdrawal is an indescribable hell, but worth the pain and necessary as staying on them is not an option worth considering. While on Klonopin, I developed asthma that was becoming a serious pulmonary problem. Asthma and bipolar symptoms have disappeared and many other health issues that were exacerbated by Klonopin have improved dramatically. Only a person who has been through benzo withdrawal can understand, making it very difficult on family and friends. I printed out some of the stories published here and that was a great help.  Along the way I learned how to manage the problems that led me to benzos with the help of CBT, which is what I should have done instead of benzos.

My faith in God, supportive family and friends, BI, a great therapist, and determination helped me to succeed. Stay the course and get your life back.

Hi, all just thought i should say hello..some years ago i was feeling rough,i had a terrible cough and flu symptoms , ..doc gave me meds and sent me away, but i was feeling worse and went back, he said i had post viral fatigue, or some thing like that, and sent me away again ..a few days later i went back, and had words with him ! ..he diden't like that, ..i said i wanted a blood test, ..he got up muttering under his breath in a temper, ..i had the test , and went back a week later. The receptionist looked at the results and told me all was ok , though she did not look so sure at the time as she hesitated..any way i became considerably worse, i was now very dizzy and had developed tinnitus, so i went to the hospital at the hospital said he thinks i have Labyrinthitus of the inner ear, and to go back to my doctor..Sigh ..ok so the next day i went see a different doctor, i told him the story and that the blood tests were apparantly ok, but also said the receptionist looked unsure ! ..he sent for the blood tests and sat back to look at them and said oh god how did he miss this ! your Thyroid has all but packed up now it was too late the damage had been done, as all this happened over a period of 5 weeks.. a few weeks later after enduring high stress and anxiety he put me on anti depressant..Zoloft i think it was ..this made the tinnitus worse, so i asked for Xanax < big mistake > i had been told this could reduce the voluum of tinnitus and also reduce the stress and anxiety. He started me on .5 mg ..and as i wasen't sleeping he thought 7.5 of Zopiclone would do the trick ..Huh, .. a year later i was up to 2 mg of Xanax and still taking Zopiclone.I was having a terrible time, the stress and anxiety had doubled, and i was having interdose with drawal.. i couldent go on as i was in pieces, ..i knew nothing about drugs at all, so i thought right ! i will pack it all in , just stopped the lot, i was ok for 24 hours, then my world crashed around me ..i spent 3 days crawling around on the floor crying, i never gave reinstating a thought, just thought this is what happens, ..the following two weeks were so bad i was planning my funeral. night time was pure hell with extreme night terrors, i could hear my heart pounding like a bass drum, and opening and closing my eye's sounded like a door being slammed ..what i'm left with now is numb hands, face, top of head, lower legs and feeling on occasions that iv'e been run down by a truck. Iv'e been free of Xanax for 27 months now and Zopiclone about 11..the tinitus is still a major issue, but all the terrible sx have taken a hike, it's only been about 6 months that i have been able to go out and mix with people or do some shopping .. there is loads i have left out but would not make nice reading !! to say iv'e been to hell would be an understatement..thankyou for reading my tale of woe , i wish us all better days to come ..

M - 6/19/08

    Hi, my name is (...) and I live in the Fort Worth Texas area.  I was prescribed Klonopin in February of 2007 to both help me sleep and to help alleviate anxieties I was having while trying to get on an anti-depressant.  I started out taking .5mg at night, but eventually worked my way up to 3mg a day in two divided doses over the span of a year. 

I was a nursing student on the verge of my senior 1 semester when my old antidepressant pooped out on me and stopped helping my OCD and major depressive disorder. As a result of pursuing a nursing career I know a few things about drugs and how they work in the body-but I wasn't very familiar with this class of drugs because we hadn't covered them yet.  So, I trusted my psychiatrist at the time who prescribed it that it was ok to take it for as long as I was (at that point about four months).  I later changed psychiatrists and it is the one I have now who told me about the long term hazards.

My current psychiatrist wanted me to get off the Klonopin-she told me that it wasn't good to take benzos long term because they can cause memory problems-but she insisted that I first get on an anti-depressant. 

   Well, after a year had passed and I still had not been able to succesfully get back on an anti-depressant for more than a few weeks at at time (which is a long and frustrating story in itself) I decided that a year was long enough to be on my Klonopin and decided that I would start tapering regardless of whether I had an SSRI on board or not.  I wasn't sure how "long" long term was and I wasn't going to take any chances.

    I knew I was on a long acting benzo which makes for a smoother withdrawal, but I never thought about potency as a factor in my tapering.  I also regrettably didn't find the Ashton manual online until things had already gone terribly wrong and I was desperate for answers.  I thought I could manage my own taper.  I should have researched it online FIRST, but I didn't.  AND when I informed my psychiatrist of what I was doing she said I was going slower than recommended, so I felt secure.  I now know I was going too fast. 

    So, as I mentioned earlier I started tapering by taking a fourth off of my morning AND evening dose for two weeks at a time.  The first few cuts seemed alright, but as the doses got smaller and smaller by cutting a fourth off of each dose I was decreasing it by a greater value each time I did a new cut.  When I got down to 1mg a day my doctor encouraged me to stay there for a while, but I was determined to get off, so I kept going- continuing to go down by fourths off of each dose every two weeks.  When I got down to .5mg a day I started having nightmares.  After five days of the nightmares not improving I decided that it was just probably something I was going to have to live with as part of withdrawing so I went ahead and stopped taking it.  The dose seemed so small- only .5mg a day-only .25 mg at each dose- but again I wasn't thinking about potency.

    The symptoms I got when I stopped taking it completely were terrifying.  The worst part was the nightmares and the change in my perception of time.  Whenever I would finally fall asleep (the insomnia was bad) I would have nightmare after nightmare.  I felt as though I had been sleeping for hours, yet when I awoke it had only been thirty agonizing minutes.  And when I awoke I was terrified and my sense of reality did not set back in for a few hours.  Even while awake time passed eerily slow. I was feeling a strong sense of depersonalization as well which is very frightening.  I was nauseous and extremely weak.  I had the most terrible headache like my head was in a vice.  I put bags of vegetables on my head and pushed them into my aching eyes.  I thought for a second that a blanket on the floor was my neighbors dog.  I felt like I was having an out of body experience.  It is so hard to explain.  My head felt heavy.  I had extreme agoraphobia and during I guess what was a panic attack I couldn't look out the window.  Somehow outside suddenly became scary.  I also had muscle tremors and twitches.

  After three days of this terrifying ordeal I went back on .5mg a day with the intent to gradually substitute Valium for Klonopin and go off on a schedule similar to what the Ashton manual recommends.  But after taking five doses and still not feeling well I was concerned.  I was still feeling unable to be left alone or care for myself.  I also was desperate to get the taper process started and get on an anti-depressant as an adjuvant to help the withdrawal process. 

So- I checked into one of our local psychiatric hospitals.  I told them how I was feeling and what I needed.  But things didn't go as I hoped.  The doctor switched me directly to Valium instead of substituting it gradually, AND he started me on a lower dose than the Ashton tables say are equivalent.  Then he only kept me at that dose for five dosages, then he cut it in half for a few more dosages, then he cut it in half again and told me to take it for five days and then stop.  And he didn't start my antidepressant slowly either.  He put me on the starting dose and doubled it the next day. (Fluvoxamine)  At my appt. on Thursday he doubled my night dose now. 

I feel unable to assert myself in the condition I am in I guess.  I don't know why I didn't say no and show the doctor the taper chart and say I want to do it this way.  I feel so defeated.  And I don't know what to do NOW.  I am pretty sure when I finish with my five Valium at 2mg doses that soon enough I will be going through the same terrifying ordeal than I did when I completely stepped off before because the doctor at the psychiatric hospital has tapered me way too fast. The whole time I was there I couldn't sleep and they just kept giving me more benzos to try and remedy that-Ativan and Restoril.  Nothing helped my insomnia while at the hospital except for Seroquel on my last night there- and I had to request a telephone order for it.

Since I left the hospital I can't sleep, the depersonalization is still terrible, and my memory has gone to pot.  My mental sharpness is gone.  I am having trouble remembering things I usually can remember just fine- like if I brushed my teeth or not, what I said to someone and what they said to me verbatim, when certain events happened.  I also just stare off into space a lot and have a hard time responding to people verbally when they ask me a question.  It's like I can't find my words.  It almost seems like locked in syndrome at times.  I am not myself and am terrified that I never will be again.

I am so upset at my psychiatrist for not realizing that my newly developed constant suicidal ideations since last October, worsening depression, newly developed agoraphobia, and worsened anxiety were a result of me being on my benzo too long and from me coming off my benzo.  I am also so upset that my old psychiatrist let me take the drug longer than the four weeks max that is recommended.  And I am very frustrated with the doctor at the mental hospital for also not being familiar with the difficulty of this withdrawal and trying to taper me so fast.  The ignorance of this that I have encountered by psychiatrists is astounding.

Well, now that you know my story perhaps some of the many people here can encourage me and perhaps help guide me in what I should do now.  Should I try taking the rest of the Valium at this fast taper and see what happens and try to tough it out again, or should I go back to .5mg of Klonopin and start the Ashton Manual taper plan?  I am already feeling terrible.  As I mentioned earlier- my memory and loss of sense of self the most- but also I am getting tremors again and still haven't been able to sleep and the Seroquel isn't helping at the dose I was taking.  I don't want to up that.

Please help.  I am so scared.  Feeling this way is terrifying. sad   cry

m - 6/14/08

Good morning Tony. Dropping in to let you know that I am joining the ranks as a proud owner of a benzo-free body.

Well I did the most unfavorable thing imaginable to get here, but I'm here nevertheless. I went to a drug detox center and c/t'd. It was the most horrifying nightmare that I have ever experienced and I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy; but the most important thing is I never have to take another benzo again!! My story in short form is that I just could not take another minute of trying to wean from that poison. Crossing over to Valium from the Klono only helped short term and I became incredibly sicker as each day passed. I wanted to die....literally. I begged God to take me because the w/d symptoms were too many and too strong for me to stand. Seven months of trying to get clean myself was ruining my life in everyway..emotionally, spiritually, and most of all physically. So, I threw in the towel and checked my self in. Wanted to do it in a hospital, but insurance wouldn't pay. I ended up in a medically supervised rehab clinic and they kept me for a month. I was put on Phenobarbitol and Tegretol, then slowly weaned. The withdrawals hit like a runaway train on day 5 of the c/t and it was BAD !!! I went to hell and back and it was frightening. Lost most of my hair and and all of my mind and that only scratches the surface. The details are gruesome and I'll save that for another time. Still too fresh in my brain and I'm working on trying to forget it. Anway, I was c/t'd on March 21st. and here I sit May 13th feeling better than I have in 5 years. Have a long road ahead of me, but the miniscule ailments that I suffer daily are NOTHING compared to the hell on earth from trying to slowly wean. I am functioning at a level that although is diminished, I wouldn't trade it for a minute of what I felt like on the benzos. I sleep, I eat, I don't have panic attacks, I'm not depressed and I'm thankful to be alive. Anyway, I thought of my benzo buddies often while in the detox center and just wanted to say "Hi" and let you know that I made to the other side. I'm going to contact L also. I emailed J and we have been corresponding a bit. She's trying to get me to come back to the boards, but I have reservations only because I would have to be honest about doing a c/t and that may not sit well with (name omitted). I also don't want to give anyone the idea that it was a good way to was extremely difficult and is not for everyone. I truly thought I had gone mad when I was detoxing and I have a host of physical ailments directly related to it. I wouldn't want to jeopardize anyones well-being. Anyway, I've been ghost reading and I'm glad to see you're doing so well. You must be so happy to finally be done!! Good luck to you. I'll check back later today to see if you got my message. Take Care.

tlw - 5/13/08

I'm so glad I found benzobuddies! I was ignorant enough to think I could tough it out and get off Xanax in 3-4 weeks (even after reading the Ashton manual), but found that after 2 weeks, all hell broke loose. I've suffered from daily panic and OCD for the last two years and have come to realize that my addiction to Xanax has been a hindrance to my recovery. I'm committed to getting off this crap. So here I am. This is my first post.

I'm my view, I've got six major challenges:

  1. Getting over the shock and grief of the severity of my addiction and the road ahead.
  2. The withdrawal symptoms themselves.
  3. The FEAR of the withdrawal symptoms.
  4. My panic symptoms.
  5. My FEAR of my panic symptoms.
  6. My FEAR of dealing with panic after I'm benzo free.

I've been practicing CBT and have worked with a therapist, but this benzo crap has really thrown a monkey wrench in the works.

RB - 4/25/08
This is the life of the iatrogenic (look it up) benzo addict.

Stevie Nicks & Klonopin

Stevie Nicks The Nicks Fix - The Official Stevie Nicks Website. Click to go there.

"Klonopin is a horrible, dangerous drug," says Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks talks about her addiction to Klonopin, a tranquilizer prescribed to help her get over her raging cocaine habit.

"I was really sick," she says. Even though her years of cocaine abuse left a hole in her head the size of a Sacajawea gold dollar, she claims that the Klonopin did far more damage. "It was not my drug of choice," she says. "I'm not a downer person. I was looking for things that made me want to clean the house and shop, write songs and stay up for four days. I was sad and I was sick. I didn't really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy. I really didn't realize it was that drug because I was taking it from a doctor and it was prescribed. It just hit me really hard that that was the foundation for why I was completely falling apart."

Nicks says the last time she used cocaine on stage was during a concert at Red Rocks in 1986. It was a turning point for her. Afterwards, she went straight to the Betty Ford Clinic. But in attempting to help herself, she encountered a problem far worse than her cocaine problem - a new addiction to prescription drugs. Fresh out a rehab, a psychiatrist put Stevie on a tranquilizer called Klonopin. Generally prescribed for seizures and panic attacks, experts say it should not be taken for more than nine weeks. Stevie says she took it for eight years, learning way too late that Klonopin is highly addictive and can have side effects like depression and weight gain. "My woman's vanity could not deal with that at all. After being a rock 'n' roll sex symbol for all that time, and then all of a sudden to be 'little fat girl' was just so unacceptable to me. I could see the disappointment in people's faces when they'd see me walk in." It took 47 days for the singer to detox from the prescription drug, "...and it was horrible," she says. "My hair turned gray. My skin molted. I couldn't sleep, I was in so much pain. Legs aching, muscle cramps... The rock star in me wanted to get in a limousine and go to Cedar's Sinai and say, 'Give me some Demerol because I am in pain.' And the other side of me said, 'You will fight out this 47 days.'"

After the photos were over, the event was winding down and people began to disperse. I caught Stevie's attention and told her that I wanted to thank her for coming out and talking about Klonopin. Someone close to me has been struggling with depression and was medicated with Klonopin, and as soon as I put it together that this was the medication that had wrecked Stevie so badly, I talked to my friend about it. She went to another doctor who confirmed that it wasn't right for her, and she's now gradually scaling down on it. I told Stevie that her courage in discussing that dark part of her life had made a direct, positive impact on someone else's. She said, "Well, I'm on a mission! Tell your friend my heart is with her, and that she should spread the word!"

"Klonopin is a horrible, dangerous drug," says Nicks, an addict for eight years. "Doctors are dying to put you on drugs: 'Feeling a little nervous? Here, let's mask everything so you don't have a personality anymore.'

"The overwhelming feeling of wellness and calm equals blah, nothing. My creativity went away. The fabulous Stevie everyone knew just disappeared. I became what I call the 'whatever' person. I didn't care about anything anymore. I got very heavy. One day I looked in the mirror and said, 'I don't know you.' And I went straight to the hospital for 47 days." USA Today, May 4, 2001.

Because for eight years before - and it always comes back to this, which I'm sorry about - but it comes back to the [anti-anxiety medication] Klonopin. And that was Street Angel - the little street urchin on Klonopin. And it was a sad record. Writers do not thrive on drugs like Klonopin and Prozac. It takes your soul; it takes your creativity; it takes your love of running home at night and getting out a typewriter or getting out your paper and pencil and writing something that you love. It takes that away. You don't care anymore. So Street Angel was all about just not caring. And that's horrible to me. One of the few things that I've never not done in my life is not care. And I didn't care for a long time. The lows for me were probably the last years of cocaine in the 1980s, and the last four years of the Klonopin.

Why were you on Klonopin in the first place? Basically, when I got off cocaine I ended up going to a doctor because everyone around me said, "Well, you need to do something to stay off cocaine." Not really understanding that I was off of cocaine. All I had to do was go through Betty Ford one time. And that was it. I have never seen that drug or done it, or been around anybody who has done it since I stopped.

So basically, I went to see a doctor just to check in with somebody and let everybody know that I was OK. I guess when most people go off Klonopin they have a very hard time. I wasn't one of those people, but he didn't know that. So he suggested that I go on this drug for my nerves, and I just said OK to get everybody to leave me alone. Well, what a big mistake. I really wonder where I would be now, what I would have done if those eight years were full of creativity and love, and good things instead of full of nothing.

I've heard detox from pills is the toughest. How was it for you? I felt like somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.

And your life now? I'm very proud of myself. I wish it had never happened. I wasn't myself. Doctors who prescribe these pills are mushing out people's real moods. I discovered that I like me with all my moods.

Biographical Note

A "peace-and-love" folk singer, Stevie Nicks' lyrics created the vibe that helped propel '70s supergroup Fleetwood Mac to fame.

Stevie Nicks was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks in 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona. She met Lindsey Buckingham during her senior year of high school in California and together they formed the band Fritz, enjoying mild success in the California music scene. In 1973 they released Buckingham-Nicks, their first and only album as a duo. Soon after, the couple was recruited by Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie to join Fleetwood Mac. The new lineup released a self-titled album in 1975, which sold several million copies. Fleetwood Mac's landmark album, Rumours, was released in 1977 and became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time - with more than 25 million copies sold to date. However, during the recording of the album Nicks and Buckingham's relationship fell apart and the McVies divorced, severely altering the chemistry of the band. After the release of Tusk, (1979) their successful follow-up to Rumours, the band's prestige gradually eroded. Finally, in 1987, after the lackluster Tango in the Night album, Buckingham quit the band.

Nicks toured with Fleetwood Mac through 1990, through the veritable river of new members who came and went. During this time, she carried on a solo career, which included the albums: Bella Donna (1981), The Wild Heart (1983), Rock a Little (1985), The Other Side of the Mirror (1989), Timespace - The Best of Stevie Nicks (1991), and Street Angel (1994). Her songs have been covered by other artists, such as the Smashing Pumpkins cover of her ballad "Landslide."

Nicks and the other members of Fleetwood Mac reunited in 1997 to record the retrospective album The Dance and launch a much-anticipated comeback tour.

I was a pretty heavy drinker for about 12 years. I am considered a "late" alcoholic because I did not really start until after the death of my child at the age of 29. I never really had bad w/d from booze until 2006, and even then it only lasted a few days. My doctor put me on Xanax after my sister died in October 2006, thinking this would keep me away from booze. Instead, I drank AND took Xanax. When I decided to quit both, I quit the booze and was okay with just the Xanax, anywhere from .25 to .5 mg a day. When I told him I wanted to quit Xanax, too, he said "just quit". (THIS MAN IS NO LONGER MY DOCTOR). I did, and wound up in ER in a terrible state. The ER doc put me on Klonopin 1 mg., saying it would be easier to w/d from than Xanax. He suggested reducing .25 every few days. Needless to say, this did NOT work. After many weeks of pure insanity and feeling like I was being tortured, I found a new doctor who would prescribe valium, but only 2 mg per day. I suffered on for a while on this, and after 3 months was finally off the benzo's, swearing I'd never take another and terrified of any kind of medical procedure. I'd always told my husband quitting booze was a piece of cake compared to benzo's. Well, after being a few months off and feeling better and better, I decided (like an idiot) to have a drink with a meal. I should have known better. My alcoholism came back full force and I drank every day for about three months, unable to quit because withdrawal was so bad when I did try to quit. I finally succeeded on March 9 this year, and 10 days later was back in ER with w/d similar to when I cold turkey from the Xanax. My doctor put me back on the valium at 4 mg on 3-31, so I have to start this horrid experience all over again. At first on 3-19, he tried just 1 mg, then 2, and I was still having terrible w/d, so he upped it to 4 on 3-31. I don't think 4 mg is enough because I am having terrible w/d, much much worse than what I had when I quit booze and tapered from valium last year. But, I'm sticking to the 4 mg because that's all he'll give me and I'm hoping to stabilise soon, and also I was so incredibly sensitive to the valium last year, suffering severe depression after I started it. Also, he is worried about liver issues due to the alcoholism. Doc says I've always been hyper-sensitive to any medication, and he's right.

Two years ago when I was still seeing my old doctor, I quit Prozac cold turkey after 16 years of use because I did not like the side effects. I did not know at that time that you should never cold turkey an SSRI either.

Anyway, that's my story.

M - April 12th, 2008

I took Paxil for about eight years and had some trouble quitting it. It worked a little but I've never had any medication that controlled my anxiety all day. Back in the old days I would wake up, take my Valium and Paxil, drink a cup of coffee and I was set for most of the day. During the week I had to suffer the last part of the day because I didn't like to drink when I had to work the next day (I had to use my brain). On the weekends I made up for it and drank a lot (only beer).

In 2005 I started having problems and tried to quit everything. I was also taking pain medication because I fell and broke my foot at work. I had some major seizures and an EEG always came up negative. I thought the seizures were from Valium withdrawal (so did my neurologist). This past January I had more seizures and epilepsy showed up on my EEG so now I have to take anti seizure meds or I will definitely have more seizures. I dislocated my shoulder when I had seizures the last time - ouch! Enough about me.....

Yeah, anti seizure meds are usually given to people that are withdrawing from benzos to prevent seizures. Also, Tegretol and Neurontin are anti seizure meds. They "shouldn't" be addictive but who knows? Like you said, makes you wonder about doctor's training. I tried to read up on all the anti seizure meds but there's a lot of conflicting information about them on the Internet. If your friend is taking Lyrica and Valium, he should probably quit taking the Lyrica unless he is tapering off the Valium. It's all a catch-22. For me it's even worse since I have epilepsy.

Anyway, these damn benzos are something else. I quit smoking in 1992 cold turkey without any problem. I quit drinking in 2005 without any problem. I quit taking Paxil in 2005 without too much trouble. I quit taking the pain meds in 2005 without much trouble. However, this damn Valium is a bit_h!

Well, gotta' run. Didn't mean to write a book when I started this email!

R - April 11th, 2008

Ben's Story

Withdrawing From benzos after a 40 day short taper was near lethal to me. The experience could be compared to military combat…You awake each day (if you sleep) not knowing if you will live or die in extreme fear, only to be attacked - demons deep within your mind that have awakened. Others compare benzo w/d to a bad acid trip with a hit of speed. Either way, it has permanently affected me. To an extent, I have some sort of Post Traumatic Stress left over - fearing that the withdrawal symptoms may some day return. I never believed withdrawal could be so bad, having been addicted to other drugs throughout my life - I knew it all, so I thought.

I am a 33-year-old married man and father of a 9-year-old boy. I have been married to the best woman a man could find for the last 10 years. When I was first married, I was as normal as anyone could be, above average, actually. After my son was born, I started taking my wife's leftover Percoset painkillers she got from her C-section surgery. To make a long story short, I was quickly addicted to all opiate painkillers. Over the next 5 years, I struggled with Opiate addiction. If it was a painkiller, I took it. I started loosing jobs, respect, and overall started down the spiral staircase of addiction. LUCKILY I found out that the best way to curb my opiate addiction was to start Methadone Maintenance treatment. Methadone Treatment is controversial, it is not for everyone, however for me it really helped.

My life started to normalize on methadone - I was no longer chasing drugs. In active addiction I lost mainly material things and all that was starting to come back! Life was becoming tranquil, peaceful, and in hindsight, boring to an addict like myself. I started using 1- 2 mg Xanax initially for a couple months to help me sleep. My dose increased to 4-8mg per day, not a large dose as compared to other people, but then again, it does not take much. This continued for about 5 months. I was fired from a great job for falling asleep at my desk. I was humiliated. My wife had found out about my addiction to the Xanax 3 days prior to me getting fired. I had a total mental breakdown. I was suicidal. I did not want to live like this anymore and I wanted to go to the hospital in hopes they could detox me from Xanax.

The hospital I went to would not put me in their chemical dependency unit because I was on methadone maintenance treatment. If I were to go into their chemical dependency ward, they would have taken me off both the benzos and the methadone. I knew enough that if I had done that, it could have killed me. They put me in the Psych ward where I assumed they would slowly withdrawal me and treat my suicidal tendencies while keeping me on methadone. For six days they had me taking handfuls of pills. I gave them carte blanche over me and I took what they gave me without asking.

One thing I was not prepared for was the doctor to dismiss the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. One of the major symptoms of withdrawal is the mimicking of various mental disorders. I was exhibiting in the hospital Manic Depression which they mistook as my primary issue. It was not - it was a result of the tapering they were doing in the hospital of my Xanax. After 6 days they wanted to send me home. I felt a little better but I was still addicted to benzos (on a much smaller dose) and now also on Lithium, Depakote and an anti-psychotic drug that started with the letter "R" which I cannot recall the name of right now. - THANKS DOC!. They let me out of the hospital without any benzos thinking I was on such a small dose of it by the time I left the hospital that I would not feel the final step off. 3 Days later I was back in the hospital with severe withdrawal. They prescribed me 30 1 mg of Klonopin and told me to go to a 30-day treatment place - There facility wasn't made for benzo addicts the doctor readily admitted. I wish he told me that before, it could have saved me $16,000.00 for the six day "faux-detox" they did for me... I could not go to a thirty day treatment facility - I was nearly broke. With 30 pills, I decided to do a withdrawal regimen by myself. It lasted 40 days going from 2mg of Klonopin all the way down to .25 mg. It was uneventful - almost easy - My last dose was a proud day - Dec. 19, 2003. I felt I had this licked. A day later, I had a weird feeling of Claustrophobia. The 2nd day in addition to Claustrophobia, I felt pangs of anxiety. By the third day, I felt like there were maggots in my brain trying to split my connection completely from reality. It was the worst feeling of insanity, anxiety, combined with mild hallucinations - so hard to describe. By the 6th day, it was Christmas Eve. God gave me a small present and allowed me to feel almost normal for the eve and Christmas day. I even went over to my sister's house to celebrate. I felt I was through the worst. Nobody told me the withdrawal would come back. It did and worse. I had full-blown panic attacks everyday. I had such bad nocturnal muscle spasms I could not sleep. I wanted to go to the hospital so they could knock me out - but then I knew they would just give me benzos and I would just delay the inevitable - NO! I had to go through this even if I had to swallow razor blades. The next 2 months it was bad - hard to describe. Luckily I was always able to hide the pain from my son enough that he did not have a clue as to what was going on in my mind - I could not let him see daddy going crazy! I sure let my wife see it, I mean, I could only fake it so much. I just existed, dreading each day, each hour, each minute.

During my four months of intense withdrawal symptoms, I had what I know understand are called "windows" or periods of normalcy. I would feel 100% better - confident the w/d was over. This happened about 4 times during the 4 months lasting from 2 - 7 days each. It was more like a cruel joke since the windows were followed by worsening symptoms of withdrawal.

I went from 210 pounds to 170 since eating was not enjoyable anymore. I was developing weird mental disorders on what felt was like an increasing level. It started with the fear of carbohydrates thinking they would give me too much energy. I only ate protein. I exercised excessively jogging everyday. I felt like if I were to stop exercising, I might die. I developed fear of pills - I was scared to take vitamins, supplements, and the likes. I feared beef since there was a single case of mad cow disease in Washington State. I was still on Lithium at this point and I developed a hyper fear of that it was poisoning my body. Since I had to get my blood levels of lithium checked once every 2-3 months, I made that into once a month and that fear of lithium was in the forefront of my mind every second of every day. I feared being alone. I feared having family members pass-away on me. I feared getting a cold thinking if that were to happen, I may die (luckily I did not catch one) I even got scared of the wind one day when I went to a Chinese festival one day with my family to try to distract myself. I was really getting scared that this was not withdrawal any longer or that if it was, it was permanent and I forever would be afraid of all these things. I had no one or nobody to compare it to. I feared to tell any Dr. about this since he would end up putting me on more psychotropic drugs. Well, the good news was it was just all part of withdrawal and eventually went away. The lithium fear was just so great that I did a taper off of that which lasted only 2 weeks and had no ill-effects whatsoever from stopping that. I am also off all the other drugs they gave me in the hospital.

As I presented earlier, my mental symptoms started to morph and mutate into severe paranoia and circular thoughts. The fear was like a bad song that would go over and over in my mind. I was seeing no improvement, it was getting worse. I wished for painful physical symptoms only, not so lucky, withdrawal for me was a vague insanity - a combination of manic depression - psychosis, acute paranoia, obsessive compulsive and debilitating phobic disorders. I battled unsuccessfully to try and control it, but I could not! I was scared to death. I could not think myself into sanity - I needed to give in and just go along for the ride I figured and hang on tight! I could no longer sleep. I got seriously concerned about things that would normally not concern me. I was losing this battle I thought - I wanted to kill myself but was to scared to do it.

These weird withdrawal symptoms were confusing to everyone around me. My wife was used to the flu like symptoms I would get while coming off of opiates but not benzos. They never could accept withdrawal from a drug would go from bad, to good, to horrible, to good, to worse, etc. My shrink, mother, wife, and myself were convinced I must just be SERIOUSLY mentally ill. The thought of being a hopeless, helpless lunatic fueled the internal fears that were torturing me. I could not and would not accept it. I was scaring everyone around me.

I knew the old "me" before benzos - I was hanging on to his memory, everyone else nearly lost hope of seeing the "old me" again. I did not trust my Dr. obviously due to my differing opinions and he was urging me to take some medication to help. I was reluctant saying that I had to let my brain heal - He all but said this was not withdrawal any more and I would remain like this (such nice bedside manner! I mean, come on doc, LIE TO ME) However the pain got so bad, so intense, I was willing to take steps. I got on Paxil. This appeared to immediately help - I almost instantly had a window of sanity that lasted 2 days. The anxiety, paranoia, and lack of sleep came back shortly. My Dr. told me to take Seroquel, an anti-psychotic when used in small doses helped for its calming effects. It seemingly reset my clock temporarily was the best way to describe it and allowed me to sleep.

Three months and three weeks after my last Benzo and 3 weeks after I started Paxil, the symptoms started lifting, the combination of time and MAYBE the medication helped. Whatever it is, I am relieved.

I am only on Paxil now, no Lithium nor Seroquel. I am on methadone still but at a much lower dose and plan to come off it gradually this year.

There is so much advice you get when it comes to benzo withdrawal and it usually is against SSRI's. As far as taking another medication to help, that's a decision you have to make for yourself Even though I was advised not to, I did only because the pain was so bad, it could not get worse. The meds might have helped a little. I do not think for a moment that it was the only factor of making me feel better. Time and patience is the true healer. On a side note, Lithium did make my symptoms worse. I did feel slight immediate improvement when I got off it. Again, that is just my experience, for others, Lithium it is truly necessary.

I have not been able to work since all this began. Seeing a person go through this is tough and has been hard on my family. They have all been supportive and if they would have left my side, it would have killed me. I look forward to everyday concerns like earning a living and repairing the wreckage of my past. I feel this will be easy compared to what I have gone through. I am a survivor of benzo addiction. I have made it through and if I can do that, I can do anything. Feel free to contact me whenever at I hope this story has helped.


Ben - Date not available



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