I've recently joined in hopes of getting some advice from the members of this community regarding ativan tapering. I have been prescribed ativan early December last year for my bouts of insomnia -- It was 12 sublingual pills at 1mg each. The prescription read "take 1-3 as needed daily" but I really only took one each day i felt i needed it, as it was enough to give me a good sleep at night.
I have always been made aware of ativan's highly addictive properties and tried to use them sparingly. As a result, I was on them intermittently, using the 12 pills in the span of 4 weeks with the intention of escaping any sort of dependency. How very wrong I was to think that it would work out this way. I began to somehow manage a habit of taking ativan 2-3 days within eachother (without realizing it at first) and soon my tolerance built up, as well as the withdrawal symptoms. 1mg was not enough to let me sleep, and I now needed 2mg --this is what set me off to make me realize that something was deeply wrong and that I needed to run from this addiction, and fast.
I have done some researching into Ashtons Method and viewed some of the other members tapering experiences. My question is, should I now put myself on a daily regimen of ativan in order to taper off of it through the next couple of weeks, even though I initially did not take it daily? I wish I could simply go cold turkey but the withdrawal effects have been excruciating I would also like to know if anyone has advice for tapering off ativan without valium? I don't wish to continue with any benzos and I'm hoping that by simply lowering my dosage overtime will help to eliminate the addiction altogether.
As of now, I have 15 1mg pills left (from a second prescription that was given to me this month) and Im quite certain that it isn't enough for the taper to be successful. Does anyone know how long a tapering from 1.5mg-2mg takes? I'm hoping that I can rid of this mostly within 1-2 months.
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Well, I personally cannot stand it when nobody answers a post...so let's see...I've taken Ativan, many many times...one of the drugs that never got me hooked...it really never does anything for me...Ambien and Sonata mixed are my sleep cocktail, large doses....but I have tapered off of benzo's and just about everything else...so, let's give this a shot.
So what is your current usage of the 2mg's how often are you taking it? You really, probably don't want to start taking it more often, in order to quit taking it...that really doesn't make a lot of sense from a tapering perspective....tapering can be done without taking a med every single day, you can simply interject more space in between the days your already taking it....so if your popping them every 2 days, make it every 3, go a week to 10 days then make it every 4, go a week to 10 days then make it every 6....your still going to have some withdrawal symptoms....tapering does not eliminate them completely...it makes them a helluva lot less....but some will still be there, you just have to suck it up and deal. 15 pills is not many to give you much of a taper....and a month is not very long to taper off of Ativan, it's probably going to take you longer than that to get it out of your system semi-comfortably.....2 or 3 is more like it....benzo's are tough....ativan is for anxiety, not sleep...so it's going to screw with your head as you stop taking it..can't really avoid that.
Make sure you drink ALOT as you taper, lots of water, gatorade, vitamin water, stay hydrated, eat well, no junk, get some excercise, sleep......and whatever you do, don't replace your Ativan with some other pills....that's just asking for trouble....
That's about it I guess...if you have any other specific Q's...just yell.
Hang in there, and good luck.
The Following User Says Thank You to katlin09 For This Useful Post:
congratulations for getting off every benzo you've ever been on -- i know that my experience is very short thus far and very few (i've popped less than 25 pills in the last two months nearly.. i suppose although that isn't "a very very tiny amount" its definitely much less than what i've read from many other posters), but even with my experience it has been excruciating (and that is putting it rather mildly)
to answer you, i take 2mg to fall asleep for insomnia, and i only take "as needed", which used to be once a week..and then..gradually..three times a week. i would only take the pills at night.
ever since i posted on this forum, i decided similarly to what you were saying that it would make no sense to taper in a way that meant taking more than what i currently did. instead, given my history of how i use ativan, i decided that quitting cold turkey might be the answer. to be completely honest, i wasn't even sure if my dosage or way of using ativan was truly causing any withdrawal or if i was just psychologically fooling myself..
however, after the date of my original post, i did go four days without ativan, wherein i experienced so much mental confusion/physical aches/even further sleeping problems. i was getting 4-5 hours of sleep on the first night i stopped taking the pill, but waking up sweating profusedly every hour or so. and then the sleep started depleting even more each day until on the last night i only got one hour and was growing immensely fearful. i finally gave in on the fourth night and decided to take 1mg, and was out for around 6-7 hours. it was a surprise to me that i didn't require 2mg at this point.
as of now, i am still very confused as for how i should approach this. am i experiencing rebound insomnia, or rebound anxiety? how long does it typically last and will the brain eventually "readjust" itself if I continue to attempt cold turkey? could the situation become fatal if i do this? because i truly felt like i wouldn't have been able to sustain myself another day without sleep, something i didnt feel like my body was allowing me without the use of ativan.
also, i have been given another prescription of 0.5 pills (50x) to help me with this tapering process should I need to do it that way, as I found out that my 1mg pills cannot actually be cut in half (the dose is not perfectly balanced on both sides)
Okay first off NO, it won't be fatal, you may feel like you want to die, but you won't. The rebound sleep issues are normal, you have to "retrain" your body how to sleep normally without the meds. No TV or any other stimulant in your room, no lights. Get a sound or white noise machine...my personal fave is the "rain" setting, turned down pretty low....I just sleep better when it's raining. Keep your room at a neutral temp setting, not too cold, not to hot....the ideal here is total comfort! No animals in the room, kick the dog and the cat out the door! lol.....Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, yes, even on weekends....this is the only way you are going to train your body and mind to sleep...NO alcohol before bed.....like none after 7 in the evening! No heavy foods after 8 in the evening....if your hungry before bed, much on some rice crackers or sherbert......no liquids after 9...you don't want to have to get up all night to pee.
Okay not the anxiety part...Ativan is an anti-anxiety med, so as you taper off it is going to play with your head...it will actuall increase your anxiety because the receptors in your brain are starting to realize "Hey, where's my lil buddy that keeps me calm????? He's not here, where'd he go?????" Just expect it...it will slow down eventually....DO NOT take more to keep this from happening...you just have to fight through it. Do things to keep yourself calm....the thing that kept me from going flat flipping nuts...and I kid you not....SUDOKU! LOL...it kept my brain busy and I didn't have time to worry about gettin anxious. There's something for everyone, you just have to find what works for you. Find something you enjoy doing and do it. Going cold turkey off benzo's is very very hard....and not many succeed.....tapering is generally the best way to go..just think about that.
Keep posting and let us know how your doing okay? And there are no stupid questions, so never be afraid to ask!
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As an update.. (and I apologize beforehand, this is going to be a pretty long chapter)
After the fourth night of no Ativan, feeling unable to cope, and taking the 1mg that night, the following day I felt drowsy and pretty tired all around. But this was a good thing for me, I think, as the past few weeks my brain has been in such a fog that I was so numb to feeling 'tired' like a normal person. I thought I was going absolutely insane as I thought to myself how I didn't "get tired like a normal person would", and thought something must be wrong with my brain. I do realize that the drowsiness and feeling of sleepiness could have resulted from the use of ativan, but the feelings persisted throughout the entire day--also something new for me-- and past the point of the ativan being in my system, so I suspect something is changing.
I admit that I didn't practice proper sleep hygiene that night, as I went to bed shortly before 2am. However, what I did notice is that as I was laying there, I fell asleep uninterrupted until 7:30am. Almost immediately, atleast to my knowledge. This should be considered a good thing, but as I woke up I felt really scared? I thought, did I really sleep? My body felt cold and remote, and as I got up to look around, I noticed my vision felt "smokey", as though there was a mist in the air. My legs had a strange sore/cold sensation to them as well, and for a moment I did panic. I didn't feel refreshed or at all like I had slept, despite knowing that I had no recollection of the past five hours. If anyone has any ideas as to what exactly I may be experiencing, please let me know Although this wouldnt be the first time that I become conscious and panic about whether or not I even slept, it is absolutely strange and confusing to me, making me feel pretty out of control.
However, beyond this, I have been trying to do several things to improve my condition. There was a day where I fully decided for myself that I was no longer going to simply sit there and feel sorry for myself. If I ever fell into a state of panic somehow, I would do my best to cope with it. Having a change of mindset seems to have improved my condition a little. I don't have fears of dying every night like I used to (even typing that now makes me feel unbelievably stupid somehow, but I'm just going to come out with it), and despite the ongoing rollercoaster of symptoms and new "things" that keep occurring, I don't feel as helpless as before. I get up around the same time every morning despite how much I've rested, and try not to dwell on the fact that I don't get great sleep. I get on with my day to the best of my ability, and like you advised, I do try to keep myself busy.
As for Ativan's rebounding effects, I am in full belief that I am experiencing them at least to some degree. I was told from my doctor that there was no way the ativan was giving me these rebound effects, but scientifically speaking there's almost no way it isn't happening--like you said, the ativan affects the receptors in my brain and quiets down my panic, so when the mask is unfolded, why wouldn't my brain become confused? not to mention, ativan has a shorter half-life than most benzos, making the change more "sudden". Despite my short experience with these drugs, they were never meant to be taken for more than four weeks, and not past the handful I was given.
Anyway, I have most definitely rambled on enough. I find that writing in these online support groups has given me a lot of strength, and I want to thank you Kat for being so open and welcoming throughout my entire experience. I will keep fighting this and resist the use of benzos, and maybe with enough courage one day, I'll get rid of the bottles altogether.
Hey girl, don't sell yourself short, you have tons of courage, your doing this aren't you! Don't listen to the docs, they tell you these things to cover their butts because they know that these addictive side effects are a problem when the RX the meds in the first place...and he had you on them for a really long time. He should have had you on and actuall sleeping med for sleeping problems, not an anti-anxiety med.
You hang in there, you can beat this and your doing a great job.
I take ativan occasionally but I have weaned myself off of 2 antidepressants. I know it's different, I think it's mostly just physical symptoms for SSRI withdrawal if you're doing because you think they aren't working. Anyway, I used a nail file to take a bit off of my paxil everyday. once the pills were really big compared to my estimated dose, I cut them in half and shaved. Soon I was crushing them and swallowing chipped pieces.
It's the only way I got through it. The first time I tried, I went down a third, and then half, and half, and I was in hell.
(I also weaned myself off of effexor capsules by estimating the number of tiny pellets in the capsules everyday. Again, it worked. Seemed a little neurotic, but it worked)
Last edited by Scatter1; 01-20-2012 at 03:09 PM.
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Thankyou Kat, I really appreciate your encouragement <3
As of now I'm on my fourth day without taking a benzo and I'm having pretty common physical withdrawal effects: blurry vision, brain fog (and its pretty foggy I tell you), strange aches and sensations.. etc etc.. etc etc... list goes on for probably 100+ other symptoms. The interesting thing is that my body is not telling me that it wants more ativan. It's telling me to run the hell away from it :P I almost feel like ignoring any taper plan whatsoever and simply going cold turkey. This may or may not be the worst idea though.
I counted and I have taken 21 pills in total in the past 6 weeks. So I guess it may.. MAY be possible for me to simply stop taking it and have no bad lasting side effects as a result. Crossing my fingers.
I have tapered off Xanax, another benzo. While Ativan may be milder, no benzo should be come off of by just stopping.
From your particular starting point, I would suggest taking one every other day for a bit, then one every three days for a bit and so on.
Scatter1 also had a great suggestion about shaving bits off the tabs to cut the dose a bit. Drop it every 5-10 days as you feel your mind and body are ready. Also, like Scatter1, I was crushing the tabs in the end and measuring bits of them as a dose. Speed should never be a factor in tapering off a benzo; it should only be measured in progress.
last, I would try to slowly move any dose away from bedtime to help your body not be dependent on it for sleep.
All good wishes
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You mentioned that I shouldn't simply drop the ativan..the reason why I considered doing this was because I don't seem to have any mental craving for it. However, the physical symptoms I have do make it pretty difficult for me to function daily, but as of now I still cannot differentiate if this is a result of ativan or from exhaustion due to insomnia.
From your suggestion, I guess you are telling me to take the ativan every other day at the moment in order to stabilize my system with it? If I take 1mg ativan every 48hrs, I would begin to notice interdose withdrawal correct? I don't know how I feel about that either.
This is such a confusing situation for me..
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Whether we are addicted (with mental cravings) or just dependent on a drug, we suffer the same physical withdrawal symptoms and need to go through the same withdrawal procedures. There is no way to totally escape withdrawal symptoms.
As I had said earlier, withdrawing from an opiate coldturkey is brutal, but will not kill us. Withdrawing from a benzo cold-turkey from large, consistent dosages can cause seizures and even death, but you are not on that type of dose. However, you are definitely experiencing withdrawal symptoms...
Yes, I do think you should stabilize at this point. I would reiterate what both Kat and I have suggested.. every 2 days for a week to ten days, every three days for a week to ten days, etc. Along the way, also start lowering the dose by tiny increments. And again, I agree with Kat in that you are probably looking not at weeks, but rather at a few months. There is no shame in this! It is giving the brain time to reorient itself, time that is needed after benzo use.
To help myself along the way, I tried to stay busy to work through any anxiety that cropped up. I practiced breathing techniques to slow my brain down. Also, which was big for me, I stopped looking at the symptoms as withdrawal symptoms and instead as symptoms of healing. If a panic attack hit, I would remind myself that is was my brain readjusting and that I was getting better.
Routine... I made myself stay on a strict routine as I went through the tapers. (I tapered first from the opaite oxycodone and then began the taper from Xanax). Same bedtime, same get up time. I also took a Magnesium supplement to help with the nerves. (for some it can cause diarreha, but worth trying).
I know this is a confusing time as it is unexpected and new to you. :-) Stay with us and keep posting. we are here to offer whatever help we can.
sorry your having such a confusing time with all this, I know it sucks. the one thing you have to remember with benzo's is that these meds are designed to alter the way that the mind works....to when detoxing off of them, the mind has to have time to "learn" to go back to it's original way of thinking. You may not feel the mental part of it now, but if you just go cold turkey, you could wind up with panic attacks, tremors, major anxiety, and more severe side effects such as seizures.....this is why slow tapers are suggested when tapering from Benzo's....to give your brain/mind time to get back to it's normal state of being without too much trauma. Try to be patient hon, and do the taper, it doesn't mean your less serious or diligent in your program...it just means your doing it the safe way, and that's whats important!