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kathryn55555 06-16-2007 08:55 AM

Addicted to Ativan...Help!
My Dr. prescribed 3mg for sleep about 1 1/2 years ago. The past few months I have been feeling badly everyday from about 3pm on: heart racing, anxiety, trouble breathing etc. Just last week we figured out is was from Ativan withdrawal from the evening before. He said it needs to constantly be in my system and swithed to 1mg every four hours. The problem is I get those symptoms again before I'm allowed to take the next pill and then it takes a while to ease the withdrawal symptoms. I can't live like this- on constant withdrawal. He gave me temazepam for sleeping but I can't even tell if it is working because I wake up at least 2x needing my 4 hour ativan. So my day ends up tired but so much anxiety I can't sleep.

Now I have an additional med(temazepam) besides the lamictal and lexapro. If I could guess I think I should be off Ativan and maybe have a regular non-addictive sleep med. How do I get off this Ativan? I am so scared I can barely function.

tabby99 06-16-2007 10:14 AM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
kathryn, i've been taking valium for the last 4 years. Not only do I take valium, I also drink.
I took the valium for anxiety to start with and now i'm just having rebound anxiety. I can't help you with how to get off of the ativan, but i sure know how you feel. There's alot of good people on here. I've been reading most of the day. I'm sure someone will chime in and help us both.

j2006 06-16-2007 04:12 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
Tell your doctor you want off the Ativan. Maybe you could go to something that stays in your system longer like klonopin. And then , very slowly come off the klonopin.

Why were you not able to sleep. Is it because of the Lexapro?

Stitcher317 06-16-2007 05:56 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
I was on 1 mg of Ativan for 18 mos and started having withdrawal symptoms just like you are having.

I can't mention the site here but if you search for Dr. Heather Ashton you will find information on benzos and how to get off of them. There are support groups available for this. Ativan is very short acting and you need to take it more frequently. You are probably in tolerance withdrawal. Your body gets used to what you are taking and you develop a tolerance for it and thus need more to reduce your symptoms.

Some people cross over to Valium and then taper off. I tapered off directly from Ativan doing a water taper. It took me 18 mos to get off 1 mg and I have been off now for 1 year.

It would be a good idea to speak with your Dr and see if he will devise a plan for withdrwal. My suggestion would be to do it VERY slowly. 3mgs of Ativan equals 30 mg of Valium....Take your time... The slower and longer your taper the less you'll feel the withdrawal effects.

I started taking Ativan because of an inner ear virus that lingered for 3 years. Ativan calms the vestibular system. I was able to do so much while on it. It took away my residual dizziness completely. I felt great on it. But along with that, I started to get depressed and apathetic. My memory was horrible and I started getting weird visual symptoms. Felt like I had a tight band around my head. I knew then that I had to stop taking it. During the 18 mos I withdrew I had many various symptoms that came and went. Increased anxiety being one of them but you learn to cope knowing that every day your body is riding itself of the drug. It doesn't happen overnight.

Be strong and good luck. Keep us posted.

reachout 06-16-2007 06:14 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!

I tapered off Xanax recently and did it very slowly over a period of sixteen weeks or so. My only suggestion would be to taper even slower than I did... much slower. When I officially started the taper, I was on a steady dose of three .5 tabs of Xanax a day spread out morning, noon and evening.

At first I was being a hero and cutting by 1/4 to a half every ten days or so. Horrendous. Then I made myself slow down to a 1/8 tab cut every 6 to ten days, depending on how much I thought I could bear. I would now, in hindsight, done 1/8 tab cuts all thr way through. I put myself through a pretty intense struggle because I was embarrassed in front of my family that it was so darn difficult and knew they could not understand. I broke the tabs in half, then half again and then crumbled them finally and wet my finger to pick up the crumbs to get my dose. Towards the end, I wobbled bit... on one day, off two; one one day, off three and then finally just stopped. Even coming off that tiny bit at the end, I still suffer some residue anxiety and have some difficulty with sleep at times, although I have always had periods of difficulty sleeping in my adult life (over-crowded head syndrome Smiles).

Please, please. do your research, talk with a doctor skilled in banzo taper. It is quite different in many ways from an opiate taper.

Wishing you all well

Stitcher317 06-16-2007 06:38 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
I agree, tapering very slowly helps you adjust as your body is feeling the withdrawal. I tapered 1mg Ativan over 18 months and still felt the reductions.

I did a water taper being careful not to drop more than 10% of my daily dose at each taper. I would wait and stabilize until I did another 10% reduction. If you do it daily, the cuts or reductions eventually catch up with youn withdrwal again. It's hard to do that with a dry taper because you are breaking the pills and even a smidgeon can make a huge difference. I also found that the closer I got to the end of my taper, the harder it was so I had to drag it out even further than I planned.

You may have to start your taper with your morning dose, and continue with your afternoon and evening dose as before. Wait until you stabilize and then taper the same amount from your evening dose, stabilize and then maybe do your afternoon dose. Keep going back and forth like that very slowly...
Keep a chart and remember that it's OK to stop your taper if you feel it's going too fast and then start up again. I think most Drs will try to have to off in a few weeks and that would be extremely difficult with the amount you are taking.

Again, search for Dr. Heather Ashton and benzodiazapines. Her program is the very best.

I have been totally off Ativan for 1 year this weekand I am finally feeling wonderful. It does take time....

Best of luck to you.
Good luck

shay4bliss 06-16-2007 07:16 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
Hi Kathryn....

You are in a delima, but I can tell you are not liking this at I agree with j2006....tell the doc you DO NOT want to take addictive stuff anymore and to do something else and get you off the stuff.

Librium is often prescribed for benzo (ativan, etc...and alcohol withdrawals. It is addictive (just wait) BUT takes much much longer to become so. It can be used for maybe a week or two for w/d's and stopped abruptly without much problem. Benzo's have an addictive effect after 2-3days and produce w/d's that soon.

Also, are you aware you are now on 2 benzodiazapenes? In the "circle of users" I grew up with (20's) we called benzo's "the pam family". We knew anything in the "pam" family was "good" the valium, xanax, ativan calibur of some sort. In other words, meds generic's names ending in "pam". So you have temazapm, and lorazapam (ativan). Valium is called diazapm, klonapin is a "pam" too...can't remember the generic name.....Anyway, everytime a "pam" is added it might as well be the same as just upping your ativan dosage. I hope this is making sense...not sure if I'm making this clear or not.:)

The point being "adding fuel to the fire" is just prolonging and increasing withdrawal effects when you finally actually do withdrawal. It will be more difficult, take longer, hurt worse....becoming a vicious cycle. It's like having 3 drinks a night for a month and upping it to 6 drinks a night. The more you drink, the bigger problem you have.

I'm not a doctor by any means, but a long time addict with a bit of a jaded past with it. My past drug use was not legal or if it was it was by "doctor shopping". In any case, it was not "legit". So we "educated" ourselves on what do get, why, what it did, how to counter it, how to get "up, when to "come down" and by what means. I can hear it in your post that you are not happy with the feelings you are having and feel it snowballing. Well you are right, it is.

There are other anti-d's that address anxiety as well as depression that may be able to be used that can maybe "take the place" (for lack of a better term) of ativan,etc... I know that Celexa is one of them. I've taken both Lexapro and Celexa and Celexa really worked well, for me anyway, with anxiety and depression.

I hope I can be of some help to you. I understand your plight. Needing anti-anxiety meds but they are addictive. You never really said what the ativan was for? There is also a sleep med called Trazadone that works pretty well for sleep and really isn't addictive. When I say "really isn't" I mean no withdrawals really. When stopping it you just have problems sleeping without for a week or sweats, and shakes, and shock to the body.

Good luck to you!

kathryn55555 06-17-2007 10:21 AM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
I am so greatful for the response I received in one day-thanks you guys. I feel hope since many of you have done it, but in a way more worried because it seems to take so long to get off and I seem to be on a higher dose. Right now I am upset my Dr. prescribed another benzo (like Shay said). Also, I didn't need a daytime anti-anxiety, he was just switching the Ativan from one lump at night to spread out in the day so I didn't have the mid-day withdrawls. What a mess! He hasn't returned my call since early Fri-but hopefully tomorrow I will have some direction on how to move forward. Thanks for the tip on Ashton too.

kathryn55555 06-19-2007 09:30 AM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
Finally spoke with Dr. He said to go back to nighttime dosage and take 2mg in day once withdrawals start to kick in. I've got to get off this, so he suggested tapering down the evening dose slowly. Does anyone have an opinion on this? I'm still going to need help getting to sleep.

reachout 06-19-2007 09:57 AM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
Hello Kathryn

I so love the spelling of your name. Smiles.

Kathryn... that bedtime dose? yes, make it as slow and small a reduction as you can possibly do. I deally, it should only be a tenth of a tab each cut.. as in 10% each time... 5% is better! I would only make a cut ecvery ten days or so. yes, I know.. if we take the time to do the math, it will come out to be a super long time! Who cares? It is the [U]safest, most effective and reliable[/U] way to come off any benzo. There will not need to be a concern of seizures this way. Your body will adjust every time. Yes, it will still be hard, but doable. As you taper, you will have a few days reprieve each time from the anxiety along with the few tough days of falling asleep. Try to roll with it, Honey. While each of us does react differently to any taper or cold turkey process, I don't think any with expwerience would say anything different than 'the slower the better.'

Also, although every single benzo is very difficult at times when withdrawing, Ativan, from all I have learned from nurses and doctors in my experiences, is a much better choice to come off from than say Xanax or Librium. You will do fine and be okay. Every cut you make, everyday you maintain the cut, is a huge step towrds getting better and stronger.

Always with hope

Stitcher317 06-20-2007 08:20 AM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
Hi Kathryn,

You are on the right track. Start your taper very slowly. I finished a taper off Ativan 1mg exactly one year ago. I was on it for 18 mos and it took me 18 mos to get off the 1mg. I call it my "turtle taper". It it me longer than necessary I am sure but it's what worked for me. Yes, I had some WD symptoms but I handled them and because I reduced so slowly, I had a fairly easy time of it.

One thing that was recommended was that I divide my 1mg into 4 doses per day. I started reducing 10% from the morning dose, next cut was 10% from the noon, then 10% from afternoon and finally 10% from evening. Then I would start that all over again. I tried to make my reductions every 10 days but there were times when I had to go longer between cuts. You are not in a speed contest here. I did a water taper by dissolving the Ativan tablet in water and withrew my cut and drank the rest. It was a complicated formula designed on an Excel spreed sheet for me. Dr. Heather Ashton has a protocol for this if you search for it...there is also a terrific support site for benzo withdrawal where you can get very expert personalized help....

Just remember that each time you make a cut in your dose you are starting the healing process. It won't happen overnight but it does happen. I also listened to relaxation/meditation tapes which help so much. When I couldn't sleep, I read, your body adjusts. Also, watch what you eat and drink. Avoid caffeine and sweets. Exercise to excess.....I walked for hrs.

Sometimes Dr's put you on antidepressants to help with some of the side effects of withdrawal. If you need them, take them but remember you are adding yet another drug that you will need to get off of at some point.

Something else you may want to consider and talk with your Dr. about. Since Ativan is a short acting benzo, some Dr's will switch you over to a comparable dose of Valium (slowly) and then taper you off of that. Valium has a longer half life in your body so presumably you don't feel the ups and downs you can experience coming off Ativan. Again Dr. Heather Ashton has an excellent booklet available.

Congrats on your decision to get off. You'll do fine. If I can do it I think anyone can...:)

Congratulations on making the decision to stop taking the Ativan..You will do just fine......just go slowly......

kathryn55555 06-22-2007 12:50 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
I'm doing o.k. but in the daytime I feel manicy like I want to ( and did) clean my whole house. Does anybody know if it is normal to feel manic during Ativan withdrawal?

Stitcher317 06-22-2007 02:41 PM

Re: Addicted to Ativan...Help!
YEP, It's a form of anxiety.......and just think how much you can get done! Treat is as a withdrawal effect and move through it.....this extra energy manic/panic feelings may be replaced by other symptoms but just remember whatever you feelings you do experience are just feelings and not bad things happening to you....

You are on the right track and you'll be fine. Also remember withdrawal symptoms can last for many months in some and can linger even after you are finished with your taper. Stay strong and focused. Remember too to go SLOWLY. You may notice your WD symptoms catch up with you as you make more cuts in your dose and you ay have to stabilize for a while. That's OK as well....

SO proud of you..

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