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    Old 09-06-2001, 08:55 PM   #1
    nomoreativan's Avatar
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    Unhappy I need help with ativan withdrawl

    This is my first post to this or any other board. I hope someone can help me. My general practitioner percribed ativan to me when I mentioned I had a problem with anxiety on our 1st visit. He didn't ask any questions at all, nor did he refer me to a specialist in mental health issues. He issued a perscription for 30 with one refill of 30, and provided zero information about the potential issues involved with what I now know is a very dangerous substance. He wrote the script and said it would help - that was all he said! The meds really did help with my anxiety, and I was relieved to find something that helped. About 3 months later I called in my renewal of lipitor (to lower cholesterol) and ativan. I was suprised to find 30 lipitor with one month refill (which should have been 30 with 5 refills, to last our usual 6 months)and 60 ativan with 5 refills (way more than our 1st script). I was enjoying the relief from my anxiety that ativan provided, and began following the labels directions for one 1 mg tab twice a day as needed. Situationally, I was under some stress, and i was taking ativan almost every day of the week, probably 4 days taking 2 and 2 or 3 days taking one. This lasted for 6 months - I then called in another renerwal and gor 60 with 3 refills. Well......Last weekend I decided I wanted to do without ativan - I thought I could handle it, as some of the stress had declined. I stopped taking it cold turkey, and since I felt fine for 2 or 3 days, I assumed all was fine. Then came night 3 - I had very bizarre, realistic, and disturbing dreams - i woke up screaming a number of times (this never happens to me). Day 4 I began having bad diarrhea, felt dizzy and achy. I assumed since it was so long after I stopped ativan that it was unrelated. Night 4 I had intensely disturbing dreams - undistinguishable from reality - truly terrifying and disturbing. Today (day 5) I woke up with terrible diarrhea, dizziness, and a strong feeling of detatchment from my body. Again, I thought it was the flu, but I only had to work for a few hours, so I decided to drive. Well, I found that to be really hard - I looked to see if traffic was coming, but then had to keep looking becuase I couldn't trust myself - there were no cars coming at all, but reality was unreal. At work I felt boaderline passing out a number of times, and this strange detatchment from my body was very strong. I was very emotionally and anxious - I honestly thought I was having a nervous breakdown and that my brain was misfiring somehow. I literally was not far from checking myself into a hospital (I've never done that before) - I feared for my own safety. Well.......I figured it was time to look for some answers online, and that's when I found a wealth of information that confirmed for me, without a doubt, that I was suffering from full tilt atival withdrawl. I learned a great deal about this very dangerous medicine, and the more I learned, the more scared I became, and the more angry I became that the doc provided me no info and so many pills. Yes I took the medicine, and yes I should have researched it more for myself, but it is criminal to have provided so much of it with no warning about the potentially life threatening effects of cold turkey cessation (seizures are a real possibility). I had told my doc that I occasionally had smoked less than legal substances - was not doing so very much now, but had had quite a habit for many years earlier in my not too distant past. He knew my history of substance abuse. ANYWAY - today (day 5) after reading the info, i realized I need to start the ativan again, and doing so made me feel fine again. It was interesting for me to read that withdrawl effect can sometimes not start for day after stopping the drug. Also, many reccomend an extremely gradual tapering off of the drug, over a period of many months. I feel I have a major problem now and am a prisoner of this substance, as well as a prisoner of my need for altering reality. I do want help - I do need help. How the heck do I find a decent competent doctor to help - what kind of a doctor - do I even need a doctor? I feel that I suffered a major episode that risked my job, sanity, and potentially my life over the last 2 days - and I am really angry that my doctor in no way prepared me for the proper way to handle this drug, in no way evaluated my need for it, and in no way raised issues about me taking this addictive drug given my prior addiction issues. This anger has me thinking about lawyers - is this out of line? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I'm ready to seek help but am not sure how to begin. After the super-scarry dreams the last few nights, I could ramble on and on now, as I'm too afraid to sleep, but I've said all I need to say - please give me some advice, and let me give you some - STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM ATIVAN AT ALL COSTS - ITS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

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    Old 09-07-2001, 04:37 AM   #2
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    This is really quite scary(your doc) and not surprising, given the nature and vast quantity of doc's in the medical profession. Just like any profession I guess they make mistakes. Yet, the effects are a lot more costly as in your case and I can understand your anger, as this could have even been life threatening. At least you now know the consequences and are taking action to slowly withdraw. I, myself have taken ativan daily and I did this for 1 year or so! As I became aware of the serious nature of the dangers I replaced this with temazepan(20mg-30) and am now trying to get off this! Slowly and I hope I can scale back enough to no longer require this. I was actually prescribed the ativan for sleep and grief when my Dad died and even though my doc did warn me of the dangers I too have this addictive predisposition and with a hectic life it helps to install some calm and sleep. I'm sorry I couldn't help more but I can certainly empathize.
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    Old 09-07-2001, 12:58 PM   #3
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    Can I ask you something? Why are you starting it again if it had that effect on you coming off it? You seem to have already gone that far (5 days)without them, why start again and go through the pain of stopping. Maybe I just misunderstood.
    My experience with that particular drug has been that I needed to go to detox for 10 days actually. I became very strung out on Ativan and Xanax. I got off Xanax by myself and then went to Ativan and then I started drinking on top of that. I would also mix Wellbutrin and anything else that I could talk the doctors into giving me. Anyway, I am a self-admitted addict and now have been in recovery for 3 years and some months and I must say I have never had to feel like that again. My life is coming to light again and I am experiencing things (feelings) I have never felt before, I have been an addict since I was 14 years old and stayed addicted to anything mood or mind altering for 27 years. The last and final things were Ativan and alcohol.
    It has been my experience that pharmacists ask a patient if they have any questions about it and also I always get asked if this is my first time taking any particular medication, etc. There are even little counseling areas for the patients at pharmacies here in Austin. Every medication I get from the pharmacy also comes with a print-out of the side effects (temporary and adverse) and of all the cautions, etc. of the drug I am purchasing. I don't understand why not one person gave you information or even asked you if you had questions. I think because this society is so litigious, they(pharmacies), use all that counseling and pre-cautionary statements on prescriptions.
    Good luck and you may need to ask the doctor to take you off slowly. Just be careful with all this.

    Old 09-08-2001, 07:11 AM   #4
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    Hi -

    My best friend, who is a stressed-out, working mother of 3 was put in Adivan by her physician 4 years ago - she is also an alchoholic - NOT in recovery - I know this now that I am one! She is fully addicted, scared to stop taking them "someday" I dread the day she has to stop taking this medication - I am honestly not sure if she can live thru the withdrawals in her state of mindI don't belive her physicians asked her about her alchohol consumption, history of drug use, or anything.

    I know two people who kicked Advivan, they had to in a controlled rehab environment, and now must practice total abstinence. They were not addicted to any other substance, and were prescribed Adivan for anxiety. I believe that a detox program is a must due to the horrible withdrawal symptoms you have described, and what I have heard from others. Additionally, you will need to learn tools to deal with the everyday stress of life without the crutch of Adivan.

    I have taken Adivan on a few occasions - I liken it to being intoxicated - I blackout, and I feel like I have no worries, or I cry and cry. I was prescribed it to "keep me calm" the first few days I was in rehab a couple of years ago - I couldn't stay awake, felt drugged, and asked to not be given a script when I left! Probably the only smart thing I did prior to becoming clean and sober from my other drug of choice!

    I wish you the best of luck - as a sensitive, passionate recovering addict/alchoholic, I sometimes would love a "miracle pill" that would solve my problems, make me less anxious, and calm my nerves. However, I am not safe in this world on ANY substance, and I find that an AA meeting is the next best thing!

    I wish you luck!

    Old 09-09-2001, 12:38 AM   #5
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    Nomoreativan - yikes - there is nothing fun about coming off of benzos - I've had to go through that a couple of times - I strongly recommend you get in touch with an addiction doctor and preferably, get checked into a detox centre so that you can be weaned off with constant medical supervision - as you know, because of the seizures, benzos are extremely dangerous to withdraw from. Under no circumstances should you stop taking them altogether, but a controlled wean with medical supervision is the way to go. Alot of the severity of the withdrawal has to do with how much you were taking and for how long. It sounds like you've only been taking them for about 1 1/2 years so I can't imagine you having to wean for more than a month or so - but I'm not a doctor - that's just my guess. When you wean properly and minimize the probability of seizures, you can discontinue the ativan altogether. Once you've totally discontinued (and probably while you're weaning), you'll experience increased anxiety and problems sleeping - I know it's scary - but these symptoms will pass. For me, swimming was amazing for the anxiety - something about being immersed in water soothed my body and brain. The sleeping will get back to normal, just give it some time. I wish you all the best. You can do it.

    Old 09-10-2001, 05:07 AM   #6
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    Hello everyone. Just so you know, I've been on and off ativan with no problems at all. Just wean yourself! Benzos are habit forming, yes, but prozac, effexor etc., can have terrible side effects coming off them! Ativan is the only pill that works for me for my anxiety. You can't stop anything cold turkey without side affects. At least ativan isn't playing with the chemicals in your brain, its just a mild tranquilizer. All I know is that, I did the paxil thing for 5 yrs, that was hard to come off, but I personally have never had a problem coming off ativan, just make sure you wean! Good luck Wendy

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