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  • Can benzodiazepines be managed?

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    Old 10-13-2003, 09:48 PM   #1
    howard678
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    Post Can benzodiazepines be managed?

    Most of what I read of medical opinions says no. Please give some opinions. Please share if you have had success with long term use of these drugs. Millions are taking them, some must be, that or millions are strung out. A .25 miligram Xanax used to give me strong anxiety relief and assist sleep. Now, 1 1/2 yrs later, a 1 mg. is like a placebo. It does nothing. Must the dose keep increasing and increasing in order to get the same effect? Where does it end? I could see myself eventually taking 10 mg. a day and still experiencing the withdrawal effects I am experiencing now,and digging a hole that would be very difficult to get out of. And no, the recent ineffectiveness of the drug is not a return to the way I used to feel. It is much worse. Thanks for any replies.

     
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    Old 10-14-2003, 01:33 AM   #2
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    You are correct in your assumptions. It is tolerance, and with benzos it is common...tolerance withdrawals can occur. Benzo withdrawal is usually much worse than original condition although the psychiatric communty loves to blame original conditions and/or unmasking/emergence of new conditions. But the truth is, it is benzo induced. Type benzo withdrawal in a search. Look up the Ashton Manual, which is free online and has alot of benzo info. There is even a whole benzo webring out there of people just like you...people who didnt abuse, are not addicts, but found out the truth of how these drugs create dependancy/tolerance/withdrawal syndromes that has resembled bi-polar, depression, MS, IBS, and anxiety.

    Believe it from someone who's been there, it's the medication, not you!

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 06:49 AM   #3
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    I have to reply that my experience has been different. I was put on 1.0 mg a day back in August 2002. .5 in morning, .5 at night. I have never felt I needed more, and sometimes I take only .75 a day because the full amount makes me too sleepy sometimes. I am in no hurry to start the withdrawal process 'cause my life is just as stressful as when I started so I'd probably go back into anxiety. HOWEVER, I have read over and over again that many people do go through exactly what you have described, tolerance withdrawal where their dose has to be increased. I guess it's different with each person.

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 03:47 PM   #4
    howard678
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    Jennita,

    I unwittingly followed the advice from the website you mentioned, suplementing the long acting valium, but it brings ugly side effects of it`s own. I cut the 2 mg. daily Xanax dose that was not working in half 3 days ago, taking 1 mg. before bed. I am still experiencing what appears to be anxiety induced intermittent breathing difficulties. Could this effect go away any time soon? Or is it off to detox and perhaps dismissal from my employment. I am functioning but it has been a fight. It cannot continue long term the way it is. Could not get an appointment with my doc until Mon. Am poised to seek urgent care or the er if need be, but am waiting... Thanks.

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 06:39 PM   #5
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    Yes, some people do need to cut off their benzo rather than use Valium although the Valium method had many success stories. Valium doesn't leave the system suddenly and it lasts longer; also, it is less potent than the new benzos. It also comes in very small doses compared to the newer ones. But it isn't always for everyone.
    Getting off benzo can be very hard when tolerance develops.....sometimes there is no way to avoid withdrawals whichever method you use, although the tapering does help and avoids cold turkey symptoms like seizures. Cutting the Xanax in half like you did so soon seems too drastic! If you can't tolerate Valium so well, try tapering off Xanax only; you may have to start at your original dose.

    Wish I knew of a method that avoids withdrawals altogether, I don't think one exists. Alot depends on tolerance development, dosage, type of benzo, personal chemistry, etc.

    But slow tapering is key to lessen withdrawals.

    If you look on the internet, there are alot of benzo withdrawal sites which have support groups. Some of these groups have people who know more about tapering...unfortuately for me, I tapered myself too fast off Ativan without knowing about anything and went through benzo protracted withdrawal syndrome for a few years. Wish I knew back then.

    I think the only way I made it through was I didn't have to work (husband's job is good) and my kids were grown....so, withdrawal itself was my only stressor. I have heard of many lost jobs, lost spouses and such from support group members because of withdrawals.

    But anyone who has made it through has said it was worth everything to feel good again without drugs. Also, some make it through without losing jobs and spouses, so don't be discouraged. Join a support group online and maybe you can gain some help and knowledge. Most people in those groups who went to detox did not feel it helped...they were tapered off too fast and sent home still withdrawing, and had to go through alot of the same program cocaine users and alcoholics do...which is basically useless to someone without addictive/euphoria compulsions! Benzo dependancy on theraputic, prescribed doses is by no means true addiction!

    And no matter how long withdrawal symtoms last....they do get weaker and weaker as time goes on, intil they finally are gone. The withdrawals in the beginning are intense but do NOT stay that way!

    I hope things will work out for you. I am a healthier, happier person without benzos. I hope that for you too! Check out the support groups, ok?



    [This message has been edited by Jennita (edited 10-14-2003).]

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 07:40 PM   #6
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    I've had a prescription for xanex for over 5 years (.25 mg). I take it for periodic irritability and/or anxiety, not on a daily basis. I was told not to use it every day, as I might come to depend on it to deal with normal stressors. And I had heard that it could affect memory, which also served as an incentive to be careful with it.

    Through the years, I have taken it as needed. Some months I might take 30, other months maybe just 3 or 4. About 8 a month is typical. The .25 mg dose still works for me. I think that knowing its available if I need it actually helps me cope sometimes. Maybe not so healthy, but that's how it works for me. Reading the other posts to your thread, it looks like I'm one of the lucky ones. Good luck with managing or quitting, whichever seems right for you.

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 07:53 PM   #7
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    Fiddle, yes, you are wise to not take it everyday! It's more likely to develop dependancy when it is taken daily. Unfortunately, most docs prescribe it to take each day, and if it is taken for sleep can develop tolerance quicker than for anxiety.. as needed dosing usually helps avoid dependancy along with smaller anxiety doses(larger are usually given for sleep).... so you are lucky in a way!

    [This message has been edited by Jennita (edited 10-14-2003).]

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 08:01 PM   #8
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    It is possible to wean yourself off Xanax without switching to Valium. That's exactly what I did. I went really slowly. The recommended cuts are supposed to be 10% off the original dose every week. Well, that was too fast for me, so instead of 10 weeks it took me five months, but I did it. And in the process the anxiety only came back at very manageable levels. I had more problems with insomnia and headaches (don't ask me why, I never took Xanax for such symptoms). My doctor suggested supplementing with some tranxene (another benzo) as a sleeping aid during the process. Note that it was a supplement, not a substitution for Xanax.

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 08:31 PM   #9
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    tranxene is another like valium, the less potent-longer lasting variety...

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 09:01 PM   #10
    howard678
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    The worst symptoms, including the breathing problems that come and go, actually did not come along until the valium was brought in. Whether there is a cause and effect, do not know. One thing I do not understand. On the Ashton Manual page they say the "half life" of Valium is 200 hours, meaning it stays fully concentrated in your blood for 8.3 days. How so? I only felt it (10 mg dose) for about 8 hours. In any case, will be glad when that stuff leaves my system.

    Is strange, when I was a rebellious teenager, I did whatever drug happened to be around and never had any symptoms like I experience now. Maybe there is wisdom in the saying, "ignorance is bliss." Now that I read well and have internet access, I know so much and have read so many horror stories... I sit here at home alone, fearing a siezure or passing out without being able to get to the telephone. Or, having such an episode in front of my co-workers. Fear may be the greater enemy here than the drug withdrawal, and thus the worst symptoms.

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 10:13 PM   #11
    purrsia
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    Xanax is one of the hardest meds. out there today to discontinue. Unfortunately, the side effects are pretty bad, but if you wean off very very and I mean, very slow, its not real bad. I took Xanax for almost 8 years because I had such bad anxiety and panic attacks. I was at 3 mg. daily when I finally decided I'd had enough. With my doctors help, I cut down to .5 mg daily, and this took 1 year. This drug's dependence is so high, that we have a chemical dependency hospital in our area just for Xanax users who cannot quit or are abusing the drug. While I was cutting down, I cut my pills in quarters instead of halves and this seemed to help quite a bit. I got pregnant while being on the .5 mg. and quit cold turkey, which was quite hard, but I had to do it for the baby. I am back on Xanax now after 3 years, but only take .5 daily and thats before bedtime. Good luck!

     
    Old 10-14-2003, 10:35 PM   #12
    howard678
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    I wish I had found this board sooner. Any chance of going through maybe three days of hell, cold turkey,and coming out on the other side, about free and clear? The stuff must wash out of your system at some point. Do not want a year of off and on withdrawal symptoms. I had no idea that 2 or 3 mg. a day was considered a high dose or would require slow tapering from to avoid terrible symptoms that could be long term. Was under the impression that most true addicts were doing 8 to 10 mg. or more a day. Have had friends come off of alcohol, years of daily, heavy abuse and suffered no more than a few days of jitters, insomnia, and remorseful feelings. Thanks for all the help and support.

     
    Old 10-15-2003, 07:45 AM   #13
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    DO NOT quit Xanax cold turkey: 1. you could be one of the unlucky ones who gets fatal seizures (benzos are the only drug besides alcohol that can kill if quit cold turkey) and 2. from what I've read, you get mild-to-zero withdrawal if you taper slowly, but if you throw your body out of whack with a jolt like cold turkey, you COULD be messed up for weeks or months. Because it's not just a question of flushing the stuff out of your system (which, you are correct, with a short half-life drug like Xanax could take only a few days); it is then the process of your brain trying to re-adjust the chemical balance -- THAT'S the part that takes weeks or months.

     
    Old 10-15-2003, 07:48 AM   #14
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    DO NOT quit Xanax cold turkey: 1. you could be one of the unlucky ones who gets fatal seizures (benzos are the only drug besides alcohol that can kill if quit cold turkey) and 2. from what I've read, you get mild-to-zero withdrawal if you taper slowly, but if you throw your body out of whack with a jolt like cold turkey, you COULD be messed up for weeks or months. Because it's not just a question of flushing the stuff out of your system (which, you are correct, with a short half-life drug like Xanax could take only a few days); it is then the process of your brain trying to re-adjust the chemical balance -- THAT'S the part that takes weeks or months.

     
    Old 10-15-2003, 11:02 PM   #15
    howard678
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    Fellow benzo users, present and former.

    The verdict is in. I am hooked. No one ever told me xanax altered brain chemistry, was under the impression it only mildly chilled out the nervous system. No one ever told me about these God forsaken withdrawal symptons, even while still taking the drug! Taper? Where from? The 2 mg. I was taking was not working... Cut my dose in half for 4 days, all went pretty well until tonight, when comes problems with balance, dizziness, chest pains, electric brain zaps and weak breathing. Drove to the er with a .5 in my pocket, took along the way. All was well but the annoying little electric zaps by the time I took a seat. They told me I may be there all night waiting on a room and would be in there two days. Passed for now. I see my doc Mon. Am at the peak of my career, is now on the line, and I thought I had problems before I started this drug....

     
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