Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Treatment Guidelines (video)


I spoke to my doctor in the beginning of the week regarding my Klonopin withdrawal and Prozac withdrawal. Because of all the symptoms and bizarre feelings I’ve been having, I asked if I should be in a rehab at this point. He said no, it would not be appropriate, and that rehab is recommended for acute withdrawal.

I spoke to friends who have been through rehab for prescription medication and also did some research of my own. Here is a wonderful video about benzodiazapene withdrawal treatment guidelines presented by Dr. C. Heather Ashton, the leading expert on benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine withdrawal.

I found this video very encouraging. Here are the main points:

  • There is no single protocol for benzodiazepine withdrawal. Drug doaseages should be tapered gradually and the withdrawal should be individually tailored for each  patient.
  • There is no reason for abrupt withdrawal, in fact rapid detox (such as in a rehab) is not recommended. Especially from high doses, can result in seizures, psychosis, and severe panic attacks.
  • Can take months or up to a year or more.
  • The patient and doctor initially agree on a withdrawal regimen or schedule, but for the best results, the patient should be in control of the rate of withdrawal. (note to self: slow the hell down)

If problems and setbacks happen, the patient may do one of 2 things:

1. stabilize the medication dosage for a few weeks or
2. decrease the rate of withdrawal (revise the withdrawal regimen)

The goal with benzodiazepeine withdrawal is to always go forward and avoid a backslide of increasing the dosage of the drug. Living without medications is a learning process that may take months.

Well I’m a-learning, and one day at a time it is getting better. I’m kinda relieved about the rehab decision because  I really didn’t want to go.  Since speaking to my doctor and confirming what he said with this video, I am giving myself permission to take a year (or more if need be) to completely get off my Klonopin, that’s the benzo, and that’s the biggie for me.

If you are in benzodiazepene withdrawal (like me),  I’d love to hear your experiences. Please share below so we can all benefit.

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

ps. Thankfully the anger outbursts are subsiding, now I have to work on being patient…Time for the big guns: lots of prayer, meditation, and yoga, and using Panic Away big time ;)

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25 Responses to Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Treatment Guidelines (video)

  1. jamieileana says:

    I can truly feel for you. I still remember like it was yesterday the hell i went through to get off of klonopin. I was told it was not addictive! the pharmacist informed me otherwise. i wondered out loud to him why i had to keep going up and up on my dose and he told me and then i said i want off! the next 3 months at least i swear were hell! i literally ended up in the emergency room a few days after i stopped it cause my chest hurt soooo bad but come to find out it was the anxiety causing my chest to hurt. My Dr. finally gave me some inderal for the anxiety and to calm me down and i swear without it i thought i would go crazy…didnt sleep for over a month straight, i hope to God you dont go through all that and i dont scare you. My neice was also on this and never had a problem stopping it at one point while she moved from another state. she is totally happy on it and been on one dose for ever now so different for every one…Good Luck and hang in there…

    • JillG says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. Well I guess it is different for everyone. I’m doing better now thank God. I had that awful chest pain like you too. Oh, and my prescribing doctor told me for years Klonopin was ‘innocuous’ (definition: harmless) Amazing….
      I’m glad you’re OK too! (((Hugs))) to you,
      Jill

    • michael says:

      How much Klonopin were you on…I fear the same reaction for me as I have had anxiety in the past that was soo bad that I thought I was gonna literally lose it. whole body [especially hands which felt like they were the size of baseball gloves which was weird] were vibrating like crazy, feeling I was about to pass out/die, racing heart rate w/ chest pains, ect… does any body know anything that could be taken to help with withdrawal and with anxiety in general?

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks Jill for the video. Has anyone ever heard of The Coleman Institute? thecolmaninstitute.com Please let me know as I am seriously considering going. They safely get you off of Klonoin within 7 days…you have to read how via the site but it is considered the best in the country. I am meeting w/ my psychiatrist on Monday at 11:30am – until then I am bed ridden & feeling like my life is over. Jill, 6mg to .5 is AWESOME! Do you feel normal, like yourself? You know what is sad, I was the happiest girl with this amazing career – tons of friends – dating the most wonderful guy & then I fainted on Jan. 22nd and my entire life turned upside down. They HAD to put me on 6mg of Klonopin b/c I was in such an acute phase of anxiety/panic however, now it is crushing me. I am on 2.75mg (i went down to .5mg in the morning & my heart hurt so badly that i had to ice it almost). I am still feeling withdrawal but refuse to go up again. I am losing my life to this & I would have never dreamed this would happen to me – worse, the Syncope & Pots I was diagnosed w/ are going untreated. I am afraid of seizures, etc. I feel like a shell of me.
    Also, has anyone tried The Road Back program?

    • JillG says:

      Kelly,

      I’ve not heard of the Coleman Institute personally. Yes, I am starting to feel normal, but remember I’ve been slowly withdrawing for the past 6 months and I’m not planning to decrease the .5mg any time soon.
      Going from 2.75 to .5mg is too much for anyone, Kelly. That’s too fast. You need to go do this very gradually and under your doctor’s care to be safe. You won’t be at risk for seizures if you follow a safe and slow withdrawal protocol.

      My best wishes to you, especially over these next few days.

      ((hugs)),
      Jill

      • Jackie says:

        Am I of the correct understanding that it
        took you 6 months to go from 6mgs. of
        Klonopin to your current .05mgs?

        • JillG says:

          No, my daily dose for most of 20 years was 2 mg. It was higher at times.

          • Jackie says:

            So when you started your 6
            month wean, it was at 2mgs?
            What was the percentage and time period between each
            drop? When you did your drop,
            did you use the wafers, com-
            pound method or shave your
            pills?

            • JillG says:

              I used to break my pills down into little pieces. I did .25 mg and then went through the withdrawal until it stopped. Time periods varied. If .25mg was too hard at times, I did half of that. You need to find what works for *you* and not be too focused on what worked for me- everybody is different sized, has a different metabolism and myriad other factors at play. Just go slow.

  3. Kelly says:

    Jill,

    I feel withdrawal now from going to .5mg (from .75mg) & 2mg at night (that never changes). I was on .5mg for 5 days & freaking out so badly that I had to back to .75mg. My body is still in withdrawal. Is it possible to talk to you on the phone? I mean my psy. is/was tapering me every three days. He is on vacation, back on Monday when I will see him – and he thinks I will be off the drug already. If you are willing to talk to me on the phone, I would appreciate it. My personal email is kell.yob@hotmail.com. You can email me there & then we can exchange numbers privately.

    If not, I understand. Your the first person who has talked to me about this.

    I left my psychiatrist all of these messages that I am going to this Coleman Institute & about the video I watched – and he tapered me too fast (babbling on in tears) – I am afraid he is going to drop me as a patient b/c I sound crazy – and I am def. not crazy. This is horrific though – something is wrong. Let me know if you would be willing to talk to me this weekend. I am so depleted tonight from tears. I am so proud of you for going from 6mg to .5mg – that is amazing! Are you functioning, working, having fun?

  4. Kelly says:

    So, today I went to see my psychiatrist – looking for moral support here. I was unable to handle the .75mg in the morning ( unable to handle the withdrawal) & the 2mg is fine – I sleep fine.

    So, he bumped me back up to 1mg in the am & just started bawling. We are going to taper much more slowly & just take our time. So now I am on 3mg & my summer is ruined b/c I wanted a summer where I can grill out w/ friends, have cocktails on my roofdeck – BE ALIVE.

    He thinks I may have a mood disorder but my dr. told me I just have low progesterone so he is OFF.

    I am so upset & feel like giving up – I want to hang on to any ounce of hope. Hearing how this is such hell going off makes my anxiety worse.

  5. Kelly says:

    Let’s all say a prayer – the counselor & creator of the very postive site http://www.benzowise.come – I just bought her book…..passed away May 4th. The story is on her site – I just bought her book Sunday. This is devastating news & she was so positive through a 9 year battle w/ Klonopin.
    Dearn God, bless her soul.

  6. Curly K. says:

    Dearest Kelly, J.L and Jill,
    First, I want to start by giving my deepest condolences to you, Kelly, and the other friends and family of Bliss J. I believe she is the author of the book Kelly speaks of above(?) Regarding my OWN Faith; I really have to do a gut check every time life has thrown my wife Rhonda and I a curve ball. For reasons I’ll touch on briefly, it seems we rarely ever get an RBI, let alone a hit or even a “hit-albe” ball! lol! being the father of our VERY special little “Angelboy” who was born with half a functioning heart and will be going through his third open heart surgery this coming Spring is not just another curve ball, but one of the two or three curves that got me in my benzo mess in the first place. The other two is losing my Father AND his Brother (my Uncle) to Colon cancer and my disability: Degenerative Disc Disease, spinal stenosis, facet joint arthritis and Spondylosis, all of which have caused me to have countless myleograms, MRI’s, steroid shots right in the disc, two surgeries, etc. I am going to finally have my third back surgery, a two-level fusion (L4-L5-S1) BEFORE my Son’s third O.H. surgery. Did I mention my almost 6yr-old son Evan was Dx’ed with Angelman Syndrome, when he was four, as well
    (www.angelmansyndrome.org)?
    I am Blessed to live in the same city as one of the best trauma neurosurgeons in the country. He tried as much less-invasive stuff since the zenith of my chronic back and leg pain (14 years and counting) as he could (such as literally going in with hammer and chisel and scraping the calcified herniated disc matter off my spine and S1 nerve roots) before finally deciding recently to fuse the whole damn lot.
    So back to the benzos. My many “psychiatrists” and “therapists” I’ve had over the years have tried every “designer” anti-everything to try to help and I ended up on 8mg of Klon. a day and two 10mig Vals at night for spasms and insomnia. This turned into blowing through my Rx two weeks early and ordering extra (Xanax) online. Mind you, this is on top of, at the most, taking 250mg of methadone a day PLUS the benzos. Of course I had to start doing cocaine to stay awake to take care of my son and 94yr old Grandfather while my wife worked a 37.5hr/week, dead end job.
    By the grace of God, I am happy to announce today that I am now on SS Disability along with my Son (after an 8yr battle and “Lawyering up”, I got switched to OC’s and oxycodone IR for breakthrough pain, but much less comparatively than the “Dones” and still take the Benzos…. with one catch. I am actually down to taking LESS than my original Rx calls for (about 60-70% less and falling). Same goes for the oxy… I don’t even take as much as i’m prescribed! Yes, I suffer daily with rebound anxiety and pain, but it’s a fair trade-off from the road I was Praying to God to get me off of… and he did. Hopefully I can keep going down slowly on the benzos and my “70% sucessful” fusion surgery is a sucess and I can taper off the pain meds (and all the other drugs) completely and get my life back with my wife, Son and Parents/Siblings.
    I want to finish by saying if it wasn’t for websites like this, but more importantly, PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELVES and the Big Man Above, I could have never gotten this far. Thank you all so very much from the bottom of my heart!!! Please let me know if there is ANY way I can help ANY of you! Sorry so long, but I had to tell my story and let you all know that you and many others played a large part in my recovery!!
    God Bless you all and Peace to you!
    Curly K.
    ckirt2@yahoo.com
    please don’t hesitate to email me for help or just an ear to listen. I will be here for you.

    • JillG says:

      I was so moved by your story, Curly. Thank you for sharing with us here. What a great testament to your faith in the Big Man! :) You sound like a wonderful Dad with a great big heart who truly loves his family. Sending every good wish that you will be pain and anxiety free in the future.

      ((Hugs)),
      Jill

  7. Equinox says:

    Hi, I am currently tapering slowly off of Klonopin. I’m on day 3 and having hugely horrible anger outbursts that are scaring me. Can I hear more about what your anger outbursts were about? I’ll look back on your blog, too. Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your journey. peace to you!

  8. Jackie says:

    Jill -
    Please know that I am not looking to carbon copy your
    weaning process. I just happen to be a person that the
    more details and info. I get, the better it helps me to make
    decisions regarding the process I will take when I start MY
    weaning journey. If I have not upset you with my initial
    inquiries, would you be so kind as to oblige me in answer-
    ing a couple more? During your 20yrs. on the Klonopin,
    were you taking it as needed or were you on a schedule?
    If you were working before you started weaning, did you
    continue to work during the weaning? I believe you said
    that at this time you have stabilized at .05mg. Do you take
    it daily or only as needed?
    MY STORY: I’m 53. Will be 54 in Sept.’12. Was prescribed
    Clonazepam(generic for Klonopin) March’10. Reason:
    Panic attacks. Reason for panic attacks: Post Traumatic
    Stress Syndrome. Reason for Post Traumatic Stress Syn-
    drome: Bearing witness to my father’s death. Before the
    Post Traumatic Stresss Syndrome I had anxiety attacks.
    Reason for Anxiety Attacks: 10 years, for the most part, of
    non-stop stress. Truth be told, I don’t GUESS that I was
    wrongly prescribed Clonazepam, I KNOW I was. Looking
    back, my symptoms were a combination of peri-menopause
    and Adrenal Exhaustion. Both of which cause anxiety. Had
    I had that knowledge of those two things back then, I
    would’ve taken the natural road to recovery. But unfortu-
    nately I didn’t.
    I would like to end this post by saying that I commend you
    for your decision to share your weaning journey. You have
    and continue to be a great source of help, inspiration, and
    guidance to your many followers. Me being one of them.
    Thank-you.

    • JillG says:

      I am uncomfortable answering this line of questioning. You have been asking for specifics about my medication regimen that is bordering on asking for medical advice. I am not a doctor. If you were wrongly prescribed Klonopin I am sorry, but you need to talk to your doctor for your very own withdrawal schedule.

  9. Chris says:

    I discovered POR – Point of Return headed and founded by Alessandra Rains,
    There are supplements – and they help with a withdrawal program. I have successfully withdrew from K now down to .083 mg over five months and was still able to work. I tried c/t and it was horror. Please visit their website, and call them if you can. It may save you thousands and thousands and you can do it from home with less symptoms

  10. Kelly says:

    Hi there. I just wanted to tell any of you that are going through Klonopin withdrawal or protracted withdrawal, that it does end. You will get through it & you will survive. I look back at my detailed posts throughout 2010 & it baffles me. I am bewildered by all that I went through and my state of mind during ‘Klonopin withdrawal’. I no longer suffer from anxiety & I will not longer be a member on this site. I didn’t want to leave though without giving all of you hope. What eliminated my anxiety entirely? 1)Getting off of Klonopin was the first best step, 2). Changing to a vegan diet & 3). Healing my adrenal fatigue. I recommend seeing a Naturopath or an Integrative Physician who will do the saliva test for adrenals. I have learned that when people are highly anxious or even moderately anxious, it means you have weak adrenals. If you go see a traditional Western Medicine physician, they will tell you that your adrenals are fine. You have anxiety? Your adrenals are NOT healed. Also, the book – Stop The Thyroid Madness’ was EYE OPENING to me regarding anxiety. Finally, I guess I just want to say that I had a severe withdrawal due to an underlying health condition. Klonopin – in my humble opinion – should not be on the market. It’s dangerous and does more harm long term than the ‘short term’ relief of anxiety. It took me down but I – by the grace of God – got through it. I am back to my old self and loving life! Take care – God Bless and keep your chin up! AND…..stop taking Klonopin.
    Kelly

  11. I need help says:

    on a benzo nightmare. been on and off several times and cannot get stable. I am so severely sick with anxiety. please help. lori

  12. pam says:

    Hi Jill, I am also in a nightmare ,and just reading about you and others on this site is very helpful. I am an R.N. that has been driven into a klonopin addiction. I feel that most of the doctors along my addiction route did me an injustice. I was told my anxiety was just worsening and not symtoms of need for more klonopin. Even a nurse can be fooled. Most of the time I was increased in both antidepressant meds and benzodiazepines, like my Klonipin. I am feeling my life is over???? Well not yet if I can help it. I am just starting to get the help I need, and we shall see how it goes. I never thought of myself as an addict? I just die from the thought of this. But now I realize that I am an addict forced to be an addict, but not by my will. I will keep you informed and any advice of course would be helpful. God Bless everyone and this is just the start of my living hell and I am sure many others.

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