Anyone going through Benzo Withdrawal?

I made it through Benzo withdrawal after a cold turkey that was suggested by my doctor...I know not recommended, but didn't know anything about Benzos at the time. I was on Benzos for about 5 months total in 2016. I did the CT on August 5 2016. It was 10 months of hell and then by month 14/15 I was about 95% recovered. I had a lot of different symptoms including severe insomnia, anxiety, depression, claustrophobia, tinnitus, sound sensitivity, Benzo bello, burning skin, muscle twitching, intrusive thoughts, DP/DR and many more I can no longer remember.

I am willing to share my experiences and to give hope to those that believe they will never heal or get better.
  • 16 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy hey there. i cannot believe your doctor wanted you to quit cold turkey! wow! that's usually not recommended... i bet it was hell.

    we'd love it if you shared your story here... you can share it more at length here: https://www.recovery.org/stories/

    there are some great stories there of others in recovery....

    i'm glad you are free...

    i wonder if your dr. thought that because you were only on them 5 months it would be alright to go cold turkey???? do you wish you would have weaned off?

    just curious.

    thanks for posting.
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy... Welcome to the community and thanks for posting. While I'm very happy to hear that you successfully quit benzos, I'm shocked that your doctor suggested you do it cold turkey. Quitting benzos cold turkey can be dangerous or even life-threatening. The best way to come off benzos is to do a slow taper, preferably under a doctor's supervision.

    Glad you made it through all the withdrawal symptoms. Thanks for wanting to help others, too.
  • Thanks Dominica and DeanD,

    I will post a full recovery story later. I was on a low dose for about 2 months on and off (not daily) and then quit CT and nothing really happened, no symptoms, nothing, went back on them 6 weeks later for 3 more months daily at higher doses and different types of Benzos and then was advised that I could quit cold turkey, which is not recommended. Looking back, I am glad things worked out the way they did. Not sure if a taper would have made my symptoms any more tolerable? I have heard of others that did very slow tapers and still had very long protracted withdrawal experiences.

    The problem is most doctors don't even recognize Benzo withdrawal and even if they do they say it lasts 3 or 4 weeks tops. That is what I was told by 4 different doctors. They said the drugs were out of my system and I must have another psychological condition or illness for which they wanted to put me on more drugs. Finding a Benzo-wise doctor is hard to do. Most only recommend a taper to avoid seizures. That is all my PDoc was worried about when he said I could quit. He said he worked with people at our local jail that took much higher doses for a lot longer and had no trouble going cold turkey so I am guessing that is why he recommended it for me as well?

    About 3 months after I jumped, I showed him information from Dr. Ashton regarding Benzo withdrawal. He quickly dismissed it and referred me to a psychologist. I never went as I knew it would be a vicious cycle of trying to poly drug me.
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy Hello there fella, welcome to the forum. What I know about benzo withdrawls could be written on my thumb so if you do decide to share I for one would love to read and share myself where I could.
    Are you going to meetings or happy how you are now just motoring along? Im also delighted that you are aware of the poly drug scenario, its just another crutch that leads to addiction in another way. Old school cold turkey is tough with any substance so well done man, id wear that badge with honour, regardless of doctors and dangers but thats just me. Anything to make yourself proud I say! You are always better off being one step ahead than two steps behind.

    Again welcome to the forums, looking forward to hearing more from you.And one more time, well done for knocking it clean out of the park off your own back, you should be very proud of yourself.

    Regards AA.
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy some doctors just either aren't aware or choose not to care or educate themselves. each person is different... i'm glad you made it through alright though... and, i'm glad you didn't start taking more meds to try to contend with the withdrawal symptoms!! i do believe in therapy.... but sounds like the dr. just thought of you as cray-cray... man, that's crap.

    share here anytime. glad to have you here!
  • I started taking Benzos back in January of 2016 for some sleep issues. I did not take them every night, only as needed, which was about 3 – 4 nights per week. Started with Xanax .5 mg for about 6 weeks then went on Klonopin 1mg for about 4 more weeks. I quit cold turkey and nothing happened. NO symptoms or withdrawal and my sleep returned to normal for about 6 weeks. Then after a few more nights of poor sleep, I was put back on Benzos again. I had no clue how dangerous they were. I started on 1mg of Xanax and then quickly went up to 2 mg in about 4 weeks. When those stopped working they put me on Temazepam and Klonopin at the same time!

    I took that for another 4 weeks and finished with a few days of Valium. I kept building tolerance so my sleep got worse and worse over time. At first, the Xanax could put me out for 8 hours, then it went to 7, 6, 5, 4, 3… you get the picture. So, I had to up the dose to 2mg and that quickly faded as well. I was taking 3mg of Klonopin and 30mg of Temazepam at the same time! I found out later that the effect of taking 2 Benzos at the same time is magnified by 30%! Some doctors are not very smart and apparently I wasn’t either as I continued to take whatever they told me to. They even wanted me to try Haldol, no thanks, check out the side effects from that. Even the Pharmacist said it could cause permanent uncontrolled jerks/movements in my arms, legs, neck, etc.

    I quit Xanax cold turkey when I switched to the Klonopin and Temazepam. I quit both of those cold turkey as well as my doctor told me that I wasn’t on them long enough to have withdrawal or seizures. I took Valium for a few nights about a week after I CT’ed the benzos. In all, I was on Benzos for just under 3 months.
    My sleep went from what I thought was decent to 2 hours or less a night. As soon as I quit cold turkey, I started with the zero-hour nights. They were horrific as many of you know. I would often go for 3 and sometimes 4 nights in a row with zero sleep. This lasted almost 10 months. Along with the brutal insomnia I had a plethora of other symptoms including claustrophobia to the point where I couldn’t even go into a large store and I had to spend my nights on the sofa with the front door open. I also had Panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, muscle twitches, burning skin, major constipation, noise sensitivity, clenched jaw, ringing ears, panic attacks, horrible anxiety and depression, depersonalization and DE realization, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc.

    I literally thought I was going to die. I seriously considered quitting my job that I usually like and have been doing for 28 years. It got so bad that my mother-in-law was talking to my brothers and other family members and was trying to get me committed to a psych ward. The doctors thought I was crazy so did my wife and kids. They didn't think it was a withdrawal problem, they thought it was a mental illness. I was in 4 different Emergency rooms over a one-month period and all they wanted to do was put me on more drugs. I tried a bunch of other non-benzo drugs that really didn’t work. I started to research Benzos and found out that they were causing all of my symptoms and problems. So, I quit taking the Remeron and Seroquel and whatever else they had me on and it was a lot of different things. I usually only took them for a day or two and when they didn't work, I flushed them. The best thing I ever did was stop taking everything and let my brain learn how to sleep on its own again. Today, I don't even take "natural" supplements for sleep. I don't think they are bad, but I just wanted to be completely free of everything. For those considering CBT for sleep or Sleep Restriction or any other method, I don't think they work well for withdrawal insomnia? They didn't for me, but I guess that is up to you to give it a try? The other thing to keep in mind is that you don't need 8 hours of sleep a night. That is a myth. You can function normally on much less. And you DON'T have fatal insomnia. I think most people (myself included) think they have that at one point or another, but you don't. It is ALL withdrawal.

    I thought I would never get better and considered suicide, but was too chicken to ever follow through or even attempt it. I think the thought of having a “way out” made it more tolerable? I would call the 800 prevention lines from time-to-time just to talk to someone. So, for those of you contemplating suicide, my advice would be to think about it but never act on anything. Don’t keep anything around that you could use in a moment of weakness, such as a weapon, etc.

    I live in the Midwest and flew out to Virginia to the Coleman Institute and paid a lot of money in desperation for his Flumazenil treatment. Unfortunately, it did not work immediately…like Benzos do. That was in September of 2016. Right after that I started seeing a Counselor at a Christian Counseling center and then ended up seeing their Psychiatrist. The counselor and the Psychiatrist were very familiar with Benzo withdrawal as both had worked in some large rehab clinics out east. Coincidentally the Psychiatrist’s name was also Dr. Coleman. He told me that I would recover in 1 – 4 months. I thought he was crazy. His definition of recovered was sleeping 4-6 hours 95% of the time and having my symptoms reduced 80% or more of where they were currently at. I was skeptical, but they really helped me through this recovery process by explaining that others had gone through the same thing. The only drawback was that it was an hour drive one way to Madison, WI.

    By January of 2017 I started to get a little sleep…maybe 2-3 hours at a time for 2 or 3 nights in a row. Some of my symptoms started to fade. It was very up and down for a long time. I went on a cycle where I would get some sleep for one day and then none the next day. Gradually it got better and better and I started getting sleep for 2, 3 then 4 days in a row. But those Zero days were still there and those were the worst, I kept a sleep log and had 70 zero nights over 9 months. I also had a late wave at 18 months off that lasted 29 days and produced 4 more zero nights and lots of 2-3 hour nights. Luckily I haven’t had a wave like that since. I am going on 32 months off.

    At about 10 months out I started sleeping almost every night for at least 4-5 hours. The sleep was broken but, it I think it really helped me heal? Within a few months all of my symptoms rapidly faded. About 12 weeks after I started sleeping most of my symptoms were gone. It was amazing. No more anxiety or depression and the dreaded claustrophobia was gone too. I really started to appreciate and enjoy life again. Little things made me happy that I used to take for granted pre-benzo. I was hoping it just wasn’t a window as I read about the windows and waves that most go through.

    It has now been about months of being symptom free and having fairly good sleep every night. The last time I had a zero night was February 22, 2018. My sleep is not perfect. Still broken with lots of dreams, but I usually get 6-10 hours per night. I usually wake up 2 or 3 times per night, but can usually fall back to sleep fairly quickly. Other nights it takes 30 to 60 minutes or so. The biggest difference is that I stopped caring if I slept or not. That was super hard to do, but got easier and easier over time. I was hoping for sleep, but if I didn’t get any, I tried not to let it bother me. Now, I know I can fall back to sleep when I wake up at 1:00 or 3:00 am and 90% of the time I do fall back asleep. For the first 9 months after my cold turkey, I wouldn’t get tired. I would feel tired, but my brain felt wired. Now, there are some days that I get so tired I fall asleep on the couch watching TV. As you notice I am writing a lot about sleep. That was my biggest issue that I struggled with besides the anxiety, depression, DP/DR and claustrophobia.

    As I went online in search of answers, I became my own worst enemy. My issue was that I made everyone else’s recovery timeline, my timeline. For example, if someone did not start sleeping well until 2 years out, I would say things such as “it might take 2 years or longer for me to start sleeping again.” That is just how I process things. I had a friend lay hands on me and pray for me. He has the gift of healing. Some of you will say poppycock, but I believe it as I experienced it. That was about 2 weeks before I starting sleeping pretty well out of the blue. I give God the glory and the praise.

    I got my life back at about 15 months off. All of my symptoms were completely gone by month 15 with the exception of an off night of sleep every month or two. I live the way I used to before this whole benzo ordeal started. My family and I even went on a 7-day cruise in June of 2017 and it was awesome! I want to point out, that when I or anyone else claims success or writes a success story, it really isn’t what we do, but what we went through to get to where we are now. If there were some magic diet or supplement to take, we would know about it by now. Time and God are the only healers I know.

    At my worst, I thought about taking the Family Medical Leave Act and taking a bunch of time off, but I used sick days instead. I think I ended up taking 20 days spread out over several months. As I already mentioned, I thought I was going to have to quit my job but, I also learned that I could function pretty well on little or no sleep. I kept my job and my family…I needed too, I had bills to pay and my family needed me. Not that I handled it the best...I didn't...to this day my wife still says I was out of control, but she still doesn't understand how much benzos make you temporarily mentally ill! I did what I could do to get through the mental torture and there wasn't much to hold onto.

    The other thing that I did that I think helped me recover was eating a clean diet? I followed Dr. Gundry’s The Plant Paradox diet. The book, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods that Cause Disease is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. I also walked 2 – 4 miles every day even if I got little or no sleep. It was hard, but it helped in the long run. I am not suggesting this is a “shortcut” or that it will help everyone, but it seemed to help me.

    For those still struggling, it will get better. I don’t know when, but it will. It just takes time and more time. The Benzos lie to us all and make us believe we will have symptoms forever. Not true. It’s just a big fat Benzo lie. You will recover; you will get your life back. I did. I would say I'm 100% healed from the physical and mental symptoms and 95% healed in the sleep department. Enough to live a great life and enjoy it...and believe me I do. I wake up every day and thank God for the day and the chance to live it "normally." Even going to work is "fun." There isn't much I don't enjoy or appreciate now. It's like I was given a 2nd chance at life. I pray this helps some of you have some hope? I pray for the day when you get your 2nd chance too. If I had to do it all over again, I still think I would go cold turkey. Yeah, the symptoms were brutal, but for me, I think I recovered faster by getting the poison out of my body as fast as possible? God’s speed to every one still going through Benzo withdrawal.
  • @AlwaysAlex
    Thanks for the support. Going cold turkey was not fun, but I am glad it is over and has been over for well over a year now. I never thought I would have the mental strength to make it through Benzo withdrawal, but I learned we are all pretty amazing and can do a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy... I used to take prescription Klonopin for anxiety. Then I tried to quit cold turkey, because my ignorant doctor never told me not to...until after I tried. I then did a loooong taper with minimal withdrawal symptoms. I wrote about my experience for HuffPost. Here's the link if you're interested in reading it:

    Held Hostage by a RX Drug: My Klonopin Nightmare

    Thanks a bunch for sharing your story with us, too. The more people who talk about this stuff, the more we educate others and maybe keep someone from having a bad experience.
  • @DeanD

    I read your story. Thanks for sharing. It's sad that so many people have experiences like you and I both did. I am glad your long, slow taper, gave you minimal withdrawal. I totally agree that the more we share and "educate" the less likely this will happen to future users?
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy for sure, sharing our stories can help so many others!

    i have to say @DeanD story has helped me realize that benzos should always be a last resort!! i've had dr's prescribe them or want to and I'm like, "um, no thank you..." and, i've educated my adult children about them. there are safer ways to go about treating anxiety for sure...

    i'm learning more about the different types of tranquilizers. SSRI, SSNI, and well, benzos.

    anyone have stories about the SSRI and SSNI's? thoughts? good, bad, scary???
  • That's a good article, @dominica. Thanks for sharing. Lots of good information in there!
  • @dominica

    I read the article, but it still has the "big pharma" spin on it as it lists most drugs as "safe" and non-habit forming and some do not cause tolerance, withdrawal, or memory impairment! The author also says Benzos are safe for long-term use under the care of a psychiatrist. How is a psychiatrist supposed to prevent withdrawal? Anti-psychotic drugs do not treat Nor fix underlying conditions. They are band aids at best and simply mask symptoms. I know doctors and psychiatrists will disagree, but I have experienced first hand how dangerous Benzos are. The person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy I respect your input.... i agree with trying to contend with the underlying issues rather than just treat symptoms... i have dealt with anxiety too. heck, most people do... i find hope in studying alternative ways to treat.
  • @dominica
    I have always been a "naturalist" when it comes to health or treating illness. Sometimes western medicine has good solutions and options available. However, they are also very quick to just write an Rx script and send the patient on their way. Functional doctors are on the rise and hopefully that trend will continue? I know I will never take another mind altering "medication" no matter what "benefits" it might provide. I think a lot of our current conditions and illness are related to our highly processed food that is so abundant in the US?
  • @ThEwAy2ReCoVeRy we think alike! i am glad functional drs are on the rise! yes, our food for sure... our lifestyle in general. work, work, work, work, work, work, and then work more.... eat nutritionally dense food...take this quick fix pill...and all will be fine. NOT...

    we have a part to play.. and i get it... but if you look at other cultures... such a difference in some ways. i am a naturalist too. for the most part.... simple living. natural. yes, yes!
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