People who are still tapering often ask me what they can expect once they step off their benzo. They ask me what my experience was like. Mine wasn’t typical because I jumped from .625 mgs of Clonazepam. Don’t cold turkey! Unless there is an urgent medical necessity to abruptly stop your benzo, always, always, taper. If you must stop quickly, do so only under medical supervision, as abrupt cessation or a very rapid taper can be dangerous.
If you’ve done a fairly slow taper and you’re finally at your end dose (congratulations!) here are 12 thoughts to keep in mind that may be of help:
- Make sure that you have food and water available in case you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Some people experience fatigue and aches and pains—benzo flu. Some may become nauseous and even vomit. Stay hydrated. It will pass. A whole-food, plant-based diet is the best diet. It allows the body to heal better. If you want proof, do a Google search. Dr. Micheal Greger, Dr. Micheal Klapper, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Milton Mills are all good resources for learning about optimal health through nutrition. Avoid any alcohol, unnecessary drugs or supplements, sugar, MSG, food additives, preservatives, etc.
- Let people know that you are going to be benzo free and there is a chance you may feel out of sorts for a few days or weeks. Ask them if they will agree to help you if you find that you need some assistance—grocery shopping, meal prep, or even a comforting hand to hold or a shoulder to lean on. A listening ear goes a long way to soothe. You may not need help, but knowing someone is there in case you do can help keep you calm.
- Most people don’t get extreme suicide ideation or impulses. However, if you are worried that you may become a danger to yourself or anyone else, give any weapons to a friend or family member for safekeeping. If you have medications that you could over-dose on, give those to someone who can dispense them to you. Again, most people who have tapered slowly do not experience extreme reactions but always err on the side of safety.
- Have easy to do distractions at the ready. Knitting, sketching, painting, word puzzles, etc. all can help pass the time and keep your mind off any benzo symptoms you may have. It is important to not let all of our time and attention become focused on benzo withdrawal.
- Mornings can be the roughest time of day for benzo withdrawal symptoms. If you find that your mornings are more difficult, know that they will get better in time. Find ways to distract as best as possible. Afternoons and evenings our symptoms usually settle down and we can feel a bit more joy and hope. Enjoy those moments.
- Will your symptoms get worse? I’m asked that question a lot. Some people will experience an increase in symptoms while others will not. A rare few will find that some of their symptoms get better with cessation. There is no way to predict which symptoms you will have once you step off. Usually though, if you’ve done a decent taper, you will not experience the more challenging symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, extreme depersonalization or derealization, severe terror, etc. These symptoms usually accompany a cold-turkey or a very rapid taper.
- Be positive. Do your best to simply neutrally observe any negative thoughts or feelings. Don’t believe the content of them. They are simply body functions and do not reflect the truth. Remind yourself that you are safe, you are healing, you will recover. Don’t create more anxiety by worrying. Practice acceptance.
- Stay off the benzo boards as much as possible. Reading about other’s misery only adds to your own. It turns on your threat detection circuitry, firing up your adrenals and flooding you with stress hormones. You don’t need that. In benzo withdrawal, there is already an increase in adrenal response due to the lack of functioning GABA receptors.
- Do your best to go about your daily life as much as possible, without overstressing or overextending yourself. If you need to cut back on your responsibilities, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean you are a failure, or not strong enough, etc. It only means that you are taking good care of yourself and allowing your nervous system to heal.
- Welcome all thoughts and feelings. Although some of our thoughts and feelings may be disturbing, allow them. They are only thoughts and feelings, after all. They are not dangerous in and of themselves. They are simply body functions, just as your farts, burps, and hiccups are. View them as such and you take the air out of their tires, so to speak. As long as you don’t act on any disturbing thought or feeling, no harm done. In time, your nervous system will settle down and stop generating them.
- Stay in the present moment. If you find your thoughts turning to the future, full of fear or dread, come back to now. The present moment is the only thing that is real. Your worries about the future are simply that: worries. They are not facts. Bring your attention back to the present moment and ground yourself.
- Practice patience. You’ve done a good taper. You’ve put in the time. Now, put in the time it takes for your GABA receptors to heal fully. Don’t create any expectations. Take each day as it comes and look for the good in each and every day. Practice gratitude. Be grateful that you are benzo free and healing. Look for all the many blessings you have in your life. Focus on these, and not on what you think you may lack.
It is normal to have some anxiety about stepping off your benzo. None of us like the idea of journeying into the unknown. And none of us know exactly what being benzo free will be like until we get there. Will we have more or more intense symptoms? If so, will we be able to cope? Will we be able to enjoy life? Will it be scary? That is the underlying question to most of the concerns about benzo withdrawal. Will there be fear, worry, anxiety, or terror? We are hardwired to want to avoid such things. When we understand that fear, as unpleasant as it is, isn’t dangerous in benzo withdrawal and that it eventually passes, we are more able to allow it to bubble up and ebb away on its own.
Congratulations on getting benzo free. A whole new amazing world awaits you. You now have the opportunity to create a full healthy life, without the straightjacket of a benzo keeping you from your true potential, your bright and beautiful, authentic self.
If you like to journal, here are two that may be helpful for you in benzo withdrawal. Both are on Amazon.com and the links are on the homepage of my website, benzowithdrawalhelp.com.
Okay but can you help those if us who CT’d. I have all sx all the time. What is your advice for us. I m almost 6months out and not to much help for us
I cold turkeyed. I’ll post something soon. Hold on. It REALLY does get better. In time.
I had to go through medical detox off klonopin. Would love information if you ct.
What do you mean by in time ? I am 6 years off and still in hell, no windows, when will it get better ?
I’m sorry you’re suffering. What symptoms do you have? Are you on any other medication?
CT survivor ready to reinstate after 6 months. If it kills me or not. It has to be better than this.
Jennifer, no im not on any medication and dont drink alcohol neither, i have constant derealization, never felt my old self for any seconds, breathing difficulty, dizzyness, constant fatigue, moods swings, insomnia, flue like symptoms all day like i have a invisible disease, when i walk i feel weird like walking on a boat, many neurological things like facial pain, weak legs, tingling in face, daily headache head pressure, permanent tinnitus, intolerance to exercize, inability to concentrate…. the list goes on
I never felt myself for any seconds in 6 years , hypersensitive to any stress etc while i faced everything again, why do i am still sick this far out ? I only took meds less than 2 years how come is this possible to suffer longer than you take them ?
I’m sorry you’re suffering this far out. Have you been tested for Lyme disease? It can mimic withdrawal. The best we can do for ourselves is to eat a whole food plant based diet (animal protein is inflammatory) get enough gentle exercise, stress less and love well. Learning how our nervous system works can also help us rise above or reduce our symptoms. That’s why I teach polyvagal theory in my support group. I’m assuming you’ve been tested for other illnesses?
Yes jen i have been tested for everything, i long quit the fear of doctors and been doing every test at hospital, from blood work, to inner ear, to lung spécialist, to neurologist etc, all blood work and potential deficiencies been checked, i faced all my fears and what trigger symptoms, yet they never went away,
I have also tryed every possible alternative way to help, from diet changes, to other alternativ medicin way like accupuncture, chiropractor etc nothing helped much.
Only thing that helped a bit is stop trying to fix things and just force myself doing everything again to have a routine, like going to a job, going out, etc but nothing cured me.
Symptoms still there 24/7 , absolutly zero windows in 6 years, and no pre-existing condition or new illness. Been prescribed them for random muscular problems
This is turning realy scary and desperating
I am so sorry to hear. It is unusual for benzo withdrawal symptoms to hang on for that long at that intensity. I wish I knew an answer for you. Eventually, the nervous system will calm down. I’ve not heard of anyone who is permanently damaged. Keep eating cleanly. Whole food plant based. Make sure you are giving your body the nutrition it needs. One of the key things that helped me was to be of service to other people. It took me out of my preoccupation with my own problems and helped my nervous system relax. There is a lot to be said for that! I’m sending you lots of love.
Reinstatement after 30 days off can be tricky. It has worked for a very few, but for the most, it hasn’t. We don’t know exactly why the receptors aren’t “receptive” anymore after being off then reinstated to the drugs. It’s a gamble, for sure. Everyone has to decide what they think is best for themselves.
I have no idea neither why it just dont stop, i have been doing everything right like its been told, no alcohol, no other psych meds, no antibiotic etc
I have done everything right, i have a solid routine to distract myself from symptoms, i forced myself to return to a full time job, wich is stress free as it is with close friends and not physical at all, i searshed everything about anxiety to stop the panic terror agoraphobia etc, and it just dont stop, i have done anything, to change environment trying to travel etc.
Nothing made me back to normal, its just a complete non sens to still suffer that long for less than 2 years.
I know unfortunatly a few other like me, some who are even past 10 years off still suffering this is a complete non sens
This whole thing seem like a unfair lottery to heal
what hap to don killian? he was better bu then crashed