Navigating the complex journey of benzodiazepine (benzo) withdrawal can be challenging, especially when discussing it with a medical professional. Communication is key, but it can be fraught with misunderstandings and frustrations, particularly if your healthcare provider is not well-versed in benzo withdrawal (most are not). Here, we explore effective communication strategies to help you better communicate with your healthcare professional.

Understanding the Challenge

Benzodiazepines, commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms even while taking the medication as prescribed. Most medical professionals are uneducated about the dangers and damages caused by benzodiazepines. They do not recognize or understand benzo withdrawal, leading them to prescribe medications or treatments that can hinder or halt recovery or increase withdrawal symptoms.

State Drives Story

Approaching your healthcare provider with accusations or a confrontational attitude may put them on the defensive, making it harder to have a productive discussion. Instead, aim for a state of calm, informed assertiveness. This approach can help in creating a story of collaboration rather than conflict. Remember, “state drives story.” When the nervous system is in the ‘protect’ state, thoughts and feelings will be negative as opposed to when the nervous system is in the ‘connect’ state. There, thoughts and feelings will be positive. Your nervous system is in the protect state much of the time because of the downregulated GABA receptors, but please do your best to be calm and positive in your communication, avoiding triggering your healthcare worker’s nervous system to shift into the protect state, where their ‘story’ will become negative.

Effective Communication Tips

  • Be Prepared: Research and gather information about benzo withdrawal. Have a list of your symptoms, dose and duration of the medication, and any pertinent facts or concerns you have.
  • Set the Right Tone: Start the conversation with appreciation for their help and an expression of your desire to work together for the best outcome.
  • Use “I” Statements: Frame your concerns from your perspective to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, “I feel anxious about the withdrawal symptoms I’m experiencing” is better than “You don’t understand what I’m going through.”
  • Be Specific: Clearly articulate your symptoms, concerns, and goals. Avoid vague statements and be as detailed as possible about your experience.
  • Ask Questions: Encourage a two-way conversation by asking about their thoughts and opinions.
  • Express Willingness to Follow Guidance: Show that you are open to their professional advice and willing to work together on a benzo-wise withdrawal plan.
  • Seek Clarification: If something isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to ask for more information or clarification.
  • Bring Documentation: If you have done research, bring it along. This can include reputable studies, guidelines, or articles about benzo withdrawal.
  • Request Referrals: If your healthcare provider is unfamiliar with benzo withdrawal, ask for a referral to a specialist who is.

Problems with Non-Educated Medical Professionals

  • Misdiagnosis: Symptoms of benzo withdrawal can mimic other conditions, leading to incorrect diagnoses and treatments.
  • Inappropriate Treatment Plans: Without proper knowledge, a healthcare provider might suggest a withdrawal plan that is too rapid or not supportive enough, exacerbating symptoms.
  • Lack of Empathy: Professionals not educated in benzo withdrawal might underestimate the severity of your symptoms, leading to feelings of being misunderstood or dismissed.
  • Over-reliance on Medication: There might be a tendency to prescribe additional medication to ‘fix’ the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inadequate Support: Effective withdrawal requires a comprehensive approach, including emotional support, which might be lacking.

Navigating the Healthcare System

  • Seek Second Opinions: If you feel your concerns are not being adequately addressed, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.
  • Look for Specialists: Consider consulting with a reputable benzo withdrawl coach, or a benzo-wise prescriber.
  • Use Support Groups: Online and local support groups can provide advice and share experiences on how to effectively communicate with healthcare providers.
  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of your symptoms, medication doses, and any changes you experience. This documentation can be invaluable during medical appointments.
  • Be Persistent: If you believe your concerns are not being taken seriously, continue to advocate for yourself. Persistence can be key in getting the care you need.


Remember, effective communication with your medical professional is crucial in navigating benzo withdrawal. It’s about building a partnership where your concerns are heard, and your health is the priority. Stay informed, be clear in your communication, and don’t hesitate to seek additional support when needed. This journey might be challenging, but with the right approach and support, you can successfully manage your withdrawal and move toward better health.

Add Your Voice

What has been your experience in working with healthcare professionals? What has helped the most in communicating with them? Please share your story with us.