Wikipedia defines kindling as: “the phenomenon of increasingly severe withdrawal symptoms that occurs as a result of repeated withdrawal from alcohol or other sedative–hypnotics with related modes of action”  Those other sedative hypotonic include benzodiazepines. Kindling is a real phenomenon that can occur in benzo withdrawal. Let’s take a look at what may cause kindling and let’s dispel any myths about recovery after kindling occurs.

Updosing, Some people have such severe withdrawal symptoms during their taper that well-meaning doctors may suggest that they go back up in dosage to stabilize then taper again. The problem is that we may not stabilize after an up dose, and our subsequent taper may produce even more symptoms, presumably due to kindling. However, it’s important to note that some people do find better footing at a higher dose and can then go slowly down. Everyone is different. If you want to avoid having to face the gamble of an up dose working or not, taper slowly the first time. Listen to your body. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

Reinstating. If you reinstate after a month off of your benzo it can backfire (as we’ve learned from so many who have tried it and shared their experience with the benzo community). You may not get stable and/or your next taper may be even more symptomatic, presumably due to kindling. Does that mean you shouldn’t reinstate if you absolutely can’t hold on another minute, especially after a cold-turkey? Of course not. It just means that you should educate yourself about the risks and make the best decision for yourself.

Going on and off a benzo. Some people have gone on and off their benzo without any withdrawal symptoms. They’ve taken them for months at a time with no consequences. Until now. This time, they’ve been slammed with withdrawal symptoms and can’t understand why. Kindling may be the reason.

You’ll recover if you’ve been kindled. You’ll recover, just like someone who hasn’t experienced kindling will recover. Being kindled doesn’t mean you’re damaged forever.

Kindling doesn’t predict being becoming protracted. It just means that you have more symptoms than you did before you were kindled. You may heal within the six to eighteen month average time-frame.

You don’t have to be frightened of kindling. Some people worry or obsess over becoming kindled. That isn’t necessary. If you do a slow taper, listen to your body, and be kind and gentle with yourself, chances are high that you’ll not be in a position to risk being kindled. If you’ve been taken off your benzo at a rehab or detox and you are considering re-instating due to severe withdrawal symptoms that are beyond your coping abilities, don’t worry if that will kindle you or not. If feel that you’ve got to reinstate to survive, live in this moment and don’t worry about the future. (That’s good advice for anyone in benzo withdrawal and after recovery!)

I’m living proof that we can be kindled and heal.  No matter how many symptoms you have right now, you’ll recover too, even if like me, you were kindled. That’s the bottom line for anyone in benzo withdrawal: we all recover. You will too! 

Please seek the medical care of a doctor who is educated about benzodiazepine withdrawal if you are concerned about kindling or any other benzo withdrawal symptom.