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My problem with getting off Clonazepam


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Hi.

I have been prescribed Clonazepam for general anxiety disorder 5 years ago. I was prescribed .5mg 3 x a day. After 6 months my pdoc got a stroke and was unavailable for a long time, I couldn't continue my talk therapy I was doing with

him. He originally wanted to wean me off after a year. I went to my regular doctor who used to be the head doctor and surgeon of a hospital and asked him what I should do about my medication. He said if it works, why not just keep taking it.

He mentioned that he used it in the past himself(anti-benzo forums always say doctors know nothing about benzos but forget that they often take them too ;)). I gradually reduced my dose to twice a day(morning .5mg and evening .25mg) and stayed on that dose

for the next few years. I then moved to Germany and one extremely benzo-phobic doctor recommended I should get off the med. I never ever increased my dose in all those years, I never had withdrawal symptoms and I felt great. The only thing was that I thought I could maybe manage without the med considering that my dose was kind of low in the first place. I tapered down .125mg(1/4 tablet) every 2 weeks and then to zero. I had ZERO withdrawal symptoms whatsoever btw. After about a week off the med I did feel a bit more anxious than normal and then made the huge mistake to google "clonazepam withdrawal". I discovered all the horror stories about how EVERYBODY WILL 100% GO THROUGH HELLISH WITHDRAWAL WORSE THAN HEROIN THAT WILL LAST FOREVER :unsure::wtf:. Within 15 minutes of reading this stuff I suddenly got 5000 symptoms at once(I'm exaggerating). If a person like me has an anxiety disorder and reads all this stuff, how can he not get rebound anxiety? I'm pretty sure that many people on anti-benzo sites have many symptoms from reading all those stories too but those sites will insist it is all withdrawal.

Anyway, I decided to go back on the med and get a good therapist. I went to CBT and then slowly started tapering again. By the time I got to my last .125mg dose I told my therapist that I'm scared like hell because I read too many scary things on the internet. Getting off this med is my Mt. Everest of fears.

He told me nothing will happen. After about a week later I started getting really anxious again. I was thinking about the horror stories non-stop 24/7(hey, I'm have an anxiety disorder. What do you expect?). This time I managed to make it 6 weeks without the med. I got more and more panicky and agoraphobic. Ofcourse people on anti-benzo forums told me those are w/d symptoms but it felt just like the anxiety I had BEFORE I took the med. Also I didn't have insomnia. I slept 8-9 hours so how could it be withdrawal. Anyway, I also read that you can't reinstate after being off the med for more than 4 weeks(again, according to anti-benzo forums) beacuse it won't work anymore or make things worse. These so-called help forums sure get the job done when it comes to scaring the hell out of people.

At the end, I thought I need to work, I need to function and my therapy sure ain't helping. I went back on the med. I feel much better but not 100% stable after being back on it for a couple of weeks.

The question is: what now? Should I just stay on the med? Should I get better therapy and try to taper again? I'm not really sure what to do at this point. Any ideas? Thanks.

Edited by luij
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I took 1 mg 3x per day of clonopin for about 2.5 years. I too sort of naturally we off of it. I began to forget pills and realize that I didn't feel any different. Then I got too greedy to pay the $30 for 90 tablets, and I took 1 pill every day, thereby streching out my prescription for 3 months. Finally, I just quit taking it.

And like you, I experienced zero withdrawal effects. Unlike you, I did not read anything on the internet so I didn't get any symptoms. I was on other meds, but no other benzos though. I just have a hard time understanding what the big deal is over benzo withdrawal. I understand that rebound anxiety is possible, but nothing horrific as some people have said. Withdrawal from SSRIs is another story altogether. Wow, did I suffer from SSRI withdrawal!

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I just have a hard time understanding what the big deal is over benzo withdrawal. I understand that rebound anxiety is possible, but nothing horrific as some people have said. Withdrawal from SSRIs is another story altogether.

People always go on about the Gaba receptors that have to recover which is probably the case but I think it's a difference of going off cold turkey of 10mg a day than tapering off of less than a tenth of that amount. Anti-benzo sites say it makes no difference if you go off a high or a low dose but somehow that doesn't make any sense. I mean if benzos work exactly like alcohol(on the Gaba receptors) then the withdrawal of alcohol would be the same if a person would only drink a glass of wine every night or if he would drink a bottle of whiskey, but it's not. From one glass of wine no one will ever get withdrawal symptoms while from a bottle of whiskey they might(but that's not even necessarily the case).

Also, I used to alway go out partying years ago and get totally wrecked each night. I did that for years(when I was a lot younger). I think I was drunk every night. One day I decided to take a break so I just stopped for a couple of years. I didn't have any withdrawal whatsoever. Why didn't my Gaba receptors need to "heal" back then. When I started to drink alcohol again years later I would drink in moderation every once in a while. I never became addicted. People are different. Some people can drink all their life and never become alcoholics while others become alcoholics very quickly, I guess it's the same with benzos but when you read the stories on the internet you assume you MUST go through hellish symptoms that last at least a year. I'm pretty sure that my symptoms after I stopped the med were 95% anxiety based because I was in anticipation 24/7 thinking about what will happen next and also because while I was on my last .125mg(which is close to nothing), I felt fine. The problem is that even though I know that, that last bit of doubt triggers my anxiety.

That's what makes it tough for me to get off. I wish I would read much more stories of people who got off without severe symptoms. That would probably help but usually those people don't post in forums.

Edited by luij
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Stop reading the anti-benzo forums!

If you've been able to go weeks or more without the drug you're not having withdrawal symptoms.

You do, however, need to be addressing the anxiety some other way, whether it be meds and therapy or just therapy.

That's the problem. I listened to my therapist and got off the med but was really anxious when it came to going to zero because I still had all the horror stories I read a year earlier stuck in my mind. That triggered my anxiety

and I realized that once off the med my anxiety got worse so it was hard for me to tell if my anxiety was my original disorder or benzo induced withdrawal symptoms. How can you tell if the symptoms are the same?

The only support I had was seeing my therapist once a week which wasn't enough to cope with my increasing anxiety. You can't help but check out infos on the internet in that situation and 99,999% of infos on benzo withdrawal are really negative and the only advice you get is to check out Heather Ashton.

Ashton might be helpful for some but at the end she's just another anti-benzo website. So at the end you can either just wing it out on your own and hope the anxiety will go away or try to finds infos that might help.

Edited by luij
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coming off a similar dose of clonazepam isn't difficult for me if it's done slowly - i've done this off and on for many years now. sometimes i need it, and sometimes i don't, depending on what's going on in my life and/or whether other medications i'm taking are either helping or worsening the situation.

coming off a high dose was TOTALLY different. yes, it was hellish and took forever. i'm glad i had information from the internet (mostly here!) to help me understand that i wasn't losing it for no reason.

i agree with Dianthus about staying away from those scary websites. talking about it here was much, MUCH more helpful to me. it still helps when i'm trying to figure out whether going back to benzos is a good idea at any given time. i'm taking them now on a regular schedule while the rest of my meds are being overhauled, and many times in the last few years i've needed benzos to be able to stay employed. every time i have to start taking them again, i get way irrationally afraid that i'll be hooked and have to go through that nightmarish withdrawal again. but it isn't true for me unless i get up over 3mgs a day.

hope that helps you feel a little better. i'd recommend sharing your experience here (not on the scary websites!), where maybe we can help you sort through what the source of your anxiety might be even after the "withdrawal" period no longer applies. folks at CB seem to have a good understanding of benzos, regarding what you can and can't expect from taking them (or not taking them). you might need the meds, and you might not, and you might need them PRN. other strategies might work, or they might not, but it's definitely worth trying. there's no failing in talking about this situation - only insight into what works best for you.

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hope that helps you feel a little better. i'd recommend sharing your experience here (not on the scary websites!), where maybe we can help you sort through what the source of your anxiety might be even after the "withdrawal" period no longer applies. folks at CB seem to have a good understanding of benzos, regarding what you can and can't expect from taking them (or not taking them). you might need the meds, and you might not, and you might need them PRN. other strategies might work, or they might not, but it's definitely worth trying. there's no failing in talking about this situation - only insight into what works best for you.

Thanks. Answers like these it what I was looking for and really give me hope. I stumbled onto this website by coincidence. What I like about it is the variety of opinions and experiences as far as I noticed. The anti-benzo forums all go in one direction: benzos are evil and you should avoid them at all costs. I pointed out that everything can be evil or life-saving. Even food. If someone eats too much bad food, or becomes obese it can become life threatening. If someone eats too much sugar, it can lead to serious diseases. I also pointed out that there are many factors(original disorder, personality, general health, immune system, life sytle etc) that play a part in symptoms. It can't just be 100% benzo withdrawal if I have anxiety issues in the first place.

The fact that you tapered off of low amounts of benzos several times with no major w/d symptoms already gives me hope. The benzo forums tell you that if you ever go back on the benzo after tapering, trying to get off again will be much much harder and once you're off for a longer period of time benzos won't work anymore(that gives you a feeling of total doom). Stuff like that really depresses me. Knowing that there are people like you who successfully tapered off more than once already give me hope that I can manage to do it and if I fail again, I'll just keep trying. I'm sure that I can live without meds because I coped with anxiety since I was 17 and could always cope without the need of meds. The only reason I decided to take them 5 years ago were because of the circumstances of the time(I was in a foreign country and I didn't speak the language well enough for only therapy. CBT wasn't offered there either). I plan to get off them with a good therapy and if I think I still need them, just continue taking them.

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Sounds like a plan!

I will be tapering my benzo soonish here. Not to worried about it. I'm also an alcoholic and never went through any major w/d effects despite drinking pretty heavily. So I'm optimistic the benzo w/d won't be that bad.

Stay off the benzo forums, buncha wack jobs.

On the dose you're on, you should be fine. most likely anything you are experiencing is just rebound anxiety. You can either work on it a lot in therapy and/or consider a different med, or stay on low dose benzos, esepcially given you have no major s/e;s, really. You've got lots of good options.

cbt can be great for anxiety.

Anna

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Stay off the benzo forums, buncha wack jobs.

Yeah, I found that out.

I've just discovered this thread on here which sorta reminds me of the various claims and theories on benzo sites: http://www.crazyboar...ymptoms-return/

I have been off benzos and all medications for a long time. Had some minor stress and lots of fatigue and all the withdrawal symptoms returned 100%

I mean if anyone can show me hard scientific evidence that it is possible to get w/d symptoms after being off the med for years or still are having w/d symptoms after 4-5 years as some people claim, then I will believe it. Otherwise I am convinced that it is all anxiety based and should be treated accordingly. The person has no doubt whatsoever that it could be something else but withdrawal.

The OP even mentions that he had stress and a lot of fatigue but doesn't want to accept that it could be an anxiety problem. The last poster claims:

For anyone who may see this thread in the future, it is absolutely possible for benzo withdrawal symptoms to be back after many years. Causes are either, antibiotics (Especially the quinolone kind), anti-final meds (such as lamisil, sporanez, dliflucan, nizoral), kavabkava, B-12 vitamin & more.

Is he a scientist of any sort? On what does he base these claims? What should a person with anxiety issues like me do with these kind of infos or similar? They don't help at all. They only make you more anxious and hesitant to try to get off your med.

Edited by luij
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That's the problem. I listened to my therapist and got off the med but was really anxious when it came to going to zero because I still had all the horror stories I read a year earlier stuck in my mind. That triggered my anxiety

and I realized that once off the med my anxiety got worse so it was hard for me to tell if my anxiety was my original disorder or benzo induced withdrawal symptoms. How can you tell if the symptoms are the same?

It is most likely the original disorder. You don't recover from anxiety disorders by using benzos. They just mask the symptoms and make life easier. It takes therapy, and often lots of it, to conquer anxiety.

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It is most likely the original disorder. You don't recover from anxiety disorders by using benzos. They just mask the symptoms and make life easier. It takes therapy, and often lots of it, to conquer anxiety.

I'm just checking out several therapists because I want to do a CBT. I'm totally ambitious and prepared to work on my anxiety and try to cope with it the best I can. Today I went to a therapist who basically told me it was impossible to get off of benzos at home and you can only do it at a hospital :unsure: . As far as I know, most people get off benzos at home and not in a hospital. I guess it will take patience and time to find the right therapist. She only does psychoanalysis and not CBT so she wasn't the right therapist anyway. I guess it will take patience and time to find he right therapist.

Edited by luij
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I've been tapered of Xanax twice, no one mentioned anything about hospitals, and I had no withdrawal symptoms. I ended up using it permanently, but that was after a couple of years without any benzos. Maybe the therapist meant if you want to get off them cold turkey? Anyway, psychoanalysts are not MDs.

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Oh please, that's a bunch of BS, therapist. In any case, therapists should not be giving out medical advice.

Psychoanalyists. I have an irrational hatred of them anyway.

You need a good therapist that specializes in anxiety dx in your area to work with you. There are several places you can start. First, check your insurance website. They should have listings of therapists in your area as well as their areas of specialty.

Pick one or two to interview. It's not a therapeutic session, it's a way for you to go over your sx, ask questions, get a feel for the therapist, and find out what his/her modality and approach will be. Many therapists do not even charge for an initial interview if you ask for one, but even if they do, IMO the extra copay or two is totally worth it for the peace of mind.

Secondly, check out this link: www.adaa.org/findatherapist

Anna

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I stopped benzos after a few months using them regularly without any symptoms. I mean, it wasn't years, but I didn't notice anything different. They just didn't work for my brand of crazy.

There are other meds that quell anxiety - antidepressants and antipsychotics. Worth asking a pdoc about them, if you're having a difficult time managing. But honestly, therapy is the way to go when it comes to anxiety. It can make a huge difference.

As for those anti-benzo folks, they need better things to do with their time. I think perhaps they have other issues that need psychiatric attention.

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Oh please, that's a bunch of BS, therapist. In any case, therapists should not be giving out medical advice.

Psychoanalyists. I have an irrational hatred of them anyway.

You need a good therapist that specializes in anxiety dx in your area to work with you. There are several places you can start. First, check your insurance website. They should have listings of therapists in your area as well as their areas of specialty.

Pick one or two to interview. It's not a therapeutic session, it's a way for you to go over your sx, ask questions, get a feel for the therapist, and find out what his/her modality and approach will be. Many therapists do not even charge for an initial interview if you ask for one, but even if they do, IMO the extra copay or two is totally worth it for the peace of mind.

Secondly, check out this link: www.adaa.org/findatherapist

Anna

Thanks for your advice. I live in Germany so it's a bit different here although I did get a list from my insurance and actually checked out two therapists which I am basically seeing at the same time. In Germany you can have 5 sessions with a therapist to "check him out" and if you decide to choose that therapist, they pay for the therapy no matter how long it takes. I've seen both therapists twice but can't really say what I think about either yet. I recently joined an anxiety support group. I went there once and one guy mentioned he would give me a list of really good therapists(although I did think it was kind of fishy that they didn't really seem to help in his case :unsure: )

The Psychoanalyst is actually an MD as well but in general medicine and not in Psychiatry. In Germany most people in the medical area are benzo-phobic. If a person smokes, has a bad diet and drinks excessively it's no big deal but if someone like me takes a small dose of Klonopin, I get looked at like I'm some crack-addict.

Psychoanalyists. I have an irrational hatred of them anyway.

lol...me too. They always seem to have some kind of "know it all" attitude.

Edited by luij
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Benzos? Been on them for 25 or more years. I have a profession and am raising two kids who are doing great in school etc. Marriage is a bit rocky but stable- I say this because I am still trying to figure out what the big fuss is regarding benzo's.

I LOVE THEM!! And they have NEVER-EVER been a problem-nothing-zilch! I am carefule not to take them everyday-shrink says I should-I say he's full of it. I think forcing myself off of them on a continual basis keeps my gaba receptors exercised so they don't go beserk if I don't have the stuff in my system all the time-but just knowing I have the little buggers sometimes is all I need.

These are wonder drugs-absolutely-but unfortunately they are not for everyone. and that's really too bad because used properly they can change your life so much for the better.

Colin

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  • 2 years later...

Hi guys, Its been a while since anyone has posted on here.
I am in severe need of help.
For the past 2 months I have been having increasing anxiety (over nothing! so its not an external factor).

Right now I am pretty much paralyzed with it and had to quit my semester in school hoping i recover by the next one but I am totally scared because it just seems to be getting worse. I saw a psychiatric doc and he prescribed an SSRI (lexapro), been on it for 2 weeks with no success thus far.

 

After that I had to be rushed to the ER because of severe panic attacks throughout the day for a week!
They gave me a 0.5mg Ativan pill and within a half an hour I felt normal for the first time in a month.

 

This really gave me some hope until i did some research and got my doc to prescribe me Klonopin and i took it for 5 days and started to feel better and better.

 

 

sadly ended up on the benzo forums... fear took me and I stopped taking the klonopin after 0.5mg daily for 5 days.

surely enough 2 days later my debilitating anxiety was back.

 

I have been taking it on and off for the past week and a half to lessen the anxiety when it gets really severe, but i am far from functional without it.

 

I need some encouragement to overcome the fear of taking it, because right now it seems to be the only thing that brings me back to normal. Otherwise no matter what i try my mind is in a constant state of anxiety..
 

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Klonopin seems to work more effectively when it's taken regularly to help prevent the inter-dose gaps where the anxiety increases.

 

When used responsibly and as directed, especially in conjunction with appropriate psychotherapy, benzos are an effective treatment strategy. Especially because you say you are "far from functional without it", why not give yourself the best shot at getting back to baseline by taking the med regularly as prescribed?

 

When you are ready to start tapering off of them, do so with a clear plan from your prescriber. Most people don't have substantial problems with a slow taper schedule.

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First let me be perfectly clear, the following IS NOT A DIAGNOSIS RECOMMENDATION ENDORSEMENT. I am not a doctor and all final decision should be made with your doctor before you make any decisions or take any action.

 

 

Glad we got that out of the way. Now I can offer you my experience and a brief history of benzos which can be easily verified.

 

When benzos were first introduced in the 1960's they were created to replace the much more dangerous and addicting barbiturates that were commonly used. Benzos were welcomed with open arms by doctors as clinical tests showed they were far less dangerous and less addicting then barbiturates. It was easy to OD on barbiturates, no where near as easy with benzo's unless mixed with other substances. The key factory docs liked about benzo is they really were not addicting unless abused over time. Fast forward to the 90's. Doctors faced a increase in malpractice insurance. And also the horror stories about benzos began too. So one by one more doctors became benzo-phobic despite clinical tests that taken as prescribed benzos pose no dangers other then a psychological dependency which may produce withdrawal symptoms.

 

I personally have been on various benzos over the past 30 years and never experienced any withdrawal symptoms from any of them. The longest I been on any one was klonopin with lithium. I was on that and trazodone for about a year and yours truly stopped cold turkey and felt great for about a year until my depression came back. Is this typical? Not if you go by all the horror stories we read about. I can be wrong but I suspect a great deal of those horror stores don't take in account possible abuse of benzos. During my life I ihave only met one person who said he couldn't survive without his Valium. He was on it for 12 years at doses that would knock me out yet he was at work every day operating machinery no less! 

 

I bring this up because it's important to know not every one goes through hell or withdrawal coming off benzos and as I said in the begining of this post in case any forgot, I am NOT advocating stopping cold turkey or recommending any doses or meds or any thing remotely related to impersonating a doctor. I do suggest you talk to your doctor and see what he says.

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Thanks for the great information and suggestions guys.

Deep down I had a feeling that the vast majority of people who are fine with benzo's dont bother posting thir success stories online because they are out living there lives. While what we are stuck with online is people who have had trouble with them and are seeking help online.

Regardless my anxiety won over.. but today i decided I will take the meds at least til i settle down.

 

My doc prescribed me klonopin 0.5g 3x daily for only 2 weeks. I dont think he wants to give me any more because he kept telling me about tolerance and that eventually it just wont even work (which scared me a lot) but if nothing else is working for me what am I supposed to do.

 

What do you guys think about klonopin dosage? and whats a high dosage?

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