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Serious Attempt At Stopping Benzo

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I will start by saying I have serious anxiety issues. I don't like to climb the stairs because of vivid visions that I will fall and kill myself. I don't like taking the shower for the same reason. Cook? I'll set the house on fire. Drive? I got into a serious at-fault accicdent two years ago and seriously injured people (it was on the day I was set to leave my dad who only had a month left). And so on.

But drug addiction and alcoholism runs very deep in my family, and there have been *several* times in which I took way too many benzos (xanax) to calm down and could have killed myself. Or others. Or went to jail.

So about a year ago, I asked to be switched to another benzo than xanax. I was put on ativan. Which I was on, 2mg at a time up to TID, for a year.

And then 6 weeks ago I took too much ativan (can't remember anything about that night) and drove to the store and got lost for an hour before returning home. It really freaked me out that I needed to stop taking it.

So I've been stairstepping it down over the past month, and all was going good (down to 1/4 2mg tablet every other day) until last week, when the anxiety demons and stressors came back in full force and I need to take 1-2mg of ativan a day just to get through the day.

I feel really down on myself, because I was doing so well and was so close. I feel like I'm an addict who will never be free of benzos (I lived in a huge family of addicts, so it's a sensitive topic to me). My hubby said I told the pdoc what I did and why I wanted to d/c, and he still gave me a smaller 2-month script to taper with, so even HE expects some stepts back. PLus my ativan is locked up by my hubby, so I don't have access to it.

I've quit xanax before, both times cold turkey, and it was awful. I'm hoping the slow taper will be easier for me to get off the ativan with fewer side effects.

Has anyone had this happen to them? How do you bounce back? How do you get back on the "I don't need it" train?

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First of all, it doesn't sound at all like you're an addict. More like you have really severe anxiety you're trying to avoid treating.

Has your pdoc offered any substitution for managing your anxiety?

Why does stopping the ativan entirely make more sense than having your husband hold it for you, and working with a tdoc about the overdose thing?

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I know I get anxiety I'd like to treat with extra medication but I know I can't do that. My therapist has given me suggestions for me to do when I get "thoughts" so that I can better manage my anxiety.

One thing she tells me to do is a "STOP" technique - where you imagine a STOP sign to aid in helping stop the thought that you don't want to be think about. I know that's hard, but it can help. She also tells me to do deep breathing when I start to calm down, distraction, music to help drown out the thoughts, journal, do other activities to help take your mind off your anxiety.

I'm sure there are other things but this is what I can remember right now.

I hope this helps you.

I'm working on trying to get off of Xanax myself. I was having a hard time getting on less then 2mg per day. Right now the pdoc says that it's OK and said that we will try again at a later date to attempt the decrease again, as he'd rather me stable than in a panic.

Good Luck,


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I was worried about this same issue with my klonopin. A wise pdoc once told me "If it keeps you alive, who cares if you're on it the rest of your life. If it works- TAKE IT!"

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Oh benzos...the perpetually debated drug.

I was on my way down dosage wise, but then the shit hit the fan life wise and my psychiatrist told me to go back up. I told him I would try harder with various coping skills. His response to me was something like "amy, you are using your coping skills. Its just that life is overwhelming them right now. We can start reducing when life slows down."

So...my personal philosophy, given by my psychiatrist, is to use when needed, reduce when not. If anxiety is crazy, why deny your brain something that gets rid of it? That said, I've also seen a physical response to them...my muscles relax, my brain shuts up, my handwriting goes back to normal, etc. So I am fairly trusting of their ability to help.

It seems like if they really treat the symptoms better than others, increasing the safety measures might be the safer plan. But I understand that you want something different.

While I was going off, going incredibly slowly made it feasible. I was at 1 and dropped to .5 for a few months (not weeks) and then went off. I wasn't symptom less, but it was manageable.

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I took way too many benzos (xanax) to calm down and could have killed myself. Or others. Or went to jail.

Nope, that is what is nice about benzos. You can't kill yourself on benzos alone. The LD50 is really high. Unlike the predecessors the barbiturates.

This seems much to do about nothing. They work. Your partner can regulate your intake. Anyway, as others have said, you need something in place to deal with the anxiety if you stop the benzos.


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