Short Term Low Dose Benzo User
One year off July 2007
Today I am one year off. This year has been very unreal and benzo withdrawal brings things to the table that would be hard to imagine unless someone has lived through it. This year has been a real learning experience and this group has been an immense help in my recovery.
At a year off I can tell people that it does get better with time away from this drug and that acute withdrawal does not last forever. I would suggest to everyone to read the Ashton manual and benzo facts because it does help explain what is going on in withdrawal.
This year I found diet to be an important factor in my recovery. Certain stimulates can be an issues for many people going through withdrawal like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, supplements and other drugs, Ashton does mention this in her manual. During the last year I realized that this was true and whenever I deviated from that diet I would get symptom flare-ups. I have not taken as aspirin or any drug in over a year because in the beginning I did notice flare ups. I still don't drink alcohol but I am able to eat sugar with out a reaction these days, but I keep it to a minimum and now like the fact that I lost 20lb this year due to withdrawal and diet. I also learned the importance of diet in general, never ate well before withdrawal. It is also important to eat in withdrawal even if you have zero apatite; I used to force food down with water because if I didnít eat the symptoms would get even worse.
When I first got off the drug I barely left my apartment because the symptoms were so intense. Leaving my bedroom, were I felt safe, even felt too much, I did not feel comfortable watching TV in the living room or spending time in other rooms because they felt oddly out of my comfort zone, maybe others will relate to this. Watching TV felt too much especially fast action or loud TV.
My symptoms were mainly nausea, dizziness, pressure in head and ears, tight band around head, floor moving, vibrating in head and body, eyelid twitches, spots before eyes, insomnia, palpitations, hot flushes, fearful of being alone when I first got off for about 2/3 months, feeling faint or seizurish, felt like a bad acid trip sometimes even though I never did acid, as well as other odd symptoms.
I just resigned my self to recovery taking a long time; I never pushed my self too much because I noticed that could make things worse. I let things unfold on their own and used windows where I felt ok to get things done, slowly I started going out again and testing the waters, it was not easy or 123 back to normal. I started going to restaurants and movies, this took about 5 months off and was still very up and down and not regular, some days would be easier then others; donít be discouraged if you can do something one day and not the next it is part of recovery.
The first month and a half off was very bad in fact I was so sick that at 6 weeks off I went to the emergency room and was treated in a patronizing way and was told it was not the drug because it was out of my system and that I was just having a panic attack, I didnít even go for an attack of any kind I went because I had no appetite and was very dizzy and nauseous among other things non stop for several weeks.
I joined the group at 1.5 months off and realized I was not alone in this. Over the next few months things improved but only slightly, still agoraphobic, and felt unstable. Sleep seemed to get back to normal at about 3 months off but still had all the other symptoms and felt foggy, tight cap and heaviness most of the day. Eating regularly did help in keeping this at bay through out recovery.
5 months off I was getting better windows even had full days where I felt normal and the dizziness left.
6 months off I had a wave of bad symptoms again probably because I was pushing my self to get out more, although things were uncomfortable and I felt foggy this wave was still more manageable then the ones in the beginning. I still had some better days though.
7 months off I got a slightly new kind of dizziness, it felt like the floor was like rubber under my feet and every irregularity in the floor felt like I was going up a hill and made me dizzy, on the other hand I was able to take a train to Philadelphia to see relatives although I still had to talk my self down from feeling an attack coming on sometimes but things were more manageable for the most part. I was feeling normal a lot more and knew the routine and what could set off a flare up of symptoms. I was also getting windows and days where I felt normal.
Months 11 to 12 was even better, going out was really more effortless, not thinking about it like I was much more spontaneous.
In my case recovery has really been 2 steps forward one step back, many times I thought I was done only to get hit with a wave again, but for the most part the waves became less intense and more manageable the farther away I got from the drug. The windows started to get wider to where I donít think about withdrawal as much and felt more like me with some odd symptoms now and again through out the day or even go days with out symptoms all together. Stress can still create flare ups but so far they have been manageable.
At a year off I am definitely better. Am I 100% symptom free? No. Am I able to function in life like I used to before withdrawal? Pretty much but not 100% yet. Do I feel normal most of the time? Yes. Do I go for large chucks of time without symptoms? Yes.
Benzos are very bad drugs and this is from a person who took .5 Klonopin as needed for 11 months, 230 pills in 330 days. I did taper wrong and then cold turkied. People can get dependent and suffer withdrawal from low dose short term usage. These drugs should be avoided all together, the withdrawal was a million times worse then the minor issue I was given the drug for in the first place.
Lastly trust your self, many doctors are not up on withdrawal, they may tell you that you can not be experiencing withdrawal from low dose short term benzo use and that is simply untrue, dependency can happen in as little as 14 days for some people. Donít get swayed by them telling you that withdrawal is in your imagination or you are exaggerating or this is just your underlying anxiety; this is a real phenomenon and there is brain healing and recovery it just takes time and recovery is different for everyone so donít get discouraged.
18 Month Update
The last 6 months I have seen even more improvements all
the way around. At 14 months off I started working a full time job, I do CAD
drawings, I have my own cubical which is a good situation because it's quite. In
the beginning this was especially good because I could be by my self which
helped kept symptoms calmer since too much commotion could potentially create a
flare up. I brought snacks like almonds and tried to remember to eat regularly
to keep symptoms from flaring. Occasionally I would get weird inner vibrations
or strange head sensations, or feel pressure in my head like an inflating
balloon, kind of dizzy; I would get this sometimes when rushing on the subway
platform in the morning, it would make me feel agitated like I had to keep
moving, but it didn't last that long. For the most part I felt OK and was able
to get work done without issue.
25 Month Update
I am now 25 months off today and feeling more consistently stable and strong and can handle much more then when I first came off and feel better then 18 months off. I can have sugar now and don't seem to get a reaction. I go out every day and feel normal most of the time, started riding my bike again, if I ever get a feeling of benzo uneasiness, like a peculiar agitated sensation, it typically is not intense and does not last long. I still don't mess with alcohol or take over the counter drugs. I just want to tell everyone here that slowly there is healing and it may not be seen in days but in what your body can handle vs. what would be too much and would create symptoms. At 25 months off I don't think about having to be as careful as I had been, I don't have to eat as consistently or force my self to eat food to ward off symptoms; I sometimes forget to eat and still feel ok. I feel strong enough to makes plans and not be concerned about flare-ups while out, it took months of healing to gain that confidence because things were so up and down and unpredictable for so long. Only benzo friends will get this, people who have not experience this cannot fathom a drug doing all this and healing taking so long.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.
Last updated 23 May 2013