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Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Methods

There follows a short overview of the three benzodiazepine withdrawal methods supported by BenzoBuddies. No one method is better than the others - they each possess their own advantages and disadvantages. You should choose the method that best suits you and your particular circumstances. Unless you have reason to suppose otherwise, you might well find that a direct taper is all that is required. If at some stage this no longer works for you, you might then consider switching to Valium or titration. You are not straitjacketed into following any particular method.

Direct Taper

Advantages: simple; wide support from doctors; probably all that's required by the majority of people in the general community looking to quit benzos.

Disadvantages: many benzos are too potent to allow a smooth taper for some people (or the pills prescribed are too large in dose for successful pill-splitting); many benzos have too short a half-life to allow a smooth taper (interdose withdrawal is often a problem); can be tricky to split pills accurately.

We suggest that unless past experience of attempted tapering indicates otherwise, members should initially try cutting their dose by no more than about 10%, and will probably make new cuts (about 10% of their dose at the time of the new cut) every 7-14 days. These figures are intended as ballpark estimates - mileage will vary.

Substitution Taper

Advantages: switching to an equivalent dose of Valium from a short half-life benzo (this must be carried out gradually) virtually guarantees that you will experience no interdose withdrawal effects; switching from a very potent benzo to Valium allows for much smaller cuts to your dose (more frequent small cuts are better tolerated than less frequent large cuts); if you have had problems sleeping, you may benefit from the sedating effects of Valium.

Disadvantages: some planning is required with a switch to Valium (but we will help you with this); an equivalent dose must be calculated and tweaked where necessary to suit the individual; many doctors (particularly in the USA) do not support a switch to Valium; switching will likely add to the overall time taken to withdraw; a small number of people appear to not tolerate the switch to Valium very well (this sometimes might be due to the wrong equivalent dose being prescribed or a failure to tweak the dose for the individual concerned according to how they react).

Prof. Ashton achieved very good results in her clinic by switching patients to Valium. Usually, her patients had already failed to quit benzos via the Direct route. If your doctor is supportive, and willing to adjust the equivalent dose as required, you are more likely to benefit from substitution.

Titration Taper

Advantages: allows for a very smooth taper, even when tapering from a large dose pill and/or potent pills; does not require a sympathetic doctor.

Disadvantages: ties you down to the kitchen, as a fresh batch must be prepared each day, and refrigeration is required too; your doctor might be unsupportive if you explain that you are titrating your benzos; interdose withdrawal effects still might be a problem if you are taking a benzo with a short half-life; it is more complicated, and requires the purchase of some equipment.

Please regard these documents as informed opinion and not replacements for professional healthcare. We do not claim them to be complete, nor 100% correct for all people. It is important that you discuss any ideas from this website with your doctor or other appropriate healthcare practitioner.

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