Jump to content
Important Survey - Please Participate ×

45 and spent my entire adult life on benzos until 2013


[Va...]

Recommended Posts

I stumbled across this board and became very interested very quickly because I have a life experience that I normally consider unrelateable; even if it was a good idea to share one's psych med history with others, who would would actually get it? And why would I want them to? It isn't very uplifting to hear about my life in an increasing drug induced fog or my struggles and fears since I went cold turkey Dec 29, 2012. At the time I stopped I had been taking benzodiazapines since the age of 16; so I was 42 when I quit which makes...26 years of use. It wasn't always the same benzos, and at various times other classes of drugs were piled on top. But briefly, started with Ativan and Kolonopin, .5 and 1mg, ambled through Valium and Xanax, and returned to Kolonopin at 4mg per day which is where it stayed for the last 15 years of my use although at that point it was perscribed along with 16mg per day of the highly sedating Subutex and 60mg per day of Adderall.

 

I did not taper off the benzos, I stopped cold, but I did taper the Subutex, which has an extended and quite awful opiate type withdrawal all its own. I've been off both completely since Jan 29, 2013. I have not been able to get completely off the Adderall, because without it I experience such crashing, overwhelming fatigue that pulling on my socks seems like a journey of a thousand miles I can't imagine beginning, let alone completing. For what it's worth: I have no regret whatsoever about stopping, only that I ever went there in the first place, because especially after the addition of the Subutex, I dzombie like state, barely existing, contact with the outside world diminishing to nothing. My memories from this period are still jumbled, bits and pieces, disconnected; and I still suffer from memory issues, word search issues in the present although now I have regained a sense of a contiguous personal history, at least from the point about 3 - 6 months after I stopped those meds. However, the remaining memory problems of course concern me greatly considering the what I've learned about the possible link between long term benzo use and Alzheimer's. Plus they just make me feel like a moron, and make it harder to participate in social situations. Everything is relative; post-benzo, with all it's awfulness, is still so much better than the benzo-dayze. I'm so happy I quit, but the wreckage, the physical issues, the emotional overwhelm, the attempt to consciously grapple with what I did to my myself, but didn't realize or understand I was doing to myself and my life is ...a lot to deal with and process. I'm still working on it on a daily basis.

 

Anyway, I've never met anyone else who has gone through this. Maybe I will here. In some ways I feel like I spent 26 years locked in someone's basement, but of course I didn't. I was locked in a chemical straightjacket but didn't know it. My parents started me down this road, and were super-gung ho about taking a pill - or 20 - to fix things. (My dad actually later divorced his 2nd wife to marry his psychiatrist, and she was one of the primary Dr.'s for my benzo odyssey.) I feel like I never even had a chance to think about life in any other way so I'm mad about that; but I was a willing volunteer. Who I should be mad at?  Myself? I took the pills. The doctors? Mostly they thought they were helping, even if they weren't. My folks? Maybe, but Dad at least was doing the best he could. I see the futility in anger, and I focus on the positive with a goal and a determination to recover what I can of myself and my autonomy, while I still can.  It's been a daily battle every day of the last three years, but won't ever say it hasn't also been a good three years. At very least maybe someone will find some encouragment in the fact I DID quit after so long. So...it's possible.  -VanWinkle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi  :) Welcome to BenzoBuddies!

 

Congrats on being benzodiazepine free. That is quite the accomplishment. Your journey is like so many here. I think this will be an excellent place for you to connect with members who have shared similar experiences, including myself. We do understand. I too stopped cold turkey so I know first hand how really horrific the experience can be.

 

You might like to check out The Ashton Manual it is an authoritative source on what to expect in withdrawal and recovery.  Dr. Ashton is an expert in the field. 

 

Please feel free to post to any of the dedicated boards, we have a wonderful community of people here, who will give sound advice. Members have been through all aspects of benzodiazepine use and withdrawal and are more than willing to share their experiences.

 

Members discuss their symptoms on the Post withdrawal recovery support.

 

Please take the time to Create a Signature.  This will allow others to see where you are in the process so they can better support you.

 

Again Welcome!  :smitten:

 

benzos-R-cruel

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm currently on the 16th year of what at times has been an extremely high dose benzo habit. I have tried to quit a few times over the years I have a few months clean here and there always after doing a CT for one reason or another. I am currently tapering diazepam whereas I never had the self control to taper prior to now. I've also had suboxone and adderall scripts over the years. I would say our drug histories are somewhat similar only you used a decade longer than me, we started at the same age.

 

Did you ever stop taking benzos for any amount of time during those 26 years? Did you ever have any failed withdrawals or was this 26 years on constant use? I can't imagine a CT off a 26 year habit. My CT's had devastating effects including numerous grand mal seizures and I had only been using 7 years the first time I tried to quit.

 

Why did you decide to taper the sub and CT the benzo? If you had the willpower to taper the sub couldn't you do the same with the benzos? One of my CT's involved coming off high dose klonopin and sub at the same time so I know how gross it can get.

 

I'm glad you were able to stay clean after your CT though. I have never been able to manage more than a year after a CT before relapsing and usually I only lasted a couple weeks/months

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

 

I'm currently on the 16th year of what at times has been an extremely high dose benzo habit. I have tried to quit a few times over the years I have a few months clean here and there always after doing a CT for one reason or another. I am currently tapering diazepam whereas I never had the self control to taper prior to now. I've also had suboxone and adderall scripts over the years. I would say our drug histories are somewhat similar only you used a decade longer than me, we started at the same age.

 

Did you ever stop taking benzos for any amount of time during those 26 years? Did you ever have any failed withdrawals or was this 26 years on constant use? I can't imagine a CT off a 26 year habit. My CT's had devastating effects including numerous grand mal seizures and I had only been using 7 years the first time I tried to quit.

 

Why did you decide to taper the sub and CT the benzo? If you had the willpower to taper the sub couldn't you do the same with the benzos? One of my CT's involved coming off high dose klonopin and sub at the same time so I know how gross it can get.

 

I'm glad you were able to stay clean after your CT though. I have never been able to manage more than a year after a CT before relapsing and usually I only lasted a couple weeks/months

 

In those 26 years, had I ever gone off the benzos for any length of time? I wouldn't say I went off them for long. But initially, in my teens, the doses were way lower - .5 or 1mg. That's a big difference, of course. And in my late teens/early twenties I got into hard drugs pretty deep for a period. I still took my benzos, but when you're injecting heroin and coke daily, that's not your main concern. But after 1999, which is when I moved up to the 4mg, I know for certain I never went CT so...maybe 13, 14 years? (This would be around the time I got sober from 'street' drugs altogether, although in retrospect, there wasn't any substantive difference, I was in my mentality as much of addict as ever, only my dealers were respectable and my dosages predictable.)

 

The answer to why I decided to taper the sub and CT the benzo may amuse you in how completely devoid of any great plan (or will) it actually was. I was simply so profoundly cognitively impaired that I lost the bottle of the benzos in the apartment and couldn't find them; losing things was something which at that time happened to me constantly, my keys, my wallet, my atm card, cell phone, everything was always missing because, of course, I wasn't forming normal memories not just from day to day but even from minute to minute. I was already at the end, and I reached the point where if stopping was tantmount to death, it didn't matter. Death couldn't be any worse. That's one of those things I paid lip service to, maybe said and certainly thought a hundred thousand times in my life  but at that time it was just the truth. It didn't even occur to me to say it or think it even. I simply didn't bother to call my doc to get a new script, which would have been no problem to get because it didn't matter anymore.

 

I had nothing left by then, because I'd lost not just everything material (perhaps oddly, during my street drug days I always, always had a job, but once I got on the daily benzo, sub, adderall diet I stopped working. Lost my job, dignity, friends, ability to comprehend the world, ability to function in the world - I literally went from a severely anxious & depressed type who was either medicated or self-medicating to get through life but who was highly competent/functional enough to conceal this, owned a home, worked as a statistical analyst in a corporate environment to spending a decade living at my mom's, unable to drive or care for myself, the crazy disheveled lady who thought nothing of sitting down on the floor at Bank of America and dumping her giant purse full of garbage out right there while appalled customers stared to dig through the crap hoping to find her atm card. To this day I am still amazed and astounded - flabbergasted - that I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that I was that impaired. I don't think I was able to remember or process well enough to be aware that it had been different once let alone figure out why.

 

For what it's worth, I did have about 5 hours of agitation and panic the first day and I looked pretty hard for that bottle of benzos then. But it passed pretty fast and I was able to use the sub to mute how severe the benzo withdrawl would have been, and then taper the sub, whose withdrawal syndrome was prolonged and gross and completely horrid but not exceptionally acute with the tapering, just really really unpleasant. But I'd been through plenty of s--tty opiate kicks before so it was familiar road, at least, and not scary. The room where I stayed and all my personal effects were in horrible condition, jumbled, chaotic, dirty, and cluttered. I don't know if anyone else has had a similar experience but one notable and unexpected consequence was somewhere around week 3 I got up and started fixing things and putting things to rights. And over the next several months scary crazy lady room had evolved back to just slightly more than average average sloppy lady room. 40 paper shopping bags of undifferentiated papers shoved in willy nilly became 10 labeled file boxes of clearly sorted documents. I became, like, a person again after having been some contemptable distained thing.

 

But let me go back a step again, to speak a little further to why was I able to make the decision then make it all the way down the road - and I'm not going to kid ya, it was months and months just to get through what I'd consider 'primary' withdrawal, the purely physical misery and total bodily dysregulation when I didn't have a clue that I was living in a chemical straightjacket that had stripped me of my self, my identity, my dignity and lefty me a hollowed out husk drifting aimlessly in circles? I mean, I didn't realize at the begining that what the stakes were. I didn't know I was going to regain any lost humanity or rediscover any ability.  Beyond experiencing moment to moment my existance as painful and devoid of meaning, connection, satisfaction, I didn't have incentive. I wasn't particularly capable of forming or maintaing conscious postive personal goals or even understanding what that was. I was in a weird eternal miserable now, stuck in an endless dead awful moment. But one single event in my life was so high impact it reached me through my fog: the year prior I'd discovered entirely by a fluke, that my mother had been in the process of trying to defraud me out of $94K that I hadn't even known had been left to me by my father when he passed away a few years before. I lived with my mom, because, well, I had to,  and although I was always the beggar at the table, the burden I thought my sense of worthlessness well deserved. I had never even considered that I couldn't trust my mother on that level - that she had so much contempt and distain for me as to not even tell me my dad had done this for me but just to take it. That I had no right to anything, even to have been loved by my dad (they'd been divorced for 30 years when he died, and, actually, he'd still left her more than what she was trying to steal from me, so it couldn't have been that it was a situation of unfairness that needed to be rectified.) I begain to realize that living in penury, feeling I was nothing, of no interest and no value to anyone wasn't just something visited on me by fate that had to be endured because there was no other choice. I began to get an inkling that how my life was was actually, quite okay with my mom. (I'd been very close to my father but he'd had severe dementia for at least a decade before he died so it had been a long time since I'd had family around who didn't treat my like a burden and an imposition.) The anger, the paranoia, and the sense of absolute betrayal ever so slowly echoed and reechoed even in that dark place buried below the bottom of the ocean I'd sunk to. And it started to make a lot of noise. Without the underlying anger accompanying my desperation I don't think I would have been able to pull together the emotional energy to go all the way through it and then stay. And discovering the fraud had one other unintended consequence. My mother had provided the framework that allowed me to continue to be this medicated and not to have ended up cold turkey or waking up simply by virtue of being to impaired to obtain more medication. She did the driving, the paperwork, the payments - and had for almost a decade. She decided whether to dole the medication out or yank the leash - if I didn't have any pills, I couldn't leave the house for more than 4 or 5 hours. I think she stopped feeling motivated around this axis of control after the fraud came to light because I suddenly might have confronted her rather than being very subservient and she doesn't like confrontation.

 

At about two to three months after I'd been clean I started hearing this from people "wow, you're really different", "It's like you're alive", "There's actually a person in there", "You were barely there before". And it didn't stop until almost the end of the first year. The guy behind the counter at the mini-mart, the freakin furnace repairman who'd been to the house the year before, my aquaintances aquaintances - everyone commented on it. It was almost a joke after awhile. And eventually my mother did say, one time, when prompted 'oh, it's like a miracle, I've got you back!'. But...wait. That meant she had to know I'd been gone.

 

So why have I stayed CT? How could I not? It's not will power. I'm not a particularly strong individual in that way, I don't think. But no matter how awful any given day is or how miserable, I want to keep my humanity and my dignity. It doesn't even occur to me now to want to take benzos, in fact, twice in the last three years I was given them for to calm a problem with heart arrithymia and I didn't like it anymore. I had gross hangover and I felt thick headed. So maybe it was anger that carried me through, and a sense that I'd never done anything so wrong I'd deserved to a pathetic joke for all that time. My mother used to reek of silent contempt when she looked at me. But she was the same person who said I'd die if I ever quit, that I should never stop. I think it's a stupid sort of thing, that being strong only became possible when I realized there was nothign to fear because every last thing I'd truly most feard in my life had already happened to me. So why worry? A lot of the time I experience depersonalization, feel like I'm already dead but I've somehow been given a chance at a coda, a chance to bring order back to what was devestated. To set things right, find the people (at least the ones still alive) who'd once meant a great deal to me whose lives I'd vanished from into inexplicable silence. It's an optimistic and peacful deadness but I still walk through most days as if I'm an observer. My real life ended a long time ago is my feeling. I died back then, my continuity of self died. The things I once thought self-evident, that I once understood about myself and my life, my future and my family - not a single one of them stands. It's hard to figure out how to cross the chasm from then to the now. And anger has provided a lot of the energy behind even trying to live when it would be easy to shrug and say 'why bother'? I let it, because it will take a while rebuild new structures inside the shell. Like a bombed out building, there was only the outside left. So I let myself be okay with whatever will prop this up for now, but keep faith as best I can day to day that if I let it good and heathy things can be rebuilt there.

 

I'm not sure what anyone could take away from any of this, except maybe that psychological energies are powerful - as powerful as the biology, chemistry and history of my addiction, at least. I should never have been able to quit - actually, my psychiatrist called me up when it had been about 6 months and said in his entire practice - he was in his late 70's - only three people had ever quit the drugs I was on and he wanted to 'interview' me about the experience. I was flattered 'Yay - I'm a superhero!' but the truth is, I'm really really not. I have no special will power. It's just human beings are more than the sum of their chemistry. ==Van Winkle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

VanWinkle,

Thank you for sharing some of your story. Unfortunately, it is quite similar to mine. Took large doses of variouos benzos for 30 years, plus was on all sorts of other drugs including AD's, narcotics, muscle relaxers, etc.etc. This stuff, over the years, was affecting me in some many ways - yet I didnt see it. My life slowly stumbled on, but things just kept getting worse. The last 10 years I was on benzos and ADs, etc., I was falling daily, sometimes several times a day. My weight dropped to 88 lbs. I was frail, weak, pale, and always tired and depressed. I no longer had interest in my garden, or really, doing anything much. Ibroke several bones, including my femur and hip, which almost cost me the leg. I spent so much time in hospitals and rehabs - it was really getting unbearable. And yet I kept taking the benzos, etc. During these years I was diagnosed with all sorts of weird things...doctors trhying to explain my sympoms. Fibromyalgia, CFS, MS - you name it, I supposedly had it. I began to think perhaps I should just gu\ive up and move to a nursing home. And I was only 60 years old! Well, things spiralled down, until finally my doctor intervened. He had finally figured out that all the drugs were possibly the cause of my troubles. I was forced to go cold turkey off benzos...not a good thing, but in my case, perhaps the only way I WOULD have gotten off of them! I was that sick, that crazy. Well, cold turkey it was, and it was a true doozy of a withdrawal. Maybe one of the worst. I didnt die, but I had almost every other symptom of withdrawal, and it lasted a really long time. This started in July of 2012. I didnt feel like a human being of any sort until about 2014. Now, 4 years later, I am about 98% healed, and VERY glad I didnt give up. ALL of the old symptoms I had are totally gone, those symptoms that got me diagnosed with physical and mental illnesses. They are just gone. I am healthier and happier now than I have been in maybe 25 years. I consider this a miracle!

 

You can get through this. Many of us here were on multiple medications. Many of us decided "enough" of all that. I went off nearly ALL of my old meds...the ADs, the muscle relaxers, etc. AD's can have an unpleasant withdrawal too. But I dont care - I am glad I got off it all. Life is now hopeful and good again. I dont dread the mornings now.

 

Hang in there...make some friends here, and get the support and information you need to do this.

east

Link to comment
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...