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Is My Nightmare From Ativan or Zolpidem??


[Gw...]

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Hello all. I joined BB last week and I've been posting hoping to get replies that will ease my mind as I suffer this torment. Replies have been helpful but reading through other people's struggles only seem to make mine worse right now. Below is a summary and re-hash of what I've posted in other boards:

 

I was prescribed Lorazepam 1MG to help me sleep. I took it nightly for roughly 2 years

Right after the birth of my son my prescription ran out and I couldn't get it filled for over a week. I suffered really bad anxiety and realized I had an issue

I had the prescription refilled, tapered off over a several week period, and was off Lorazepam for over a month with no issues

After the "off period" I took Lorazepam occasionally to sleep, once or twice per week and sometimes not at all. I had no issues other than broken sleep

I decided to try Ambien CR (generic) because a co-worker said it was great (huge mistake)

I took Ambien CR 12.5MG for 14 days

On day 15 I decided to stop taking it due to headaches and suffered a CRUSHING panic attack at around 10pm. I took 1MG of Lorazepam that night, then the next, then .5MG the next two nights

Since the day of the panic attack I have been a totally different person. MAJOR anxiety, can't sleep, ringing in ears, brain fog, and CANNOT stop thinking about all of it. I simply cannot relax no matter what I do. I've also had waves of depression and overall dysphoria (or something)

 

None of this is normal for me. I've had anxiety in the past and panic attacks over the years but before the Ambien CR I was happy and totally different. I managed anxiety perfectly fine other than only sleeping around 5 hrs. each night. I am now 14 days off of the Ambien CR and it's been over a week since I took the 3 tabs of Lorazepam. What has happened?? I simply cannot get back to my normal self even though I am still able to function. Is it possible all of this is from the Ambien CR? I simply can't wrap my brain around what is going on. I have all the symptoms of withdrawal but this severe and long after just 14 days of use?! This is madness.

 

Others have suggested I may be withdrawing from both Ambien CR and Lorazepam but how can that be when I successfully tapered off and only used it occasionally over a 6 month period. Over 190 days I took 35 tabs of Lorazepam and never felt any ill effects.

 

Any insight is MUCH appreciated. I simply cannot imagine living like this for months or, Heaven forbid, years!

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Hey there!

So I will try to make this short, but to answer your question, it's likey a combo of both.

Even though your off time was 1 month and you weren't having huge withdrawal effects at the time other than broken sleep, your body was actually probably still in the healing stage.

So while it was probably a bit sensitive, the Ambien was then introduced. Which acts on the same receptors like a benzo cousin.

And after 2 weeks, it's enough to cause physical dependency and hence withdrawal. So now your already sensitive brain and body are getting racked a bit harder. And then, if you throw in a few rescue doses of Ativan here and there it's like putting gas on a fire, just stirs it up.

I'm super sorry, as doctors just don't ever give enough information on what these drugs can do. And I know it's hard to fathom it lasting so long!!! but each person heals at different times. If your symptoms are a shorter list and you can still function, then I would just move forward, try and find other ways to help anxiety, and I would not touch another benzo or benzo cousin.

In the meantime, it can be helpful to only choose to read success stories, or just research specific helpful things to your symptoms.

There is a ton of good helpful info here, but I know it's also hard to see all the suffering as well.

Best of luck moving forward! :smitten:

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I took Benzos for 3 months and stopped CT for 6 weeks and did not experience any WD symptoms at all.  I then went on for another 3 months, reached tolerance and then got slammed with a pretty severe WD for the next 10 months after I did a CT from 4 different Benzos (not all at the same time, but going from one to the next).  Tolerance is when the drug no longer does what it was intended to do at the current dose.  So then your only option is to take more and that's what I stupidly and foolishly did.  If you quit CT after reaching tolerance, then symptoms and insomnia almost always set in?  That's how mine worked. 

 

I am pretty confident both the Ativan and Ambien are the causes of your symptoms and lack of sleep.  Ambien is a Z class drug that works pretty much like a Benzo and affects your GABA receptors.

 

If you want to know why this is happening, it has to do with your down regulated GABA and the lack of balance with Glutamate.  Both are nervous system receptors.  GABA is your body's "brake pedal" or what slows things down and makes you calm and relaxed.  Glutamate is your body's "gas pedal" or what makes you active and alert or even fight or flight.  Normally the two are in a "balancing act" so one doesn't overtake the other.  But when your GABA is temporarily taken off line by the Benzo, Glutamate rules the day and night.  That's why you might feel wired all the time, have racing thoughts and are never sleepy.  It takes some time for your body to repair the temporary damage.  No one knows how long that will be.  But your body knows exactly how to repair the damage and put your GABA and Glutamate back into balance.  However, it is a very nonlinear process...UP and DOWN, one step forward, 2 steps back for some time for most.

 

Each WD experience is unique to that person.  No one knows how long your WD and symptoms might last or how intense they will be.  When people says months or years, that doesn't mean you feel like you do now the entire time.  It's very UP and down.  You feel good for hours or days or eventually weeks (windows) and then get hit with symptoms and poor or no sleep (waves).  I am pretty sure the Ativan down regulated your GABA as described above and then the Ambien was the straw that broke the camels back and caused your symptoms and poor sleep.

 

I would avoid the urge to take any more Benzos or Ambien.  In fact, I would avoid them the same way you would avoid rat poison.  They are a dead end road that eventually stop working.  In fact, flush whatever you have and don't get any scripts refilled.  Sleep will even out over time.  I know as it was my worst symptom by far and I had over 15 symptoms.  Hang in there, this slowly gets better.  Time is the healer!

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GwPeaks,

 

So sorry about your situation.  I have been on xanax for sleep for 7 years straight (.75 mg)and Ambien is what screwed me up and made me want to come off the xanax.  I had been going up and down .5mg - 1mg Xanax for many years with little to no issues.  Then last year I went on a 10 day business trip overseas and got a script for Ambien to help with jet lag along with popping 1mg of xanax before sleep each night.  I had taken half an Ambien pill before on occasional trips, but on this one I took the full pill for 10 days because we also had a recent death in the family and I just couldn't sleep.  All went fine until I got back, I promptly stopped my Ambien and went back to about .75mg of xanax.  About 4 days later I was in my office when I got a wave of horrible tinnitus and brain fog.  It was unrelenting for 2 weeks.  I didn't put two and two together until I met with my doc.  He said the Ambien was like .25mg xanax and when taking it for 10 days straight it made my total xanax does that trip 1.25mg and it was long enough for a new base to be set in my body.  Thus dropping straight from 1.25mg to .75mg was a 40% drop which caused withdrawals.  I hate to say it, but for me I had to go back up to 1mg for 2 weeks to get my brain back.  Here I am a year later taking this at home opportunity to taper off my xanax.  I was doing great over last 2 months (dropping about 10% a week) until I dropped from .70 to .63mg.......BOOM same exact withdrawal symptoms I got last year.  Sorry for the long story, but never touch the Ambien again and it likely kicked you up to a higher dependency level.  Good luck to both of us! 

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Bernie, that is terrible and similar to my situation. I wish I had something encouraging to offer but I'm struggling right now myself so I can't offer much. That said, for what it's worth, I think we will both be ok eventually. I took the Ativan 1MG a night for two years straight but was able to taper off and stay off completely for nearly two months with no issues. After that I only took it occasionally (once per week normally and sometimes not at all) when I felt I wanted more sleep and I never upped the dosage from 1MG. I never had any issues in that scenario either. The Ambien CR, that is the one that got me. I know the Ativan may be a factor but I honestly "feel" the Ambien is the culprit of my issues now. Even when my prescription ran out of the Ativan once and I stopped for over a week CT I didn't experience this.

 

I had a Telemed visit with a PA from a Psych office this morning (it was supposed to a Psychiatrist but oh well) and that visit did more harm than good. She offered absolutely no information on either drug and was completely clueless about withdrawal from Ambien CR. She did understand benzo withdrawal, to her credit, and agreed that it should never have been prescribed to me the way it was. She didn't think I was withdrawing from the Ativan and I honestly don't think so either really. I'm pinning this on the Ambien CR but it baffles me how it could last this long and be this severe. My personal belief is that I am in the minority and developed a major dependency in a very short time and now that I've stopped I have to suffer through a prolonged withdrawal.

 

The most difficult part of this in my opinion is the fear of how long it will be before you feel "normal" and don't think about anxiety and such ALL the time. So far, for me at least, the most helpful thing is to stay busy and keep myself physically tired. I used to be able to relax and watch TV and movies but right now that is impossible. If I workout hard, interact with people, or exhaust myself working in the yard or something I seem to cope much better. I'm not sure if those are options for you but I wanted to offer something.

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GWPeaks,  Yeah, it sounds like the Ambein got you with the 15 day length.  10 days did it for me.  I think we will both recover as well.....cheers to us.  If I could just get out of the ringing fog.  I hear ya on the distractions.  I've been working out and it does seem to help a bit.  Hopefully we both pass this soon!  And yes, unknowledgeable doctors are the worst!  My doc actually said if you felt fine on the xanax, why would you want off of it?  Ummm...because I came to you for minor sleep issues first years ago (no other issues) and now I skip a dose of the sleeping pill you gave me and I am a total miserable zombie.  Maybe that's why doctor.  Gotta love them. 
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Agreed, gotta love em (not really). I hope you're improving. My anxiety has lessened some but I feel more depression now. It is absolutely bizarre how these drugs affect different people. I consider myself fortunate that I can still function, albeit I'm miserable. I have "windows" though.

 

Do you think the Ambien somehow "awakened" something related to the benzos or do you think it's solely the Ambien? I have no doubt the Ativan affected me over the two year period but this is totally different.

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I was on both and had similar issues.  My doctor advised me to taper off Ambien first.  That was easy, probably because I had Ativan to help me sleep.

 

Coming off of Ativan was difficult, the withdrawal symptoms were hell.  You can read my other posts to hear that story.

 

I too suffered bad anxiety and panic attacks.  That led me to get therapy and that made me realize I needed to come off of these horrible drugs.

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I will soon be four months off and overall I feel great.  Most nights I fall asleep and stay asleep without taking anything.  I don’t have many nightmares anymore, and even when I do I am able to fall back asleep.

 

Now that I am sleeping well, my mood and energy levels have improved greatly.

 

It is a difficult journey for sure, but doable and worthwhile. 

 

You are not going crazy, you are just experiencing the typical symptoms from Ativan and Ambien use.

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You are the first person I've heard from who has gotten off completely and feels fine without waiting years. I tried trading the success stories but to me they are more "progress" than success. As I'm going through this and I read a story about someone being off the drug for 5 years and still having issues it makes my issues

Infinitely worse. I literally cannot think about anything else. Can't find pleasure in ANYTHING, can't sleep and I'm nervous and on the verge of panic ALL the time. I'm now almost 3 weeks off Ambien and two weeks off Ativan (not daily use at the time) and I swear it just WILL NOT let up. I'm a totally different person than I was a month ago.

 

Is this similar to your experience?

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You are the first person I've heard from who has gotten off completely and feels fine without waiting years.

 

I guess I'm the second person then?  ::)

 

Gw, there are probably lots more ppl on here who have recovered completely from their Ambien use. Alas, they're not reporting it. (It's my observation that we hear from ppl who are suffering, rather than the ppl who have recovered and are doing well. Human nature, I guess). In my case, I feel fine now. Ambien was a miserable drug, but once if was out of my system, I didn't feel any lingering s/x.

 

How long will it take? No one can say. But my experience (and my unscientific belief) is that a slow taper for those who are sensitive to drugs (me) will result in success. I didn't feel great when I was first off, and the trip down from 5 mgs was a little rough, but I'm 100% recovered now. After 11 years (and one ill-advised cold turkey) of the drug.

 

Don't give up hope.

 

Best,

 

Katz

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Thanks Katz, that's encouraging. Unfortunately for me my issue may or may not be Ambien and that's why I'm so afraid. Everything started after a 14 day course of Ambien CR (literally overnight) but prior to the Ambien CR I used Lorazepram as needed for sleep for a few months. Prior to using as needed I took 1MG nightly for two years. I had no idea what I was taking. I was simply taking it as it was prescribed. Once I stopped CT for just under two weeks and suffered bad withdrawal (not as bad as now) I did some research and realized what a Herculean mistake I had made. That said, I did a rapid taper and got off completely for nearly two months before the as needed use.

 

I've spoken to 5 different medical people and they were all useless. All they offered was what they read on a computer except the Psychiatrist PA who simply wanted me to make an appointment and take another med. This whole experience is madness. If you knew me you would know that this is not a natural experience for me. I'm a completely different person.

 

I just wish that an expert could explain whether this was Ambien, Ativan or both and if I would ever be myself again. I have an 8 month old baby and I can barely care for him right now.

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I still have some symptoms...tinnitus, burning skin, but it is much less pronounced and easier to deal with.

 

Ambien was easy to taper off of.  In fact, I would consider taking it again as it did help me to deal with jet lag when I have to travel internationally for work.  But probably better just to deal with the jet lag.

 

Neither is a good drug to use, but Ativan is definitely worse and the likely cause of your symptoms.

 

 

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I suppose it would be I'll advised to reinstate and start a slow taper at this point correct? It's been 14 days since I last took lorazepam..
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No to reinstating either drug would be my suggestion, reinstatement doesn't work most of the time and it will just prolong your agony.  Your body remembers each start and stop of the drug and it finally reaches a point where it says no more freebies, this time you're going to pay. 

 

I healed from two cold turkeys, one was from Klonopin and the other from Ambien.  I found the Ambien cold turkey to be infinitely easier to live through than the Klonopin and it only lasted a few days where the benzo lasted months.  It's absolutely possible to heal from both of these drugs and live happily ever after as I'm doing, so hang in there, okay?

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How long did you take the Klonopin? How in the world did you make months like this? I swear, the agony of this is just unreal. Did your anxiety/depression alleviate any over those months?
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Wow my story and symptoms is damn near exact like yours. I was fine with the ocasional xanax here and there, but as soon as i started taking ambien, after 2 weeks (with hopes to replace xanax as the effect lasted too damn long) shit hit the fan. All i can say is gather patience. It will take longer and slower to go away as you think but it will
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If you have been off 14 days, then just keep pushing forward.  As mentioned by Pamster, do not reinstate.  You won’t get much relief, if any, and then you are starting the withdrawal cycle over again.  If you can stay off another couple of weeks, you will break the hold these drugs have over you.

 

 

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How long did you take the Klonopin? How in the world did you make months like this? I swear, the agony of this is just unreal. Did your anxiety/depression alleviate any over those months?

 

I was on Klonopin for about 5 years and the Ambien for around 6 months and it was awful but you put one foot in front of the other and you somehow make it through.  I kept busy, doing projects and I also worked full time so I was lucky that way.  Distraction is key, doing anything other than concentrating on your symptoms is the best way to get through this.  Make time pass because the more time you have away from the drug, the better your life is going to be.

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50Shades, I'm SO glad to hear that someone else has experienced a similar situation as mine. I hate that you went through it though.

 

These replies really are helpful. This is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. If I get back to myself I swear I will become a strong advocate against doctors leading people to this! I'll take it day-to-day and keep hoping I'll start returning to myself. I want this to be behind me for good!

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Gwpeaks

 

You can do it!  Lavender baths helped relax me and soothed the burning skin.  But try not to focus on the symptoms and know that mental fog is a part of this.  Things will get better, it just takes time.

 

 

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Hi GW! I hear you on not “being yourself.” This sucks and I read with interest your account and question of whether Ambien might be the culprit. I have similar concerns. I was cruising along happily on a nightly dose of Brotizolam, a sleep med that I had used for 9 years without issue. I got these from my doctor in Japan but ran out and was not able to return because of the pandemic, to get refilled. I did have a store of Etizolam and Ambien left over that I used nine years ago without issue before transitioning full time to  Brotizolam. I thought no problem, they worked before, they will work again. Boy was I wrong. The first day I took them it was like a switch was flipped and I had horrible anxiety, burning skin, and blurry vision. That was four months ago. Since Etizolam and Brotizolam seem very similar, I wonder if Ambien is what is irritating me. My symptoms have now involved to include neuropathy in my feet. I have steadily decreased my Etizolam dose from 1.5 mg to .375 mg. and Ambien from 10 mg. to 6.25 mg. My plan is to get off the Etizolam and then tackle the Ambien. It does help me sleep, the only reason I started taking meds to start with. As for those terrible symptoms initially, I had a rough four months so far but symptoms have decreased. I can deal with all except the neuropathy. This  really affects my quality of life and I pray this is not a permanent condition. Good luck.
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John, sorry to hear you're having the neuropathy in your feet. I honestly don't know what that is but it sounds terrible. Please don't describe it to me or Lord knows I'll start worrying about that too now. Today has been better for me as far as anxiety, just weird feelings like pressure in my head, shakiness, and some ringing in my ears. I'm also horribly tired from the mere 15 hours of sleep I've had in three weeks.

 

I've concluded that the answer to what is causing my issues (and possibly yours) will never be known. The reality is, the doctors and big Pharma do not really understand what these substances do to someone's brain. They have some knowledge but not enough to be prescribing them like they do. I have no doubt that Ativan is a factor in my problems but I can't help but "feel" that Ambien is the bigger player. Tapering down, then off, the Ativan was awful but nothing like this. When I stopped taking it for 1.5 - 2 months I had none of this. I hadn't used it daily, or close to daily, in 3 months or more before this and had none of this other than broken sleep at night. All that said, I'm still shocked that 14 days use of the Ambien could cause this much of an issue.

 

At this point, I'm just hoping that whatever chemical changes in my brain that occurred from the Ambien will correct themselves as each day goes by. I've read that the brain is homeostasis and will return to it's normal state over time. I'm just hoping it won't be a long time since I was only on the Ambien CR for 14 days.

 

I hope that your lingering issue with your feet will resolve soon as well.

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