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2mg clonazepam/day, 15+ years, terrified of taper


[Ha...]

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Greetings!

 

This is an amazing forum, and I've lurked on and off for years... I even signed up for an account once, perhaps 5 years ago, but never worked up the courage to make an introductory post. 

 

I'm looking for support as I'm terrified of a taper.  I've been on 2mg clonazepam for 10 years, and .5-1mg for 5 years before that, and  'As needed' prior to that.  I was drinking very heavily at the time I started taking my 1mg dose, and in hindsight was just using it to overcome the alcohol withdrawals (acute anxiety symptoms ~12 hours after last drink back then.. familiar to many I am sure!)...  K-pin in the morning, booze at night, rinse repeat.  When I decided to 'get sober' 10 years ago, my p-doc at the time thought bumping my dose to 2mg (1 am, 1 pm) after acute detox would help with my depression and anxiety, which at the time we thought I was self medicating with alcohol.  I was on SSRIs for over 10 years as well, but successfully tapered off of those 3 years ago.  (don't even remember why)

 

I've been 'white knuckling' through 'recovery', but I'm beginning to think that I haven't recovered at all, and maybe I wasn't white knuckling it .. I just swapped alcohol for clonazepam, and 8 or so years ago began smoking weed nightly to 'help me sleep' (I didn't want to increase my clonazepam dose, and the z-drugs all stopped working on me).  I have an irrational fear of sleeping...  I've convinced myself that I can't sleep without chemicals, or perhaps that's just the addict in me rationalizing bad behavior.  I'm not sure I've slept without an aid of some sort as an adult.

 

This year I've had drinks a few times (weakness, personal tragedy, desire to connect with people on 'that' level again -- thoughts that came back with a vengeance this year, even 10 years on)...  And after the first, I NEED the second, then the third, then ...  SO I know I can't drink.  (Wishful thinking)  I got on the re-frame app, but am hesitant to go back to AA with my clonazepam and weed issues.

 

I never take more clonazepam than prescribed, and have shifted my first dose up to ~5pm -- corresponding I guess in my head with my first 'drink', and then my second before bed, along with the weed.  This has worked steady state for 10 years (minus the few alcohol relapses this year, which I will NOT be going back to), but I'm starting to notice things that I don't like.

 

I can't seem to remember ...anything. Names, faces, what I did last Friday, the movie I saw last month at the theater ... I can't do trivia anymore; I don't remember actors, book characters, anything.  I read a ton but retain almost nothing.  In frustration, I've switched to TV shows.  My depression/low self esteem is soul crushing, sometimes.  I find it hard to connect with/communicate deeply with people, especially those that are drinking.  (And I'm around a LOT of drinking)  Thus white-knuckling, and looking forward to going home to my k-pin and weed. 

 

I can't tell if it's the weed or the clonazepam or both, but I think that I need to give my brain a break for the first time in my adult life... Since I turned 18 I've either been actively drinking, taking clonazepam, or both.  (I've taken other benzo's in the past, but it's all Klonipin for the past 15 years)

 

I really should be substance free completely, but I'm terrified of the anxiety coming back.  (Sweating, shakes, sense of doom, etc)

 

I guess I'm looking to connect with folks in a similar situation...  Successfully recovering from multi-decade GABA abuse. 

 

I'm thinking 5% every 2 weeks, and I can do volumetric dosing, but at that rate It'll be 118 weeks before I'm down to .1mg/day.    Can I go faster, or is this wisest given how long I've been on the stuff?

 

Should I go for more regular dosing, 2x/day am and pm or just keep with my evening schedule?

 

I'm full disclosure with my P-Doc/therapist and have an appointment next week where I plan on talking about starting a taper.    I suffered a severe accident/TBI ~3 months before I started drinking, and doc's thinking is my constant anxiety/sometimes depression stems primarily from that.  He agrees with me that I just switched my addiction from booze to clonazepam+weed, but in his view my 'cocktail' is better than drinking all the time.  I'm terrified of what I'll be like without a crutch, but also know I need to remove the crutch to try and enjoy life.

 

Thanks for reading, all!

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Hello HappyYak, welcome to BenzoBuddies,

 

Your story is familiar, I gave up alcohol and 8 years later started on Klonopin, knowing full well it was a bad idea because that first pill felt like that first drink.  I continued to use it for about 5 more years but my use spiraled out of control until I quit cold turkey.  It was horrific but I'm so grateful I made it through it because like you, I'd chased sleep through alcohol, benzo's and z-drugs for too much of my adult life.  I'm free now and sleep better and deeper than I ever did on the substances I thought were helping me, I feel you're making a good decision to be free of them.

 

Your taper plan is sound but I would add that tapering according to your symptoms is the best way to do this to remain functional.  There may be times when you can speed up your taper and other times you'll need to slow it down, flexibility is key.

 

I'll provide some links to get you started but please keeping talking to us, we want to help.

 

Pamster

 

Colorado Consortium Benzodiazepine Deprescribing Guidelines

 

Planning Your Withdrawal (Taper)

 

Withdrawal Support (during your taper)

 

The Ashton Manual

 

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Thank you so much Pamster for taking the time to share our similarities! 

 

I've known all along it was a bad idea, but hey, it's better than drinking ... I've told myself over and over and over. 

 

These are great links and I'll keep updating and reading as I go along.  It has been a minute since I've read over the Ashton protocol.  I feel good about this decision now just need to implement it :)

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