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Klonopin 2.5mg per Day for 8 Years


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Hi everyone, I am so happy to have found this forum!  When you google withdrawal symptoms and speak to doctors about them, the internet and medical professionals are quick to assure you that withdrawal doesn't last beyond a few weeks, but mine have been ongoing for 14 months.

 

 

 

When I was 19 (eight years ago), I was prescribed 150mg of Zoloft and 2.5mg of Clonazepam per day (1mg in the morning, 1mg in the afternoon, .5mg before bed) for severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.  I was a pretty heavy drinker but would hold off on the afternoon 1mg and .5mg before bed if I knew I was going out.  Over the following seven years, alcohol became a huge part of my life, up until two years and eight months ago when I finally abstained from drinking.  I continued to take Zoloft and Clonazepam until roughly eight months into sobriety, when I decided it was time to discontinue taking all medications.  People in AA are notorious for describing sobriety as "nothing mind altering" or "not taking things that don't alter you from the neck down," so it began bothering me that I was still taking prescriptions.

 

 

 

A year and a half ago (November 2020), I began slowly tapering myself off of both, first reducing Zoloft to 100mg / day for a month and skipping the .5mg of Clonazepam before bed.  After five months, I was able to get down to 50mg of Zoloft and .5mg of Clonazepam (.25mg twice daily) with mild physical symptoms (twitchy muscles, sweats, and shakiness when I would reduce a dosage, heightened anxiety) but few if any noticeable mental/perceptual symptoms.  Having put myself through endless hangovers that felt identical to Clonazepam withdrawal/dosage reduction, the physical symptoms weren't so difficult if I had a few days to myself to ride the storm out.  In April of 2021, I finally stopped taking both medications.

 

 

 

Two weeks after stopping both medications entirely, I noticed a change in my vision.  Blinds and repeating patterns like stripes or dashes on the highway would bother me, to the point where I felt like I was going cross-eyed if I looked at them for too long.  Flashing lights elicited the same response and made me very uncomfortable, sweaty, dizzy.  My vision was blotchy, more fuzzy, and looking at any repeating patterns almost resembled what happens when you look at the pavement on a hot summer day and can see the heat waves, or the static of a cable channel that won't tune in.  On the anxiety front, even two cups of coffee was enough to elicit a panic attack, which was odd - as a young adult, I sometimes drank upwards of 6 cups of coffee and several energy drinks a day.

 

I told my doctor, who referred me to a Neurologist and had me get a CT scan.  The results came back fine.  I then saw a Neuro-Ophthalmologist, an Ophthalmologist, and had an EEG test for the potential of seizures.  Once again, all tests came back fine.

 

I assumed my symptoms were due to the discontinuation of the medication but I didn't want to go back on them, so I made some changes in my personal health.  I took up an all-organic diet and began exercising for one hour every day.  My thought was if I maintained a healthy lifestyle, these symptoms would eventually vanish.  Prior to this, between June of 2020 and February of 2021, I had lost 100 pounds after being very heavy for several years, so this felt like a natural progression of pursuing a healthy lifestyle (as did staying off medication.)

 

Last month - 14 months after I stopped taking Zoloft and Clonazepam regularly - I was still as miserable as when I first stopped taking the meds.  I was still working out every day (sometimes twice a day) for an hour and eating an all-organic diet, but my symptoms hadn't subsided.  Panic attacks happened sporadically, but usually in the morning.  Any amount of caffeine was enough to trigger a panic attack, so I cut it out entirely.  At 11 AM most mornings, a migraine kicked in, where the left side of my face felt tingly and numb, and I would get tension around my forehead and ears.  It usually progressed into a distinct headache on the right side of my head, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and increased salivation.  My vision woild get crystal-like and give the illusion of movement in things like carpet.  Lights were difficult to tolerate, which made my desk job very difficult. 

 

I went to my Primary Care Physician looking for alternative medicines to Clonazepam for the "flicker vertigo" and migraines.  We first tried 300mg of Gabaentin at night, which didn't help.  Next we tried Topiramate (Topamax) 25mg at night, which was one of the worst drugs I've ever taken.  While it prevented the migraines, it produced an emotionless void that sent me into a dark and deep depression; to the point where I considered checking myself into a mental hospital.  I discontinued the medication and began alternating between panic attacks and migraines, which was nothing short of hell on earth.  I maintained with my Primary Care Physician that I only wanted to consider Clonazepam at a very low dose.  He prescribed me .125mg of Clonazepam, which even at such a low dose immediately clears up any anxiety, migraines, and "flicker vertigo."  But I'm incredibly resistant to getting back onto Clonazepam, thus I only took it a couple of times.

 

Symptoms were becoming overwhelming, so I went to a Psychiatrist and told him about them.  The Psychiatrist recommended that I get back on Zoloft and Clonazepam at a low dose — 100mg of Zoloft and .5mg of Clonazepam as needed.  I am now taking 50mg of Zoloft, which does seem to help with depression.  It doesn't do anything for my anxiety.  I have the prescription for Clonazepam but haven't taken any, so it's been 22 days since I've had Clonazepam at any dose.  I cut out caffeine entirely, which has prevented morning panic attacks and seems to have lessened the migraines.  The sensitivity to patterns, flickering lighting, and flashes persists — it's a 24/7 symptom.  I also take propranolol 10mg 3x daily, which seems to help with the migraines and anxiety.  Similarly, it has no effect on my vision sensitivity.

 

Being that Clonazepam seems to be the only drug that remedies my visual sensitivity, I'm here to find answers as to what can be done so that I can get back to living a normal life.  I used to enjoy going to concerts and going to see movies, but now, I simply can't bare any change in lighting.  Even during some movie scenes at home, I'm forced to look away if there's too much flashing light.  On days where my symptoms are especially bad, it's difficult to drive, as the sun in between tree branches is unbearable. 

 

Even if the answer is, "You're already off the medication, stay off of it and wait," that's fine, but how long will it be before flashing lights and stripe patterns won't bother me?  I guess what I'm saying is that more than anything, I'd just like some answers.  I feel broken and unheard, as no physician or neurologist will entertain the possibility that this is all being caused by protracted withdrawal symptoms.  All I want to know is whether this is normal, if it will go away, and what (if anything) I can do to remedy the symptoms and get back to normal.

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Hi  SunshineInMyPocket  :hug:  Welcome to the forum.

 

We are happy to have you here.  I am sorry you’re dealing with symptoms.  It’s normal to have these very unpleasant symptoms and they can take quite a long time to settle down.  It took near 24 months for me to fully recover.  I can identify with your symptoms,  I had eye issues,  I had to wear sun glasses on the computer, daylight was unbearable.  I know you feel broken right now, but you can be fixed.  Well done to you on quitting alcohol!  You will get better but it takes time so hang in there.

 

I will leave you a link to the Ashton Manual, it is a definitive resource about these medications. It helps in understanding the effect benzo’s have on our body.  It provides withdrawal information and includes a list of common symptoms 

 

I will leave a few links for you to check out:

 

The Ashton Manual

 

Post-withdrawal Recovery Support

 

If you would like to add a signature, members can respond with the best information if they know your medication history.  Go to the top of the page and select PROFILE then choose forum profile then insert drug history into the text box and remember to click change profile

 

Welcome aboard

Magrita

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@[ma...]

 

While I take no pleasure in your past suffering, it's comforting to know that others have experienced similar symptoms.  I thought I was alone in this, which for the longest time had me considering a multitude of other potential root causes.

 

Looking at the Ashton Manual, it still seems quick, no?  Some of the other posts I've read detail people quitting over the course of years, while the Ashton Manual is segmented by weeks.

 

Just so I'm following correctly, is it recommended in the manual that one refrains from going back on the medication once off completely, even if the person is experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms?  While it's nice to be off Klonopin, it's also nice to not be bothered by flashing lights, repeated patterns, etc., which a low dose seems to remedy.

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Looking at the Ashton Manual, it still seems quick, no?  Some of the other posts I've read detail people quitting over the course of years, while the Ashton Manual is segmented by weeks.

 

Some people cold turkey, some rapid taper, some people take years. Here at BB we advocate that people listen to their symptoms because we help people remain functional while getting off these drugs. From what we see, the vast majority seem to heal over the same period of time i.e. around two years after stopping the drug. Some a bit less, some a bit more.

 

 

Just so I'm following correctly, is it recommended in the manual that one refrains from going back on the medication once off completely, even if the person is experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms?  While it's nice to be off Klonopin, it's also nice to not be bothered by flashing lights, repeated patterns, etc., which a low dose seems to remedy.

 

Yes, staying off completely. There's a phenomenon called kindling which means every time you stop and start the drug it becomes progressively more difficult to cease using. Now we don't have scientific studies on this for benzo's but it has been studied in alcohol which is very similar to benzo's.

 

I would suggest you just give it time. From what you described, this only started after you stopped the Clonazepam. So it's highly likely it's a withdrawal symptom and given time it should fade away. There is no such thing as a low dose benzo especially Clonazepam. It is extremely potent. I am currently at 0.125mg and if I just stop it, I will go into severe withdrawal. Also if you keep taking this medication you risk building tolerance. Meaning your body builds resistance to this dose and you'll require a higher dose to have the same effect. You've done so well to rid yourself of this horrible drug. Please, you're young, don't let this drug get a hold on your life!

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