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Hi - I'm new to the forum.

 

I've been having terrible insomnia the last few months and I believe that although it began with basic anxiety, it has been perpetuated and worsened with benzos.

 

(I should add that I went through even more severe insomnia in summer of 2009, but unlike this recent bout, I was also severely depressed at the time. Back then the doctor put me on 20 mg Lexapro daily and 30 mg Restoril every night and it worked magic. I weaned off Restoril carefully and slowly after 2 months and was totally off and fine by 4 months. About five months later I weaned carefully off of Lexapro over the course of about 5 months and that went fine, too. No withdrawals in either drug.)

 

This time around, when I began having some sleepless nights, I still had the Restoril in my medicine cabinet. It had been a year since I had taken any. I thought that I could take 15 or 30 mg of Restoril on a sort of 'as-needed' basis. I was so wrong. I began experiencing terrible rebound insomnia right away, interdose withdrawals and anxiety, which made the insomnia worse.

Because I was not taking an even dose, I was all over the place. Sleep was not improving. I was a wreck.

A few nights I even (this was a bad choice) dosed at 60 mg. Then other days I'd get so tired I'd get away with only taking 15 mg and then the next day the withdrawals were worse.  I kept telling myself that because it had only been a month, I was not dependent, so the littlest amount of Restoril I could get away with each night the better.

 

After a month of this misery, I went to see my psychiatrist and we decided to try Lexapro again, this time at 10 mg, hoping that adding that back in would do the trick. At first I noticed an improvement in my sleep (probably a placebo effect, coupled with my decision to start regularly dosing my Restoril every night at about 20 mg.)

I was elated over my sleep improvements, and a week or two later began to dose down on my Restoril to 15 mg. Then everything came unglued. Around this time the Lexapro started really kicking in, and it made the anxiety and insomnia worse! After a month I kicked the Lexapro up to 20 mg and I didn't sleep for two days. This time around it was apparently way too stimulatory for me. I went back down to 10 mg and then slowly down to 5 mg and now I'm pretty much off the Lexapro. I don't think an SSRI was an answer for me this time, so I'm glad I'm done with it.

 

Here's the main issue I'm experiencing now---my doctor switched me from Restoril to Valium a few weeks ago, to see if that would help with the insomnia and anxiety, since it has a much longer half life PLUS will be easier to taper off of. He told me to take 5 or 10 mg a night "as needed". I've been doing that over the course of the last three weeks and have had crazy sleep but way less anxiety. (So much better than my Restoril experience.) But my sleep is still insane. Some nights I sleep great--for 8 hours---at 5 mg, some nights I need 10 (in doses of 5), some nights I take 10 and don't sleep, for two recent nights I didn't take any and slept like a rock, and some recent bad nights I've taken 15 and haven't slept at all! (Taking 15 has actually left me feeling wired, paradoxically.)

 

At this point, there doesn't seem to be an correlation to sleep and dose. I'm not sure if the Valium even works, or if I'm having a paradoxical reaction, or if I'm experiencing withdrawal fluctuations because I haven't stuck to a regular dose. All I do know is that my anxiety has subsided totally, at least during the days after which I've slept. On nights when I haven't slept (but taken the Valium) I've been experiencing some anxiety and muscle tenseness, although *only* after the nights when I haven't slept.

 

Since it's not working that great and possibly causing anxiety/sleeplessness, should I quit it altogether cold turkey? Or will I go through bad withdrawals even after three weeks? Or if I do 'taper off' of it, what dose should I begin my taper with?

I'm familiar with the Ashton manual but there's no mention of how to start tapering if you're irregularly dosing. I would say my average though, has been 10. Last night was one of my bad nights where I took 15 mg (at 5 mgs over the course of the night), although I've only gone up to 15 mg in a night about three different times.

 

Can anyone offer advice about getting off of this stuff? Should I pick a consistent dose and taper?

Or should I just go cold turkey since it's only been a couple of weeks and there seems to be no benefit to it for me?

 

Thanks so much!!

 

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Since it's not working that great and possibly causing anxiety/sleeplessness, should I quit it altogether cold turkey? Or will I go through bad withdrawals even after three weeks? Or if I do 'taper off' of it, what dose should I begin my taper with?

I'm familiar with the Ashton manual but there's no mention of how to start tapering if you're irregularly dosing. I would say my average though, has been 10. Last night was one of my bad nights where I took 15 mg (at 5 mgs over the course of the night), although I've only gone up to 15 mg in a night about three different times.

 

Can anyone offer advice about getting off of this stuff? Should I pick a consistent dose and taper?

Or should I just go cold turkey since it's only been a couple of weeks and there seems to be no benefit to it for me?

 

Thanks so much!!

 

 

Hello SarahMac24,

 

Doing a Cold Turkey is not recommended.

 

You may be having a hard time because, you need to be on a stable dose. It's also best to do a 10% reduction when tapering from these drugs.

 

It would probably be best if stayed on a consistant dose, then start to taper. However, you should talk to your doctor about that, as we are not doctors here. We will help you the best we can though. :)

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies,

Mike

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Hi SarahMac24

 

I'm sorry you're suffering from sleep issues. Yes the lack of sleep can rev up anxiety symptoms too. Some people can become dependent after even just a week so it's best to not cold turkey. I'm glad you found us, we're here to help.

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies  :)

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Hi there,

 

You're at the right place for advice, I know we are not doctors here but we all have or is still living with Benzos, I trust dr's nomore, they are only good enough to get e script in my book:-)

 

Anyway, this is to welcome you not give advice but I feel compelled to mention you've done well without the medicine in the past, why go back to it, there are so many other ways to solve your problem, 1st you need to figur eout what the underlying problem for your insomnia is...?

 

Please ask for advice, anytime no matter what and good luck!!

Monty

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[84...]

SarahMac24,

 

Hi there and welcome to BenzoBuddies.

 

I would not do a cold-turkey nor advise it. It is dangerous.

 

I agree with Matrix, maybe you need to be on a steady dose, and hold.

After you get stabilized, then taper 10% every 7-14 days.

 

Feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have.

 

Sigma.

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Thanks all. It's so nice to have some support. I'll taper off slowly from 10 I think. I may switch my dose to the daytime, since it doesn't seem to help me sleep anyways (and could be keeping me awake? Anyone ever had a sort of paradoxical reaction?)

I did take 500 mg of tryptophan last night and fell asleep pretty quickly. Then again, I hadn't slept the night before so I was pretty beat.

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Thanks all. It's so nice to have some support. I'll taper off slowly from 10 I think. I may switch my dose to the daytime, since it doesn't seem to help me sleep anyways (and could be keeping me awake? Anyone ever had a sort of paradoxical reaction?)

I did take 500 mg of tryptophan last night and fell asleep pretty quickly. Then again, I hadn't slept the night before so I was pretty beat.

 

I had the paradoxical reaction when I was taking xanax. It was also keeping me awake and causing more severe anxiety than ever. I feel so much better now that I'm off, I think you will too.

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I know that some of you will disagree with me, but I decided not to do a slow taper from 10 mg. I've tapered down pretty quickly after listening to my body. My body and brain literally felt a serious aversion to taking any more valium, like I was mentally totally underwater—a slow suffocation of my CNS system is what it felt like my brain was telling me.

 

My last dose of 5 mg was on 6/13. Then I did 2.5 mg on 6/14. That was my last dose of Valium since. (So basically I'd only been on Valium since 5/20.)

 

The last week I have been sleeping (but better than I have in months) albeit restlessly and vividly dreaming.

Tryptophan has been helping me to fall asleep.

 

No panic attacks or anything during the day. Just some very slight tension in my thighs. Overall, I've felt okay—a little restless today after a cup of coffee so I went for a very brief 20-min run. Felt slightly agitated afterwards for about an hour, then all of a sudden felt a brain fog lifting. Right now I feel relaxed and more alive than I have in a long time. I feel like I'm waking up from a bad dream. I feel like I can process thoughts again, and have conversations.

 

I think about Valium and I feel sick.... I really don't want to take anymore or do the slow taper. Is this wrong? Is my body fooling me or should I continue listening to it?

 

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Since Valium has a long half life, it can take a week or more to feel the effects once you discontinue it, especially at 5 mgs.

 

However, you may not have any issues at all, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. ;)

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I had many sleepless night on Klonopin so yes I believe it can have the opposite effect.  A slow and steady taper is what you need. These drugs ( I dont care what any doc says ) are not to be taken as needed. Our brains do not work like that when it comes to these drugs.

Check out the insomnia board for tips on sleeping.

 

We are here to support you!

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Today I think I am beginning to feel withdrawal symptoms---muscle tightness, increased sensory sensitivity and anxiety mostly. My thighs are stuck in tense mode. No racing heart or anything.

Also because I only got 2 or 3 hours of sleep last night after staying out late with friends---and I know sleep deprivation heightens withdrawals. Late this morning I took 2.5 mg of Valium and the muscle tenseness has subsided. I do feel better.

 

My worry is that I was never on a consistent dose so I have NO idea what is too much or too little for me!

I would take up to 15 mg for sleep before realizing that it wasn't even helping me, and even making me more anxious and awake. For the past month, since June 1, here's my horrendous dosage history, of which I am very ashamed: 5, 10, 15, 5, 5, 0, 0, 10, 10, 15, 0, 5, 2.5, 0, 0, 2.5....

 

During most of this time, I've slept every other night. One night I'm awake and anxious the whole night even after taking valium, and the next night I sleep a deep, long, dreamless (and not very refreshing sleep.)It's been miserable. And during the day I've felt numb and mildly depressed--sort of that emotional blunting.

 

This last week, as I lowered (or eliminated) my daily doses, I was actually sleeping better—not great, but vividly dreaming, and sleeping EVERY NIGHT for at least a few hours. I was feeling more alive again and awake and able to laugh, and I don't want to give that up by going back and overmedicating myself. What if 5 mg a day is too much for me? My doctor is no help—he thinks that I'm not addicted because I haven't been taking a dose regularly or for long enough. How do I find out what the ideal dosage is for me per day in which to stablize? I'm just wondering if I should stick with 2.5 mg a day for the time being. Any advice appreciated.

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You could certainly try 2.5 mg and taper from there, or at the very most, 5 mgs.

 

The key is to take a steady consistent dose at the same time each day as you gradually taper off.

 

You would be surprised how many people become dependent after only a few weeks use. :(

 

Hope you feel better today, and let us know what you decide.

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Missy, thanks for the advice.

 

Now I've screwed up again. I'm so ashamed.

 

The night before this I only got a couple hours of sleep (at least vividly dreaming, a sign of recovery?)

 

But last night I didn't sleep at all, and this morning because of it, had an extreme panic attack, feeling like I was never going to sleep again. This morning I tried a little valerian out of desperation, which of course flared up my symptoms (NEVER AGAIN.) I was feeling even more agitated and panicky so I took 10 mg of valium.

 

I am feeling a little better but so disappointed in my behavior. I feel like I was making such progress. Do you think that me taking 10 mg this morning will screw up a 5 mg taper?

 

Or would a consistent taper for me work out to do 10 mg every few days? Looking at my history, I notice that my higher dosages (15 or 10) have come in clusters and then I'm fine for sleeping for awhile---even a few days---without meds or with a lower dose.

 

I think what I'm most scared of and agitated about is not sleeping. This is why I went to the meds in the first place. It honestly happened overnight---just taking leftover benzos still on my medicine cabinet from a few years back. A few bad nights of sleep and I turned to the wrong thing.  I feel like I'll never sleep again, and that my brain will be permanently damaged because of my sleep deprivation. Does anyone have any advice on sleep deprivation and how to get through it? What if I don't sleep for days? I have a five-year-old daughter (and a very supportive husband) but I just hate having them see me like this, when I was so normal a few months prior. I can't keep thinking of what I was like a few months prior, how I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat, how I was leading a normal life, until a couple of stressors came along and then I made the wrong mistake pulling the monster Restoril out of my medicine cabinet.

 

Then the Valium just seems to have built up in my body to toxic amounts.

I am feeling so lost right now.

 

 

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Hi SarahMac,

 

When we don't sleep, our thoughts become catastrophic, we can't seem to see past the fear and negative thinking, we understand your desperation.  Please don't be so hard on yourself, most of us have reached for relief when we felt there was no way out.  Your one time dose of 10 mg won't be a problem for your 5 mg taper plan.  I know you're not sure how much you've been taking, so this is all a work in progress, there are no hard fast rules here.  I hope you'll try to find other ways to get through the panic and the sleeplessness besides reaching for the drug, but we know how hard this is when we've been conditioned to do it.

 

You will sleep again, I was fearful like you are, but since removing the sleeping crutches from my life (Klonopin and Ambien), my sleep is wonderful now, it's a gift and I'm grateful for it every day. 

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I agree with Pamster. You must look long term at your problem. Valium was the quick fix but now its betrayed you right?

I think you should taper in a consistent way.  You have the information here on how to get free of this, but please understand that you will exp. some discomfort but I am 5 weeks free of Klonopin and have two great days in a row, I know I am healing, not matter how scared my thoughts have been and how dark the depression was, I always tried my best to tell myself,

"I am healing, and I will be free".  If I can do it, so can you Sarah.. so can u!

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Try not to be so hard on yourself , SaraMac24. :)

 

You will get through this, lack of sleep can make us feel that everything is hopeless, and we will never be the same  again.

 

I am certain your brain will not be permanetly damaged from lack of sleep. I went through a tremendous bout of sleepless nights, although, some may differ with me, I think my brain is still doing ok.

 

Try to remain positive, and put your worry about not sleeping on the back burner for awhile. Your sleep will return, our bodies our programmed for us to do so.

 

I wish you the best!  It appears that you have a wonderful, supportive family.

 

pj

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Thanks you guys. Does anyone mind sharing more about their sleep patterns (at their worst)? And how long they lasted? I think that would help me feel better.

I guess I just want to know if going on 1-4 hours of sleep (or none at all) is normal during this time.

 

 

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At my worst, maybe an hour of sleep a night for a month. It progressively has gotten better, where I can now sleep up to 7 hours a night.

 

Your sleep pattern is very normal, most people have expirenced it.

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Hi PJ -

Was that after you went cold turkey?

 

I think my problem this last week has probably been coming down too fast, if you look at my dosing history below.

 

I noticed that since the beginning of June---not counting yesterday and this morning----I added all my doses up and averaged about 5 mg daily. The last two weeks I have averaged 40 - 42.5 mg per week.

 

What are the benefits to stabilizing my dose if I'm not even getting the results I turned to the drug for?

What is the benefit of taking 5 mg per day vs. 10 mg every few days----anybody have ideas about that?

 

If I choose a stable dose (like 5 mgs a day) should I expect my sleeping to smooth out? What if it doesn't?

Do I go up or down in dose? It's just such a huge unknown.

 

It seems like the Ashton manual seems to assume that people are having success on their current dosages, and then can slowly wean from there. What if you're not having success where you are? What if you are not able to sleep consistently? Does one go up or down first?

 

Here is my schedule. Does anyone see any pattern, because I sure don't.

The last ten days of May, (when I began Valium) I was alternating

between 5 and 15, but hadn't been keeping a record

6/1 5  in PM  NO SLEEP

6/2 10 in PM SLEPT

6/3 15 in PM NO SLEEP

6/4 5 in PM SLEPT!

6/5 5 in PM SLEPT

6/6 0 SLEPT

6/7 0 SLEPT

6/8 10 in PM NO SLEEP

6/9 10 in PM SLEPT

6/10 15 in PM NO SLEEP

6/11 0 SLEPT HEAVILY 8 hours, DREAMLESSLY

6/13 5 in AM SLEPT 4 to 5

6/14 2.5 in AM SLEPT 4 to 5

6/15 0 SLEPT 4

6/16 0 SLEPT only 2 or 3 hours

6/17 2.5 NO SLEEP

 

 

 

 

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Yes, this was after I went cold turkey, but prior to that. I was in tolerance withdrawal and my sleep was becoming all messed up.

 

I wouldn't expect you to develop a sleep pattern until your brain does it's thing, and does some reprogramming to a sleep mode.

 

The benzos have caused our brains to be all screwed up, it doesn't know whether we should sleep 1 hour or 10 hours , it has to relearn all this, and it does in time.

 

 

I never tapered, so I have no experience there, but you may have to experiment with your dose, we are all so different, that it is not a, one size fits all situation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Does anyone have thoughts on the following valium taper (listed on EHow)? I read in a couple other online articles/posts that this is how it's often done in a hospital. This taper might apply to me, since I've been on Valium less than a month. If you look at my daily dosage in previous emails, a taper such as this would mean a marked raising in dose---personally I think that 15 mg four times a day would wipe me out. But I'm wondering about the possibility of going "up" on dose for a few days - 20 mg daily perhaps - and then tapering down 10% every few days from there. (I did try 20 mg once at the very beginning, on May 20---so as to replicate my old Restoril dosage--and it did make me sleepy.)

Doing this would mean a fresh start for me in a way. Unfortunately, it would also mean me being a temporary space cadet. But it also might provide some relief in that I'd finally have some sleep plus an action plan---and a steady, consistent taper.

Trying to taper from the crazy dosing I've been experiencing right now is just so confusing and I'm having such anxiety and insomnia right now no matter what I do.

Anyone have thoughts, personal experience or feedback on the following rapid Valium taper listed below? And does anyone know how to do the 10 percent thing with pills---or would it have to be a water titration thing?

Thanks you guys so much for all your feedback. I have been a rollercoaster the last two days.

 

"How to Safely Detox From Valium"

By Mary Earhart, eHow Contributor

 

 

Valium (diazepam) is a minor tranquilizer that is not as prone to abuse as other tranquilizers. Minor tranquilizers do not develop tolerance through liver mechanisms as do barbiturates. Rapid eye movement (REM) also is not adversely affected by minor tranquilizers. Diazepam used for longer than 30 days, however, even when used as prescribed, can produce significant withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of Valium withdrawal include rapid pulse, sweating, anxiety, confusion, feelings of distortion ("my head is floating above my body"), nausea, twitching and numbness of fingers and toes. Because of the drug's long half-life, cravings and symptoms are delayed. Withdrawal should be gradual and flexible.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Instructions

1. Taper Down

◦ 1
Start withdrawal on 15mg to 25mg of Valium four times a day. Use more if needed to suppress withdrawal symptoms. Once an adequate dose is reached, keep it steady for two days.

 

◦ 2
Decrease the dose by 10 percent every day until the last 10 percent is reached. In this way, the largest drops take place initially; as the dose shrinks the increments are smaller and the drop is more gradual. A single additional dose of 5mg or 10mg can be given when necessary to treat symptoms such as nausea or twitching. If blood pressure can be monitored every eight hours, treat symptoms that accompany a rise of more than ten points.



◦ 3
Reduce the final 10 percent gradually over three to four days and then discontinue. It is okay if this process takes longer. On average, detox from Valium should be completed in two to three weeks.



 

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I should note that I just talked this over with my doctor just now and he actually agreed to help taper me off in this way, by initially raising my dose to 20---a level where I think I can get some sleep---and then doing a 10% taper (but maybe not every day,) periodically. Or he said I could even try going by 5mgs per week, since I haven't been on Valium that long.

He also prescribed me some Seroquel (sp?) to have as a backup for any sleep loss.

 

I feel bad about raising my dose initially. It's going to make me a bit groggy and emotionally blunted at first. But I hope I can now have an action plan.

Any feedback or personal experience appreciated.

 

Thanks you all, you've truly been a blessing.

 

 

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This seems like a very rapid taper.  10% per day is too fast!  What is normally suggested is 10% every 1-2 weeks, not per day.

 

Sarah when you have a moment, could you please provide a signature line?

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Hi Missy,

 

My desire for a more rapid taper schedule stems from the fact that I wasn't on Valium for more than a month, and I was not even taking them regularly. I was taking 5 here, 10 there, sometimes none at all. Never more than 15 mg in one day. (And that was only three times during the whole month.) But withdrawals still crept up on me toward the end of the month.

 

For me personally, I feel that extending out the taper into months and months would merely make me vulnerable to depression and more sleep issues. I think a steady and reasonably quick taper is my best best. My doctor and I think raising my dose to 30 mg daily---an amount where I am certainly not addicted, and sort of starting fresh and with no withdrawals---and then beginning a steady 10% taper every day or every few days may work out for me. That way I'm staying ahead of "tolerance" as I taper down.

 

If I begin experiencing withdrawals at a certain stage, I am going to stay at the current dose for awhile and see what happens, before tapering further.

 

But this is all new to me. So any advice or observations are appreciated.

 

 

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My desire for a more rapid taper schedule stems from the fact that I wasn't on Valium for more than a month, and I was not even taking them regularly. I was taking 5 here, 10 there, sometimes none at all. Never more than 15 mg in one day. (And that was only three times during the whole month.) But withdrawals still crept up on me toward the end of the month.

 

For me personally, I feel that extending out the taper into months and months would merely make me vulnerable to depression and more sleep issues. I think a steady and reasonably quick taper is my best best. My doctor and I think raising my dose to 30 mg daily---an amount where I am certainly not addicted, and sort of starting fresh and with no withdrawals---and then beginning a steady 10% taper every day or every few days may work out for me. That way I'm staying ahead of "tolerance" as I taper down.

 

If I begin experiencing withdrawals at a certain stage, I am going to stay at the current dose for awhile and see what happens, before tapering further.

 

But this is all new to me. So any advice or observations are appreciated.

 

 

 

So, what you are saying is that you are  going from intermittent use of  5-10 mgs, to a daily dose of 30 mgs in order to rapidly taper is your plan? Just out of curiosity, what makes you think you are not already physically dependent and going from 10 mgs to 30 mgs is beneficial?

 

We only want to help, hon.  But you and your doctor must work this out, and we will support you in whatever you decide to do.

 

Feel free to ask questions and let us know how you are doing.  We are here to help you through this. :)

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