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Please Help Me With My Mother's situation


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Hello everyone,

 

First of all, I apologize if I've posted this thread in the wrong sub-forum.  Mods, please feel free to move this to the appropriate place.

 

Now on to my post. My mother has been abusing Klonopin for about 20 years and she's also an alcoholic that suffers from anxiety, depression, and possibly other mood/personality disorders. Every few months she either falls or threatens suicide and ends up in the emergency room for several days. Her psychiatrist recently stopped prescribing Klonopin because he found out that she was taking it together with alcohol and felt it was too dangerous to continue prescribing the drug. My understanding is that she was taking 6mg per day. Ever since she ran out of my Klonopin it's been absolute hell. She cries, screams, hyperventilates and begs for help constantly. She says she's having horrible anxiety, is unable to sleep, has uneven vision, is unable to feed herself, and has stated that she wants to die repeatedly. She has been to psychiatric hospitals for 1 to 2 week stints several times in the past few months and seems to do a bit better while admitted (presumably because she is being administered benzos but not at doses that really address the anxiety). However, as soon as she is discharged and goes back home, the crises recommences and my sisters and I are scrambling to get her help. We've looked into rehab facilities, but they generally do not accept her insurance (Medicare). We have looked into the option of paying out-of-pocket for a rehab facility, but given the prices ($25k - $40k+ per month), she probably would not be able to afford more than a few months. We've also read that a lot of rehab facilities force patients to quit cold turkey or pursue very aggressive tapering schedules which is not effective nor comfortable for the patient. Medicare has a 180 day lifetime limit on inpatient psychiatric treatment and she was quickly burning through this - so the hopping around from psych ward to psych ward every couple of weeks is not an option (nor is it very effective). Does anyone know of a hospital/facility (preferably in the New York/New Jersey area) that has expertise in handling this type of situation and that is either reasonably affordable or accepts Medicare? Alternatively, does anyone know of any doctors or outpatient programs that have experience tapering patients off of Benzos? The outpatient option is not ideal given that we worry she will mix it with alcohol or seek additional pills either off the street (which she has done before) or by getting additional prescriptions from other doctors. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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[je...]

Hi Nene!

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies!

 

My heart aches for you and your mom. I can only imagine how difficult it must be trying to help her and not knowing where to even start. When it comes to benzo's there are two types of dependences, there is physical dependence on the drugs and there's addiction. Physical dependence is when people are not craving the drug or needing it psychologically but their body has become accustomed to it, so they need it to be able to physically function on a daily basis. Then there is addiction. I'm sure you know what addiction is. I believe your mother is both physically dependent and addicted to benzo's.

 

From what I've seen on the boards here, it's very difficult to taper and treat people who are addicted to benzo's. In my opinion the addiction needs to be addressed in order to stop the benzo abuse. The problem however is, your mom is suffering tremendously from the withdrawal and it will likely continue for quite some time as benzo recovery can take anything from 12-24 months or longer. Facilities will likely put your mom back on benzo's and other drugs, rapid taper her again and send her back home to you in exactly the same condition as she is now. Then you'll just deal with the same cycle over and over again. I don't think another facility will be the answer you're looking for. It will be a temporary bandaid.

 

The thing is, your mom has to want to do this. Benzo recovery is extremely hard and difficult to do. It requires determination and will power. I wish I could offer you more, but I don't want to lie to you. That's just my personal opinion. I'm sure some of our other members will also give you some of their advice and options.

 

Thank you for being there for your mom and for reaching out. You are an amazing person.  :smitten:

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[Bo...]

So sorry for your situation. Horrendous to be cut off that high and understandable why she’s suffering so much. Stopping benzos CT and like they are doing for your mom on and off is life threatening. Along with alcohol which act on same gaba receptors is especially life threatening.

 

Please see if Dr Witt Doerring is wiling to help or give y’all guidance on how to help.

https://www.wittdoerringpsychiatry.com/

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[Re...]

This is just terrible, that doctor should be disbarred to throw your mother into severe acute benzo withdrawal like this. It is a life-threatening situation. Regardless of if she has an addiction history. How old is your mother?

 

Can you take her to an ER to get medication for the next 5-7 days or even call Sollis Health (https://sollishealth.com/locations/) this would be much easier, no long wait, tell them the situation, and join to get the medication to stop the severe withdrawal symptoms and get her stabilized until you find her the right provider? This is important. Since she has resources you can use them for quicker care.

 

Dr. Witt-Doerring might have a referral but he is not licensed in NY. You can call him and see if he can help in some way. The number on his website is 435-800-4047.

 

Can you book a 15-minute consult with Angela Peacock as well for help? She has two open times tomorrow.

https://calendly.com/apeacockconsulting/15min?back=1&month=2023-06&date=2023-06-06

 

Dr. Swap​nil Gupta is one of the foremost benzo-wise doctors in the NY area. You can call her as well at (212) 523-7696.

 

The Benzo Information Coalition lists tapering cooperative providers here. You can start calling these doctors: https://www.benzoinfo.com/doctors/#new-york

 

Make sure you research akathisia to protect your mother. It is not uncommon with benzo cold turkey, which goes frequently misdiagnosed and is horribly underrecognized in the medical community. Putting your mom on other medications may make it worse. It is NOT anxiety. Even if the patient has a history of anxiety or addiction. If she is screaming, crying, pacing with intense restlessness and suicidal ideations it sounds like akathisia.

 

Doctors don't know as much about benzo withdrawal as you think they do. So you have to be prepared with as much information as possible to protect your mom from further harm. Hospitals and rehab centers are usually unsafe places for patients in benzo withdrawal. The key is to get her stabilized and reinstate the medication then taper VERY slowly. (Years not months since she has been taking these drugs for decades.)

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[Up...]
Dr Patricia Halligan is in NY.  Dr Witt Doerring is now 2 months out for booking new appointments.., 
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[Re...]

Dr Patricia Halligan is in NY.  Dr Witt Doerring is now 2 months out for booking new appointments..,

 

Halligan does not have the best reputation. Not sure if you are aware of this. Not criticizing you just making a statement with love. Everyone gets to decide on their preferred provider. Doerring is not licensed in NY anyway. He can't prescribe controlled substances over state lines.

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[Ho...]

First of all, and most importantly, get yourself into a support group. You can't navigate this alone; it's incredibly hard to fix what you didn't break. Families Anonymous is a great organization if you can find one nearby.

 

I've heard that Mass General has some good care for people in acute like your mom. She's in a very difficult predicament because going through benzo withdrawal takes down all your natural abilities and defenses. You can't think, you can't trust, you can't hope. All you can do is suffer tremendously. She's not herself right now and won't be for a while. In the midst of all of it, most of us have some kind of core value that we want to live, and that's what gets us through in the end.

 

I'd look into Johns Hopkins or Mass General. Someplace that will take her Medicare. Don't spend cash on this because it will be money down the drain. You may need that money after she gets out and you have to hire someone to look after her for a bit.  A good inpatient program will use drugs and therapy to help her. She's in a tough place but you are not equipped to walk through this with her. You'll make better decisions on her behalf if you leave her with trustworthy professionals. It's vital that you maintain your own health and sanity so that you can make wise decisions.

 

My 10 cents!!

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[Gl...]

 

Gosh, Nene, I can't even imagine what you and your sisters and your mother are going through. I feel so bad about it and wish I had advice.  Jelly Baby is right.  She has to really want recovery.  Sorry if anyone has already posted this, the Benzodiazepine Tapering Cooperative Providers list.

https://www.benzoinfo.com/doctors/#undefined

Good luck with your mom.  I'll remember you in my prayers.

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[je...]

Thanks so much everyone for contributing to this thread. We have an awesome, caring community.

 

I want to elaborate on something Hotcoldhotcold has mentioned, as that didn't cross my mind. If you have the financial means to get someone to care for her 24/7 outpatient, that might be a solution. The problem you're facing with tapering is the fact you mentioned she'd get pills off the street. She would need continuous supervision to have her drug dispensed and make sure she doesn't get more supplied. But you also need to know it can take years to taper off benzo's (like Rebecca29 mentioned) and then another year or two after tapering to recover.

 

I don't want to discourage you, but I do want to be honest and give you the full picture. Most of us here have not been given the reality of what these drugs do to us when our doctors prescribed it, so for me personally, it's important to be honest even though it might be difficult to hear the enormity of it all.

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[Re...]
If you do want to hire 24/7 care, I have an excellent resource I will send you in a direct message right now.
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[Sc...]
Hi Nene. I'm so so sorry for what you're going through. It looks like you've gotten some good feedback I just wanted to offer an understanding ear if you ever need it. For the past 15 years, my sister and I have been navigating my mother's alcoholism. I know how hard it is to see your mom in that sort of condition. Gosh, my heart goes out to you. Please don't hesitate to reach out.
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Thanks to everyone who replied. Based on the suggestions we received here as well as other research we've done, our plan is to set my mother up with a doctor that is willing to taper her slowly (I've already reached out to several doctors on the list of benzo tapering cooperative providers) as well as get her a home aid to assist for the next few months.
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[je...]
That sounds like a very good plan. We wish you all the best! You're welcome to reach out with more questions and updates if you wish.
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[Re...]

Thanks to everyone who replied. Based on the suggestions we received here as well as other research we've done, our plan is to set my mother up with a doctor that is willing to taper her slowly (I've already reached out to several doctors on the list of benzo tapering cooperative providers) as well as get her a home aid to assist for the next few months.

 

Smart move. Please keep us posted on her progress.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Update: My mother was discharged from the hospital psych ward recently. The physician that was caring for her prescribed 2 mg of a Benzo, 3x a day for 30 days. My sisters and I thought this was good news and hopefully it could hold her over until she was able to see a physician that could taper her off slowly (she has an appointment next month). I asked her home aid to organize her pills in a pill box so she didn’t accidentally take more than 3 a day. She took the opportunity to count the pills and we realized she had been taking about 6 per day (12mg or klonopin per day) and is on pace to run out in 2 weeks. She also lied and tried to say she didn’t know where the pills were so the aid wouldn’t discover this. When we found out she began to threaten suicide. Clearly she has no ability or intention to taper herself off. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. When she runs out in 2 weeks she will end up back in the psych ward and I don’t see this cycle ending.
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[je...]

Update: My mother was discharged from the hospital psych ward recently. The physician that was caring for her prescribed 2 mg of a Benzo, 3x a day for 30 days. My sisters and I thought this was good news and hopefully it could hold her over until she was able to see a physician that could taper her off slowly (she has an appointment next month). I asked her home aid to organize her pills in a pill box so she didn’t accidentally take more than 3 a day. She took the opportunity to count the pills and we realized she had been taking about 6 per day (12mg or klonopin per day) and is on pace to run out in 2 weeks. She also lied and tried to say she didn’t know where the pills were so the aid wouldn’t discover this. When we found out she began to threaten suicide. Clearly she has no ability or intention to taper herself off. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. When she runs out in 2 weeks she will end up back in the psych ward and I don’t see this cycle ending.

 

I'm really sorry Nene and I know these words are empty. I don't have experience with addiction but I can tell you what I've observed from the forum. Now the majority of people here, I would guess at least 98%, are dependent not addicted, therefore we are able to taper, but I have welcomed around 5-6 people with addiction problems.  None of them were able to stick to a taper and they all disappeared after about a month. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying it's very unlikely that people with addiction problems can taper benzo's. Tapering is tough, it can be excruciating and painful. When you are dependent you are struggling immensely but you are not fighting the addiction component on top of the withdrawal symptoms. I struggle to see how someone who wants to take benzo's can endure this process.

 

I do believe it's possible to quit benzo's when you have an addiction, but in my opinion, and this is just my opinion, they have to go cold turkey. We do not generally advice cold turkey because it can be dangerous especially at high doses it has the risk of seizures. Doing this under medical supervision is best to ensure there is no life threatening complications. But you have mentioned before that your mom gets her benzo's off the street. So you are in a catch 22. You have really tried everything and given your mom every opportunity to succeed at this. You have not failed her. But I do believe your observation is correct, the cycle will probably not end. She really needs to want to stop taking these in order for her to get better.

 

 

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[Ho...]

Update: My mother was discharged from the hospital psych ward recently. The physician that was caring for her prescribed 2 mg of a Benzo, 3x a day for 30 days. My sisters and I thought this was good news and hopefully it could hold her over until she was able to see a physician that could taper her off slowly (she has an appointment next month). I asked her home aid to organize her pills in a pill box so she didn’t accidentally take more than 3 a day. She took the opportunity to count the pills and we realized she had been taking about 6 per day (12mg or klonopin per day) and is on pace to run out in 2 weeks. She also lied and tried to say she didn’t know where the pills were so the aid wouldn’t discover this. When we found out she began to threaten suicide. Clearly she has no ability or intention to taper herself off. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. When she runs out in 2 weeks she will end up back in the psych ward and I don’t see this cycle ending.

 

She's scared. And there's not much you can do about it. As the saying goes, if you didn't break it, you can't fix it.

 

Once she settles into a routine and finds there is no way out, she'll calm down but again, but you're not prepared or trained for the kind of care your mother needs. She may need inpatient for some time. She's just not herself and won't be for a while. The nature of codependency within families actually deters healing in an addicted loved one. You may be tempted to blame yourself or in some way make yourself responsible for her in unhealthy ways. It is, unfortunately, very common in loving families, because your mom needs the kind of tough love right now that you cannot give her, even though you may not believe that. The truth is that your mother is the only one who can come to grips with her situation, and until she does, she'll go back to what she knows brings her relief.

 

So give her addictive behavior over to the professionals. It's heartbreaking but it's also the only way she'll ever come back to herself. I'm so sorry your'e going through all of this! You are not alone. Many others have walked through these waters and come out on the other side. You can too.  :hug:

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[Gl...]

Update: My mother was discharged from the hospital psych ward recently. The physician that was caring for her prescribed 2 mg of a Benzo, 3x a day for 30 days. My sisters and I thought this was good news and hopefully it could hold her over until she was able to see a physician that could taper her off slowly (she has an appointment next month). I asked her home aid to organize her pills in a pill box so she didn’t accidentally take more than 3 a day. She took the opportunity to count the pills and we realized she had been taking about 6 per day (12mg or klonopin per day) and is on pace to run out in 2 weeks. She also lied and tried to say she didn’t know where the pills were so the aid wouldn’t discover this. When we found out she began to threaten suicide. Clearly she has no ability or intention to taper herself off. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. When she runs out in 2 weeks she will end up back in the psych ward and I don’t see this cycle ending.

 

This must be incredibly heartbreaking for you to be going through this with your mother.  If my mom was going through this, I would be heartbroken as well.  I genuinely feel for you and your family what you're going through.  I agree with jelly baby and Hotcoldhotcold that you haven't failed your mother, and you're doing your best.  You and your mother will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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What is the difference between dependent and addicted?

 

Update: My mother was discharged from the hospital psych ward recently. The physician that was caring for her prescribed 2 mg of a Benzo, 3x a day for 30 days. My sisters and I thought this was good news and hopefully it could hold her over until she was able to see a physician that could taper her off slowly (she has an appointment next month). I asked her home aid to organize her pills in a pill box so she didn’t accidentally take more than 3 a day. She took the opportunity to count the pills and we realized she had been taking about 6 per day (12mg or klonopin per day) and is on pace to run out in 2 weeks. She also lied and tried to say she didn’t know where the pills were so the aid wouldn’t discover this. When we found out she began to threaten suicide. Clearly she has no ability or intention to taper herself off. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. When she runs out in 2 weeks she will end up back in the psych ward and I don’t see this cycle ending.

 

I'm really sorry Nene and I know these words are empty. I don't have experience with addiction but I can tell you what I've observed from the forum. Now the majority of people here, I would guess at least 98%, are dependent not addicted, therefore we are able to taper, but I have welcomed around 5-6 people with addiction problems.  None of them were able to stick to a taper and they all disappeared after about a month. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying it's very unlikely that people with addiction problems can taper benzo's. Tapering is tough, it can be excruciating and painful. When you are dependent you are struggling immensely but you are not fighting the addiction component on top of the withdrawal symptoms. I struggle to see how someone who wants to take benzo's can endure this process.

 

I do believe it's possible to quit benzo's when you have an addiction, but in my opinion, and this is just my opinion, they have to go cold turkey. We do not generally advice cold turkey because it can be dangerous especially at high doses it has the risk of seizures. Doing this under medical supervision is best to ensure there is no life threatening complications. But you have mentioned before that your mom gets her benzo's off the street. So you are in a catch 22. You have really tried everything and given your mom every opportunity to succeed at this. You have not failed her. But I do believe your observation is correct, the cycle will probably not end. She really needs to want to stop taking these in order for her to get better.

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[Ho...]

They'll usually tell you that someone with dependence needs a drug on a physical level or their body will go into withdrawal. But these folks are not emotionally dependent on the drug; they don't seek the drug out for added pleasure or escape.

 

Those with an addiction may have the physical dependence, but with an added dimension. They want the drug for emotional reasons, to blunt life's difficulties. They do seek the drug for added pleasure and/or escape.

 

I hope that helps a little!  I"m sure you could do a google search and get a better picture of the difference between the two.

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[je...]

It can be a bit tricky to explain. You might have missed this:

 

Hi Nene!

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies!

 

My heart aches for you and your mom. I can only imagine how difficult it must be trying to help her and not knowing where to even start. When it comes to benzo's there are two types of dependences, there is physical dependence on the drugs and there's addiction. Physical dependence is when people are not craving the drug or needing it psychologically but their body has become accustomed to it, so they need it to be able to physically function on a daily basis. Then there is addiction. I'm sure you know what addiction is. I believe your mother is both physically dependent and addicted to benzo's.

 

Here is an article from the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition with more detail: https://www.benzoinfo.com/2016/09/08/dependence-is-separate-from-addiction/

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[je...]

Sorry I did miss that. Thanks for clarifying.

 

You're welcome and there's no need to apologize - I know this experience is foreign to most people and you clearly are trying your best to navigate it. It helps when you understand what your mom is going through and why it's on one level easier for us on BB to taper while for her, there are other factors at play. This will likely factor into your decision making process as well.

 

Whatever questions you need to ask, we will gladly answer. There's no judgment here. 

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