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Strange question


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[Od...]

Hi all,

Probably a strange place to ask a question like this, but feeling locked in at the moment so I'll try it anyway: I have been suffering from anxiety attacks and agoraphobia for over 30 years. The last couple of years it worsened and my world shrinked drastically again. Travelling with my wife and children has become impossible. However, this summer we have a trip planned (it's been years ago), some 700 km's from home by car... At this time I don't know how I'm going to get through this, let alone in a comfortable way. Since the summer of last year I have been using Xanax intermittently. I use it one time per two-three weeks, on average. Sometimes not for weeks. Two times I used it for three days in a row. This summer, I would like to use it for a week straight. To give our family holiday a chance. However, I'm scared to take it for a week and screwing up my brain chemicals as a result of it. Are my worries justified or is it still safe to use this stuff this way ? My doctor says I can use Xanax IR up to 1,5 mg a day for this one week or Xanax XR up to max. 2 mg a day for a week.

When I used IR in the summer of last year I 've had heart palpitations for a couple of weeks. Went away as they had come. Don't know if it was the Xanax. Never had it after that one time. And recently I had tinnitus for about an hour, a day or two after I had used it. Also two episodes of heightened anxiety after taking it (two separate times). But don't know if it was Xanax or my own anxiety (about Xanax)...

I know this can only be a short term 'solution' and the real way out of anxiety is through. But at this time my life is so stressful that I lack sufficient energy and resources to tackle this issue all by myself. Also, tired of having to do everything with those dreadful thoughts and feelings for all these years... But I know that Xanax can lead to situations that make life even more unbearable... My heart goes out to all of you who suffer as a result of taking benzo's in good faith. Pray for you all that your suffering may end soon !!

Thanks,

Odysseus

 

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[Bu...]

Hello @[Od...],

Welcome to Benzobuddies.

This is not a strange question at all.  I think it's very wise of you to carefully consider how/when you take Xanax. 

From what I've seen on this site, the thing about serial infrequent use seems to be that eventually it usually catches up with a person, but it's hard to say when that might happen.  IMO, the effects that you noticed after you take it are probably from the Xanax, but there is no way to be sure of that.  And you're right, that the anxiety about taking the med is probably also a factor.

Have you talked with your doctor about the possibility of a different class of medication to help with your anxiety?  There might be other options with far less risks than benzos.  Also, I know it's overwhelming to think of non-medication options, but CBT and talk therapy might be a really good option for you.  And you wouldn't be doing it alone.  That is, it is the job of a good doctor/therapist to guide you through the process.  You would also have the support of all of us here, as most of us really understand anxiety.

I wanted to throw those ideas out there simply because you're in a spot right now that seems very fortunate in terms of your options.  I certainly don't mean to down-play your struggles.  I know how miserable anxiety is.  It's just that you don't seem to have a physical dependency to Xanx and I would hate to see that happen to you.

Of course whatever you decide is best, we'll do our best to help you.

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[kn...]

I have a lifetime history of the same types of problems. I’ve found great relief through therapy and Meds like Venlafaxine (Effexor). In my early forties, my provider introduced me to Bezos. I had no intention of taking Klonopin and Ativan for more than a few months. Fast forward thirty years and here I am. It’s taken nearly three years to get back down to a low dose and I’m nowhere near done. We have a trip coming up soon that will involve day long car rides and a ferry crossing to an isolated island. No!  I didn’t plan this, but you can guess how I feel about it!! My therapist and I have been working on this over the course of the last few appts and I have one more to go before we leave. Good luck with yours. I wish you the best. 

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[Cr...]

Hi @[Od...], welcome to Benzo Buddies. Would you being using the Xanax for general anxiety during the trip or to prevent panic attacks?

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[PE...]

Hi..

As @[Bu...]says it's impossible to say when it turn on you.. 

One week should really be ok.. but it's a VERY high stake!

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[Od...]

Would use it just to feel 'normal' and relatively at ease. Instead of continuously being anxious, panicking, watching my breath for fear of hyperventilating, sweating, etc.  Not much of a holiday otherwise. Not for me and not for my wife and children.

I actually considered taking Lexapro two weeks ago, after consulting a psychiatrist, but backed off the last minute. I have taken paroxetine in the past (+20 years ago) and experienced side effects during build up (heightened anxiety was one of them) and other during the time I took it (weight gain, sexual side effects,...). So that wasn't a nice experience... Decided not to take Lexapro now because build up was combined with...Xanax during the first few weeks (to lessen a possible increase in anxiety). Also, I've read many stories from people who say that Lexapro only flattens the peaks and reduces the anxiety with about 30-40%. That, combined with all the nasty side effects one can experience during build up, use and taper, didn't really make it worthwhile for me to start taking this SSRI...

As far as therapy concerns: had a good CBT therapist in the past, but does not accept (old nor new) patients anymore. And very difficult to find good, available therapists nowadays...

As BurnTheShips points out correctly: I don't have a physical dependency on alprazolam and I definitely would want to keep it that way. I am aware of the damage these meds can do. That's why I write it down everytime I take Xanax. I want to keep a close watch on it.

Most of my life, I have not used any anxiety reducing medication. So it's possible without, but how...

 

 

 

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[Od...]

@knackered: did you use benzo's continuously or intermittently? 

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[jo...]

It's true that a week is not a lot of time, but you must beware that even intermittant use can catch people out. from what I read I think the short and fast acting benzos like xanax are the biggest culprits. It is a risk. 

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[Kr...]
45 minutes ago, [[P...] said:

One week should really be ok.. but it's a VERY high stake!

Yes, especially the XR. You have to think about kindling also.

or you can just stop worrying and do what you need to do to take this trip. 

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[je...]

I would strongly advise against it. With your history and the potential symptoms you explained the risk is simply not worth the benefit IMO. The amount and severity of symptoms you have to deal with if you develop dependency is an immense struggle and can last for months or even years.

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[Cr...]
1 hour ago, [[O...] said:

Instead of continuously being anxious, panicking, watching my breath for fear of hyperventilating, sweating, 

Do you have anxiety about being in a long car ride and having panic while on the freeway? 

Or is it that you have anxiety constantly and want to be on Xanax for a week so the wife and kids can be with an anxiety-free version of you for this family trip? <- If this is the reason that is a real slippery slope because there will always be upcoming birthdays, minor trips, family outings, visits from relatives, general quality time with the kids, etc.. that you would prefer to be anxiety-free during. 

After this 1 week trip is over and if your Xanax use caused no noticeable issues, it may make it too tempting to use benzos for other occasions. Does having Xanax with you and knowing it is at your side if needed help your anxiety at all? You can try to see how you manage this trip by knowing it is there for an emergency panic if needed. Just knowing it is there may keep anxiety at bay. Another other option is to only use it every other day (so 3 or 4 days).

Should you take it every day for a week and do experience withdrawals it may not be wise to assume you need to jump back on it to taper. The withdrawal could be short-lived whereas staying on to taper could cause even more physical dependence.

I am just trying to think of every scenario. Based on probability, you may be fine from one week of use but that chance still exists that stopping it may be tougher than you anticipate. 

How you decide to approach this for your family holiday is up to you. No one can predict how it will go. I think you should be just fine, but I would look into supplementing your cbt therapy with even more ways to overcome anxiety enough to not need benzos.

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[Kr...]
37 minutes ago, [[C...] said:

Or is it that you have anxiety constantly and want to be on Xanax for a week so the wife and kids can be with an anxiety-free version of you for this family trip? <- If this is the reason that is a real slippery slope because there will always be upcoming birthdays, minor trips, family outings, visits from relatives, general quality time with the kids, etc.. that you would prefer to be anxiety-free during. 

EXACTLY!!!!

Well said.

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