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Tapering off Ativan--need support!


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I've been on benzos for roughly 8 years. Xanax, klonopin, and for the past two and a half years, Ativan.  Went up to 1mg 2x/day on Ativan.  I am deciding to taper....kinda against the wishes of my psychiatrist.  I just stopped 0.5 mg ativan AM & PM and started 5mg Valium 2x/day yesterday.  Confused about what to expect.  I've been on these drugs most of my adult life....don't know exactly how I'll be once off of them.  What will life be like?  Have had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember.  Severe anxiety for the past decade, at least.  Yesterday I also started a medication for ADD.  Couldn't go to sleep until 4:30 am.  Was that because of the recent ativan decrease (I came down from .75 mg to .5 mg in the AM two days ago) or bc of the ADD stimulant? 


Today I'm really taking care to not put myself in anxious situations and really monitor my stress level bc i'm noticing I get stressed out much easier.  But on the other hand, I went outside and everything seems sharper...colors brighter, etc.  I feel more in tune with people. I've actually started looking people in the eye.....not something I used to do.  But I'm still anxious and don't really know what's MY baggage and what's the benzo withdrawal.


What exactly did the benzos do to me these past 8 years?  Obviously decreased my anxiety but did they numb me?  I've felt really numb for I don't know how many years but how much of that is from a possible benzo side effect, and how much of that is personal baggage?


I've heard that long-term benzo use can actually Increase anxiety.  Could this have happened to me?  What exactly happens when you're on benzos?  Are you not able to process feelings well?


As I said, today my senses were heightened.  I appreciated the crisp leaves, green grass, etc.  But I was wondering what's normal.  How do I know if i'm experiencing withdrawal related heightened senses, and how do if i was actually...normal?  I mean, could it be that I will feel more like a real person w/o benzos?!  Might be a dumb question but I've been on them for a long time.  Don't know what's "normal". 

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Hello spring,

welcome to BenzoBuddies.


It sounds like you're going through an exciting period in your life, to regain your emotions. I was a short time user so I didn't have that problem, but people who I've read have had similar concerns about how they would be able to handle their own emotions.  My emotions were definitely blunted, and I did not like it. Nothing beats having your own feelings! Even if it means having to relearn to deal with them.


The withdrawal will cause rebound anxiety and insomnia. It will be very difficult for you to know which is which. Just know that the rebound anxiety can last for over a year, so until you are completely off benzodiazepines, and the withdrawals are completed, you should be careful about any diagnoses that you didn't previously have.


You are taking several medications that may be cross tolerant, meaning that although are not technically called benzodiazepines, they may affect the benzodiazepines receptor sites. I'm not a doctor and I'm not suggesting you go off your medication, but note that if you are taking benzodiazepines in disguise, they may keep you in a state of withdrawal indefinitely.  You may want to research this. Most doctors do not have knowledge of this, but Wikipedia is a pretty good source of information regarding the mode of action of psychotropic medications.


There is a section on the forum about other medications, you may look through that.


As one of the buddies has already suggested to you, the Ashton manual, online and free, is an excellent source of information.


Congratulations on your decision.

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Hi Spring, welcome! You are doing the right thing. Use of these medications over long periods is not advised, but that is something most Dr.s like to leave out, eventually you become tolerant and have to go up a dose or go through tolerance withdrawl. Read others experiences to see the littany of withdrawl symptoms you will experience, but if you take it slow and reduce in 10% increments it's not as bad. I've done cold turkey and it's not fun, but when you take it slow your brain slowly heals and learns to live without it. Everyone has different reations, but with support you know that it's just part of the process and eventually will end.


My biggest mistake was not understanding how other substances can aggrevate withdrawl and steering clear of them, but this board has given me the wisdom to know what to avoid.


Remember to go easy on yourself! Don't expect those who have never taken these drugs to understand this, listen to the ones that have been through it. You can do it! :-*

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