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New & recently off Ativan: wondering if new symptoms are from withdrawal


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I was taking a very low dose of Ativan on and off (mostly on) for several months. Had mild interdose w/drawals. Now that I'm off Ativan, I'm developing crazy sleeplessness and anxiety. I'm here to figure out whether my symptoms are withdrawal-related (there could be other explanations). Also want to know whether I should go back on (don't want to) and taper more smoothly.
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Hi wanttosleep,


Welcome to BenzoBuddies!


Insomnia and anxiety are symptoms that usually come up in benzo withdrawal but do eventually disappear in time. Withdrawal symptoms and their severity all depend on the amount of time you were taking benzos and how quick you taper but, this is not always the case. This experience is nonlinear so, everyone is different.


What amount were you taking before tapering? How much did you taper by? How long did you wait in between cuts? Getting answers to these questions might better help us to give you the proper guidance.


I wouldn't worry about reinstating, unless you're freshly out of your taper and feel it would be better to get back on and do a slow taper.


The link below is to the Ashton Manuel. I think the information in there might be of great help to you, as it explains why you're feeling so bad.



Let us know if you need any help. Glad you found us  :)

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Thanks so much for your warm welcome!


The details:


From Sept '11 to Dec '11 I took a low dose of Ativan: 1/2 to 3/4 of a 0.5 mg tablet before bed. I started taking the drug for a weird reason: I was taking Cortef (oral hydrocortisone), which increased my appetite, which led me to pig out on chocolate ice cream before bed, which caffeinated me, which made me reach for Ativan to counteract the caffeine so I could sleep. (Normally I'm a good sleeper, but pre-bed caffeine does affect me.)


I took Ativan only after eating chocolate ice cream. Sometimes this was every night for several weeks. Sometimes it was a few nights a week. Some weeks I didn't take it at all. I did notice tolerable--but concerning--interdose symptoms such as sleep-onset insomnia (which I'd NEVER before experienced), mild and occasional heart palpitations, and mild dissociation.


I decided to quit both Cortef and Ativan. Went to a psychopharmacologist for a taper schedule, and he said it was impossible that the above symptoms were from Ativan. (I disagreed.) By the time I saw him I'd already started tapering: I think I was at 3/8 of a 0.5 tab every 3 days. The psychopharm suggested taking 1/4 of a 0.5 tab 3x/wk for 3 wks; then 1/4 tab 2x/wk for 3 wks; then 1/4 tab 1x/wk for 3 wks.


What I did instead was the following: 1/4 tab every 3 days for 3 wks; then crumbs every 4 days for a couple wks; then nothing. (Sometimes I took melatonin between doses; sometimes I didn't.) My last dose was some time in early Feb, I think.


On Feb. 19 I was stressed (not crazy stressed; just stressed). I stayed up incredibly late and slept only a few hours till my alarm rang. Since that cursed day, my sleep has been broken. At first I couldn't fall asleep, would sleep lightly for a few hours, then would sleep deeply till my alarm. Then I started playing with melatonin and dark glasses before bed. This helped me fall asleep promptly--but I'd wake up hours before my alarm and fall back to a very light, broken sleep. The other night was the last straw: I had a horrid panic attack, followed by just 3 hours' sleep. I can no longer nap, either. Bottom line: It's as if my body forgot how to sleep.


I should add that during this post-Feb. 19 craziness, I did take Ativan (1/2 of a 0.5 mg tab) twice.


I have a circadian rhythm disorder (extreme night owl), and at first I wondered whether my night owl schedule was delaying further. Plus, I'm in menopause, so I wondered whether wacky hormones were disrupting my sleep. After the panic attack, I'm thinking Ativan withdrawal is the culprit.


My questions:


* Do you think the above problems are likely from Ativan withdrawal? Can withdrawal kick in 2+ weeks after a final dose?


* Should I go back on Ativan and taper more slowly?


* Do you get melatonin hangovers?


* I need Ativan to fly, and I'll be flying in April and in June. Can I take Ativan for the flights, or will that mess me up?



Thank you so much. I need a lifeline, and you guys may be it.





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Hello Wanttosleep :hug:


Welcome to benzobuddies, Yes it could be withdrawal you can get symptoms 2 weeks after last dose. Its always best to get any concerns checked by a doctor first I would not reinstate if you have been off more than 3 weeks



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Hi Wanttosleep,


Welcome to Benzo Buddies and I am sorry to hear about your sleep problems.


Ativan is a short acting benzo so it is very probable that you were feeling interdose withdrawals.  I had that experience with ativan.  I had panic attacks which were frightening because I had never had them before.  All your symptoms are very normal with withdrawal.  Unfortunately a lot of doctors disagree because there are a lot of people that do withdrawal without difficulty.  This forum is for those of us that have a difficult or protracted withdrawal.


Withdrawal can kick in immediately and wax and wane. That is, sometimes the symptoms will fade and then come back.  Also others may show up as well.


Your last dose was in early February so you are still in acute withdrawal. It takes time for your cns to heal from the effects of these drugs.


Is there any way your can travel without taking ativan, you are in effect updosing and that fluctuating is very hard on your system and could delay the recovery.


Here is a link to the Ashton Manual, there is a lot of good information there.








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Sounds like withdrawal to me, too.


It's quite common for people to report their withdrawal symptoms from benzos kicking in or getting worse one to three weeks after quitting. 

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Your taper was fairly rapid, which could account for the withdrawal symptoms you're feeling. It's hard for me to suggest reinstating and then doing a slower taper because if you reinstate, it might make things worse. You weren't on for more than five months, which is lengthy when compared to the suggested recommended time for stay on benzos but, it's proven enough time for your body to become physically addicted. Reinstating will have to be your decision.


You could get back onto a dosage that stabilizes you and then go from there but, you've already been off for almost a month. You might ask yourself, would it be worth it?


Ashton states that taking a "escape pill" shouldn't affect you terribly but, adding more doses for symptom relief will only prolong your withdrawal. If it were me, I wouldn't touch a single benzo. In fact, we have board targeted specifically for anxiety that has significant threads relating to relief of anxiety, non medication wise.



Also, some members have had good experiences with Melatonin helping them for sleep but it only made my symptoms worse. You can do a forum search to see how others have dealt with it.


All in all, this process takes time. Giving our bodies and minds time to heal is the key.

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Thanks *so* much for your replies.


I apologize that I didn't make something clear: After tapering, my last Ativan dose was some time in early Feb.


BUT after Feb 19--when my body stopped sleeping--I did pop 1/2 a 0.5 Ativan. Twice. Last time was Feb. 29.


Sorely wish I hadn't.


My biggest question--which no one can answer--is "When will the madness end?" I want my former sleep mechanisms back online.


Off to read the Ashton Manual and check out more BB boards.

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