Make a Plan

Recovery from benzos isn’t easy for many people but it is doable with understanding and with a good plan in place that will guide you through. Without an action plan to follow you may lose your way and return to square one which is something to be avoided. 

Here’s what I feel is of most benefit when constructing this plan…..

…Relaxation Skills. Learn how to relax your body and mind before you start your taper so that when you hit a sticky patch you’ll have something that may help a little towards calming those intense symptoms. There are many therapies out there so choose something that works for you and maybe more than one. Ideas are Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), different slow breathing techniques, Yoga, Mindfulness, Grounding and so on…..

…Watch those Negative Thought Patterns. Most therapies we are recommended for anxiety all come back to one idea and that is that our thinking can create our reactions. Keep well away from those ‘What ifs’ and the suffering of others and be true only to yourself. Watch your thinking and when you pick up the negative thoughts such as, ‘I am dying’, ‘I will never heal’, immediately tun to something in your environment to distract you and turn away from any destructive patterns like these. A funny TV show, a pet, or using a proven therapy such as Gupta, Somatic healing practices, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and any of the recommended anxiety help books. If you have Faith then this will always be there for you as well.

…Educate. Before you embark on your taper learn all you can about what is happening in the brain at this time. Also knowing what to expect may reduce some of the fear. There’s a lot in our Guides now as well as many websites concerning benzodiazepines which can help you. Don’t add fear but do add learning to take away that fear. Avoid any sites created to sell you therapy or expensive unproven supplements as these have no foundation in true knowledge and are mostly just money making organisations profiting from your suffering, sad but seen too often now.

….Put Strong Support in Place. It doesn’t matter who this is or whether they have knowledge of benzos or not, just somebody you can trust who is there for you and willing to learn themselves. This may be a partner, family member, close friend, doctor, counsellor, an internet support friend….
Talking out problems helps.

...Join a Trusted Support Group. Again make this a group you trust to give you the correct information and understanding. Maybe one or two of these but be very wary of those confusing, opposing answers you can get to a simple question as again these can do more harm than good. Keep to your own learning as you make your way through knowing that everybody else is following their own path which is not yours.

…The Taper Plan. When you feel ready and everything else is in place then it’s time to start tapering and setting yourself free. Get a plan in place that suits you and what you feel you can cope with. Be wary of doctors who try to taper you off too fast and turn to those with knowledge of how to do a slow and even taper by your preferred method. Once started try and keep to your plan and adjust only with help and advice to do this safely.

Of course as you move forwards there may be sticky patches and this is where any of the above can be helpful but most of all talking and understanding with good support will help you reach your ultimate goal of Freedom from Benzos.

 

Remember Everybody is Different

Everybody is different. Everything is different.......

Why does this matter in the context of benzo recovery?

“It matters because when struggling and desperate for a way out, we often plot a course that we visualize as straight, predictable, fast, and smooth. I get why we do this, but it’s just not realistic because nothing in life works that way. Everything around us is changing all the time. We’re changing all the time. There are no straight lines and no truly smooth paths to be had.”
DREW LINSALATA

This is true of every aspect of life. Most of the time we have to face twists and turns, bumps and corners and rough edges because life is unpredictable for us all. This is the same when we are recovering from benzos. Everything is totally unpredictable for us as individuals; one day we may feel we are nearing the end as symptoms are calm while the next we can be in the depths of agony and desperate for help.

There’s no reason for this just as there is little reason for the variations of experiences we face in our lives. In withdrawal you want to be told again and again that this will pass, it isn’t permanent and this is how we recover. We need reassurance……

Change is an inevitable part of the human experience and it’s happening for everyone all the time. We are in a constant state of ebb and flow.

So just as we navigate through life’s ups and downs so we can use that same strength and understanding to navigate the way successfully through the ever changing benzo experience. You are doing this every day you wake up and face whatever that experience creates for you. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions on the Beating Benzos Group

FAQ’s in BEATING BENZOS

If you wish to discuss symptoms please join our symptom survival group....
https://www.facebook.com/groups/148237660464535/

This post answers for you some of the recurring problems in benzo withdrawal that surface over and over in the group and over the years with very quick answers.....

....What can I eat as I seem to react to lots of foods❓
Keep it plain, simple and as healthy as possible with only a little sugar, no alcohol and no caffeine. Don’t let fear of food add stress to what you eat. It’s important for you to have as nutritious and as varied a diet as possible to help support your recovery.

....What can I ‘take’ to help me sleep❓
Anything taken for sleep can prevent the brain regaining its normal sleep pattern after being on benzos and during recovery. Maybe a one off very, very occasionally when desperate but never continuously for more than a day or two. Antihistamines, melatonin, magnesium, CBD oil etc all bring their own problems and are not a cure for the insomnia experienced while recovering. The quicker the brain is allowed to come back to natural sleep the better you will feel.

....What supplements support withdrawal❓
There are no supplements, herbs and so forth that are known to support recovery in everyone. Sadly there is more evidence for supplements delaying this especially if they also have an impact on GABA receptors. Even if a proven deficiency is found it may still be difficult to tolerate any chemical additives. If you feel you have to try something then updose slowly being very aware of reactions as more often than not these have caused setbacks in the very sensitive body at this time.

….Can an antidepressant or antipsychotic help me get off Benzos ❓
Adding another psychotropic drug in benzo withdrawal is rarely beneficial towards recovery and could even prolong the process and necessitate another long and difficulty recovery once off Benzos. Always research fully any drug your doctor may try to describe and join a recommended group for that drug. We recommend in this group that if you’ve been polydrugged with more than one of this class of medication it’s usually better to remove the benzo first as recommended by Heather Ashton.

….Can I take a Z drug for sleep❓
The short answer in ‘no’. Z drugs are just like updosing on your benzo or adding another long and symptom filled recovery. Z drugs are referred to as ‘Benzos in disguise’ and are just as damaging and difficult to withdraw from.

....How long before I get better❓
Sadly nobody can answer this for you. The reality is that nobody has the same variables in life or genetics as you do. The average time is considered to be 6 to 18 months but this is an arbitrary figure and it could take from weeks to years so don’t put a time frame on anything then become upset when that time is reached and you are still suffering. It will take as long as it takes so do your best to keep yourself as involved in life and as distracted as you can.

....What can I do about such and such a symptom❓
There must be a thousands symptoms you can experience in this plus variations of the different symptoms. Think on these as the body and brain healing as they are. Benzos affect every organ and every system in the body so everything has to readjust to recover producing this multitude of mental and physical symptoms. It’s not pleasant but it is how we recover. Join the Symptoms group which allows for full discussion for reassurance.

….Is there ‘anything else going on’❓
When there’s such a variety of symptoms as the body readjusts to homeostasis it’s difficult to know which are serious and which are not. From brightly coloured green/yellow stools to the inability to keep still due to Akathisia these symptoms are diverse and scary. If worried about anything we urge you to seek medical advice and don’t just ask on the groups. The only way to receive reassurance is by asking a doctor or having any necessary investigations. Over the years we have seen a huge variety of complaints that thankfully have mostly turned out to be symptoms of withdrawal which rectify over time.

....Has anyone taken ...... to help their withdrawal as I want to try this❓
All sorts of strange and weird compounds have been cited at some time or another as helpful for benzo withdrawal for somebody. It amazes me how such strange products suddenly materialise when people are determined to find something that helps them. Treat as supplements and only add very, very slowly in case of reactions. There is nothing proven to help everybody and searching for that miracle cure can only add further stress. Also these may not be fully safe due to no quality tests.

....What antibiotics are safe❓
The answer is no antibiotics are safe for everybody. If you need one for a serious, bacterial infection then you should follow your doctor’s advice. However, Fluoroquinolones are considered dangerous if taken in benzo withdrawal and need to be avoided. Other antibiotics may cause a setback for awhile but this will pass and they don’t prevent recovery from Benzos.

....How should I taper, cut pills, liquid taper, weighing pill etc❓
This again is individual choice and what is easiest for you. There’s lots of advice given as to which taper plan is best but when it comes down to it then it has to be your choice and not what has proved successful for somebody else. You may try one way then find this doesn’t suit you and have to change. The main thing is to keep it as simple as possible, keep your cuts slow and keep them even. Try not to updose during your taper and know that by doing this you are bringing your brain back to normal in the best way possible. Cold turkey, detox facilities and so forth may cause too an abrupt discontinuation and should only be undertaken with great care. David Jones here has a lot of knowledge and experience to help members taper benzos if you email him on beatingbenzos@outlook.com

….Should I updose or reinstate my benzo as symptoms are so bad❓
We don’t recommend doing this in either case as subsequent withdrawal may be worse and the chances of stabilisation slim. Heather Ashton discusses this fully and doesn’t recommend. Learning how to deal with any resulting symptoms as you taper or once off is far safer for you as these will pass in time and are signs of healing. Better not to subject yourself to another long and maybe more difficult taper that requires ingesting more Benzos and perhaps causing more damage to the body and brain over an increased period of time.

....why am I worse now than weeks/months ago❓
The process of recovery from benzos is not linear so that symptoms will wax and wane over time something like a roller coaster ride with ups and down, twist and turns as recovery happens. The process of recovery is non linear like other illness. If we get a cut we can see it healing over time with benzo withdrawal we often can’t see the healing and so believe it must be permanent. It’s not permanent it’s just how the brain receptors return to normal function. You may be very bad one day and the next feel completely well. This is the windows and waves pattern of recovery for most psychiatric drugs.

....Why do I feel worse at different times of the day❓
The body is in a very sensitive state so that it responds to the diurnal cortisol rhythm more acutely. This rhythm is at its highest from the early morning hours to wake us from sleep so causing an adrenaline rush on waking and sometimes precipitating a panic attack. As the day progresses this cortisol rhythm will gradually lower until its at its lowest when preparing us for sleep. A few people do have a disruption in this rhythm as well and may find its highest at night rather than in the morning. This should rectify over time as the CNS calms down.

….Can I take such and such a prescription medication to help my symptoms❓
The answer can only be that nothing helps you to recover faster from benzos and a lot may even slow your progress. If you need a medication for anything research thoroughly, ask here and decide, with informed knowledge, whether it’s necessary for you. Just because your doctor ‘puts you on something’ this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe while sensitive from benzos. You know your own body and anything you take should be what you feel is right for you not somebody else telling you what this is.

❤️
This is a very general look at the questions asked in the group but I’m happy to keep adding to it if of benefit to those in early withdrawal who need quick answers. Otherwise the GUIDES on Beating Benzos should hold many other answers to help bring you to your own full recovery.

Beating Benzos
Updated October 2022

Benzo Belly

'Benzo Belly’ is the term used to describe discomfort in the digestive system when withdrawing and recovering from benzos. This is due to the impact the drugs have on the gastrointestinal tract (GI system) which is lined with GABA- A receptors. The gut is sometimes referred to as the second brain.

What Causes Benzo Belly?

As Benzos are stopped, either suddenly or with a taper, the body has to readjust and part of this readjustment involves the stomach and GI system which have been disrupted by the drugs. This can occur at any time in recovery, either while tapering or after entering a protracted withdrawal when new symptoms may arise even several years off benzos. Symptoms do get better over time and are best left to do this as quickly as possible. Various antacids, PPI drugs and the such like can have little effect although often taken occasionally to calm digestive discomfort. If used continuously the stomach becomes tolerant to them and symptoms can persist. An alkaline diet, even for a short time, is a more reasonable option to try.

Symptoms of Benzo Belly

The most obvious are diarrhoea or constipation sometimes alternating and mimicking IBS. Pain in the upper or lower abdomen, appetite changes, nausea (occasionally vomiting), wind, indigestion and bloating due to water retention.

Is There a Cure?

As with all symptoms that occur during tapering or withdrawal there is no known cure that’s successful for everybody. As already said a more gentle alkaline or even liquid diet can help a little for a short time. Certain foods may aggravate the problem so best keep a food diary to identify a possible cause. A food allergy or histamine problems are often blamed as the cause but may only be a secondary effect and subside once full recovery from benzos is achieved.

Benzo Belly is a common and often misdiagnosed withdrawal symptom that leads to various tests such a colonoscopy and endoscopy which reveal no problems. Also the addition of new drugs. Over time the symptoms of GI distress do subside but may occur in repeated phases until full recovery.

Stages of Recovery

I watched a movie last night called ‘The Vanished’ (not recommended if sensitive but a good psychological thriller) and its underlying message was the need for Acceptance in order to move on.

Part way through there were some words from a therapist that really rung true for benzo withdrawal and I’ll try to remember them. In the movie they concerned coming to accept grief but for us they could be applied to the stages by which we come to accept symptoms and the passage of time needed for full recovery.

Here goes....
Every human being goes through five stages when grieving: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and finally acceptance. These don’t come in a particular order and sometimes people can go backwards and forwards through the different stages until they finally come to accept the new situation which in this case was the loss of a loved one. They may also get stuck at one stage which prevents final acceptance (the crux of the movie but I don’t want to spoil it for you).

Applied to Benzo Withdrawal:

Anger...I think everyone here would have at sometime been angry at a medical profession that prescribed the drugs that caused their present situation and then failed to help them taper safely.

Denial...Denying that recovery will happen because the symptoms are too bad could be another stage. Also denial that this is benzo withdrawal so there must be something else wrong.

Depression...just one of many common symptoms most recoverers suffer on the way through often caused by frustration at the situation.

Bargaining...what we do when looking for something to make things easier....’What can I take for such and such a symptom?”, “I’d do anything to make these symptoms go away”, “Please let me be my old self again,” and so forth.

Acceptance...a final stage having maybe experienced the other four and realised that surrendering and accepting ‘what is’ may be the best way forwards to a successful outcome.

When recovering from Benzos it’s obviously better not to get stuck in anyone or more stages but to accept what is happening for the time being and know that recovery awaits your understanding and perseverance.

I would say that most posts on the benzo group could fit into one of these five stages so reaching the final stage of Acceptance is when we add the label ‘Positive Post’ because this is the stage where others are helped as well as yourselves and big or little successes are celebrated and your recovery unfolds without a backward glance! More positive posts here please.

Love and Support ❤️

Helpful Healing Hints

Many questions come up again and again in benzo Withdrawal and  I thought it’s maybe a good idea to write a brief summary of what I have learnt over the several years of my own recovery to help towards healing from these drugs. 

 

Symptoms are numerous and constantly changing but they indicate healing.

Withdrawal can be made more difficult by the addition of more drugs especially psychoactive drugs. Drugs may be necessary for other illnesses though.

Supplements have the power to cause setbacks for some people and may also unbalance the system further. Always be tested for deficiencies before adding anything.

Food sensitivities are common but diet should be kept healthy and free of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.

Insomnia is common but better pushed through so the brain can ‘relearn’ how to sleep again naturally.

Avoid stress as far as you can as this may increase symptoms temporarily.

Doctors rarely have the knowledge of how to correctly taper Benzos.

Detox Centres can whip patients off very fast and cause a longer recovery.

A slow, even taper over a period of time suitable to the patient is the way to remove the drug successfully.

Never cold turkey off the drugs as withdrawal symptoms could be prolonged.

Simple exercise without too much stress e.g. walking in nature helps lower cortisol. Over exercising will increase cortisol.

If in pain don’t be scared to try a low dose of a pain medication to help you. However, this may not be a lot of help for withdrawal pain.

Learning coping skills for the bad days e.g. mindfulness meditation will help calm the system.

Find your best way to distract from symptoms on the bad days e.g. music, funny tv progs, enjoying your pet...

Set yourself simple goals that you can achieve every day. It doesn’t matter how small these are but they will enable you to celebrate some success.

Try not to dwell on all negative ‘What ifs’ as they can only add stress.

Morning adrenaline rushes are common as cortisol increases from 3 am to wake us up. Just let these wash over you and try not react to them.

Don’t spend too much time on the internet and in the benzo groups absorbing negative information which will scare you and add stress.

Always remember what works for another person could harm you so never follow prescriptive advice.

The updated Ashton Manual is the best source of researched information to show your doctor.

Stay clear of people who fail to recognise benzo withdrawal or who try to create drama in your life.

Age and length of time on the drugs makes no difference to the speed of recovery.

Always get worrying symptoms checked by a doctor even if you think they are due to withdrawal. Reassurance that it’s nothing else helps.

Reinstating doesn’t always work after being off Benzos for over one month. The body and brain may not stabilise.

Updosing is not always effective as tolerance to the drug can be reached sooner.

Recovery for each person is entirely individual and can’t be compared to another.

Recovery takes as long as it takes but only a few enter a protracted withdrawal. Most recover within the first 18 months off.

Try and accept all the weird symptoms that can crop up and don’t fight them. Better to go along with them, surrender to them and accept best you can. Warrior means fighting, you are not fighting this but allowing the symptoms to happen to bring you to healing. Be a pacifist!

Once recovered from withdrawal and leading a normal life benzos should never be taken again as you may be more sensitive to their effects.

Remember once recovered the world becomes a brighter, happier place and you feel much stronger and more aware of yourself and the needs of others.

Comments

15.05.2021 02:07

sureshkumar jain

Please send me the benzo withdrawal stories 🙏🏼I am also going through same agony and suffering Kindly with these things make me feel better and I also encourage myself to be strong and face the way

15.05.2021 08:58

Rosalind

Please join the Facebook Groups Beating Benzos to access these.

28.04.2021 02:35

Tana

Im 57 , 16 years on Klonopin 0.5 a day for 12 years , the 1mg and for last 3 months 1.5. Panic attacks and GAD I want to tapper but very scared as im very sensitive and depressed and full of fear.

02.11.2020 09:36

Petra Erents

Hallo Rosalind,
My name is Petra Erents from the Netherlands and I have been off benzo for 10 days. i come off 40mg diazepam and it took 14 months. I went through hell but made it. I have contracted

24.10.2019 13:39

Rosalind

It shouldn’t harm you at all but the worry could temporarily cause an increase in symptoms. You’ll be fine.

24.10.2019 20:54

Jasmine

Thank you ❤️

24.10.2019 13:19

Jasmine

I am sensitive to any chemicals/supplements right now but I have a yearly mammogram next week (mom had breast cancer). Will the radiation make withdrawal worse?