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10 years of benzo help
  1. #1
    quagmir is offline New Member
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    Default 10 years of benzo help

    Hello. Been reading a lot on the site and other forums but feel I need to post for answers.

    About me. I am a disabled vet with PTSD and panic disorder with agoraphobia. For 10+ years now i have been on xanax at one dose or another starting at .25 and in 2010 now up to 1mg 4 to 5 times a day. I basically take it morning, noon, night and bedtime and have an extra when/if needed. I also started 10mg of amitriptilyne 4 times a day in 2010 for IBS which I always suspected was just a symptom of my disorders.

    All wasnt perfect in life but in 2012 I was finally able to move back oit of my mother's basement and bought a home. At 36 its not where I thought I would be but progress is progress. In early March of this year I got the stomach bug which always hits me hard but this one kept me from eating and drinking really and i ended up not taking my meds for the most part. Not knowing the withdrawal symptoms at the time, I just thought I was going crazy. I ended up in the hospital to getme back on my meds after losing 20 pounds. They reduced my xanax to 3mg a day because they only handed out med 3 times a day, 1 mg each time. I got better but still didn't know that it was withdrawal and decided to take .5 mg 4 times a day rather than my prescribed 1mg.

    So I had benzo rebound (my psych's words) about a month or so ago and have since lost 30 pounds after gaining back what i had lost before. His instructions 2 weeks ago was to get back on 1 mg 4 times a day but after reading all the withdrawal stuff I wasn't in a hurry to jump on more xanax so i just went to .75mg 4 times a day. My mood increased, the pain soreness, headaches and well I don't need to list it all to you guys, it all started to get better and i was actually hungry again and not so hypersensitive.

    My problem is that I am losing weight again, cant eat and becoming hypersensitive again over the last few days. I am at a cross roads to up my dose to 1 mg or suffer more. The problem is that I do have very real disorders for which no other medications or therapy have been able to address. I see myself as needing xanax mentally even though i now know the long term effects of continuous use. My next course of action is shock treatment....

    I am at a loss as to what to do. Am I withdrawaling? Am I wrong to take my prescribed dose?

    Thanks in advance,

    Quagmir

  2. #2
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    No, if you were doing okay on .75 mg four times a day, I would not increase all four doses to 1 mg. But you might increase just one or two of them and see how that goes.

    Look at your life and see what stress is happening now when the symptoms started getting worse again over the last few days. I noticed when I was tapering down from a benzo, I might stabilize on a dose but if I got hit with a stress, then it seemed withdrawal symptoms would return. So you can play with your dose and tweak it up or down a bit to see what makes you most comfortable, without going all the way back up to 1 mg four times a day.

    I can see your dilemma, the meds seem to help and you have real disorders, but yes, it's true that tolerance and dependency develop and over the long run, they can just reset your brain to a higher benchmark of anxiety.

    I'm wondering if a slower benzo would be better for you, like Valium. First, it stays in your bloodstream longer so you may not need to dose four times a day, but only twice. Second, you seem to want to try to see if you can get off them or at least reduce the dose, and Valium is easier to taper down.

    Tapering (no matter which benzo you use) should be done very gradually. Ideally you should drop by 5-10% and restabilize for several days before making another percent cut. By cutting each of your doses from 1 mg to .75 mg, you made a 25% cut and that is really too big for a benzo. I really recommend you find some dose that makes you stable and comfortable right now, stay there for several days, then plan carefully a very slow taper with very small cuts, and see how you do. Sometimes panic disorder and agoraphobia can get better with age and with cognitive-behavioral techniques, not to mention diet changes. You will likely have the best chance to succeed if you work on gaining these other coping mechanisms while you taper, and hopefully prevent the original disease to re-emerge. You can expect anxiety, lack of sleep and other symptoms during a taper but they should remain tolerable, not severe.

  3. #3
    quagmir is offline New Member
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    Thanks for the reply.

    The doses were all cut prior to me knowing the severity of withdrawaling and the first cut was done by doctors in a controlled setting and out of my control. I am simply trying to get back to a managable dose so I don't go crazy or feel like i am wasting away from daily weight loss and I didnt want to go back to my old dose even though it worked (for lack of a better word). I am a disabled vet so my stress right now is all coming from this situation, I dont feel in control of my life and even simple functions like eating and quite frankly it scares the >>>> out of me to losing weight daily and have no real feeling of hunger. I get over sensitive and think I am malnourished which has me doing Google searches which only mak3s the anxiety worse heh.
    .
    I didn't even think just to up single doses when its worse than others. My mind is so messed up right now all I saw was the 2 options of .75 or 1mg each dose. The morning is the worst since i have gone the longest without assumingthat I have slept so I will start there.

    I will look into a longer valium but in the end (years from now) isnt it all cumulative anyway? Meaning 6 of 1 half a dozen of the other, its all a benzo addiction? Yes the valium will be easier to taper from but I honestly have have had no success with other benzos. Ativan is actually listed as an allergy for me in my medical records because it makes me very agitated and aggressive and I am a calm person even during panic attacks I just want to be left alone.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice. It gives me an option I didn't even think about. And sorry for the venting.

    Quagmir

  4. #4
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Venting is fine, it gives us more information about your situation. When you say things like you have trouble functioning with just the basics, this means you are not stable and I am guessing still suffering the effects of the forced drop. It's so annoying when doctors do this to people. For a hypersensitive person it's more important than ever for any decrease in a daily benzo dose be COMPLETELY under YOUR control. Right now I would say just get stable and don't worry about tapering down. You need to get back to being able to function, get your appetite back and get reasonable sleep.

    I'm glad I gave you the idea that you don't have to drop all four by 25%. You could start by going back to 1mg for three of the doses, and just keep a fourth at .75 and see how you do. You can even cut them into 1/8s and drop by only .125 mg per day.

    If you feel switching to another benzo right now would be too risky, just stay with the xanax. The biggest shortcoming of xanax is the very short half life. If you take one at bedtime, you could already be starting "interdose withdrawal" by the time you wake up in the morning. The advantage of valium is that you would have smoother blood levels throughout the day. So, if you feel your worst symptoms are several hours after a xanax dose and just before your next dose, then that's a clue that the short half life is messing you up with interdose w/d. If the symptoms do not cycle during the day, but are more constant throughout the day, then that's more a clue that your total daily amount is too low.

    This is a great forum but there are other forums specifically tailored for benzos that you might want to read for information. Just keep googling, you'll come across the best ones (talk about Ashton method), I don't think I'm supposed to put links into posts. The more you learn about this class of drug, the more in control you will feel about your use of it. There are methods available to give you very fine control over adjusting your dose.

  5. #5
    quagmir is offline New Member
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    Thanks again.

    Today I woke up and didn't feel terrible. I still have no desire to eat even though I am about to force myself to once my xanax has had time to absorb some. This is why I am so unsure if I am underdosed or withdrawaling. Most days are bad but some days I will actually get out for a walk and not feel so hypersensitive to the world. I would say interdose withdrawal sounds right, I have to take my xanax in the morning and really wait 30 or so minutes to function or feel like i can deal with the world outside of my bed. I am not a mess between doses but you can bet that when the clock hits the top of the hour for my dose it is in my belly 10 seconds later. Not sure if a higher dose helps this but it didn't use to be like that prior to the cuts even though I didnt think my dose was as effective as it once was which is the reason I wanted to get off it rather up my dose.

    I am aware of the method you spoke of and know the site well. I read it in detail before posting here. The bad thing is my psych is so dead set on "you have panic disorder, you need to be on xanax" that i had to convince him to try paxil and such to help with anxiety and depression from feeling like the xanax wasnt doing its job anymore (tolerance i guess). I had to ask for more because before my breakdown in march i had started drinking to fill the void which i know is a terrible combo that probably did alot of bad for me but at the time it made me feel normal again so i didn't really think of the consequences. Point being is that I am not sure he would do it and finding a new psych that is ok with my xanax dosing and open to a new concept isnt easy to find. Hell i went to the VA on this dosage and they said, nope you dont need to be on that and wanted to cold turkey me, I havenot been back to the VA againand have to pay for my own medical costs for a military disorder.

    Again thanks and if by lunch i still dont want to eat i will take a full 1mg and see if that sets me straight. 1 or 2 proper meals a days would be a blessing.

    Quagmir

  6. #6
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by quagmir View Post

    I am aware of the method you spoke of and know the site well. I read it in detail before posting here. The bad thing is my psych is so dead set on "you have panic disorder, you need to be on xanax" that i had to convince him to try paxil and such to help with anxiety and depression from feeling like the xanax wasnt doing its job anymore (tolerance i guess).
    I'm of two minds about psychiatrists. One mind says avoid them, they will mess you up much more than help, because they are so fast to give you drugs and seem so clueless about how the drugs themselves (in the long run) only make things worse.

    But my other mind is that when someone has real disease, severe disease, a disorder such that they are suffering so much life isn't worth living and/or they cannot function, then the psychiatrists with their drugs can be literal lifesavers.

    My personal philosophy is to be judicious with use of psychiatrists, ha ha, just like with these drugs, use only as needed and as minimally as possible. Therefore, if your psychiatrist says "you need to be on xanax", take that with a grain of salt. Or make him be more specific: "Are you saying I need to be on xanax for the rest of my life? What about tolerance? Am I supposed to just keep upping the dose year after year?" When you pin them to these questions, it quickly becomes clear (to me anyway) that the biggest benefactor of the relationship is his bank account from the visits, year after year.

    But that being said again, when you have serious disorders, particularly when you hit times of crisis, they may be the safety net you need to survive. So I am not saying you shouldn't be under his care. I am saying that I am glad you question his opinion and you make alternate suggestions to him.


    I had to ask for more because before my breakdown in march i had started drinking to fill the void which i know is a terrible combo that probably did alot of bad for me but at the time it made me feel normal again so i didn't really think of the consequences. Point being is that I am not sure he would do it and finding a new psych that is ok with my xanax dosing and open to a new concept isnt easy to find. Hell i went to the VA on this dosage and they said, nope you dont need to be on that and wanted to cold turkey me, I havenot been back to the VA againand have to pay for my own medical costs for a military disorder.
    EEEEK!! Cold turkey you. Wow. I'd run screaming from the VA too.

    You're right, alcohol messed you up. I understand using a substance to try to feel normal and these things do, in the short run. But as you know in the long run is where you have trouble. Alcohol and benzos affect similar neurotransmitters in the brain. In fact, they use a benzo to treat alcoholics (klonopin). It works because it sooths the brain that is missing its alcohol, but of course, you end up with the same addiction to the benzo. The thinking is that if taking a benzo stops the craving for alcohol then you are safer because you're not driving drunk and so forth. Probably safer for the liver by a lot too. HOWEVER it does absolutely nothing to solve the underlying problem. If you have an underlying anxiety disorder, then using any substance that affects the GABA (and associated) neurotransmitter pathways is only going to be a temporary fix, and it will cause your brain's neurotransmitters to upregulate, wanting more, and then you are not only right back where you started, you are actually worse off.

    PTSD, panic disorder and agoraphobia are very crippling conditions. I am not saying you should not be under the care of a psychiatrist. But I do know that there are a lot of alternative ways to approach treating these disorders. I'm sure you have looked into those also. I am a big proponent of changing how you eat, as I found extreme benefit from diet change. I believe the biggest benefit can come from eliminating sugar and processed foods. Whether you are vegetarian, or meat eater, eat only natural, wild, organic stuff, and no soda, sweet juices or white carbs.

    Because you have very little appetite and are losing weight, this tells me your symptoms are severe and it also tells me that you might have food sensitivities or digestive issues. For right now getting stable is the goal, no major changes with the meds, just try to get to a good dose and then take it nice and slow to sort out where you should go from here. In the meantime I suggest you look into things like "leaky gut" and focus on WHAT you eat in addition to whether and how much you can eat. It took me a good two years to change my diet and see improvement in my mental well being.

  7. #7
    quagmir is offline New Member
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    Dont say leaky gut!! Looking into fodmaps, leaky gut, gaps diet and so forth while i was hypersensitive is what got me limited on what I will eat now heh.

    I have actually been eating very healthy for a good 5 years now. Good foods and vitamins along with probiotics. Sure I would order the rare pizza or get a subway sub but that was 1-2 times a month tops and only when my weight dropped below my desired weight. (Figure it as a reward system) I do have IBS so I can't eat alot of the bad foods anyway. I don't touch sugar,caffeine, tobacco or processed foods (ok i eat corn tortillas and such but not premade meals and stuff like that)

    As much as I hate that I depend on xanax, it and my psych really did save my life by getting me on it. Now I just have to find the next life saver so I can get of the benzos. I did alot of meditation and heat therapy yesterday and my muscles are not nearly as sore, just abit uncomfortable at times with a little bit of trembling. Rain is going away today and i can get back in the sun tomorrow. I am really hoping that the weather played a big role in me suddenly feeling worse because I feel better today and I would like to make this a streak of days, not just the 1 day. I didn't even feel the need to up my dose.

    Thanks again for your support. You got me through a rough time that hopefully has seen its worst.

    Quagmir

  8. #8
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Yikes, yeah the downside to trying to eat healthy is becoming limited, too limited, and for some of us OCD types, it can get too rigid and restrictive. Nevertheless, it can only help to learn to eliminate such bad things as trans fats, sugar, and processed food. Sounds like you've been down that road.

    Weather will do that! Ha ha. I hope you continue on a trend of improvement. Part of the process after a benzo drop is good days and bad days. Hopefully the good days will become more often. Best of luck to you!

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