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Ativan withdrawal - how long for seizure risk?
  1. #1
    WorriedWifeInIdaho is offline New Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Ativan withdrawal - how long for seizure risk?

    On June 20th, my husband got a 3 month x 30 1mg prescription for Ativan. The prescription was for up to 3 pills per day, as needed, and was for a combination of pain (his back is a mess) and insomnia.

    Here it is 3 and a half months later. I'd given him a general warning - "Be careful, it's easy to develop a dependence on those suckers!". He took that to heart, and so rarely took more than one per day. On a couple of days he had two. On some days he had a half. He was always within what was prescribed, so he figured he was doing well. (Look at it this way: He had 90 pills, and took the last half 99 days after getting the prescription.)

    He had a half left on Saturday, and took that, had none on Sunday, and started going through rather heavy withdrawal. He finally told me what was going on late Monday. (He was embarrassed.) He could have access to more if he wished, but he chose on his own to quit.

    Here's the deal: My husband is an alcoholic. He has had seizures twice, once about 12 years ago, and once a year ago. The one 12 years ago was related to alcohol withdrawal. The one last year wasn't, or rather, it could have been, because he was drinking less. They're actually not sure what caused that last one, so they just sent him home. In both cases, they gave him Ativan, of course, to prevent the seizures.

    So here we are a year later. He hasn't been drinking prior to this - and boy, do we know *alcohol* withdrawl at least - except for N/A beer. He did not ramp down the ativan. He went from one a day, to a half on Saturday, to four days without.

    First two days were rough, but he's sleeping with melatonin, and on two different days, when it got bad, I gave him a 5 ounce glass of red wine. He's drinking chamomile tea (and just found some valerian, though he hasn't had that yet), and is skipping the caffeine.

    He's much clearer and less anxious today, but the worry is...when is the risk of seizure from ativan withdrawal gone? We live remotely and off grid and with inadequate refrigeration, so we require a regular influx generator gas, propane and fresh food. I don't drive. He's taken one trip to the store where we were both on pins and needles hoping it would be OK.

    At what point is the risk of seizure from withdrawal over? I know it's a low dose, but it's an extended amount of time, he's definitely having withdrawal syjmptoms, and he's had seizures before. I sort of calculated the half-life (using the longest time of 20 hours) and he would have about .05 MG left in his system.

    When is he safe? He won't go to the doctor about this, and I can't find anything online about how long the risk of seizure lasts.


  2. #2
    Iwantoff2013 is offline Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    So Calif


    It's really hard to say how "long" the risk of seizure lasts. That question would best be answered by his doctor. Why will he not see his doc about this??


  3. #3
    WorriedWifeInIdaho is offline New Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014


    Short answer:

    If he goes to the doctor for this they will never again give him medication for his back unless he goes to the emergency room. On top of that, he's embarrassed.

    And thanks anyway. I guess we'll wait another day or two, make it a week without, and keep our fingers crossed and hope he doesn't seize while driving.

    Long answer:

    We don't have PCPs. There is only a single medical office/small hospital where we live, and it's a 50 mile round trip from us. There is about a 75% chance that the doctor you saw LAST time you were there is no longer there. (The last three doctors I have seen there over 18 months are gone...and two of them were new.) Consequently, each doctor relies on what the previous one added to your file. They have very strict rules in place on what they can and cannot prescribe.

    My husband "has the back of a 90 year old", a quote from the doctor who had ordered his catscan. He's got "severe degenerative spinal disease", quote from same doc. He's in constant pain. Even with a cat scan and x-rays and a diagnosis, they will rarely give him anything for it. He relies on Advil. When it gets so bad that he can't function we are without electricity (generator), heat (firewood), light (kerosene) and refrigeration (propane). We can deal in the summer time, but in the winter we have weeks of sub zero temperatures and five feet of snow on the ground.

    So 1-3 times a year, he goes to the doc and asks for something, anything, to get him functional. Sometimes they will give him a dozen vicodin or tramadol, usually in the winter so he can function, occasionally at other times of year. That is enough will get him through a month or two, long enough for his back to ease up. (He takes half at a time, and never more than 3 days in a row; he says they don't work for him if he takes them longer than 3 days.) Otherwise, they tell him to keep taking Advil, but to take more, up to 12 per day.

    If he goes in for this, then they'll add it to his file as drug-seeking-behavior, even though he took it for what it was prescribed for and didn't exceed the amounts on the prescription. It's how they think. And he will never, ever be able to get any sort of pain medication beyond anti-inflammatories there again without going through the emergency room. That is the policy of the practice. (We know people this has happened to simply because they asked for a second round of pain pills after an injury. They won't give regular pain meds to terminal cancer patients, because they are worried they will become addicted.)

    And...he's embarrassed.

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