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Need help, i am getting off of alprazolam and its the worst i have felt
  1. #1
    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Default Need help, i am getting off of alprazolam and its the worst i have felt

    So i posted this in "need to talk" but someone posted this link so i want to repost it here so im gonna copy and paste. If you have any questions feel free to ask cause i would like help.

    First off this might be long but please please read this. So I am fully off of alprazolam for about a month and let me tell you I am scared (i took alprazolam for severe anxiety). I started getting off around the middle of December and it's now april. It took me till March 14 to get off of it cause I wanted to go slow, so it took me 3 months. And since March 14th I have been fully off of alprazolam and it's been hell for me. Since I started to get off of my medication back in December I haven't left my house because I physically cant. I have severe anxiety 24/7 and it's killing me. I got off of my medication through my psychiatrist, I did not get off of it on my own. But I'm so sick I can't see my psychiatrist for a check up. I did talk to him but he just said I need to see him. I am 24 years and I have been taking alprazolam since July of 2013 and I have had severe anxiety since I was 13 years old but it got alot worse since I got off of alprazolam. I wanted to get off of alprazolam because it wasn't helping me at all. Now I want to go back on it but everyone around me is telling me I'm so bad because of withdrawls and they want me to not go back on it. So my question to you is, how long does it take for someone to get better from withdrawls after getting off of alprazolam? I have most of the symptoms from withdrawls like intensified anxiety sweaty nausea. I'm in bed all day and it's killing me. So I would like reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. Does it take this long to get off of it? I was also taking 1 my twice a day again since July of 2013. If you have any questions feel free to ask but I would like help.

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    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizangel View Post
    Now I want to go back on it but everyone around me is telling me I'm so bad because of withdrawls and they want me to not go back on it.
    "Everyone around" you is whom? Family? Friends? The decision whether to go back on the medication should be between you and your psychiatrist. Try not to let any other people around you pressure you one way or the other. That being said, I cannot say whether it is right for you to go back on it or not but here are my thoughts.

    Ricky said in the thread you started in "Need to talk" that you got off it too fast, and he is right. Even three months is too fast for the dose you were on and the length of time you were on it. For the dose you were on, a good time frame to taper off would be six months, minimum, and really longer. 2 mg per day does not sound like a lot but for this drug it is a pretty large dose.

    But you've been off for a month so now the question is whether what you have is still withdrawals or is it the original severe anxiety returning? The truth is, no one knows for sure. My experience would have me say... plain benzo withdrawal should not have you absolutely housebound. On the other hand you may not have ever been this bad before, so likely you are having a combination of withdrawal plus an underlying anxiety disorder. No one can tell you how long you will feel this way but my gut tells me it's not going to get much better in the next few days. Likely slow improvement over weeks or months for the benzo recovery component, but the underlying disorder could hamper this.

    So you could stay off it and see how things go for the next couple weeks. There's a chance you might turn a corner. But if you are not doing what you need to do in life, not functioning, and really suffering, and if you have ANY thoughts of not wanting to live, then I consider that absolute need to be treated immediately. I know you feel you cannot leave the house but your psychiatrist is right, if he is to treat you, then you need to go in to see him. I suppose you could ask his office staff if he would be willing to set up a phone consult.

    I understand you asked to get off the drug because you felt it was not helping. You are likely correct. That drug tends to help a lot at first but then loses effectiveness. People need higher doses, or, like you, decide they just don't want to bother with it. But then as you are finding out, the brain's neurotransmitters have become physically dependent and it is very hard to quit. In the long long run, I think your decision to get off is the right one. However, in the short run, it might be better to get back on it and get stable first, then begin a VERY SLOW taper. No more than 10% per week or even 5%. You can let your symptoms be your guide.

    The one thing I would not do at all costs is to increase the dose over what you were taking before. In fact if I recall from your other thread, you were taking 1 mg two times per day for a total of 2 mg per day? It is possible that at this point, you could start back at only half that dose. Maybe try .5 mg two times per day. You might be pleasantly surprised that it works well because of your month off completely. Then you would not have as far to go to get back to zero, but I would still take it very slowly, no more than 10% cuts every 5-7 days. This will involve cutting pills and such. You can read other threads for more discussion on how to do this.

    Your psychiatrist may suggest putting you on a different benzo, one that is longer acting. I think that would be a GOOD idea. But you can do the tapering the same way with any benzo. The only difference is if you get on a long acting one, like Valium, it can be easier to taper because you can space the doses out.

    So, it's been a whole month and you are really suffering. You are not functioning. I think your instincts about getting off the drug are good. It's my opinion that benzos only make anxiety disorders worse in the long run, especially if you take them daily. So I agree with your goal to be free of this drug. However getting back on it now to get you up and functioning again might be the right thing to do. Or maybe you don't want to, and want to stick it out. Only you know best what you need. This is your decision, to make with your psychiatrist. Draw your boundaries with those other people and you decide what is best for you.

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for your time to respond, so first thing may I ask how you know so much about benzo? Second it's mostly my family that doesn't want me to be on this medication and I kind of agree with them cause I also want to see how my body is when I'm not on medication cause for 11 years I have always been on medication. Another thing I saw was my psychiatrist and I did talk about taking valium but you said 2 things, 1st you said it could be good to go on a long lasting benzo like valium but then you also said benzo make anxiery disorders worse. So is it bad or good if I go on valium or any other benzo? Last thing is if I do go back on alprazolam for .5 twice a day how would I get off of it? I mean if I do go back on it i will talk to my psychiatrist first to see how to get off of it but I want to see what your opinion is. Oh I remember one last thing, is it bad that I go back on it? Cause about a week a go I did take a 1 mg cause I was so sick (anxiety) that day but I didn't take it again. So would it be bad that I just go on it again?

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    Ricky71 is offline Advanced Member
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    Read the Ashton Manual as mentioned a few times before in the other thread u started in the need to talk forum? This guide is the authority on all things benzodiazepines!

    P.S.
    Your psychiatrist probably does not know how to properly wean you off benzos as most don't! Again, the Ashton Manual is the gold standard to properly do this with the least amount of discomfort!

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    I just finished reading the ashton manual. Thing is, wouldn't i be taking a step back if I just go back on my medication and ween myself of properly? Or likethisweekendforsure said go back on .5 twice a day and go off slowly. I just don't know what route to go, if I should stay off or go back on and ween my self off slowly and if I do, is it bad if I go back on my medication?

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    Ricky71 is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizangel View Post
    I just finished reading the ashton manual. Thing is, wouldn't i be taking a step back if I just go back on my medication and ween myself of properly? Or likethisweekendforsure said go back on .5 twice a day and go off slowly. I just don't know what route to go, if I should stay off or go back on and ween my self off slowly and if I do, is it bad if I go back on my medication?
    This is entirely up to you? If you wanna continue feeling like you are for a while longer to see if things will start to improve or get back on the benzo and feel better immediately? If you decide you want to feel better now and be functional then get back on the xanax and taper properly! It's a slow process but you will reduce or eliminate most of the withdrawals the slower you taper off! You don't absolutely need a longer acting benzo like valium but it would make the process a little easier as explained in the Ashton Manual. Thisweekforsure will probably be by to offer more insight and perhaps others will as well? Would u be taking a step backwards? Perhaps, but there is no telling how long you will continue feeling like you are? Is it bad to go back on the benzo? I don't think it is as long as you plan to properly wean youself off? Ultimately the choice is yours and yours alone as far as I'm concerned! Do what you think is best for you? Good luck and take care... God bless us all!

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you ricky, how do you know all this stuff? Did you experience it as well or you just read up alot abiut the subject?

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    Ricky71 is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizangel View Post
    Thank you ricky, how do you know all this stuff? Did you experience it as well or you just read up alot abiut the subject?
    Both actually. I had a horrible experience with xanax trying to quick cold turkey. I made it about 5 days before I figured out that I made a huge mistake! By the way, my doctor was the one that told me that I could just stop, he didn't even mention the word taper! I started to do some research online and here at drugs.com, I quickly became well versed in the area of benzos! I received alot of help from these forums during my own experiences with opiate and benzo withdrawal. Now I just try to pay it forward when I can, I know how scared I was during my own journey with getting off these drugs. You too will get through this! Take care... God bless us all!
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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Oh, well thank you for the help, means alot. Now I'm just waiting for your friends, so I can get more advice and then I'll figure out what to do.

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    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizangel View Post
    1st you said it could be good to go on a long lasting benzo like valium but then you also said benzo make anxiery disorders worse. So is it bad or good if I go on valium or any other benzo?
    Long lasting means a day or more, it doesn't mean stay on it for years. I mean you can get on a long lasting benzo for the purpose of tapering off. Short acting is out of your system in less than a day and you need to dose at least twice a day. Long lasting means you can dose once a day. That's all that means.

    If you did take 1 mg a week ago, that will prolong the withdrawals so if you decide to stick with the withdrawal, don't take any more doses. But if you decide to go back on it to taper slowly then you should take it daily and consistently, on a slow taper schedule.

    Ricky is correct in everything he says. Your psychiatrist might not be familiar with the idea of tapering as slowly as we recommend. I don't like to suggest people hide things from their doctors. The way I handled that was simply to ask the psychiatrist if it's okay if I take less than what is on the bottle. Not tell him I am tapering with the goal to get off. If you tell the doctor you want off, it seems they usually put you on a fast taper. If you then use less than the prescribed amount, just don't refill the prescription as often. In my case, when I was completely off, THEN I told the doctor at my next appointment and he was pleased I was off them and doing well.

    Yes, you are "taking a step back" if you go back on the benzo. But in life sometimes we have to step back in order to make forward progress. Let me ask you this. You cannot leave the house, is this true? Do you have a job? Do you have school? Do you have anything that you do in life or want to do? Can you go outside in the yard? If your anxiety is crippling you to the point you cannot do these things, this is damaging. This is physically dangerous to your health. It is not normal or healthy for a 24 year old to stay isolated inside. Do you have a social life outside your family? Do you ever go out in the sun? Get any exercise? All these things are what I mean by "functional". Were you able to do these things when you were on the drug? IF SO, then yes, if I were in your shoes I would get back on the drug. Then I would taper slowly enough that you continue to function well. If not, then you need to work out some different treatment to get you up and functioning.

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Yeah as of now I haven't left my house, thing is I can't see my psychiatrist since I can't leave my house, so if I go back on do I have to see him before? Cause he doesn't do phone appointments.

    So here is the thing, about 2 years ago I had 2 jobs and was in my 3rd year of collage. I was also on my medication when I was doing good. But I also got really sick and had to drop out of school and quit my jobs. I have been really sick and I have been really good. So right now I feel so helpless.

    I want to go back on alprazolam and get off slowly, I just don't know exactly how I should get off, I know you say 10% but how much is it from .5 mg?

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Cause on the ashton manual it only says how to get off of 4 mg of alprazolam. Also it shows to go from 1 mg to .5 to .25 and then you stop. But it also shows that you should take another medication. So how do I get off of alprazolam if I don't take another medications.

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Quick update: so I want to get off my meds but my sister hid my medication and she won't give it back, so she wants me to see the psychiatrist before anything and it depends on what my psychiatrist says. So I have to keep suffering or I have to see him and suffer more since I will be really sick (anxiety) and mostly throw up but that's the only way my sister will give me my meds. Thank you guys alot about the info, I know more now then I ever did.

  14. #14
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    I see which chart you are looking at. The Ashton website has several example charts, but you can adjust them to your particular situation. The other drug they switch you to is Valium (diazepam) but that is simply because it is longer acting. You do not necessarily need to transfer to the second drug. Also, this is for people currently on alprazolam. If you are given Valium you could start that immediately and not bother with switching. It does not matter, you can taper from either drug.

    You have to make your own chart from your own dosage. The other benefit of switching to Valium as you can see is that it makes calculating the size of the dose easier because the numbers are bigger, but that is just a math problem. The decimal point is moved over, is all. You can taper directly from any benzo, but your small doses will be in the fractions. My last smallest dose of Ativan was something like .04 mg. You just have to calculate 10% (or whatever you decide) drops and come up with your own chart. This is indeed confusing, but take some time and read and learn about it. There are also some good forums specializing in benzo tapering.

    If your psychiatrist doesn't do phone appointments, you will have to make yourself go to see him if you want the prescription. Just saw your new post about your sister hiding your meds. For people taking daily benzos it is a dangerous thing for someone to hide the pills. Suddenly stopping them can cause seizures, but since you have not been taking them for a month that doesn't apply. Are you saying you have the pills and it is only your sister blocking you from going back on them until you see the psychiatrist? I don't know why your sister has that much control over your life but that is something I don't think I can help you with. All I can tell you is keep learning all you can and you will figure it out.

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    My sister is 29 and she knows about addictions so she wanted to hide the meds so I don't have the urge to take them. I understand why she doesn't want me back on them since I have been off for a month. She will give me the medication if my psychiatrist says it's ok, she just doesn't want me to go back on it unless my psychiatrist said so. She doesn't have that much control over my life just this part, she said this is the only way to help me is to prevent me from going back on it by myself.

    My psychiatrist doesn't do phone appointments, only in person but I have the weekend to think about it since there closed weekends.

    I will keep what you say in mind incase I do go back on it.

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    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Ah, I understand. For opiate addiction (oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone and the like) this is a very common way to taper off, give the pills to a trusted friend or family member and have them be doled out. Opiate addicts often have trouble tapering because if the pills are available, they will take them. But there are some important differences when it's a benzo. For opiates, cold turkey is really best and most effective. You go through it on a more or less predictable time schedule, it's not inherently dangerous, and if you taper, the faster you take less, the sooner you will come out happy on the other side. So it's completely correct to have someone withhold opiates from you, whether you are going cold turkey, or doing a taper.

    But benzo withdrawal is completely different. The recovery is more unpredictable, more dangerous in terms of seizure risk and long term effects, and (in my experience) much more traumatic to the mind. It can create something almost like a lingering PTSD. Unlike with opiates (where ripping the Band-Aid seems best), with benzos the more you remain in control of coming off the drug, the better you do in the long run. You should peel the Band-Aid off extremely slowly and you should do it yourself, not have somebody else do it. Now let me be clear I am understanding that you took your doses daily for several years yes, but you did not take more than prescribed? You did not overdose? Because in those cases then yes, you need someone to keep the pills from you and dole out your daily dose. But if that's not you, and you only took them consistently as prescribed, then having another person withhold them from you is not the way to go about quitting them.

    The other matter that you and your sister both need to keep in mind is that we are not talking about "ordinary" drug abuse and withdrawal. Even if your sister is expert in dealing with addiction, she may be too close to the situation to see what's going on here. From the facts of your posts, you had a severe anxiety condition before ever taking the drug, and you are currently experiencing extremely severe and debilitating symptoms that have been ongoing for several weeks. She is correct that you should see the psychiatrist but in my opinion she is incorrect in withholding your pills from you UNLESS you have a history of overdosing. If you asked her to hide them and she is only following your wishes, that's another matter. But if she hid your pills against your wish, so that you cannot take one if and when you decide you need to, then that is completely wrong in my opinion and possibly very dangerous.

    Something you might consider talking with her about. Make the appointment with the psychiatrist and take the pills as needed to get out of the house to go to the appointment. Your symptoms are SO severe and abnormal, I really think you need to go see that doctor to help sort out what's going on. Unless your sister has this type of anxiety disorder herself, she cannot understand your inability to leave the house and the possibility that taking the pills might be the only way possible for you to get the care you need from that doctor.

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    Ricky71 is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thisweekforsure View Post
    Ah, I understand. For opiate addiction (oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone and the like) this is a very common way to taper off, give the pills to a trusted friend or family member and have them be doled out. Opiate addicts often have trouble tapering because if the pills are available, they will take them. But there are some important differences when it's a benzo. For opiates, cold turkey is really best and most effective. You go through it on a more or less predictable time schedule, it's not inherently dangerous, and if you taper, the faster you take less, the sooner you will come out happy on the other side. So it's completely correct to have someone withhold opiates from you, whether you are going cold turkey, or doing a taper.

    But benzo withdrawal is completely different. The recovery is more unpredictable, more dangerous in terms of seizure risk and long term effects, and (in my experience) much more traumatic to the mind. It can create something almost like a lingering PTSD. Unlike with opiates (where ripping the Band-Aid seems best), with benzos the more you remain in control of coming off the drug, the better you do in the long run. You should peel the Band-Aid off extremely slowly and you should do it yourself, not have somebody else do it. Now let me be clear I am understanding that you took your doses daily for several years yes, but you did not take more than prescribed? You did not overdose? Because in those cases then yes, you need someone to keep the pills from you and dole out your daily dose. But if that's not you, and you only took them consistently as prescribed, then having another person withhold them from you is not the way to go about quitting them.

    The other matter that you and your sister both need to keep in mind is that we are not talking about "ordinary" drug abuse and withdrawal. Even if your sister is expert in dealing with addiction, she may be too close to the situation to see what's going on here. From the facts of your posts, you had a severe anxiety condition before ever taking the drug, and you are currently experiencing extremely severe and debilitating symptoms that have been ongoing for several weeks. She is correct that you should see the psychiatrist but in my opinion she is incorrect in withholding your pills from you UNLESS you have a history of overdosing. If you asked her to hide them and she is only following your wishes, that's another matter. But if she hid your pills against your wish, so that you cannot take one if and when you decide you need to, then that is completely wrong in my opinion and possibly very dangerous.

    Something you might consider talking with her about. Make the appointment with the psychiatrist and take the pills as needed to get out of the house to go to the appointment. Your symptoms are SO severe and abnormal, I really think you need to go see that doctor to help sort out what's going on. Unless your sister has this type of anxiety disorder herself, she cannot understand your inability to leave the house and the possibility that taking the pills might be the only way possible for you to get the care you need from that doctor.
    Exactly, well said Thisweekforsure! Also, it is not uncommon to still have withdrawal symptoms a month out off a fast xanax taper especially with the amount and duration that you were on them! It's possible that the dose you took a couple weeks ago did set you back some? Not to scare you but xanax is probably the nastiest of all benzodiazepines, it really can mess you up for quite a while after long term use! I think you will feel normal again but it will take some time? Again this your choice but if it were me and if I was feeling as bad as you say you are, I would get back on them ASAP and then taper properly! Don't try to make it too complicated, 5-10% reduction every 5-7 days. Use a nail file or similar and shave off roughly 10% of each dose, then every 5-7 days shave again from the new lower dose. You can continue this until you are down to literally crumbs or you can do a water titration when you get that low in dosage. You can search online for water titration for xanax? This is not a race, the slower the taper the better! You can also make the switch to valium if you choose or you can taper all the way with xanax? Good luck in whatever you choose? God bless us all!
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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Ok so I told my sister to hide the medications from me and she doesn't want to tell me where they are cause she is afraid I will take them without seeing my psychiatrist. So that's why she wants to wait till I see him. I do want to go back on but if my psychiatrist says it's not a good idea than I most likely will not beable to get back on. My sister told me she will only believe a professional aka psychiatrist and what they tell me to do. My sister doesn't have an anxiety disorder but her hiding my medicine is not being mean. It's just her trying to help me the only way she can.

    I know that this is a strong drug but at the moment I have never had a seizure so I think I can count that off. I just have increased anxiety, and nausea.

    On the other hand I kind of want to stay off the meds since it's been a month since I have been fully off of my meds and hopefully I will see even a 5% improvement.

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    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Dizangel, you sound a little bit better today. More sure of yourself. Only you understand your total situation here, if you want to give it more time to see if you improve, that's cool. I'm glad to hear that your sister is only doing what you asked of her. Since I don't know what was in your psychiatrist's mind, I can't speak for what he would say. It can't hurt and will only help for both you and your sister to just learn all you can about benzos but it looks like you are off to a good start. I'm glad you have your sister there to be supportive of you!!

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    dizangel is offline Junior Member
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    Yeah I have a great sister, brother in-law and mother to help me through this time. If anything changes I will come back to this post. Thank you guys again, I know alot more and now I know to do research before going on medication.
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    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Copied from other thread:

    Hi there! I agree with Ricky, no need to wean after only two days.

    I also agree you should post updates in your thread in the benzo subforum. When someone who has already started their own thread comes back and starts a new one, it is confusing to us, because we need to find the old thread and remind ourselves who you are. So many people come through here with similar problems but each person is unique and different. I can't answer this question without going back and getting your backstory again. But I did and here is what you posted in your very first post:
    I wanted to get off of alprazolam because it wasn't helping me at all. Now I want to go back on it but everyone around me is telling me I'm so bad because of withdrawls and they want me to not go back on it
    The most basic question we need to know when helping people is: Do they want off the drug? (i.e. they are an addict and it's ruining their life, or they are not an addict but just find that the treatment is worse than the cure) or do they want (or need) to stay on the drug and have questions about managing it. Your post was confusing in this regard, you see here that you sent a mixed message. Nothing wrong with that. In reality, life is not black and white, and sometimes it takes time to tease out exactly what's going on and what you "should" do.

    It would be helpful to know why your doctor gave you the Klonopin. Was it with the idea that you would use it to taper down to get completely off? Or was it because he is reinstating you on therapy? It could be either. What is it you WANT to do at this point?

    If your doctor is reinstating you on therapy, then he gave you the Klonopin because it is a more appropriate benzo for long term treatment because of its long half life. Xanax has a very short half life. While taking Xanax, you could have had spells of "breakthrough" anxiety, or "interdose withdrawals" between doses. You may find Klonopin works much better for you.

    If your doctor gave you the Klonopin to use as a taper because you still want to stay off drugs, then you need to taper VERY slowly. You've already been off Xanax for two months but I'm assuming you still have anxiety which prevents you from functioning normally. If so, I recommend starting on a very low dose of Klonopin. Let it build in your system for a few days and see if you get stable on a dose much smaller than even what the bottle says. Then when stable you can begin a slow taper to get off them.

    The other option is not to take the Klonopin at all. You will be fine if you do that from the safety standpoint, you have been off benzos long enough and the 2 days doesn't matter. But the question is, how are you functioning? Are you able to leave the house? If you have literally been unable to leave the house in two months, this is a severe disorder and you do need to be under a doctor's care. If you are unhappy with your current doctor and don't think he is treating you correctly, then find another doctor.

    So again I agree with Ricky: Why are you starting the Klonopin? Not saying you should or shouldn't, but what did your doctor say, and what is your goal?
    Last edited by Anonymous; 05-18-2016 at 10:36 AM.

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