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Benzo Addiction
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Benzo Addiction

I am currently tapering from an original addiction to 6 mgs of Xanax originally prescribed for GAD. I switched to 30 mgs of valium and tapered to 15 in one week, 10 the next and then to 7.5. At this point, I slowed my taper to a 1 mg. cut per week. I am currently at 4 mgs and it seems that the symptoms have increased with this slower taper. Should I increase the cuts and just get it over with or stay on this schedule? I believe at this low dose I would not be at risk for seizures but I could be wrong. The resultant insomnia, mood swings, shakiness and anxiety have gotten worse in the past weeks. I'm at a loss to explain why this didn't occur when I made the larger cuts and is happening now.

Also, does use of alcohol interfere with the taper? I have noticed when used occasionally it does provide some relief and doesn't seem to have a negative impact but have been told it is cross addictive with benzos.

Finding a doctor is not an option. They don't know anything about benzo dependency and there are no treatment programs where I live.

itsadogslife
Tags: Addiction
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Avatar_n_tn
hi there, i was wondering the same thing about booze drinking, while tapering from oxcontin, i am down to 2 10mg per day, i am feeling real bad while doing this tapering, i know it says no drinking, while takeing any of these pills. but i don't think as small amount as i am on now, would be any problem, would like some advice on this.
                                lee.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello Lee,I've been thinking about you lately and wondering how you are doing.My pain doc says alcohol doesn't mix will with pain meds but told me a couple glasses of wine 2 or 3 times a week does no harm to most people.I think alcohol is only a problem if it was a problem before.I know AA and NA says drinking or any type drug is bad but I don't believe in their 12 step stuff anyway.I do however trust my doctor.He is an addiction specialist and says alcohol can only be a problem if it is abused with the taking of pain meds.I only drink an occassional glass of wine with dinner sometimes and I have never craved it under different circumstances.Now I don't drink beer or hard stuff anymore and have been clean from it for over a year now(except 2 slips)which I regreted.But if my doctor says it's OK then I tend to believe him.
I am so glad to see your tapering is going well.I know how it can make you feel and I didn't taper correctly and paid the price.I wish you good luck at getting down to zero.You have come along way.
                        Bill
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Whenever I've mixed alcohol and narcotics, it hasn't really effected me adversely. I think there is more of a synergistic effect with benzos.

I'm not sure that alcohol would help relieve opiate wd symptoms the same way it does with the benzos. It's my understanding it has more of an effect on the GABA receptors which are effected by benzos.

However, I don't think if you drank a glass of wine or a beer or whatever to relax it would hurt you.

I also don't believe in the total abstinence philosophy of the 12 step groups. How can you tell a chronic pain patient they can never take another narcotic because they abused them in the past?

Or, in my case, once I'm completely off the benzos, does that mean I can never take another one even if I have an anxiety attack?

itsadogslife
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Avatar_n_tn
The problem with drinking if you have a drug problem is the possiblity(probability) of substituting one addiction for another. This is very, very common. You are also putting additional stress on your liver and nervous system which is already busy adjusting to the discontinuation of other drugs.

Doglife

There are 2 medication which may help you get through this,  doxipin and clonidine.  The clonidine will help you with the anziety, shakes and sweats. It will also prevent the unlikely occurance of seizures. The doxipin will make it easier for you to sleep at night. They are available over the internet.  You could probably have them in your hand in 36 hours if you do a good search. Benzo's are very difficult to kick. You may want to slow the taper.
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Avatar_n_tn
one problem with drinking with a lot of people
is that it has a tendency to wake you up in the middle of the night and then you can't go back to sleep.
even if it is only a 2 or 3 glass of wine.
when we are getting off pain meds or benzo's
sleep is always a problem, along with restless leg and body.
and severe depression. and lack of energy.
the more i read about buprenorphine, it sounds like
a real  good way to detox of of the meds.
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Avatar_n_tn
Bodymechanic, a friend of mine in another state where they actually have detox programs for benzos was prescribed doxepin so you must know your stuff. They also detoxed her in one week with phenobarbital. Ouch. Maybe, you should clue them in there :) As for the alcohol, I know, I know. But it does relieve the symptoms. And I can run up to the delimart and buy a six pack for a few bucks :)

Hippee, I don't know if you're aware of it or not or if it's been discussed here, but bup has finally received FDA approval for detox. It had been available only as a pain med. Finding a doctor to prescribe it would probably be a whole other thing. My husband used it for a cold turkey detox from OC's and swears by it. He had to buy it from overseas at the time so it's good news it's finally available here.

itsadogslife
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Avatar_n_tn
I think it is just a coincidence that you started feeling worse when you slowered your taper. Have you heard the term "the lower the slower"? That means the lower your dose gets the slower you should taper. When you were making larger cuts you were also still taking a large enough dose and your body could handle it. when you started to taper slower your dose was also getting pretty low so I am positive if you would have continued with the larger taper you would feel even worse than you are now. Did I say that right? Even with opiates if I was used to taking 10 at a time several times a day I could go down to taking 4 at a time instantly and still feel ok even though that was a huge taper 4 at a time was still enough for my body to handle it. Now when you get even lower like when I got to taking 1.5 at a time it doesn't matter how quick or slow I tapered my body wanted more than 1.5 at a time. Basically at this point in your taper getting on the lower dose would have made you feel yucky no matter what. Hope that makes sense. Good Luck to you! I would continue slowly because you are already feeling crappy but it does delay the inevitable. You could do it all and feel really really crappy or do it slowly and feel just really crappy.
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Avatar_n_tn
One problem with alcohol when tapering might be your behaviour when you are on it. I know that when I drink, my defenses go down. In fact, if I feel good enough after a few drinks, I'll usually have a few more to feel even better. Then, I might call some old friends and get an 8ball of coke. Then I'll need pills to come down. No, alcohol probably wouldn't work, for me, when trying a strict taper.

I came off of benzos 7 months ago, cold. It was about as bad as it can be. You have done real, real well to get your dose down where it is now. The symptoms will increase as you drop down. If you have been on these things for a long time, even very small reductions in dose over a two week period may be noticeable.

My advice is to keep to your schedule no matter how you feel. Are you epileptic? If so, then you may be at risk for seizures. If you're not, you probably aren't. I never felt like I was going to go into a seizure, though I had plenty of horribble symptoms.

Most people are never able to kick benzos once they have a bad habit. You are on your way and I suggest you gut this one out and get free.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have *never* heard such blatantly unprofessional advice as was given to 'itsadogslife', ATH!!!! Suggesting that someone in the full throes of benzo addiction "switch" to alcohol is not only ludicrous but dangerous. A simple peek into a PDR would enlighten you as to the dangers of mixing alcohol and benzos.

Itsadogslife, please visit the website benzo.org.uk. You will be given all of the help and support you need to make it through your taper and withdrawal. You're heading in the right direction-please don't let it be jeopardized by advice from know-nothings.
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Avatar_n_tn
The Doc answers two new questions a day, but he doesnt' answer the comments, only the two new questions that the system allows to be posted. So don't expect that he'll scroll through our comments and answer anything else. Try to get one of the questions if you have a question for him.  That's why it really matters that we use those two new questions for actual questions for the Doc rather than comments or just starting new threads.


love,
WW
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Congratulations on your decision. You can join us if you want on our 2003 Sobriety Challenge - you will only be 5 days behind! Here's a repost of my challenge - sorry its so long:
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OK, so I have gotten so many positive responses to the challenge concept, that it is hereby declared a GO! (My follow up post will spell out how to build your taper schedule)

I have given this a lot of thought and here, in my humble opinion, are the key points to keep in mind.

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2003 SOBRIETY CHALLENGE - HOLIDAY TAPER PLAN -
Dec 1st - Start
Jan 1st (or sooner) - End
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The idea is that everyone here, as a group, start our tapering plan today, and we support each other in our efforts such that, by Jan 1st, 2003, we are all at a ZERO dosage with our drug of choice.

There are several key points that I have gleaned from everyone here, plus other sources:

1) Accept the fact that you will be in some pain. Deal with it in any way you can without narcotics! Notice that the 2003 sobriety challenge says nothing about being pain free! Accept the fact that you will be dealing with pain without pain killers by the end of the tapering process! There are so many weapons at your disposal - use them all. More on those in a follow-up post.

2) We are powerless over substance abuse - We cannot do it alone! This is the basic premise of AA,NA, ect. Asking for help from a doc, a spouse, or others here is not important - IT IS A REQUIREMENT! We should put our tapering plan down on paper or in a spreadsheet/calendar program and then share it with someone, so we will not deviate from it. I showed mine to my wife and said "Heres my plan, help me stick to it!" Letting a medical professional in on the plan is a great way to build an extra security net, and get advice from a pro, of which I am not.

3) Most (not all) agree that Tapering is easier than cold-turkey! Tell ourselves over and over - "If I don't cut my dose, day over day, week over week, what am I setting myself up for?"
The answer of course is something far worse, like in-patient detox, or a week of cold turkey. Which would we prefer? Tapering must be easier. See my next post for how to do the tapering schedule.

4) Your higher power wants to help. Will you let Him? This is potentially the most controversial subject for some here, so-reminder-this is just my opinion. However, all AA/NA programs use this as their core concept. God wants us to be sober, no? If you beleive that, then He already has a plan for your life, and all you have to do is ASK for help. Prayer works folks - I promise it does, and millions of people swear by it. Remember, in the entire history of mankind, it is only in the last 30 years that America and the world has kicked God out of our lives. Before that God was the underlying reason to be living, and was a key concept in the founding of the United States. In the last 3 decaded though, we have been told we can do it ourselves! And look at where we are, what we have become. God is there for you. Turn to face Him, an ask for help.

5) Use the Thomas recipe - it really works!

6) Do the opposite of what we have been doing while using. If we go to this street corner where our dealers are, do the opposite - go as far away as possible! If we go to three docs in one month, go to ZERO docs in one month. If we use at a friends, well is he our friend? Go somewhere else. In other words - let's throw our narcotics-enabling habits away starting right this instant!

7)Dedicate the month of December to this problem if possible. Think of all the things that we do during the holidays, and let's tell ourselves that unless it ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to do, this month, we're not doing it - NOT adding it to our plate of stuff to do. I know this will be difficult for some. But wherever possible, clear out the **** on your upcoming calendar, and write down the words TAPER TO ZERO in the December calendar in your minds. "This month my number one goal is BECOMING DRUG FREE BY January 1ST!"

8) Once we clear our calendars of unnecessary junk, and focus on Tapering to zero, now we need to stop focusing on it ;-0. Distract your mind and put it on something positive and stress free for you. Exercise, a good book, a movie series, relaxation exercise, ANYTHING! But don't sit around thinking about it, as Methman said "get moving!"

WE CAN SUCCEED TOGETHER GUYS!
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Think of the following analogy:

We are all in a giant dark pit, each of us having his or her own staircase leading upwards. Each staircase is close to someone elses, but you must climb your own staircase. Some us have staircases that start close to the top and are not steep at all, with easy-to-climb steps. Others have staircases that start almost at rock bottom, almost in pitch black darkness, and start out very steep with hugs steps. And each staircase is ever-changing, with the steps getting larger, then smaller, slippery, then moving left and right, then becoming straight, and easy. Someone may be starting to fall next to you, when their staircase starts moving or gets hairy - catch them and set them to climbing again.

All staircases, though lead to the same door at the top, from which comes this beautiful glistening sunlight, shining like nothing you have ever seen. On the top of the door is a sign that reads "YOUR LIFE". We can see the top and would give everything we own to get there. If we don't start climbing today, we don't move. But we can also see that the steps get easier near the top.

Some of us will not be able to make it up the huge steps without help and encouragement from the others next to us. Helping someone else up their staircase gives you added strength to climb your own, and we all want to walk through the door at the top on Jan 1st, 2003, or sooner. Those that reach that door sooner MUST help the others still climbing, doing everything they can not to fall over the edge, and then have to start over again.

Good luck and God's Power to all - I will have some follow up posts with details on how to build your taper schedule.

Time to reclaim our lives!

GO!

Rex

This is NOT my plan - this is OUR plan - Right?

Rex
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Here's some ideas on how create your taper schedule, keeping in mind that everyone's plan will be different.

Think of two anchor points:
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START - Your dosage today
END - Your dosage on Jan 1st - ZERO
(Note, you may want to change the end date to something sooner. If so, build your schedule from today to whatever you pick as your end date)
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Rather than think about this upcoming week first, go to Jan 1 and build backwards. You must decide, along with your doctor or person who is helping you, what that last week on your meds will look like, but it should be as low as possible, perhaps 1.5 or 1 pill/drug dose per day.

Example: .5 tablets of Vicodin three times a day.


Here's an example of a Vicodin schedule, again working backwards from Jan 1st, 2003. Adjust accordingly for Percs, Meth, ect!

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December 22 23 24 5 26 27 28
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dose/day 2 2 1 1 1 1 .5

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December 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
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dose/day 3 3 2.5 2.5 2 2 2

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December 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
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dose/day 6 6 5 5 4 4 4

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December 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
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dose/day 9 9 8 8 7 7 6


OK, so there's an extra 3 days at the end of week 4 where you may want to be effectively at ZERO on these days, where many will be off of work, Dec 29th, 30th, and 31st. But you may need to use the days as a fudge factor, that is, either to accelerate or catch up if your drift from your schedule.

Summary points;

* Plug in your own numbers based on your two anchor points
* Build backwards from Jan 1st, 2003 to today.
* Design your schedule for a very slow taper during the final week
* Share this schedule with someone who will help you/force you to stick to it.
* Please let someone here now that YOU HAVE ACCEPTED! A post to I Accept might be good. That way, your committed....

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES HERE WITH EVERYONE ELSE!
You will be pleased to see that at the end of every week, you took less than the last week!!! You're winning! you will win!

Please post if you additional ideas, or items that have helped you succeed..

Good luck and God's grace to all!

Rex
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Thanks for being so motivational Rex! I hope you get a lot of folks accepting to join together to detox (for those who need to and are ready to). I'm clean, so I can't get on the bandwagon with you, but I support you all the way.

love,
WW
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Thanks to everyone for your input. I guess I will stick to the taper. Hellbent, you have my admiration for getting off these drugs. I do have a fairly long term addiction but not as long as some people I've read about. I think any long term drug addiction probably has a high recidivism rate.

itsadogslife

PS How often does the doctor here check in and answer?
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Avatar_n_tn
I hope "itsadoglife" will come over to benzo.org.uk for support and help during your taper. Please disregard the blatantly unprofessional "advice" of this so-called professional!
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Avatar_n_tn
Rex,I plan on being there by Jan. 1. I am ready for my next cut which will be to 2.5 mgs because it's just easier to cut a 10 mg pill into quarters than to guess how much 1 mg is. So, even though, I may not be completely done, I will be very close.

lalique, I am very familiar with the site you mention. It is where I got the information on the valium taper. However, Heather Ashton's equivalencies are way too high. When I used them I was a complete zombie. And her protocol for substituting the original benzo partially with valium and doing a gradual crossover was so complicated, I couldn't even follow it. So I just switched over all at once with no problem.

I understand completely the danger of mixing alcohol with benzos. But at the level I am at and the duration of my dependency makes my body very efficient at metabolizing it. I have not had any problems and this is not something I do on a daily basis. I didn't find the advice irresponsible at all. After visiting a couple of the boards recommended by the benzo site, I found this advice actually rational. Much more so than reading posts from people who have been benzo free for 10 years are still suffering symptoms. Or even reading the laundry list of symptoms I have never once experienced. There was a thread about diet and I shared that my only form of nutritional food was a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat that I eat for lunch everday. I got a response telling me that it takes three years to digest peanut butter. I must be really clogged up :) I have received advice even more bizarre than that and I don't need the dire predictions that I will be a basket case for the rest of my life. I have found the responses from the folks here to be very pragmatic, informed and helpful.

itsadoglife
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Well, I agree with you about the other benzo boards being spacey.
However the benzo.org site itself is not-the (few) members who have posted about long recovery periods (PWS) are few and far between. Their stories may be hard to read but are true. Denying that benzo recovery is a long process is not going to help.The majority-the vasr majority of members who post there are sane and the peanut butter story is a gross exaggeration of the facts!
ANY doctor who tells someone to "get addicted" to alcohol should be booted from a site that "presumes" to help people.

Well I can't change your mind about the alcohol but three months or whenever down the road you are still struggling with w/d symptoms you'll regret listening to unqualified advice. This has to be the WORST addiction addiction site for anyone struggling with benzo recovery. Good luck to you-you will need all the help you can get.
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Actually, I'm not going to substitute alcohol for benzos. I made that decision based on the responses from the members here. That is not to say, if I'm climbing the walls, I won't drink a beer or two, here and there. I never meant that I was going to drink large amounts on a daily basis.

Actually, I'd like to try the doxepin because I have heard it is helpful. It's something else you don't have to take every day, just as needed.

Believe me, I am aware of the post detox symptoms. I got off benzos once before and reinstated because of them. It was a gradual thing..I was just taking them once in a while, then more and more and finally every day again. Tolerance built up quickly and I was right back where I started. So I won't make that mistake again. Nor will I turn into an alcoholic.

Thanks for your advice. I did get a lot of useful info from the benzo site. England seems to be way ahead of the US in treating benzo addiction.

itsadogslife
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