Most of us come from good families and have good lives so you are not alone in that. I too take Klonopin. If you have not taken it too long you will not have to have a medically supervised withdrawl/detox from it. It can be dangerous, My shrink gave it it me after detoxing from heroin and continues to give it to me for panic attacks then tells me if I ever relapse he wont see me again, so its our little secret. He thinks it is not as bad as Xanax or Valium. It is still a benzo but it has a different affect. Having the problems you have its best to ask a medical professional. Badd
Benzodiazpines (like klonopin) should not be stopped abruptly. Withdrawl is different than opiates and is potentially life threatening. Seizures are not uncommon nor is depersonalization which is what you are describing. You have to taper slowly off these drugs. I suggest you educate yourself by doing a search for benzos and reading the links. Your doctor probably won't be much help. Most know nothing about getting people off of drugs just getting them on. But please don't just stop. You're asking for trouble, including protracted withdrawl which can continue for over a year.
Please be careful. Nobody here, except Dr. Steve (and I have not seen him around here in a while) is a doctor. Or maybe I'm wrong, is there a doctor in the house?
A mitral valve problem - is it a prolapse? How old are you? History of congestive heart failure, heart attack? Are there other related cardiac effects, syncope, chest pain? I understand your dislike of medication, but I wouldn't stop a damn thing unless I talked with my doctor. Ask him why you are on what you are on. Explain the side effects. If you don't like the answers, ask for a second opinion. But you are under medical care for a cardiac condition - I don't think it wise to stop or even wean yourself off anything until you've consulted with a medical source.
Just my opinion,
The only problem with talking to a doctor is that they only know how to get people on drugs, not off. San, you may want to consult an addictions specialist. But stopping benzos cold turkey is really a big no no. I do know that. An addiction specialist can set up a weaning schedule for you. They are difficult to find but not impossible especially if you live near a major city. Many people do end up giving up and detoxing themselves and information for that process is available on the internet, if it comes to that. For example, some hospitals use a very rapid phenobarbital detox for benzodiazapine and alcohol addiction. That would not be good for someone with heart problems. So you do need to educate yourself on your addiction and your condition because you cannot rely on doctors to not make mistakes. I had a friend who almost died during a difficult withdrawl under medical supervision. They were not willing to deviate from their protocol for individual physical idiosyncracies. As a result, he went into cardiac arrest. I found out I knew more about my addiction than my PCP and I told him how I was going to withdraw and he went along with me.
Seamstress, I read your post that mentioned the "protracted withdrawal" that can last over a year, and I wanted to add my 2 cents, because I thought it may give some people some hope that they can quit benzos. I took Lorazepam (generic Ativan, a benzo) for 6 years, and the memory loss, tiredness, etc. was really getting to me. The worst thing, though, was the last few days at the end of the month when I would have to "ration" my pills to make sure that I didn't completely run out before I could get a refill. That had happened before, and it made me so sick to just stop like that. I took somewhere around 5mg of Lorazepam per day. Anyway, I took the Lorazepam for 6 years, and I talked to my doctor about getting off of it. He said it is very rare for out-patient detox to work, so I took his advice and checked into the psychiatric ward at a local hospital. While I was there, they gave me Librium in place of the Lorazepam, and on day 5 I had my last Librium ... then, NOTHING! It feels so great to not get up in the morning and go straight to the pill bottle ... it feels great to be able to remember things ... it feels great to be able to enjoy my friends & family without being all paranoid and edgy and grouchy like I used to be ... and a million other things! I have been out of the hospital for 2 weeks. Praise the Lord forever!!!! Oh, and I was also detoxing from Vicodin at the same time ... I took it for headaches, and I kept having to increase my dose because it stopped working. I was up to around 10mg Vicodin per day, and I'm off of that too! I went home from the hospital on my 6th day there. Just think ... by this time next week, you could be MED FREE! All it took for me to get through the detox was motivation and lots of prayer!! Remember, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got!!!! Thanks for listening. :-)
When I was in rehab they used the term 'Post Acute Withdraw Symptoms' or PAWS instead of protracted withdraw. If you are trying to find out more about it you may want to try this term instead. They did give a lot of information about it in rehab, so apparently there has been some research.
Thanks for the info LG. As I mentioned, I haven't had to deal with (knock on wood :), but I do know it is real. I'd be really interested in reading any research on it so I can pass it on if I ever need to so I'll do a search for PAWS.
Yes, I know what you mean. I kicked a 4 year benzo habit...I think I've been addicted to every drug known to man. I did it with an outpatient taper but I had no symptoms afterwards either. However, some people do get protracted withdrawl syndrome. As a matter of fact, in the UK now, the patient handout for benzos says that withdrawl symptoms can last up to year. I have a friend who has been off Klonopin for 3 months now and is still having some fairly moderate symptoms so it does happen. I guess it all depends on how quickly your brain repairs itself. Since there is no research I would say it is probably the minority of people but we can't completely discount it. If it's happening to you, it doesn't matter if you're 1 in 20 or whatever.
Thanks for the comments. I have only been on the Klonopin for 1 year now. I have never taken any drugs in my life and did not realize that this medication was addictive untill my sister told me. Now I am so worried about getting off of this before I become addicted. My doctor said that I could leave off the 1/2 of 5mg. that I took every morning. I have been doing this for 2 weeks now and have not had any problems. I had the depersonalization before I ever took the Klonopin. The medication seemed to help this feeling. I have not had any speels, and feel like I am on my way to getting off this. I am still on 5mg. at night. I dont feel like I need it, but I realize what could happen with a sudden stopping of the medication. Thanks for the help and I will not abruptly stop the medication without a doctors advice.
BE CAREFUL!!!! In 1996, I had horrible abdominal problems and the internist introduced me to Serax. It works fast, but lasts shortly. Anyway, after being in the hospital for every known test. They put me on tofranil and sent me home cold turkey on Serax. At the time, I was taking the maximum doseage a day!!! I went back home and did not sleep fro 6 days!!! Felt like I was somebody else, my skin burned, voices, prayed for a bomb to fall on the apartment to end it all! I then landed in a rehab for 2 weeks where they put me on tranxene and paxil. After that, I felt very good. It was over, but this was only 3 months on Serax. Well, I said I don't care what ever happens, no more Benzo's! Guess what, my wife left my 2 girls and I and the stomach problems and anxiety returned. I got started on .5mg of klonopin in 1998 and now I'm on 2mg per day along with a script of 3 vicodin which I'm taking up to 5 per day just to feel normal!!! NOW, I have to detox off of the vicodin slowly, then wing myself back down on the klonopin. DO NOT STOP BENZO'S COLD TURKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost lost my life.....
"His strength is made perfect in my weakness."
First of all, it is mitral valve prolapse. And second of all, panic and anxiety attacks are symtoms related to mitral valve prolapse. That is why Klonopin (clonazepam) is given to people with mitral valve prolapse. I started taking Klonopin in 1995 when given to me by my neurologist for headaches. I suffered from a psuedo-tumor years earlier and still have bad headaches mostly due to stress and anxiety. I also have mitral valve prolapse and I suffer from panic and anxiety attacks as well. I have discussed taking the klonopin with my medical doctor on many occasions and he has stated that it is better to take a medication that can help me to live a more normal life than not to take it. I can take .5 mg twice a day as needed. I have been taking klonopin for 7 years now and I am not addicted. I do not have to take it every day or even every week or even every month. I take it when I have a panic or anxiety attack or when I feel a stress headache coming on. If I do not take it at that time, the symptoms from the panic and anxiety attacks or the pain from the headaches can cause be to become unuseful to myself and my family. Medicine are out there for our use not abuse!! If they are used correctly, then an addiction should not be of concern. If a person is open and honest with their physican then the chance of becoming addicted to the medication should not be a problem. Some people have addictive personalities and can become addicted to almost anything. Do not stop taking your medication for your mitral valve prolapse symptoms just because you are concerned with addiction. Discuss the concerns you have with you physican. There are also non-addictive medications such as beta blockers that help with the other symptoms of mitral valve prolapse. Ask you physican. Sometimes the benefits of taking your medication properly can far outweigh not taking them at all. Hope my experience helps you with your decision.
One last comment. The symptoms you experience after not taking the Klonopin for three days (feeling detached when you are in public places) could be a result of your panic and anxiety disorder due from the mitral valve prolapse instead of from withdrawal from the Klonopin. I suffer from the same symptoms and it is part of my anxiety disorder from my mitral valve prolapse and my depression. One must learn to deal with these attacks and work through them but if Klonopin can help prevent them or subdue them, which is worse, taking the Klonopin or suffering from these attacks? I say the attacks are far worse. Ask your physican if you can take the Klonopin only when you feel the attacks coming on instead of every night and every day. Maybe this way you can see if the attacks are from withdrawal from the Klonopin or from your disorder. Please be honest with your doctor about your concerns. That is what they are there for. If you do not feel comfortable discussing it with your physican then maybe you need to find a doctor you can feel comfortable with. Trusting your doctor is very important. Do you trust your doctor? Do you believe he or she is there to help you and not hurt you? If so, rely on their help!! Take care and know others suffer from the same condition as you do and there is help.