Interesting view on benzo/ Z drugs

Posted , 7 users are following.

"It is more difficult to withdraw people from benzodiazepines than it is from heroin. It just seems that the dependency is so ingrained and the withdrawal symptoms you get are so intolerable that people have a great deal of problem coming off. The other aspect is that with heroin, usually the withdrawal is over within a week or so. With benzodiazepines, a proportion of patients go on to long term withdrawal and they have very unpleasant symptoms for month after month, and I get letters from people saying you can go on for two years or more. Some of the tranquilliser groups can document people who still have symptoms ten years after stopping." - Professor Malcolm H Lader, Royal Maudesley Hospital, BBC Radio 4, Face The Facts, March 16, 1999.

I just hope he's not correct. Evil stuff...

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  • Posted

    Hey Keith. Great information you put on here - I wish he was wrong too but I have heard of and experienced myself similar things. A lot of people trying to come off zopiclone would be able to identify with this - thankyou for putting this on! smile
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    • Posted

      Jennifer, you may have seen my reply to Keith and I'd like to direct the same questions to you if you're agreeable and if you were on benzos. I'm mailnly concerned with the length of the withdrawal symptoms. Many Thanks, Gerard.
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    • Posted

      Hey Gerard. Sounds like you have been through an awful time getting off the benzos but well done for coping so well. I have been addicted to benzos quite a few times and because I was on Zypine at the same time I replaced it with Zypine 5mg which helped a bit. I can totally sympathesise about the benzos I was taken off them cold turkey in hospital of all places and had terrible hallucinations all day and awful constant anxious state. The withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety and more panic attacks. I have also found I got the shakes when decreasing. I also unfortunately took too many during the night for a while because I was panicking about not sleeping - I will not be doing that again! Sounds like you coped with the withdrawal symptoms really well. I am on zopiclone and have been for years and although not a good dose - too strong I know I can only reduce it at the right time when not working and on holiday. Be kind to yourself, and look after yourself. Do some nice things for yourself like see a movie with a friend, go to the Gardens with some friends for lunch, have a favourite meal or treat yourself to something extra nice. It is a fragile time for you so give yourself due credit for the traumatic experiences you are having with withdrawal you have come a long way and have a lot of strength to come through. I did find coming off the benzos extremely hard but then taking zopiclone which is also a slightly benzo drug meant I did not have withdrawal symptoms for long at all. But, when I have reduced the benzos without anything else it was really hard no doublt about it but they did not last for months or years so I am sure it will not for you. Take care and keep posting. I am happy to provide advice and share my experiences. Have a nice day!
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    • Posted

      God bless you Jennifer! Thank you for you kind and supportive reply. It is encouraging to note that you have withdrawn more than once and that the withdrawal syndrome didn't take months. Our biochemistries are all different but I am heartened to hear of your experience and hope that mine can parallel yours as far as time goes. I'll give this another two weeks. If the anxiety hasn't gone away by then I'll discuss anti-depressants as an anxiolytic with my GP.


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  • Posted

    Hi Keith,

    That quote from Professor Lader is, regretably, quite true. I am 6 days into total withdrawal from Lorozapam (Ativan) and although I seemed to have passed the most horrendous phase I am still feeling very strange. Are you currently medicated with benzos or have you stopped or have you just noted the Prof's quote? Not trying to stick my nose into your private affairs. My reason for asking, if you don't mind, is that I'm keen to compare notes so to speak. Not ever having had to use benzos and therefore not having gone through withdrawal I'm finding the experience frightening. I was only on the stuff for 9 weeks to help me overcome acute anxiety and panic attacks after a life crisis but felt worse taking the meds than when I was merely panicky so decided to get off them. I found an excellent website set up by Professor Heather Ashton which listed withdrawal schedules with Valium substitution. By this time however I'd already started tapering the dose and was down to about 1mg a day when I saw that one could substitute Valium. Too late I thought and kept lowering the dose, too quickly perhaps, without Valium in the mix. A day after my last Ativan I was literally climbing the walls; desperate to take more benzo to ease the pain but knew that if I did I'd just be right back on the stuff and worse off than ever. I'm very dizzy, listless and feel really "strange". There's anxiety, muscle tremors and weakness, the severe headaches have gone thankfully but mild ones constantly and some mild depression. So it looks like this may go on for a few weeks. I'm hopeful that the symptoms won't last for months or, heaven forbid, years! Is this consistent with your experience? Would love to hear back from you or any other readers who've withdrawn from benzos. God Bless.

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    • Posted

      Hi Gerard--only 9 weeks and so addicted, awful.  i've looked at the Heather Ashton stuff many times.  if i remember right, the elimination half life for Lorazapam is about 20 hours, so whenever your last dose of Ativan was, you would start from there and know that whatever dose that was, 1/2mg or whatever, that half of that will be eliminated from your circulation about 20 hours after when you took that dose.  20 hours after that, half of the remaining half will be eliminated, and so on, so it takes some time after you stop your last dose to stop having symptoms but they get milder, as you are finding.  

      Different medications have different elimination half lives. If you've read Ashton, then you know that Valium is recommended because it has a very long elimination half life, and that is thought to smooth out or ease the withdrawal. Crossing over to Valium has helped a lot of people according to reports on discussion forums, i'm mainly familiar with the BenzoBuddies forums.  

      It doesn't work for everyone, and there are people who do fine wiht cold turkey and people who have a bad time with it. It's not an exact science, there's a lot of opinion, not so much fact, since each person is different and this can be what makes the difference in how things are experienced and how they play out.  There are physical aspects to it and there are psychological aspects, and people vary so much on both of those.  But the elimination half life for Ativan can give you some idea of how much time it takes for the meds to leave your circulation.  The medication is also absorbed to some extent into fat and muscle tissue, so after it's no longer circulating, the body will still be gradually eliminating it, and maybe this accounts for people's different experiences with withdrawals in the long term.

      I was prescribed Valium back in the mid 1970s for insomnia and i took it for 20 years. For most of that time, i wasn't addicted in the sense that i didn't get a tolerance for it, i i didn't need to increase the dose to get the effect, but i was dependent, i had to get up for work in the morning and i didn't want to patiently wait to fall asleep, i wanted to be able to control when i would fall asleep so i used the Valium for that. But the last year i was taking it, things happened in my environment that interrupted sleep a lot and that led to increasing the dose, and that led to tolerance so that the same dose no longer had the effect, and i needed more, and i gradually increased it, and then finally, i got to about 30mg a night, only for a week right at the end, because even taking that  much i was hardly sleeping, so i thought since it's not working, what'ts the point in taking it?  Also, a doctor was not going to give me more so there was no way to keep taking it. There was no internet then for me yet (1993), andi didn't have information on withdrawal, i never heard of tapering, i thought you stop taking it and maybe have some kind of withdrawals and then it will be over after some period of time.  So, i stopped taking it. I was going on a two week vacation from work starting that night so it was the right time to do it. I expected not to sleep, i did not know for  how long, days?  

      The first night, i did sleep, to my surprise, a few hours.  The next day i felt pretty good, i felt energetic. By that night, feeling energetic had changed to feeling agitated and tense and i began having withdrawal symptoms like nerves twitching, not a lot, just occasionally, and sweating a little, and definitely feeling tense, and i was reading about diazapam withdrawal in a medical book i had, and it said it should be done as an inpatient and the person should be treated with phenobarbitol, so that worried me, it said something about risk of seizures, although they were talking about a higher dose than i was on--60mg i think. When my leg would twitch, or jerk a little, i though, that's related to seizure, so i was worried.  To keep busy, i read, i wrote in my journal, i was reading a book and it was about using positive affirmations for healing, and i have always believed that helped me with gettting through the withdrawals pretty well. Also, i had been seeing a Chinese medicine doctor for something else at that time, and i was taking Chinese herbs, and i have always thought that may have helped my body to get through the withdrawals fairly smoothly. 

      I did sleep a little that second night, about an hour maybe, and i was very pleased about that. It made me feel that i was making progress and that there was hope that i could live without Valium.  For most of the years i took it, i took 10mg a night. While the withdrawing was uncomfortable, it was pretty tolerable, and psychologically, i felt appreciation for the positive things like getting at least some sleep after taking Valium every night for about 20 years and then just stopping, and that i was functioning day to day, i was managing, i would get through it. 

      The third day, i just felt crappy, tense, i had a 9 year old daughter, i bought a lot of TV dinners for her and i ate ready made sandwiches from the store or the cafe downstairs. I took it easy, but i had to pick my daughter uip at school, i had appointments with my Chinese doctor, which was a far drive in lots of traffic, my daughter had an orthodontist appointment, all those things. i remember being at the herb place, getting my herb prescription filled and i remember how i felt irritable, i didn't want to be talking with the guy there, i didn't want to be in a conversation, i wanted to go home.

      After that i went to the drug store to get some things, and i went to the pharmacist there and i asked him how long Valium withdrawals take. He said the average was a couple of weeks. That made me feel better because by that day, i was getting tired of how i felt and thinking "When will this be over, i don't like this."  It gave me a good feeling to know it would be about two weeks and that it could be less. That helped.  

      That night, i was tense, still having the occasional twitch, the occasional sweating, i would see things out of the corners of my eyes that weren't there, occasionally, and i saw a bug crawling on my arm that wasn't there. I knew it wasn't a real bug, that it was the withdrawal symptoms. I wrote all of this down in my journal. That's why i have detailed memories of it.  i continued to read and do some postiive affirmations.  i got a little bit of sleep, maybe 2 or 3 hours.  i was glad to get that.  The fourth day continued like the third, same kind of feelings, and i thought to myself that i was tired of feeling like that.  

      I was sweating a lot that day. I felt tired, i felt irritable.  i was talking to my friend on the phone in the afternoon and wasn't enjoying it. i was drinking chrysanthemum tea which is a Chinese herb. When i got off the phone, it was getting to be late afternoon, and i felt the sweat break, like when a fever breaks, the sweating stopped  and i noticed that i felt better, kind of suddenly, and i felt relieved of the level of tension i was feeling. I got some dinner for me and my daughter, and i enjoyed feeling better.  

      Recently i was telling an acupuncturist about that experience and about drinking the chrysanthemum tea, and he smiled and said "clearing heat."  He said that is an effect of chrysanthemum tea, that it clears heat from the body.  Maybe drinking it helped with the withdrawals. After that, late on the 4th day, things just got better from then on. The symptoms still came and went but fewer and far between and less intense, it was going away, getting better. i felt increasingly normal. i slept each night, not much, but i don't think that would be withdrawawls. i wasn't sleeping before i started the Valium 20 years before. Now i was living without the Valium and even though i wasn't sleeping a lot, i felt happy to be off it, i felt successful, i felt free, that i had broken free of it. I felt really good about that.  So it was a good experience.  

      I had a very intense day job and all the other things in life to handle, and when i went to my regular doctor, the one who had been prescribing the Valium, i proudly told him i didn't need it anymore, i had stopped. i told him i was having trouble getting enough sleep.  He then wrote me a prescription for Ambien, whicih he said was a new drug and milder than Valium and that it was short acting.  In those days i didn't know anything about elimnation half lives and things like that. i didn't want to get on another sleeping medication, i wanted to be healthy. When i stopped Valium, i stopped some other meds i was taking, over the counter stuff, Tylenol, decongestant, whatever, i just wanted to be free of all those toxins and to be healthy.  i got the Ambien prescription filled but i didn't take any for a while.  Then i did take it once and it did get me to sleep but not for long, very short, 3 hours maybe. 

      After that, i just adapted to not sleeping too much.  Some nights were better than others. if it went on for days, then i would get depressed about it.  Occasionally, if i hadn't slept much in 3 days, i would take an Ambien on the fourth night and it would help, but i was not wanting to get into anything habitually and i didn't for a long time, i took it maybe 3 or 4 times a month max, it was probably a couple of years before i started taking it more regularly, maybe longer. Still, even when i took it regularly, i didn't take it every night, i took it about half the time for a long time.  

      Over the years, stresses of life, changes to deal with, i began taking it every night, but didn't increase the dose.  

      Then in 2011, my circumstances changed so that i had a long work day, got off late and then had a really long drive home in gridlock traffic, and the slow start stop start stop traffic made me get really drowsy to a point where my eyes would close and i would be drifting off. i couldn't pull off the freeway, it was late, i needed to get home, have dinner, relax, get to bed, start over int he morning. Over the years, i had become OK with 5 hours of sleep, sometimes less. For me, 6 hours of sleep was a good long night's sleep, i didn't feel tired, even on 5 hours of sleep i didn't feel tired, that was just normal. I was in good health, maybe that was why i didn't feel tired. But when i got that new long slow commute, i found that if i had gotten 6 hours of sleep the night before, i did not get drowsy driving home but if i got 5 hours sleep i did get drowsy. Because that was a scary safety issue, i began taking Ambien a second time during the night. I would go to sleep on it at bedtime and then i would wake after 4 or 5 hours and take another dose. It was so short acting that i didn't need an alarm clock.  So that's how i started taking it twice a night. 

      In the years that followed, i got tolerance for Ambien and increased the dose.  In late 2012, i switched to zoopiclone (Lunesta). It worked better for a while, although unlike Ambien, it gave me a day time hangover which made it hard to work at my job. After a few months, i added the Ambien back in so i was taking both which i did for a year and a half.  

      I retired from my job in January 2013 and i had long planned and expected to get off the sleeping meds when i retired. I had only been on the zopiclone for about 3 months then.  Because things had gone so well going cold turkey off of Valium 20 years before, i just expected that's what i would do and like before, it would be eliminated form my body and i would adapt and i would heal from it and become able to sleep ok without it, even if not a lot every night, that would be OK, i was retired. 

      But of course by then i had internet so since i was approaching going off the sleep meds, i googled it and i found that BenzoBuddies website. i read the horror stories of people who had gone cold turkey and i read about tapering.  There was not much about Z drugs like Ambien, mostly it was about benzos, but Z drugs are similar to benzos, just milder in some ways, so i read the info there, the Heather Ashton stuff on the site, and people's discussions.  

      The effect of this was that i became paralyzed, unable to face going off the meds.  After reading the comments of many people on there, including things that were written to me in response to my saying i planned to go cold turkey off the meds as i did on the Valium very successfully, i got really discouraging replies to that, scary replies, and i was encouraged to taper.  

      Tapering was psychologically unacceptable to me. That would be the worst of both worlds. I would be lowering my dose so that it would stop having its effect, and i would still be putting it in my body, it made no sense to me. The best thing about Valium withdrawals was knowing i was off it, forever, not going back, it was over, i just had to get through a period of withdrawals, i was happy about that. Tapering would just drag the process out, without the good feeling of knowing i wasn't putting it in my body anymore. But the horror stories about going cold turkey and ending up with semi-permanent damage, eternal withdrawal symptoms, caused me to chicken out of going off th meds.  I had a doctor who was prescribing me two kinds of Ambien and also zopiclone every month, and i was also buying Ambien overseas from overseas no prescription pharmacies, Ambien being so short acting, i had to take it twice every night.  

      So, that was early 2013 and i was stuck in that place all year, but when 2014 started, i finally was so disgusted with myself that every night i was still taking those pills and not trying to get off them, that i finallly cut the zopiclone into quarters and took 3/4 instead of the whole pill. Of course, i was still taking plenty of Ambien, so except for the first night of cutting the zopiclone, i slept normally, i had plenty of Ambien if i needed to take more, but except for maybe the first night, it wasn't necessary to take more.  It took me a couple of months, not because i couldn't have slept, but because i was scared, to cut the zopiclone, afraid i wouldn't sleep, not very rational--i had all the Ambien i needed. But it freaked me out.

      When i finished the last 1/4 pill of zopiclone in late Februarly, I was so happy, elated, i felt so free and empowered. It had had bad side effects while taking it, and i stopped having those after it was eliminated from my body.  So, i was optimistic and was going to go off the Ambien.  I wasn't sure how, because i didn't hvae another medication to take to get me to sleep the way i did when tapering off zopliclone.  I began cutting down my second dose of the night gfrom 10mg to 7.5mg.  i was just so happy to be off the zopiclone and it gave me optimism.  

      But then, a few days after my last zopiclone, i got a very scary physical episode where i couldn't walk and didn't have any coordination upon waking up. It was actually the second time it happened. The first time was in late January, 3 weeks after i made the first cut of the zopiclone, and the second time was early March, a few days after my last zopiclone. i wasn't sure if it was related to going off the zopiclone, but in both cases, when i ate a little bit of food, oatmeal the first time and rye bread the second time, the symptoms quickly went away, in seconds. So it had something to do with needing to eat something. 

      I concluded that i must have some weird kind of hypoglycemia, i googled that but couldn't find anyone who had symptoms like mine, but i started eating 5 times a day instead of three.  Because of this issue, i got off the track of going off the Ambien. i was really happy to be off the zopiclone. Eventually, after a few weeks, i found a doctor on a website called BenzoDocs which was in my area and i went to him for help getting off the Ambien, deciding i couldn't do it by myself. 

      He said the way it's usually done is to stop the Ambien or other Z drug and to switch to Valium. i was not thrilled to go back on Valium after happily thinking i would never take that again 20 years before (1993). But i had read all about it on BenzoBuddies and understood it, the elimination  half life of Ambien is only 2 or 3 hours. The elimination half life of Valium can be 100 hours, plus it has active metabolites (i do not know what that is) which add another 100 hours, so that Valium can have a 200 hour elimination half life, in addition to however much is accumulated in your muscle and fat tissiue, which will only be gradually eliminated. i didn't like that idea, i liked the way Ambien was out of my system so fast, within a day, i never felt hung over from it, i was adapted to the fairly short nights sleep i often got, i felt ok, i felt good much of the time.  not reaally tired. But it was/is a toxin and i want to be detoxed, no more poison, i want to be healthy, so i wanted to get off it.  

      I asked the doctor about how long it takes to taper off the Valium. He said "usually about two weeks." i thought, wow, that's not bad.  i don't mind that.  He said i would stop the Ambien, not taper, just stop and i would switch from 27mg a night of Ambien to 10mg a night of Valium. That seemed amazing, he said it wasn't necessary to taper off the Ambien. He said if i was getting off a benzo, that would be different, he would start with a taper during the cross over to Valium, but becasue it's just Ambien, which is less complex in withdrawals, i guess, i'm just interpreting what he said, it wasn't necessary to taper. He said i'd take the 10mg Valium for about a week and then start tapering off it.  

      That week was interesting.  First, it worked well for sleep. For the firrst time in years, i slept all night, i didn't wake up, i didn't need to take more meds. I thought that was so great.  But also, it gave me a terrible hangover all day every day.  I felt so tired all day--the whole point in taking sleeping meds was to not feel tired the next day, so i was not happy with this and was eager to taper off it.  He started me tapering 1mg a week. I went to 9mg, the first night it didnt' work as good, but then it worked ok.  I felt slightly less hungover, but still, tired all day, no energy.  I told him i wanted to taper faster. He said i could cut 1mg every 4 days.  So, i went to 8mg. My body adjusted ok and i felt less hungover. I coldn't feel the hang over anymore. i was still tired, but i thought that was from the hypoglycemia.  

      I had been slacking off on eating 5 times a day because i didn't like putting on a little weight from that and it was hard to fit all those meals in if i had an appointment during the day. i had started taking my glucose reading with one of those home test things that diabetics use. I started doing this because back during the last week i was on zopiclone, i had a routine lab work blood test, i had not had any blood test since 2010, and my doctor got alarmed and said that my glucose was extremely low, the lab wrote "critical" next to it. The doctor asked how i felt, i said i felt normal, which was not that good, which i thought was because of the sleeping meds, but because i was conscious and feeling "normal" he thought it was a lab error.  I knew it wasn't though because i had those two episodes where i was pretty incapacitated on waking in the morning and when i ate a little food, it cleared up.  so i was taking my sugar readings every morning when i got up and i could see they were really low every day. it had gotten a little better when i started eating 5 times a day, but then when i slacked off it was getting lower. 

      Then one morning i woke up laying on the floor and didn't know how i got there.  i couldn't get up for a while. Then finally i did and got some food and then could walk.  That happened two days in a row, and i started eating more again and the glucose testing got somewhat better. 

      Meanwhile, i really wanted to get off the Valium and was sorry i got on it because it was way past two weeks by then and i knew with the really long elimination half life it was just accumulating in my body, and compared to Ambien, benzos are much more addictive physically--Ambien only effects one GABA receptor in the brain, the one that affects sleep, sedation. Benzos affect 5 GABA receptors, sedation, anxiety, seizures, muscile relaxant, and one other i can't remember. So when you go off them, you are asking your body to adapt to all those things, whereas with Ambien, it's just the one.  i only ever took Valium back in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, for sleep, not for anxiety. I do get anxiety but it doesn't bother me where i would want to take medication for it. It's not very strong anxiety. i never took Valium during the day, just bedtime.

      But because of those really scary symptoms i was having, i felt like it wasn't a good time to make changes. I talked to the doctor about it, the addiction meds doctor, and he agreed, i would just stay at 8mg Valium until we could figure out what was wrong with me. i had tried 7mg and i didnt' get to sleep at all.

      What i could see is that i had developed some tolerance to the Valium, it wasn't keeping me asleep all night anymore, and i began taking Ambien again to get a whole night's sleep, not nearly as much as i was taking before, but the Valium wasn't doing it.  The addiction doctor was recommending that i go onto gabapentin to help taper off the Valium, before i told him about my really low glucose and scary symptoms like waking up on the floor and being unable to get up, whcih was cleared up by eating something.  That's when we agreed that i would just stay on the 8mg.  I told him i was taking Ambien because of the tolerance to the Valium, he said i should not do that.  But otherwise i wouldn't sleep. I did not want to add a new drug into the mix, the gabapentin, i read about it on wikipedia and didn't like the sound of it.  He agreed it was not the time to add a new drug.

      Not long after that appointment i went to a gastroenterologist who said my insulin shold be checked to rule out insulinoma.  My insulin was high even though i had low glucose, whicih showed that i do have insulinoma. If the body is working right, when glucose is low, insulin is turned off. The function of insulin is to lower glucose.  Insulinoma is a tumor that secretes insulin into the blood, even when glucose is normal or low, making it get really low, it's on the pancreas, 90+% of them are benign, not malignant, people have them for a long time before they're diagnosed, years, they usually don't grow. So i started working on getting that fixed. Surgery cures it, and i am in the midst of trying to set that up, i had CT scan last Monday but it didn't show the tumor so i have to have another kind of test, endoscopy ultrasound, the tumors can be very tiny and hard to locate with CT and MRI. The endoscopy may not show it.  i hope it does. because if that doesn't work, then the surgeon doesn't know where on the pancreas to look for it, and that is a problem. He said he would recommend exploratory surgery to look for it, but if it's too small, they might not find it.  This sux.  

      So, this has me off of the project of getting off the Valium, yet i feel bad putting the Valium into my system, because of the extremely long half life and the way it builds up in your tissue because you are putting more in than you can eliminate, if i had it to do over, i would not go on the Valium. That is my situation. For other people it reportedly helps a lot.  

      I was feeling so tired every day, listless, lethargic, and not happy about that, and i was thinking it was the insulinoma effects, but then i was realizing that before i started taking the Valium, i didn't feel that way. When i was just taking the Ambien, i felt good, i felt normal, even on not much sleep, i had energy, i could do things, housework, stuff like that, except when the glucose got too low, but even then, before i knew i had low glucose, i felt good in the mornings usually, i would go for a walk before breakfast, do some yoga for 10 minutes or so, do stuff before having breakfast, and thinking about that and about how ever since i started taking the Valium, i've been tired, it dawned on me that the Valium was making me tired. Maybe my liver isn't processing it as well as some other people who dont' feel hungover have.  I had been feeling hung over again, not as strong as the first week but hung over.

      Every night, i would put the valium in my body and i would think "I am now ruining my day tomorrow."  I decided i had to get off the Valium even if i had to use the Ambien to do it, to get to sleep, which is kind of funny--first i went on the Valium to get off the Ambien, and now i'm stuck on the Valium and seeing the Ambien as a much less toxic drug that doesn't make me feel bad, i am now using the Ambien to help me get off the Valium. I tapered down one mg Valium a week ago saturday night. i did not sleep much that night even though i took Ambien three times, i did not fall asleep on the 7mg Valium.  I finally took one more dose of Ambien at 4am and i slept for about 3 hours, i woke feeling happy that i slept at all. i got up, and soon i noticed that i felt a lot better than usual, i had energy, i had motivation to do things that i had been procrastinating, paperwork, straightening up stuff. It was great.  I did not expect 1 mg to make me feel that much better but apparently it did. i could still feel the grogginess but less, and i just felt so much better. So i have been on 7mg Valium for a little over a week, taking as much Ambien now as i was taking before i got off it, and i am about to cut another mg of Valium and will be down to 6mg one day this week.

       i want that stuff out of my body.  Ambien is out of your circulation in a day.  Valium--months and months.  Some people will have a shorter elimnation half life on Valium, it can be as short as 30 or 40 hours, it depends on all those things like age, liver function, general health, activity level, diet, but in all the sources i've seen, it usually says 100 hours and then another 100 hours for the active metabolite, again, not sure what that means but it just means it stays in your system for a really long time.  The last dose you took will very slowly leave your body, and the dose you took the night before will be slowly leaving your body, and the dose before that.  So, if i had it to do over, since it didn't turn out to be a two week taper, i would not go onto Valium again.  Again, apparently many people taper off the Valium and go on with their lives.  Not happening for me.  Partly due, maybe, to the insulinoma effects.

      Last night, for the first time, i actually had the idea that i feel so negative about being on the Valium, putting this stuff in my body that willl just stay there indefinitely that i actually had the thought that once i get down to 5mg Valium, might just switch off it and go back onto 7.5mg zopiclone (3mg Lunesta) because the eliimination half life of zopiclone is only about 6 hours and it's out of your circulation in a few days and you can leave it behind you, though there is always some in stored in the fat and muscle tissue for a while that will eventually be elimated--it would be nowhere near the mount of built up Valium in my system and its active metabolite. I wifll have to wait who knows how long for that to be eliminated. 

      So, as bad as zopiclone was for me, the weird morning symptoms it gave me, and how much better i felt when i got off it, i am thinking that might be a faster way to stop putting that Valium in my system. I fairly easily got off the zopiclone in January and February and in the end i realized that i could've done it much quicker than i did, but fear slowed me down. The psychological aspect of meds addiction can really be strong. i think i can get off the zopiclone in a month at most, and then finally i will be back to taking just one drug again, yay.  And once the surgery thing is over, i can get off the Ambien..  sigh...

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    • Posted

      Hi Jaw, Thank you for your comprehensive description of benzo and Z drug intake over the years. You were brave and lucky to have gone cold turkey of the Valium, but as you said, that was before we all had the internet. A metabolite, incidentally, is a breakdown product of a drug or other compound. It may be "active" or "inactive" and in the case of Valium one of its metabolites (most likey the first breakdown product) is also psychoactive. Very interesting to hear about the insulinoma, I hope that the surgeon can locate the tumour with a laproscopic examination. I'll say a prayer for you that that's the case. I also hope that you can become chemical free very soon.

      My own symptoms seem to be improving slowly. I'm mostly plagued by dizziness and tinnitus and little bouts of anxiety. Headaches are still there but pretty mild thankfully. It's only 8 days since I ceased the Ativan so I think that I can expect more of the same but with a decreasing magnitude. Best wishes, and I mean what I said about praying for you.

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    • Posted

      i will appreciate the prayers for healing, and same for you, you are you making it.  Glad the symptoms are losing intensity.  the body is trying to eliminate the drug.  thanks for the explanation of active metablolite.  apparently it doubles the elimination half life of Valium.  Not all the benzos and Z drugs have active metabolites. again, i really appreciate the support. i'm having a procedure on a week from Thursday morning to locate the insulinoma, i hope they will find it then.  meanwhile, i am ready to cut another mg of the Valium, that can only be good.  smile
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    • Posted

      Sorry Gerard, been away for two weeks. I have still so far not tried to withdraw from zopiclone, and am waiting till i get back after another week's travel. In the meantime I picked up my prescription of 56 zops for 2 weeks this morning.

      In the begining zops helped me sleep and nice and 'relaxed'. Some people say they get high on them, I did not find that, but they did reduce anxiety (I hate flying - one zop before a flight and I did not worry about turbulence any more). However, the nice effects do not last too long. I ended up finding that if I didn't take one approx every 6 hours, (coincidentally the half life of zopiclone) then I would become a bit agitated and nervous. Leaving any later - well I never got to that stage as I could order supplies from UP until this June.

      There are sublt other changes that zops have on your mind - like you seem to lose interest in things you liked before; you get more irritable. I never had a problem with headaches, in fact they seemed to reduce the (stress related) headaches I had in the past. I would also say they make you more paranoid and unwilling to go out of the house.

      I do hope you keep up with your withdrawal. I'm planning to start when my travels have stopped in a week or so. I'll let you know how it goes - I am not looking forward to it...

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