low dose diazepam for 3/4 months. will I experience withdrawals on stopping ?

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I have MS & prescribed diazepam (5mg) for muscle spasm. I never take full dose, only ever 2.5mg on a when needed basis. I've always been worried about addictive nature of diazepam. After particularly bad spell last summer my GP persuaded me not to be afraid of taking diazepam.

Over last 3 or 4 months I've been taking 2.5mg every night to help with night spasm. But for last 3/4 weeks have taken prescribed zopiclone 7.5mg 2 or 3 nights per week. GP told me not to take diazepam on nights I took zopiclone, which I didn't. But, I took 2.5mg diazepam as usual on other nights.

Up until last weekend when I took nothing at all for 2 nights & then had an awful sleepless night. It was then that I researched zopiclone, and was horrified at what I read about it. And it's relationship to diazepam ! I haven't touched zopiclone for 4 nights now and will never take it again. I have taken my 2.5mg diazepam though.

My question is...could I be (inadvertently)now physically dependant on diazepam ? And, will I now experience physicl withdrawals symptoms if I stop it ?

I want to stop the regular nightly 2.5mg but want to know if you can be physically dependant on a low dose. I cut the 5mg tab in half to take the 2.5 so I'm not sure if I need to cut this in half for a few nights (if so, how long for?) Or will I be ok just stopping ?

I've found a lot of advice about coming off higher doses & withdrawal, but nothing about smaller once a day doses. I can't believe I could have unknowingly become physically dependant and want to stop. Any advice/info much appreciated

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  • Posted

    Probably yes! One person I know took 2 mg a day for a week and they had a really difficult time coming off! Have you been on any of the z drugs such as zopiclone or benzodiazepines before? Have you been told why you are having muscle spasms? What other medications including alcohol are you on?
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    • Posted

      Muscle spasm is multiple sclerosis. I also take baclofen. And yes, had zopiclone 5 yrs ago for 3 weeks taking it 2 nights a week & 18 months ago, 2 or 3 nights sporadically for about a month with no problems.

      Used diazepam sporadically on odd occasions for multiple sclerosis spasm & spasticity when really severe but never on regular basis until last 3 months.

      Don't drink alcohol at all and only other med is Lansoprazole.

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    • Posted

      I also have muscle spasms due to autonomic neuropathy ( similar to MS) Lanzoprazole is a PPI ( proton pump inhibitor) to my recollection it does interact with benzos. I do have contacts all over so what part of the country are you so if I can't help they may be able to?
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    • Posted

      Pity I'm in the SW I'll message you asap abut will help you on here. I'm about to try and post about a drug called Pregabalin in a minute and see if that comes up on this group.
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    • Posted

      I was on Pregabalin about 5yrs ago. Great for neuropathic pain but had to stop because of massive weight gain & GI complications. I can't tolerate most of usual standard MS meds, that's why the diazepam was used sporadically until the last 3 months. If I hadn't researched zopiclone, and it's relationship with diazepam, I would have just reduced diazepam in half for a week and then stopped. But I read so many horror stories (but none related to 3.5mg) that I've scared myself to death.
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  • Posted

    Sorry just read all your post, only part of it arrived. You have answered much of what I was asking. I will go through it tomorrow with seone else and see what we think is the best way forward. In the meantime if you could answer questions that you haven't written that would help!
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    • Posted

      Have replied to answer your questions. My recent use of zopiclone was 2/3 nights a week for 3 weeks and I havent had zopiclone for 4 days. I took one last Tuesday & Wednesday. ..none (but took 2.5 diazepam) Thursday, Friday, Saturday & took one last Sunday but nothing since, other than diazepam as stated, at night. I may try cutting my 2.5 (half a tab) in half tonight & try that for a week. I look forward to your reply when you have any further info. Thank you
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  • Posted

    Yes you could experience withdrawal symptoms, Diazepam is recommended for short term use of 2-4 weeks but I have known people to suffer withdrawal even after a couple of week's regular use so 3/4 months is long enough to become dependent.

    The first time I stopped it ( well my dr did) I had only been on it for 3 weeks in total and the first week I took just 2mg every other day then 6mg daily, I had horrific withdrawal because the idiot doctor insisted I just cut it dead and refused to let me reduce it slowly.

    Dependency is not neccesarily dose related either, it's the regular use that causes that, don't just stop it, that could be dangerous.

    At 2.5mg you should be looking to cut 0.5mg and hold that, I appreciate though that this is very difficult with a 5mg tablet, would your doctor provide 2mg tablets or liquid Diazepam so you could make the gradual reduction.

    After reducing you should hold for a while, 2 weeks is a general indication,it may need to be held longer though, this is because Diazepam has a long half life and it can take days for withdrawal symptoms to show.

    You need to make a reduction, allow time for your brain to adjust and then you can make another and so on.

    Most people say they notice a peak in withdrawal symptoms at about 3-6 days after a reduction but some say it takes longer which is why it's important not to rush it.

    It doesn't mean you will have a horrid withdrawal but you probably will feel it to some extent, allow that to pass and then make the next reduction.

    A slow withdrawal will minimise the withdrawal symptoms too, you may get lucky and not really have anything too noteable but if you stop suddenly you will definitely feel it and it's awful.

    I am about to brave a taper after 17 years of being on it, set a date for after my daughter's birthday so I am not suffering from it on that day, I have been reading so much about tapering.

    If you google Ashton manual benzodiazepines you will find a great deal of information, there is a guideline for tapering that suggests 1mg every 2 weeks but some people say it was too fast for them so you need to set your own pace really.

    There is a forum called benzobuddies and whilst I personally find it overwhelming because it has so many members the people there are extremely clued up about Benzos and how to safely come off them so you may find it useful to google that too.

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    • Posted

      Re the Ashton manual - I agree it is far too soon I only suggest it for symptoms and it is also recommended by NICE. You need to switch to the liquid which is 2mg in 5 mils elixir and do it in your own time. Too slow is better than too quick!
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    • Posted

      Absolutely, the manual suggests I cut 2mg ( I am on 20mg per day) and no way could I cope with that, a  sidenote does say perhaps 1mg for my starting dose but I am going to begin with a cut of 0.5mg, rather do it slowly than rush it and make it harder than it needs to be.
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    • Posted

      I agree with much of what you say but three weeks is the shortest I would say and then only if you have stabilised. If not wait until you are ready. Don't attempt another drop of inder any stress. I would also get the GP to prescribe ( saves having to buy) vitamin B .
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    • Posted

      Thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it and will allow for more time between dose reductions and take notice of what my body is doing and also avoid another drop if I am stressed, I didn't know about B vitamins either so thanks for that too.
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    • Posted

      This has been tried in the past but..... Remember you calculate not anybody else eg if you are on say 10 mg a day and did drop by 10% you would be on 9 mg well don't be fooled by a doctor saying drop another mg because 10% of 9 mg is .9 not 1 mg and the last bit is the important bit. Hopefully with the liquid measure into the syringe but be very accurate and do wipe it of. .1 of a mil seems nothing but you may be tempted to lick the syringe, seen it!!
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  • Posted

    Zopiclone or any z drug in withdrawal is as bad as benzodiazepam withdrawal. I have posted on here that as both of these drugs are similar they should also be classed together as well a separately. The moderator is looking into it. I will be replying to him over the weekend. In the meantime

    go on Wikipedia and search

    Benzodiazipnes and/or zopiclone gaba receptors. Also look at the Ashton manual.

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