My question as posed to a few benzo boards

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Click on picture if you can't read the fine print

I don’t hang out on benzo boards much anymore. They tend to be horrifyingly scary and unnecessarily alarming. Also I think on some of them, information that is genuinely reckless is routinely given out. So after gathering tons of info over a couple of years time I stopped frequenting them.

They’ve definitely played a very important role in my education and there is no where else to go for such a large pool of experience about how benzo withdrawal is actually lived and experienced. So the groups have been key in my learning process. Also not all groups are the same. Some are fine and wonderfully supportive and others not so much and while I was learning they were all helpful to various degrees. In the end though I found them all distressing in some ways. There are a lot of people who are grossly suffering on them and I needed some distance.

Now every once in a while I return when I become stumped by something in my current benzo withdrawal. This time I’ve been having an experience, really for over a year, intermittently, that I’ve not heard of others having. And given I pretty much spend my life studying withdrawal it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. So when I have something that I don’t understand or am not very familiar with I will pop in with a question.

This was my question last night and now I pose it to my readers as well, as you all are a source of information too.

(subject) drugged out feeling/intense sedation

I feel intermittently drugged out of my mind. I call it the “I just got shot up with heroin feeling.” Though I don’t know what that feels like in reality I imagine it’s something like what I’m experiencing but I don’t’ get the blissed out feeling.

I basically just get overwhelmed with a sense of being totally drugged and I essentially “nod-out” like a junky. I’ve worked with heroin addicts before so I’ve actually seen it…

I become completely unable to do anything at all.

I’ve come off 6 psychotropic drugs in 6 years. I was on 3 mg of Klonopin. It’s the last drug I’m coming off of after 20 years of being medicated.

I did the crossover to Valium, so I was on 60 mg. I’m now down to 11 mg. Why do I feel like I’m on more drugs than ever?? And I’m not sure if it means I need to taper or hold??

I don’t know what it is? Does anyone have this experience or know of it??

if you need more info please ask…I just don’t really know how to explain.

Strangely out of thousands of members I only got one response so far. Now granted it’s the weekend and I may get more responses. Of course it may not be so strange because if it was easily answered or a common problem I would have heard of it.

The one response I’ve gotten so far basically tells me what I already know—that is, ANYTHING can come up in withdrawal. Yeah, well, I know that, but like everyone else in withdrawal I like to be assured I’m not alone. Funny thing about human suffering. We either think we’ve got it worse than anyone or we desperately seek out others like us. I’m no different in that I fall into those traps from time to time.

Anyway this guy also asked when I made my last taper and if the “nodding-out” feeling was right after a dose or not. I answered with this, this morning.

Hi (fellow benzo person),
Yeah, I know all that…but this is new and I’ve not heard anyone report this before…was hoping to simply get some assurance that I’m not a freak of nature… :-)

Anyway, yesterday it was ALL DAY LONG. And NOT right after I took the dose…and it’s been intermittent but SUPER intermittent for almost a year…it certainly wouldn’t have me nodding out all day like yesterday.

It had been two weeks since I tapered and so I cut again last night and I slept much better and woke up feeling better…it’s just I’ve been in horrible withdrawal hell the whole two weeks so I didn’t know if I should cut or not, but the cut did help a lot…first time in ages I woke up without horrible nausea.

Weird, is all I can say…

And I’m still sick as heck but definitely better today…

I still want to know if others have had this experience…I’ve been hanging around withdrawal boards for 3 years and don’t remember hearing about it ever…so it puzzles me…I also sleep a lot but am weak and frail and bed bound…most people can still move around more than me but seem to have much worse insomnia..

anyway…thanks…I’ll see if others responded too.

I did get one other brief response saying some people don’t tolerate Valium. I’ve been thinking that all along. That the V messes with me. But at this point there is no turning back. And the Klonopin was probably even worse.

So that’s the latest. Readers, if you have any insight please do share. Today I’m better in some ways but I’m horribly irritable and jumpy. More than usual. Ah…this seems a never ending and strange journey, indeed.

Comments

  1. I understand benzodiazapines are the most addictive, of the psychotropic drugs.

  2. that’s a topic of debate…having come off EVERY class of psychotropic now I don’t necessarily agree.

    Benzos have just been in the limelight the longest. People are more aware.

    the other classes of drugs people don’t come off of nearly as often…they are under the spell of their docs that they need them and so they don’t try getting off and then they don’t know they’re addicted….

    all the psychotropics are potentially addictive and dangerous to come off of. The longer one is on any of them the more complicated it gets.

    there are lucky people with all the classes of drugs, including benzos, that come off the meds with no problems whatsoever even after many years use…

    and the opposite is true as well…there are others who have a horrible, horrible time with ANY of the psychotropics…one persons hell drug may be another’s easy drug and vice versa…that is what I’ve seen while studying withdrawal among thousands at this point…

  3. Hi Gianna,

    I think it is my first time commenting on your website.

    I am not sure not sure this will be what you’re talking about but let me take a shot. I am on my last med also to taper which is Doxepin, a tricylic antidepressant for folks not familiar with it. I started tapering 4 meds in 2006.

    I am at 3.2mg and made an 8% cut almost two weeks ago. My sleep is not an issue and I am certainly not physically sick like you are. But I feel like I can’t focus on or do anything.

    A family member called about having dinner and I felt zoned out about it even though I definitely wanted to do it.

    I don’t know if what I am experiencing is similar to you but I feel very apathetic even though I have a million things that need to be done. I don’t have the sense of urgency that I should. Is that the zoned out feeling you are talking about or something else?

    A few weeks ago, I actually was at the point where I was making plans in Outlook. Then my sleep got messed up. That has been corrected but I can’t seem to get the urgency back to get things done.

    I am so sorry you are having these experiences.

    AA

  4. Hi AA,
    nice to have you join the conversation.

    No it’s not the same. I’m actually not apathetic at all. I’m dying to do stuff and I have a will of iron. I simply CAN’T do stuff.
    and the feeling is literally like I’ve been shot up with a sedative…so I distinctly feel like I’m on more drugs than I’ve ever been on.

    anyway..apathy is a common withdrawal symptom too and if you have responsibilities, I imagine it makes sense to feel apathetic when one feels lousy.

    I stopped accepting any responsibility that required my leaving the house almost 2 years ago because I ceased to be reliable (my BODY ceased to be reliable, that is) I am by nature a very reliable person…

    thanks for sharing your experience.
    G

  5. Hi G!

    Just wanted to relate my experience that v was extremely sedating for me. I needed to sleep like 12 hours a day just to get out of bed and function, and even then, I was often taking a two hour nap. I believe that 11 mg of v is still a pretty big dose, especially given that it hangs around in the body for so long. Once long ago, I was prescribed v by a specialist for the specific purpose of relaxing my bladder, and he prescribed 2.5 mg a day – in other words, 2.5 mg a day can be a therapeutic dose. I also experienced overwhelming exhaustion at points in my taper when the w/d was particularly nasty, even when I was strictly on ativan, and I would sleep all day, waking up for brief moments, looking at the clock and seeing that four or five hours had gone by, for example, and then just falling right back to sleep.

    I am looking forward to your complete recovery so much – I am approaching my one year anniversary on July 30th and life is so different now! I can’t wait for you to join me.

  6. thank you Pat!!
    I of course want to join you on the other side too!!

    yes, V is sedating by all accounts…more so than other benzos…BUT I’m only on a 1/6th of the dose I was on now and this drugged out feeling is worse than ever…AND I used to get it when I was on Klonopin too…

    but I DO thinkg that the V messes with me more. I’ve talked to others who have done the crossover and they said that while initially they got more sedated that after 6 weeks they got used to it. No such luck for me.

    Anyway…it’s just weird and I think I’m going to have to live without understanding it…just as I have to live without understanding why the heck I’m mostly bed bound…

    soon…I hope to see you on the other side…

    wow!! a whole year…I want to celebrate with you!!
    love you,
    G

  7. I have no idea how to help you… but glad that the cut seems to have made it better. I make my next cut in two days but if I don’t sleep better between now and then, I’m not going to make the cut.

  8. someone on one of the boards thought I was talking about “fatigue.” they also suggested I not take melatonin or benadryl which I don’t. I clarified:

    well,
    I’m really not talking about fatigue..I’ve been so fatigued that I’ve been bed bound for about 6 months and unable to do much of anything for over two years…fatigue is old hat.

    fatigue is nothing compared to this…this is woozy drugged out weirdness where all I can do is curl up and pretty much trip out like a heroin junky..I’m not exaggerating.

    I’m used to fatigue…this is a different animal..

    I’ve also been withdrawing for 6 years…the last two being when I’ve become disabled from the “fatigue.” again this drugged out feeling doesn’t allow me to even talk or write…which is all I’m generally able to do now.

    anyway…thanks..
    I’m not going to look for answers anymore…there are none.

    I’ve just got to let go of wanting answers and finish the detox and then start healing.

    I don’t take melatonin..it sickens me. So does benadryl for that matter..makes me hyper.

    peace,
    G

  9. kimbriel,
    your plan sounds good…don’t rush it if you’re not sleeping….

  10. I did not have this drug withdrawal experience on any where near this level as you know; but as I read this something popped to mind. I wonder if it might be that you are now desensitizing from mmassive doses and are therefore far MORE affected by the SMALLER dosages as a result? The reason I thought of this is because I do not take any drugs now and have not for many years, so even the smallest doses of anything (like gravol/Dimenhydrinate, for example renders me unconscious) has a much greater affect on me than it ever has on those who have been addicted. Just a thought.

  11. it’s a good thought Patricia and lots of people have noticed such sensitivities…many people talk about getting toxic on the drugs…and I do feel toxic…

    the pain in the ass reality is that even if I am, indeed, toxic, rushing the withdrawal still has a price…

    it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

    thanks for your thoughts!

  12. Saralynn Ingrassia says:

    I often go on those message boards for an answer to a particular question and the assortment of replies ends up confusing me and makes me feel more depressed. Now I simply ask you! Sometimes I visit messaage boards because I’m lonely. It’s nice to be around people who UNDERSTAND. On the other hand, it’s too much like looking in the mirror and not good for my mental health. I like what you said about accepting the withdrawal for what it is and not expecting to understand everything about it.

    You’ll get past this bump in the road, Gianna! You’ve survived much bigger ones on your journey of freedom.

  13. Gianna, the reason I haven’t commented is my lack of experience with benzos. I was put on Valium by some well-meaning doctor back in my youth (12-14 years old) but don’t remember how long I used it or what happened when I took myself off it. I remember I was taking 10 mg/day at age 17, (take the blue pill, Neo) but that’s my last memory of it. I have not been on a benzo since then, although I have angrily refused Klonopin a few times when a doctor suggested it.

    I know the doctors at New Vistas were adamantly either not accepting patients on benzos (Xanax, Ativan) or only accepting them if they were willing to wean themselves off… but they didn’t seem to recognize that Klonopin was a benzo, and treated it like a mainstream psych drug.

    Hugs,
    Moss

  14. Klonopin is a mainstream psych drug…I worked at Blue Ridge before it became New Vistas…they did try to avoid benzo use at that time too, though my recollection is that they avoided Klonopin too…it’s possible the new management changed things.

    The thing is New Vistas was a public community mental health center…they generally have a better sense of the fact that benzos are addictive because they deal with “street” addicts too. It’s pretty common for the community services to not use benzos in general…I noted that when I was in social worker in San Francisco too.

    benzos are much more often misprescribed by private physicians because they don’t see how often benzos are abused on the street and therefore they don’t think of anyone who asks for a benzo as a drug seeking addict.

    poor people are in some sense discriminated against in this way…but in this instance it works in their favor. One less nasty psychotropic drug to get addicted to.

  15. Saralynn,
    one needs to be quite discriminating when visiting those boards…or really any site on mental health including this one…I present information…I don’t always agree with 100% of what I post (meaning when I post other people’s work for example)…sometimes it’s just to get people thinking…

  16. Hi Gianna, I admit to being very concerned about your symptoms. I send positive vibes (and prayers) your way and hope you can turn the corner soon. I don’t have any direct experience but also wonder, as someone here has suggested, if you are having a toxic reaction and also are becoming increasingly sensitized as you get off to ever smaller doses. Even though 11mg is tiny by your standards it’s still a pretty big dose and I just think your body is becoming ever more sensitive. I have a hard time getting my head around the idea that ever smaller doses would create ever bigger reactions but it almost seems like this is how it works. I am relieved to hear that your last taper seems to be providing a temporary respite from some of the symptoms anyway. You have made so much progress and demonstrated such incredible strength along the way. It seems so unfair that you are going to need more of this than ever now. I honestly hope you get a break soon. Take care and big hugs.

  17. Gianna,

    I think we know so very little about how any psychotrpoic drug works, including benzos, that it would be impossible to even speculate about many of the symptoms. Some guesses seem to make sense, like neurological symptoms are worse on the left side of he body because there are more gaba receoptors on the right side of the brain … it makes sense, but we don’t know for sure.

    What we do know is that our bodies will heal if we let them, because that’s what they’re made to do. And your body started to heal as soon as you made your first cut of your first drug you withdrew from. You will finish healing, over time, once you’re completely off the drugs. How we heal involves billions of actions and interactions that we couldn’t possibly keep track of. And who would want to?

    I’ve stopped trying to figure out what this or that symptom is caused by. Because I’ll never be ale to know for sure. I just know it’s getting better. I have absolute trust in my body to do what it needs to do … provided I taper at a reasonable rate and give it whatever nutritional and other support it requires …

  18. good for you Selene,
    I wish I had such unfailing faith at all times…I do work as hard as I can to give my body what it needs though.

    Sara,
    thank you…your support always means so much to me!

  19. Gianna, I don’t feel the sense of oversedation you are describing as I taper, but in reading this I am wondering something–perhaps a neurologist could answer it for sure. The Benzo’s, as I understand it, replace a chemical that the brain makes naturally to help us with anxiety. When the benzo’s replace the chemical, the brain basically stops making it. Part of the withdrawal, IMHO, is that it takes a while for our brains to realize that this chemical from the outside is no longer there, hence most people get pretty anxious at first.

    What I’m wondering in your case is if perhaps your brain HAS realized that the outside chemicals are no longer there and if it’s actually making more of them than you really need. If this is the case, then your brain will eventually balance itself out and only make the amount of the chemical you need.

    I admit to also being pretty concerned about your physical state–I know this may seem unthinkable at the moment, but is there any chance that you could start work with a physical therapist at some point? I call the three I’ve worked with since my surgery my angels–my current one even taught me a way to get my arthritic knee to calm down without drugs! (I love her dearly but I also call her my very own Spanish Inquisition). If not for these three people I would not be walking (albeit very much like a drunken sailor!!) now. I don’t want to be pushy but muscle atrophy is not an easy thing to come back from–I had one muscle that did atrophy and it’s been over 4 months of constant work and it’s still not all the way back yet!

  20. Hi, my prayers are with you too… I have such a horrible sensitivity to all benzos that I make them put it on my allergy bracelet whenever I go to the hospital, and doctors still want to talk me into trying different kinds of benzo before surgery and it always makes me horribly sick.

    I’ve never been through a benzo taper, but I have been through withdrawal hell and the drugs did seem the most potent when I was on less. When I got down to my last slivers of lamictal I HAD to take them on time or my system would go into screaming anxiety attacks and I don’t know what else; I remember sprinting back to my apartment to take them before I completely lost my mind, and they ‘worked’ right away when I did… I don’t know how much of that was placebo effect for me (I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to live without drugs), but I know that the last little bit is the hardest and it’s got to be even worse with nasty drugs like benzos. That might be all your drugged feeling is.

  21. I’ve had the maximum allowable of physical therapy through home care…I practice what I was taught… I do exercises in bed. I do all sorts of things to keep myself well including making myself get up and cook and do other tasks in spite of breaking out in sweats and feeling like I’m going to pass out….

    as I’ve said before I have a will of iron and I push well beyond what I feel like doing every single day.

  22. Gianna,
    Just a thought…
    Is it possible that your body is making your tired because it is beginning to heal and is using a lot of your (admittedly low) energy reserves for that? I know that when I’m healing after surgery or an accidental injury, I am always really tired/zoned…I’ve always attributed it to my system channeling all my energy into getting well…sort of a defense mechanism, so that you CAN’T overdo it.
    Like I said, just a thought.
    Peace,
    Jazz

  23. yes Jazz,
    it’s very possible…there is a concept called a “healing crisis” in which part of the healing is feeling sicker…it’s actually used a lot in all sorts of detox literature…drugs as well as environmental toxins etc…

    I think it’s very possible and it’s a positive way of looking at things.

  24. After,
    I noticed I made no comment…wanted you to know I appreciated what you shared.

    I can’t take any kind of narcotics so anesthesia is a mess for me too…now it may be worse!

  25. womanofhope says:

    Gianna, I don’t know if this will be helpful, but…

    For most of April, all of May and all of June I was off of the Abilify. I had Valium for sleep, but I only took it about once every 10-15 days or so, and always before bedtime (no more than 1.25 mg). I noticed that while driving during the day, I would suddenly feel as if someone had given me an injection of a high dose of a sedative, and I could barely keep my eyes open. I felt so sedated I would have to pull off of the road and buy some coffee… and I am NOT a coffee drinker.

    There was no pattern to this feeling. This “high” could hit me 4 days after I took the Valium or 10 after I took the Valium.

    Strangely enough, it also happened to me last summer, when I was, again, off of the Abilify. That time, though, I wasn’t taking anything for sleep. The feeling is very strange, very sudden, very intermittent and can last from a few minutes to a few hours. I, too, feel high and sedated, but not blissful (likewise, I don’t know what a heroin high is like). It only happens when I drive and I always have to ingest some caffeine to make it to my destination.

    I know this is not an explanation, but maybe you can see something in this that mirrors your own situation.

  26. WofH,
    thanks,
    it does make me think that maybe the multiple med situation perhaps predisposes us to it…it sounds very similar…for me too it can be a few minutes or a few hours…yesterday, though was the first time it was ALL day long and that is what moved me to seek an answer…today I’m relatively “normal” again (normal is a grossly relative term–always, I suppose)

    No one in the benzo boards had any idea what it was as far as I could tell. No one said, “oh, yeah, I know what you’re talking about.” which makes me think it does have something to do with my polydrug history…and we’ve both been on neuroleptics…it might not have anything to do with the benzo!!

    in any case, as I’ve said, I’m letting it go…no more trying to figure it out…just onward and off the meds and to better health!

    Thanks….I do appreciate the input.

  27. Mary in SC says:

    Gianna,

    I think surely this is something a dr is doing for you already, but if by chance not, then be sure to have your blood chemistry analyzed. I had a friend who had terrible physical problems from using benzos for many years. I remember after one of her hospital stays her daughter told me her blood chemistry was very messed up.

    One other side note not directly relevant to your problems, but now it turns out my husband is detoxing off temazepam. He had sleep apnea and his dr put him on a fairly low dose, just 30 mg. at night. He never abused it, and it cleared up his sleep apnea – strangely enough! But he began having coordination/balance problems and fell a few times, so finally I had the presence of mind to show him literature on the side effects (esp. on the elderly, which he is). He has cut to 15 mg and is having aches & pains that he can usually handle with ibuprophen, and loss of appetite which he can ill afford, as he’s underweight now. But his balance has improved and so has his disposition – he was getting mean as a snake before he cut down! He doesn’t sleep as soundly, but the sleep apnea hasn’t returned so far. He plans to go back to his sleep dr. and make plans for something – not a benzo! – to replace the temazepam. Do you know about herbal/alternative meds that might help with his sleeplessness, by the way?

    Hang in there – we’re all pulling for you!

    Love,
    Mary in SC

  28. temazepam is not really a side note…it’s essentially a benzo….it’s an anxiolytic too…very short acting and can be worse than getting off a benzo..Ambien is like that too.

    He got hoodwinked just like I did…

    you know crossing over to Valium might actually help because it’s long acting if he just makes the switch to get off.

    very sorry to hear of his difficulties.

    for natural calming help see here:

    http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/natural-sleep/

    Best to both of you.

  29. Well, I can share a bit about what I’m experiencing with regards to the drugged out feeling…yes, I have felt that…cannot speak or talk, sometimes can’t even write! However, counterintuitively, when I was on a low dose of alprazolam, and I completely cut it out, the drugged out feeling went away. I still had/have trouble communicating, but all in all I felt better. Now, I’ve cut my temazepam dose to a negligible amount and the drugged out feeling returned. In fact, a week after I cut, I had a very low energy leave me alone day that resolved itself by the next morning. During the week prior to that day, I had increased anxiety etc. and a very heavy limbed feeling like I was a walking bowling ball. Ha! But I’m slowly coming out of it…in another month I will drop the last of the temazepam. My sleep is feeling more normal…I wake up more refreshed…I think the ‘healing crisis’ explanation is spot on.

  30. Gianna:

    Yes-there are some of us who feel more drugged as they come off of the benzo! I know because I’m one of them and I hope it helps knowing that. I thought I was a freak because I’m experiencing this and the boards (that can be frightening and alarming as you shared) seemed to not have people on them who were experiencing this. And I have that determination, too, to keep on going. I don’t have nearly the physical debilitation that you do right now, but I do experience some nasty stuff physically. The worst is the mental aspect that I have to work through minute by minute, day to day, but I have always been determined to continue with a somewhat normal life in spite of this. Those around me seem to view it either as 1) I’m pushing myself too hard; OR 2) I’m doing things like going to work and going out with friends so I MUST be fine. No one seems to get it but I have to resolve myself to the fact that if they haven’t been in my mocassins they just won’t ever get it. I like the healing crisis theory, and I often think in terms of my body wanting this poison out of it while simulataneously going through withdrawal. BOTH things are going on and it, in a word, sucks!

    Jan

  31. yeah it does suck…and virtually nobody gets it…feels lonely.

    thanks for sharing.

  32. Mary in SC says:

    Legan – my husband is interested in comparing his symptoms with yours. How much temazepam were you on originally, and how much now? How much and how often do you taper? And what other drugs are you on? And most of all, has any drug at all helped you through this process?? Thanks! Mary

  33. Mary-

    I was put on 60 mg of temazepam last august. I took that dose continuously through february or march, I can’t remember. (benzo withdrawal!) At that point, I droppped to 30 mg, stabilized on that for about 4 or 5 months. I dropped to 15 mg about a week ago. That was when I felt like a bowling ball. I plan to cut out the 15 mg in another month and a half. Apparently there is no difference in efficacy from 7.5 to 15 mg, and I’ve been dropping 15 mg all along, so I’m hoping that will be it for me. Temazepam is a low potency benzodiazepine, but highly highly addictive. After two days of use you can experience withdrawals. (It is also has ‘low affinity’ for the gaba receptors it acts upon, so in comparison, I have found it easier to endure the withdrawal symptoms, in relation to say alprazolam which was complete and utter hell because it has a ‘high affinity’ for gaba.)

    After I accomplish this, I will be drug free. Hallelujah.

    That being said, I am on no other psych meds currently. I did withdraw from Seroquel, Lamictal, Neurontin, Clonazepam, and Alprazolam, so the effects of those drugs on my body are most certainly in play.

    (Alprazolam was by FAR the most nightmarish drug for me.)

    Unfortunately, no drug helps you withdraw. You just have to go through the pain. It is physical and it is mental. There is no other way around it. Gianna’s blog is a great resource for you and your husband to educate yourselves about the withdrawal process and how to support yourself mentally and physically.

    Here are the symptoms that I felt with temazepam: anxiety, rage, irritability, suicidal ideation, depersonalization, flashes of light, cognitive dysfunction, rebound insomnia, paranoia, fatigue, apathy, hypnagogic hallucinations, loss of apetite, feelings of coldness especially in the morning, blurry vision, sweating in the pm, intrusive thoughts, repetitive thoughts, highly sensitive startle response, aches and pains especially in the legs and back,general drugged out feeling.

    Curious to temazepam: a ‘lightheaded’ feeling combined with a certain ‘heaviness’ that I think has been described elsewhere as a waterlogged feeling, but like I said, I felt like I was a bowling ball. I felt very ‘thick’.

    The symptoms also had a strange pattern of emergence. Most of them I felt when I immediately dropped the dose, which is par for the course, but about a week later, just when I was feeling better, it felt like the floor dropped out beneath me. I was very agitated the night before this happened as well. That was when I began to feel ‘drugged out’ again.

    I hope this helps and please take some time to discover all the resources that Gianna has made available…take care

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