I took Zopiclone for about 6 months. I got addicted really fast (inter-dose withdrawals and taking extra pills whenever I could) and thought I would never be well again. I originally started taking the Zopiclone for insomnia caused by antidepressants which I was taking for anxiety and depression triggered by my wife leaving me and a predisposition to worry and seasonal depression.
I crossed over to 10 mg valium around April/May 2006 and tapered over a period of 10 weeks taking my last pill in August. Tapering led me to a period of alcohol abuse; drinking in the morning and all day to numb the feelings of terror which as you can guess just led to sleepless nights and even more terror. I put a stop to the drinking by joining AA and by handing over all my cash and credit cards to my girlfriend. I also gave up work as a University Lecturer (too much brain power required). Like many of you I've read every word written on anxiety, depression, insomnia and particularly benzo addiction.
At my lowest points I didn't believe that benzo withdrawal was responsible for the pain I was suffering. I wasn't on them for long and I didn't take the high doses I hear some of you talking about. My symptoms - insomnia, intense anxiety, joint pain, muscle pain, and constant feeling of tightness around my forehead and temples - were consistent with benzo withdrawal but could also be explained by anxiety. I thought I would be suffering like that for ever. My life was almost constant misery between 4 am and midnight for months and there was nothing I could do about it. Keeping busy helped a bit but never took it away completely. I did get occasional windows where I felt quite normal, but these did not string together, they were just occasional days of relief in a sea of misery. Things started to really improve around Christmas time. Since then I have been having more and more good days (record is 7 in a row) and fewer and fewer bad days. When I have a bad day I feel that the recovery is over and I will be bad for ever, but I have now started marking a calendar to prove to myself that the good days always return. Recovery seems to be happening exactly as described by others who have returned to this site. I guess that benzo withdrawal was responsible for many of my problems.
Today I am still worrying more than most people, sleep 5-6 hours per night and am more sensitive to stress than I used to be. I am hopeful that more recovery will occur with time and that this horrible experience has happened for a reason. I believe I am a better, more caring person today than I was before this nightmare. Many, many things have helped me to reach this point in my recovery. An incredible girlfriend who controlled my drugs and saw me through the panic attacks, books to read in the small hours (I can't remember most of them), alcoholics anonymous (recovering drunks are the best people in the world), this website, keeping busy (nothing is pointless if it distracts you for a while), staff at the psychiatric day unit, the circle arts centre (where I volunteer and learn guitar). I also pray. Not sure who to, but I pray twice at least twice a day now.
I'm one of those people who is never satisfied so I want more recovery over the coming months. Having said this, if you'd offered me what I have today a couple of months ago I would have given my right and left arms. The things listed above have helped a lot, but the most important thing I do each day is to not take benzos and to not drink alcohol. I do this one day at a time. There was a long period of time when the things I did made almost no difference to the way I felt. I was a quivering mess nearly all the time. Sometimes all we can do is wait for the healing to happen. I do believe, though, that keeping busy during the worst period of my life has helped to prepare me for this phase where things are beginning to feel better.
I know that circumstances differ for each of us, but hope that my post offers some hope to some people. My prayers are with you all.
It's been almost a year since I completed my taper and when I look back, I can't believe how much has happened. I don't check in here as much as I used for lots of reasons, but mostly because I am very busy and almost never in the house. Things are much much better for me than they were a year ago. The biggest thing in my life today is hope. Little things keep getting better and I trust that the big picture will take care of itself if I take care of the small stuff.
I just wanted to drop you all a line as I have been aware of much improved sleep lately and I know that this is a big issue for many of you as it was for me. Over the last six weeks ago I have been getting an average of 7 hours per night. Stress can throw me off temporarily, but if I continue doing the right things then I seem to always get back to 7 hours. There were a couple of things I changed around about the time that my sleep really settled down.
I've always skipped meals in the day time and then gorged myself at night (the comfort I gained from this night time eating made me think I would sleep well). I've also always watched a lot of TV. I now make a conscious effort to not eat after my evening meal (usually around 7). Stopping this was almost as hard as giving up benzos (ha ha) but seemed to have immediate benefits. I still wake often at 2 or 4 am but just don't seem to have the energy to lie awake worrying. When I do get up in the morning I am ready for a good breakfast (another miracle!)
The other change I have made to my routine is to switch the TV off when my girl-friend goes to bed (at 10). I subscribe to a daily bible reading program online that gives me passages to read every day for a year. Once I have read this I read other spiritual literature until I am ready for bed. When I fall asleep my mind is calm (not stimulated by TV programming or advertising). Typically I sleep from 10.30 until about 5.30 or six. When I awake I am calmer than I used to be just a few months ago.
These are just a couple of things that have worked for me that I thought I would share with you. Hope they offer some help. The other miracle in my life of course is that I have somehow managed to stay off benzos and (in my case) alcohol for almost a year. The love of God, my family, friends and this group have helped me to do that.
Love to you all.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.
Last updated 22 July 2015