I wanted to share that I have successfully weaned myself off of Ativan after several previous failed attempts. It took me about 6 months and there were many bad days and false starts. Reading the messages on this board has been incredibly helpful in giving me the strength to continue. I want to thank everyone for so generously sharing their stories and suggestions. This group has been a lifesaver!
A couple years ago I talked to my family doctor about my Ativan addiction (originally prescribed by a different doctor) and he told me I would never be able to get off of it because "nobody ever gets off benzos". I am happy to say I proved him wrong!
I've been off the Ativan completely for a month now and the worst symptom I have is occasional episodes where I feel shaky and my hands tremble. However, these episodes are gradually diminishing. Over the past 6 months, I think the weirdest thing was how the withdrawal symptoms would unexpectedly change. One day I'd be shaky and have a rapid heart beat, and the next day I'd have terrible back pain but no shakiness at all. I could never figure it out.
One of the things I like about being benzo-free is that I feel more alert and energetic than I have been in years. My mind feels clearer and I want to get out and do things instead of sitting around on the couch.
For those going through withdrawal I think my advice would be to take it as slow as possible. I bought a bunch of those daily pill containers and used a razor blade to shave off tiny bits of the tablets, a little more each day. I would reduce for 2 weeks then plateau until I was not feeling any symptoms (usually 2 or 3 weeks). I used the pill containers so I could prepare the tablets for several weeks in advance. This really helped me stick to my plan. I would tell myself, "Okay, you are just going to take the dose in the pill container. You are desperate for Ativan right now, but just take what's in the pill container and then wait an hour to see how you feel." In an hour, I'd feel better and it was easier to tell myself, "Ok, I don't feel great but I feel better and that's okay for tonight, I can deal with it." If I had been trying to cut up tablets while in the middle of intense craving, it would have been way to easy to say to heck with it and just take a whole pill.
I thought my symptoms would get worse towards the end, as I was on a smaller and smaller dose. Actually, the symptoms lessened and it got easier.
I relied on Benadryl quite a lot to help me sleep. Although Benadryl does not cure benzo withdrawal, it did make me sleepy and helped me calm down when I was feeling agitated and restless.
The other reason for my success, I truly believe, is that I got counselling to deal with my anxiety/panic disorder. I have more understanding now about where my anxiety comes from, and I am able to deal with it better without medication.
I hope my story will help encourage others as your stories have helped me.
God bless all of you!
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