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Lorazepam ----My Story (otherwise entitled ĎAs neededí)----November 2011.

For those who are trying or wanting to get off of benzodiazepines. My story begins with a heart attack near the Detroit Lakes area in Minnesota on Long Lake in June 2009. I was in Minn. on a fishing trip when I started having shortness of breath and to make a long story short; according to the docs I had a heart attack. Also the docs diagnosed me with arterial fibrillation. It was then suggested by the docs that they find out why I had a heart attack so I was then transported to Fargo, North Dakota where 2 stents were inserted because a 90% blockage in one of my arteries. I still am not convinced why medically I had the heart attack. The a-fib or the blockage, maybe both or maybe neither. Spiritually, I know some reasons why, but that is another story all together. (See ďLessons Iíve Learned from My Heart AttackĒ) I give all the glory to God because whether or not it was the blockage or the a-fib, if it wasnít for me going to the hospital in the first place, the blockage would have never been discovered and I might have died anyway. ďIn everything give thanksĒ according to the Bible. And I do thank the Lord Jesus Christ for all this. I have been told by doctors that I am a lucky man, but I tell them, ďIím blessedĒ.

After I got home to Louisville, Ky. a few days went by and then I had my first anxiety attack. I didnít feel right so I thought I was possibly having another heart attack so I went to the ER and they told me that it was pretty common for heart attack victims to experience this. Up to this point I had never taken any medication at all except a blood pressure med that I had started four months earlier. So, I think my body may have been reacting to all the meds they put me on in Fargo; coreg, aspirin, lisinopril, plavix, lovenox, spironolactone, and amiodarone, and the fact I heard the words Ďheart attackí in relation to me, and not someone else. Anyway back to the ER room. They said I was having an anxiety attack and then the bomb. They gave me a 1.0 mg. of Lorazepam, a Benzodiazepine (benzo for short). That was the beginning of a long and terrible road. Donít get me wrong, I was grateful for the lorazepam at the time. It took care of my anxiety and after a couple of hours was on the way home. A few days passed by and another anxiety attack and another lorazapam etc. After 4 months went by I noticed my heart started pounding and shortness of breath started happening. A reminder of what happened to me in Minn. So I thought another anxiety attack so I took another lorazepam and so on and so on. I was now hooked and in a loop. One thing called for the other. What was used to stop my anxiety was now actually causing anxiety and with it other symptoms, pounding or surging heart beats, a feeling of knots or tightness in my chest and some chest discomfort, sleeplessness (going to sleep and waking up after about 3 hours wide awake), nausea, momentarily headaches, little aches and pains in my limbs, muscle twitching, some trembling and many many days of feeling yuky, almost if I was coming down with something. These symptoms were not caused from taking lorazepam but from going two, three, or more days without it. My body started craving it and even at this point I still didnít realize that I was hooked on this stuff. I was blaming it on my other meds and my heart procedures (stent implants and a Wolf-mini maze procedure that I chose to have done in Cincinnati for my a-fib about year after my heart attack. (You can read about the Wolf-mini maze procedure on line under afib treatment.

Anyway--- after nearly two years and after coming off of some of my meds and after doing some research online about lorazepam and other benzos and their withdrawal symptoms I had come to the realization that I was hooked. [I was], and didnít even know it. I wish the doc that started me on this stuff back at the ER would have told me, ĎMr. RC  this drug is addicting and not only is it addicting, but it is highly addicting. So be extremely careful not to take it more than once or twice in a week. You can be hooked on it in two weeks time.í But after talking to counselors at rehab centres they say it is common practice that docs donít warn you about the addicting effects and the withdrawal symptoms of benzos. After I knew what was causing me so much discomfort I knew lorazepam and I had to part company. Itís been very very difficult and at times, I have been tempted to go back but to what? To start the mess all over again? No No No. But I had to taper off, not go cold turkey. With the Lordís help and the prayers of family and the saints at my wonderful church, I now have managed to be off of this stuff for nearly 3 months. But here is what I have been going thru. Depressing thoughts from time to time, heart pounding which as you may or may not know, is hard to go to sleep with this going on, waking up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep, days I just felt sick, (Ďyukyí), chest discomfort, some numbness in face and arms, muscle twitching, and the worst of all, shortness of breath or breathing difficulty. I understand that it may take many many months for the withdrawal symptoms to go completely away. Thatís what I have been told. Depending on the dosage, the individual, and the length of time on lorazepam it could be a few weeks up to 2 years. I have read some horror stories where it can take up to five years. I read one story where a person still had withdrawals after 10 years and may never get completely over all of the withdrawal symptoms. (Perish that thought!) This is not to discourage you by any means but to prepare you for what you may be up against. But it is not a mission impossible. You can do it with the Lordís help, prayer, and support of friends and family. By the way, I thought maybe it was my heart, so to be on the safe side, I went to my heart doc and he said he didnít think it was my heart since my ultrasounds was good and 2 stress tests were good also. I am active and I walk whenever I can without any chest pain at all. My blood work is good, so no problem there. But I have talked to others that know of these common symptoms with benzos. My prayer is that you donít give up and that you hang in there. After 3 months of being off of lorazepam some of my symptoms seem to be receding, however, I have experienced times when I think they are about gone but then they seem to make a come back. Itís like this drug is holding on to you, (much like cats do if you pick them up and hold them over water.) It doesnít want to let go. But you can beat this drug with Godís help.

Hope this has been a help.

Very Sincerely,

Mr. RC

P.S. I have read that you donít measure your recovery by days or weeks but months. I have found that to be true in my case.

Please read on if you want to see my monthly progression.

1st month Aug.
Many withdrawal symptoms.
Pounding heart beat, sleeplessness, slurred speech, chest tightness like a knot in my chest, aching muscles and stiffness. Legs feeling like lead. Some muscle twitching. Shortness of breath. Some depressing thoughts. Some days of just feeling sick, (yuky, blugh!) No energy. Some flushing. Some days my body would crave the drug to the point that it was like my body was saying, ďI want some drugs, and if you donít give them to me I will go into an anxious rage in order to get them!Ē A couple of times I almost gave in. Thank God, I didnít.

2nd month Sept.
Most of the same symptoms as the 1st month. Not really a whole lot of improvement. On one occasion I almost gave in to the anxiousness that the drug was creating. But I didnít with Godsí help.

3rd month Oct.
Still shortness of breath but to a lesser degree. Still some heart pounding but only about once a week. Still get aches and pains in my limbs and have one of those sick feeling yuky days about 3 times in the month. Still have trouble sleeping for more than 4 hours. Will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. I am making this entry at 2:40 am Friday the 2nd of Dec. 2011. However all this being said, I am now having a few days where I am feeling like my old self again.

4th month Nov.
Still have some difficulty breathing, shortness of breath but to a lesser degree. Still have sleeplessness most nights. Still have aching muscles in legs and arms at times. Pounding heart beats down to about once a week or maybe a little less. However my good days seem to be more frequent. I have read that I will have some good days but also some bad days during withdrawal. That seems to be what I am experiencing.

5th month Dec.
Going into the 5th month still have some shortness of breath, small aches in my limbs, and still have a hard time sleeping. Still, on
some days I feel not too bad but not too good. One night after church I had a pounding heartbeat and couldnít sleep. Not sure if it was lorazepam or possibly a sugar high. Started about 9 pm and it is 1:30 now and I still have my problem. Finally got to sleep around 4:00 am and slept about 3 Ĺ hours. Then later that week on Friday and Saturday I had some discomfort in my chest and a little more difficulty in breathing. Also one of those yuky days. I did started feeling better around 3 or 4. Pm. Sunday morning woke up with a little shortness of breath. Maybe it was what woke me up, but not sure.

6th month Jan.2012
As I am entering into the 1st week of the 6th month so far have not been experiencing any major withdrawals. However the week before I experienced some pretty bad breathing difficulties 5 or 6 days straight. I still experience some momentary aches in my arms and legs. (Minor though) And also some twitching in various parts of my body; sides, arms, legs, etcÖSome cramping in my feet at night. One thing I have noticed just in the last 2 wks on a couple of instances slurred speech or having difficulty in trying to say certain things. (Just a couple of instances). My memory seems to be a little better at least it seems that way. 11, 12th, have had some short periods of breathing difficulties, not as long as the month before. The 13th breathing difficulties all day till around 1:00 pm then ok. The 14th moderate morning breathing problems till 10 or 11 am after that ok. The following week was not a real good week. Short of breath all week then Fri. a little better and Sat. the 21st, hardly any breathing problems at all but woke up at 12:30. Finally got back to sleep. Sun the 22 breathing problems till Wed. then it starting easing up Thurs., and Fri felt great. Sat. felt real good with hardly any breathing problems at all. Hope Sunday will be good also. Seems that the breathing problems can last for almost a week then I get a couple of good days, then back to the breathing problems again. If I could just get over the breathing problems I would feel like my ole self again much of the time. The last full week of Jan. was rough. Shortness of breath continuing but the 26th of Jan. it started easing up for the whole next week. This is Friday night the 3rd and no shortness of breath for most of the week, thank God. I suppose that is one of those Ďwindowsí I have read about. Today the 3rd have felt a little weird. Almost like Iím coming down with something. Just one of those yuky days, (a little). Not real bad but not a hundred percent, say, 90 percent. Headaches, and a slight discomfort in the chest, not pain, but just uncomfortable. Not able to sleep. Oh yeah, earlier this week had a couple of bouts of anxiety but they didnít last long. But all in all not a bad week at all. This next week I will be entering into the 7th month without Lorazepam. It has not been easy.

7th month Feb. 2012
This is the 7th month now, about the 9th of Feb. and this week has been a week of breathing difficulties which started last Fri. but not to the extent of last month. (At least so far.) Still have the insomnia and an off day every now and then. This entry is at 12:30 am. There is one thing I canít deny, and that is I am having more good days than I used to. That is a fact. But it still seems like I have a week or so of pretty good days followed by a week or so of not so good days just as others have experienced in the articles Iíve read. Still have periods of anxiety a couple times of week. I suppose my body still wants the drug. So for now, my major withdrawal symptoms seem to be breathing difficulties, some yuky days, some memory problems, muscle twitching down to a minimum, insomnia, and some discomfort in the chest which I think much of that has to do with my heart surgery nearly two years ago. A nurse told me after surgery at the hospital that it may take 6 months to a year or maybe 2 full years to get back to feeling normal again. I believe it. She knew what she was talking about. NOTE: Thru all of this I have been belching a lot, not from heart burn, stomach problems, or bowel problems. This thing started aprox. 4 months after my heart surgery and the week after my eye surgery in August of 2010. Have been belching off and on thru out the day ever since. There is one thing I have been forced to face. This is either the result of the heart surgery which I am more inclined to believe or the lorazepam. The heart surgeon said that he moved some things around during surgery. After my heart surgery I have had a numb spot about the size of a golf ball just under my left rib cage about 2 inches from the solar plexus (where my ribs meet in the center of my chest.) I have read of some gastric problems extending from lorazepam as well. Maybe one day I will wake up and all the symptoms will be gone including the belching. This has been an interesting week to 10 days. It is the 18th of Feb. and it seems that my breathing difficulties have been short periods, just coming and going for much shorter periods. Have not experienced this so far. This maybe a sign of better days ahead. In my last week of the 7th month I still am having difficulty breathing just enough to be bothersome and it persists though not as severe as the previous months. Thatís a good thing! The 23rd I experienced one of those yuky days in the morning and it wore off by the early afternoon. Another good thing. Of course there is always that doubt, is it my heart? I intend to have a heart cath if I donít get some noticeable relief by this fall just to be on the safe side but I want to give my self a chance to heal of these symptoms if they are truly withdrawal symptoms. Surly by a year I will notice a difference. On the few days I donít have the breathing problems I feel great, like my ole self.---- I miss my ole self. This is the last couple of days of the 7th month and I have felt pretty good these last 3 or 4 days with hardly any shortness of breath. Thatís a good thing.

8th month. March
Well, as I am entering my 1st week of this month it has been pretty good so far. An improvement over last month. I definitely notice that I have memory blanks. The breathing difficulties have been much less in magnitude or intensity. However on the 8th I experienced one of those Ďyukyí days.  What are ďyukyí days? This is hard to explain but you feel kind of like you are coming down with something without all the flu symptoms, periodic slight chest discomfort, small aches and pains in various places, slight head ach at times, a little warm in the face or head, some very slight numbness in the face at times, muscle tightness almost to the cramping stage, fatigue and just not feeling like doing anything. Lying down seems to be the best relief if any. And the durations vary. One day I had this feeling about 2 days and one time I had this feeling about 6 hours when it wore off around lunchtime at work. Felt bad all day so much so that I barely made it thru work without just coming home. Thought about it numerous times. When I did make it home I thought perhaps it was something maybe more serious so I went to the hospital just to be on the safe side. Everything checked out alright. In the hospital I started feeling better but didnít get completely over my bad day until sometime during the night. Took one Excedrine pm and slept all night. Sleeping all night without having to wake up after 3 or 4 hours was good for a change. The day before I felt great and the day after I felt great. StrangeÖ! That Saturday I felt good but not so good Sunday evening. Felt great Monday and Tuesday but a little afib set in possibly after taking some Melatonin and went to the hospital for 2 days and was sent home with a good bill of health after they got my heart back in rhythm. Then went to work Friday and was weak from I think, a little allergy drainage etc. Wed. the 21st a little short of breath all day but not real severe as the earlier months. Felt better the next day. Well, itís the 24th of March and I am having one of those yuky days. Hope it doesnít last all day like it did before. I am going into my last week of the eight month and still having some breathing problems and some small amount of heart surging. Havenít had that for a while. Still having insomnia. Hope I finally get over that as well. Well, today is the 30th of march and I have had a yuky day. It started at work and went down hill from there. Breathing problems and just feeling bad. Low blood pressure causing no energy. Has lasted most of the day.

9th month April

Well it started out pretty good much better than last month however still having the breathing problems and insomnia. These symptoms are still staying with me this month. This is the 14th and woke with some breathing problems but as the morning wore on they pretty much went away. Hope these problems go away soon. I talked to someone online that said they knew someone like me that had breathing problems that lasted a year and a half. Hope that wonít be my case. Itís not a pleasant thing to experience. Its going to be interesting to see just how long my symptoms last. But at least no yuky days yet this month. Well, it is the end of the 9 the month and it has been better than last month. Still experiencing insomnia and only a couple of yuky days.

10th month May
Well I started out pretty good and it has been pretty good so far at least up till today, the 19th. Some breathing problems but not to the extent that it was the last month. However one particular day this month I literally had to stop an sit down and take some deep breaths. That was a first. This happened on 3 occasions that day. The worst single episode Iíve had as far as my breathing is concerned since my being off. But overall perhaps the breathing problems are gradually going away but I do have my guard up because I know what can happen. Still have insomnia and memory blanks. Have experienced a couple of yuky days I guess this is to be expected. At least for a little while longer. As I am coming to the end of the 10th month I can say it has been much better this month. My breathing episodes seem to come in spurts, that is, they last for an hour or two and then go away, not just all the time like they used to. My yuky days seem to be less and less and thatís a good thing. My belching is still present although it seems to be a little better. At least at times it seems to be better.

11th month June
Well the 11th month started real good with the exception of the breathing issues. If I could just get over them I would be pretty much like my old self. Of course I still have my belching issues, insomnia, and a yuky day every now and then. I think that will get better also with time. God has really blessed me. I could be much worse. My heart goes out to anyone that is on drugs and is trying to get off. This is the 2nd week and the breathing issues were not bad at all this week. It definitely seems to be getting better over all. This is the 3rd week and it went pretty well with the exception of the breathing issues. I still have them. A few days of hardly no breathing difficulties at all and then 3 or 4 days of breathing problems. It just seems to go back and forth. Well, going into the final week I had some breathing issues, about 4 or 5 days then the last 2 or 3 days I have had very little breathing issues. Weird. I have had also some small amount of heart surging. Iíve heard it might return once in a while even after months have passed by. Well as I have ended my last week of the 11th month I can say it was just ok over all. Still the breathing difficulties. The 3rd is today and this morning had breathing problems but then levelled off in the afternoon. Hope the 12th month will be better.

12th month July
The 1st week started up and down. The first few days there were some pretty bad days of breathing problems but then mellowed out towards the end of the week. Now this is Thur. the 12th and hardly no problems at all, yesterday, was the same as well. The 3rd week there was some breathing problems and low energy and of course insomnia and belching. This is the final week of the 1st year being off of lorazepam and it wasnít too bad over all. My breathing issues were less intense and a few days with hardly no issues with breathing at all. I now have spurts thru out the day. Periods of no breathing issues and later some difficulty with breathing. It seems to go back and fourth. Maybe that is a good sign! I had one great day the on the 2nd of aug. where I had plenty of energy and no breathing issues. But for the most part I still have low energy levels and get tired fairly rapidly, but one good thing; no yuky days this month that I can recall. This month has been pretty good over all with the exception of the insomnia, and breathing issues.

2nd Year Off
1st month, Aug.

Well, I am at the one yr mark. 1st week probably the best week Iíve had in 3 years. 2nd week great but had one yuky day followed by a good day and then a just ok day but the w/s seems to be not so intense or last as long. (keeping my fingers crossed). So in the 3rd week it has been pretty good with only minimal breathing issues and they seem more sporadic and now they donít last so long of periods of time. So that is a good sign.


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.

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Last updated 21 July 2020