What Are Benzodiazepine Withdrawals Like? Non-stop panic attacks with shallow breathing, painful muscle tension, memory loss, extreme debilitating anxiety, and the inability to read a sentence in a cheap magazine; these are symptoms of a legal drug withdrawal. The category of psychiatric drugs that seem the most addicting and thus the most dangerous, include clonazepam (klonopin), lorazepam (ativan), alprazolam (xanax), and diazepam (valium). The above symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. There is also rapid heartbeat, confusion, paranoia, and delusions. My personal favorite, as if these weren’t bad enough, is tactile hallucinations. For example, one could be laying in their bed trying to slip into sleep and then feel like bugs are crawling over their body. Hell does not even begin to describe what goes on in your mind and body with an abrupt halting of this medicine.
While working full time I had these experiences. I missed 90 days of work because of it. There was one time that I headed out to talk to a manager at Taco Bell about hiring one of my clients. The business had been in the same place for twenty years. I panicked while driving there because I couldn’t remember where it was. I live in a small town with only a handful of fast food restaurants anyway. Scary is seeing your mind deteriorate daily.
Picture this scenario, a woman sits at her desk at work minding her own business. She hasn’t slept for days. Her official mental health diagnosis is bipolar disorder. However, she has never felt the degree of paranoia that she has today. Around lunch time everyone in her small office has a cell phone that seems to ring all at the same time. She thinks, “It can only be that serial killer that is stalking me. He has taken control of the phone lines.” So she gathers her things and leaves for lunch. It wouldn’t be moral to risk her co-worker’s lives. She is being followed everywhere she goes. Finally, she pulls into a business and is not sure if the man that is trying to help her is bought out by the killer or not. The cops are called. She fights to get away. The reason being that the cops are paid off too and they really aren’t law enforcement after all. When brought to jail she resists being taken into a certain room because they are going to kill here there. They taser her, three times. After a few hours, she is taken to the hospital where she stays shackled to the bed in handcuffs until a bed in a mental ward comes available.
The lady is released from the hospital in a month. She is still suffering from the psychotic breakdown. Work is impossible so she quits her job. Friends won’t call her because she got her name in the local Mayberry newspaper for assault and resisting arrest. No longer considered an outstanding member of the community; she falls into a deep depression and complete loss of identity. There are no family members in her state to help take care of her. Counselors and doctors are doing the best they can. But all the medicine and talk in the world will not bring this woman back to life as she has lost her life.
If only she could go back in time and not take the one-half of the last dose of her benzo she had been taking for five years. This was the mindset, “Oh I can just taper down a few weeks at a time and then go off it for good.” Never pretend you are a doctor, never. These kinds of medicines are made to alleviate short-term anxiety. Someone has acrophobia or fear of flying. Their doctor gives them a benzo to take before takeoff. They feel much better and do not touch another pill because that is all that is needed.
This class of drugs has its uses. Finding another kind of drug to alleviate any anxiety would be recommended. You can find out more about benzodiazepine withdrawal symptom at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website or www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov.