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Old 11-30-2012, 11:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Warning: This could happen to YOU! BENZOs

Today marks the fourth month since I took my last Klonapin. Wish I could say I am better but I am not, the horrible symptoms continue and I often feel completely helpless/hopeless. Maybe my story will warn someone out there NOT to let this happen to you.
I am 62 now. I look in the mirror and do not recognize this person. Her hair used to be black and very curley, vibrant, with twinkly green eyes. Her face is now drawn with pronounced frown lines, and her hair is light brown mixed with silver, almost totally straight and baby fine. I do not recognioze her but she is.....me. The years have flown by and I did not notice...so much.
I am now nearly totally alone, in poor health. Just me and the five cats I adopted years ago and who often have been the only reason I stay alive.
It began when I was about 20 years old. I did not have a happy childhood but thats another story. It is not an excuse for what I did to my life. I cannot remember ever having an easy time going to sleep. When I was 20 I discovered that beer could grog me up enough to fall asleep and within a year, I drank every night. I did this until I was 57 years old. Only at night, and always a secret.
Years went by. Ate age 30 I went to college and became a nurse. And once working, quickly discovered it was simple to pocket pills. Back then, tranquilizers and sleeping pills were not "locked up". I began a life-long love affair with benzodiazipines and hypnotics. I loved those little blue Halcions, the oval Xanaxes.....but also used any other similar drug and was not afraid to swallow several at one time...all to get to sleep.
This continued until I was 50 years old, 2000, 12 years ago, The rules on these meds were changing as hospitals and nursing homes figured out how much money they were losing on stolen meds. I sought treatment for chronic depression for the first time, and my kindly psychiatrist gladly ordered Klonapin and Ambien for anxiety and sleep. I was content. I could sleep, especially since I continued to drink and take the pills.
In 2007 I was arrested for DUI, "driving under the influence". Spent the night in jail, still dressed in my work scrubs, wearing my nurse ID badge.
But still didnt quit drinking, not until perhaps a year later.
I began having serious health problems. Did not make the connection to the pills, the alcohol. Had several major surgeries, including a needed gastric bypass for morbid obesity. I now weigh 90 lbs.
In 2006 I fell ( a very common occurence for me then-) and shattered my right femur. Found out I have very advanced osteoporosis. A surgical repair was done but I was told it would not last, that the bone would eventually just crumble.
A year later I fell again and fractured the hip of my bad leg. Had surgery and it was repaired. Told: the bones probably would not last.
Other health problems surfaced. I had to have a "pain pump" implanted as I was by then needing a lot of pain pills - my drug of choice was oxycodone, all legally prescribed, but remember, it was taken on top of both Klonapin and Ambien. I continued to fall frequently. Saw several neurologists, none of whom saw the connection betweenh meds and poor balance. By then I had become good at bluffing my way, hiding/dodging around the pills and alcohol issues, so maybe I fooled them.
In 2006 I stopped working and went on Social Security Disability. I missed working, even though I had been fired from nearly every job in the past 10 years. Despite living a total lie, I did have the skills to help other people feel better, especially through words. I missed my work.
In June of 20012 I learned my psychiatrist was leaving this area. My meds needed refills and I called his office to get them. But they were hesitant and I did not know why.
I saw my medical doctor a week or so later and told him my dilemma. Meds about to run out and new psychiatrist appointment wasnt until 2 weeks later. He adamantly refused to give me prescriptions for the meds. And made it clear he was seeing something about me he was very, very concerned about."Look what we doctors have done to you" he said, and left the exam room. I have not seen him since that day.
A doctor at a local "doc in a box" clinic took pity on me and gave me a prescription for the meds, just enough to get me to the first appointment with the new shrink.
I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, sensing things were going very, very wrong but unable to really see.
On the last day of July, my boyfriend drove me to the new psychiatrists office. I had stopped driving a month before because of my unsafe driving. I was still falling frequently at home, despite a cane or my walker.
The new psychiatrist told both of us to come into her office.
I was bluntly told, to go immediately to the local psychiatric hospital and sign involuntarily or....implying she woukld take legal action to commit me if I didnt agree. By then I was having stronger feelings that there was a problem with my dear meds. And neither was helping me sleep anymore. So off I went.
This local psychiatric hospital, a small one, proudly proclaimed how their 8 days detox would be so helpful.
I did not know back then that it is extremely ill-advised to stop taking these drugs that quickly. I knew that withdrawal "could be bad", and assumed the worst "might be having a seizure." I did not know, nor did anyone ever tell me that getting off both a benzodiazipine and a hypnotic might take monthes.....a year....more.....or that the process would be utterly miserable and terrifying.
The detox program was a 4-day taper on Ativan. There was no therapy. The social worker ran the only vaguely therapeutic group and this man seemed to enjoy belittling the patients, and was extremely nasty at times. To me, to others. "You're just a borderline,skinny little addict" he said to me once.
But, not to make excuses.
When this hospital found out my insurance wasnt going to pay for my stay, I was immediately discharged. I was sent home that day, with no instructions, no follow up, no prescriptions. I was not told what to expect. I was in full-blown withdrawal by then, hallucinating, with bizarre and very uncomfortable physical symptomsbut no one had asked me what I was going though.
For the next week I lived like that, but was actually so out of it I did not worry about it much. I remember being very paranoid that the police were going to show up to take me back to the hospital. Doing "rounds", checking windows and doors.
On August 14, I "woke up." I literally woke up one morning and realized how utterly crazy I'd become and how much time I was missing in my personal "calender." I began slowly to piece things back together, and now, exactly 4 monthes later, I am still unsure about certain milestones, their dates and events surrounding them.
I began to realize how profoundly the drugs and alcohol had affected my life, and am still slowly figuring that out. The extremely unpleasant physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal have persisted and are occurring even as I write this. Anxiety, panic, feel hot/cold. Nose running. Skin itchy and twitchy and feels like its burning. Little lights flash in my vision. Sometimes my shadow frightens me, I think I am hallucinating. I have not slept more than 4 hours in 4 monthes. Most nights I am awake all night and finally pass out from exhaustion. I have been too scared to go to a doctor as I fear they would commit me. My only support has been online. Over the monthes I have slowly been exploring the internet, finding forums devoted to the benzo withdrawal problem. It has been shocking to discover how many of us there are worldwide.
I am alone. My boyfriend is now just a friend and I have pushed away all other friends and family over the years.Hiding behind a curtain of pills and alcohol. But NO pills since July 30 and no alcohol for 5 years now. I dont miss it, but right now I do miss the pills.I slowly try to figure out what happened to that curley black-haired pretty woman, how did she get so old, and become so skelatally thin? Am beginning to realize that most of the mistakes I've made are directly tied to the pills and alcohol.
-had several car crashes
-got a humiilating DUI
-had approximately 5 major surgeries and now cannot recall what year I had them
-lost my health
-had to quit a career I adored
-had to go on Disability and be poor-
-went bankrupt
-alienated all my friends and my two sisters
-hurt my mom emotionally in the year before her death
-had to trade in my beautiful Toyota and buy a junker car
-lost many jobs
-lost track of all the people important in my life
- facing a probable leg amputation and having to go to a nursing home
-facing having to give my cats up
-my junker car could die any day and theres no public transportation around here
-realized I had neglected my little house. When I "woke up" discovered it was filthy, in dis-repair and dont have any money to fix things
-have had to get free food at a local charity
-but have continued to be a shopaholic and this month blew my little income, over-drew my account and have no money until right before Christmas.
-am very depressed and scared
-have no social support when anything bad happens
-ruined a marriage
-had a miscarriage
-missed out that someone I cared about had died

There is more, more and more.....I know most reading this will be shocked and perhaps a bit judgemental. A few will recognize themselves. Another few will express concern that I might commit suicide and try to console me. I have no way to kill myself. Really.
I DO need emapthy and emotional support.
I do need others to share with me their own stories.
I do need to know how others have gone through benzo/hypnotic withdrawal and coped with all the symptoms
I DO need to know I am not alone.
And YES I am nervous about posting this...............................but will. I am desperate.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Damn. I was exhausted just reading that.. I can only imagine how you must feel. Have you considered counselling? You have a lot to say.
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:03 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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While a tragic tale indeed, it seems unfair to simply blame benzos, as the title of your post appears to do.

It seems benzos are widely abused by poly-drug addicts who'd abuse anything they could get their hands on. It relatively rare to see stories of benzo abuse by those who aren't into abusing pretty much everything.

Seems a better title for you post might be "Warning: This could happen to you after 37 years of daily excessive ALOCHOL"
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by UltraShy View Post
While a tragic tale indeed, it seems unfair to simply blame benzos, as the title of your post appears to do.

It seems benzos are widely abused by poly-drug addicts who'd abuse anything they could get their hands on. It relatively rare to see stories of benzo abuse by those who aren't into abusing pretty much everything.

Seems a better title for you post might be "Warning: This could happen to you after 37 years of daily excessive ALOCHOL"
i agree regarding having likely erroneously placing the blame solely on the benzodiazepines rather than on the multitude of drugs you were taking throughout the years - the most destructive of which was likely alcohol.

that said, i'm truly sorry for all that you have been through and only wish that you had sought help earlier than you did. it's not too late, though, and you should indeed seek counseling with someone both qualified and empathetic. there are, indeed, programmes that are available for those on public assistance - i think, anyhow.

i would also make a great attempt to reconnect with old friends as well as your ex-boyfriend as you need a support network desperately.
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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I wanted to add that I think it is otherwise a fine cautionary tale. I don't want it to look like I'm coldly dismissing what is certainly a very sad story.

It's only the heavy focus/blame on benzos that I object to. I'm very much aware of how legitimate patients with real medical conditions that clearly justify controlled substances are too often put through hell by a system that's desperately seeking to weed out junkies. Rotten apples who spoil it for everybody else.

I've seen utterly insane levels of benzo-phobia. I watched my father die in home hospice care. He got all of 1mg Ativan per day, because that's apparently all you need to calm the fear of being on death's doorstep. Given that he lasted only a week, seems any potential for addiction was very limited. My mother got 0.5mg Ativan per day, because that's all that's needed to take the edge off seeing your spouse of 54 years die as you watch.
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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You made a similar post just a couple weeks ago

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...valium-215900/

I'm sorry you're life has crumbled to such a degree. I hope you realize that taking benzodiazapines will not turn everyone's life into a horror story. As others have noted, BZD's were nearly the least of your problems. Good Luck now and in the future.
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by istayhome View Post
You made a similar post just a couple weeks ago

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...valium-215900/

I'm sorry you're life has crumbled to such a degree. I hope you realize that taking benzodiazapines will not turn everyone's life into a horror story. As others have noted, BZD's were nearly the least of your problems. Good Luck now and in the future.
i think the previous thread she started was focused more on withdrawal than the bzds ruining her life - although she does slightly allude to the latter within the other thread. that said, i think that in the immediate the bzds may be the cause of a great deal of her problems as she went through a brutal, protracted withdrawal that she is still reeling from as she wasn't tapered properly.

i agree with you, though, when you stated within the other thread that as a registered nurse she should have been well-informed of the cessation process associated with said class of drug. it's a bit incredulous to think that a registered nurse wouldn't know what to expect after being denied a prescription to a medication that she had been taking for an extended period of time and is implicated in providing for very severe withdrawal symptoms. i suppose when abuse and addiction are ruling one's life, one's cognitive functioning may not be optimal.
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I have to agree with others about benzodiazepines. It is more likely that alcohol is the bigger problem. With moderation, benzos are nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol ravages your mind and body.

I hope that you are able to find a counselor and work out some of your problems. You shouldn't have to suffer.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Wow. I poured my heart out and the responses are not exactly supportive. I need to say that I do think very limited use of benzos is okay in certain cases, such as the hospice patient.
Registered nurses are more educated on medical things but like MDs, we cannot know everything. We tend to "specialize" as they do.
And please understand that I am admitting my mind has been messed up for many years, and am slowly trying to piece my life back together. This post is a part of my attempts.
To those who want to quickly place the blame on alcohol - sorry, I quit drinking in 2007 and had no withdrawal. 30 years on benzos are what I am in protracted withdrawal from, not alcohol. My story is meant to warn people who may be tempted to abuse benzos.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by wilsongirl View Post
Wow. I poured my heart out and the responses are not exactly supportive. I need to say that I do think very limited use of benzos is okay in certain cases, such as the hospice patient.
Registered nurses are more educated on medical things but like MDs, we cannot know everything. We tend to "specialize" as they do.
And please understand that I am admitting my mind has been messed up for many years, and am slowly trying to piece my life back together. This post is a part of my attempts.
To those who want to quickly place the blame on alcohol - sorry, I quit drinking in 2007 and had no withdrawal. 30 years on benzos are what I am in protracted withdrawal from, not alcohol. My story is meant to warn people who may be tempted to abuse benzos.
right - but your post is quite the benzophobe one, indeed - and i suspect that you probably would have posted a vastly different response should you have been tapered properly off of the drugs. your recent experiences with benzodiazepines seem to be based more on improper tapering methodology rather than the drugs being inherently malignant. and while benzodiazepine abuse is documented, benzodiazepines are not typically abused alone as ultrashy has pointed out, but rather abused as part of number of drugs ingested - self-medicated polypharmacy of an abusive nature leading to addiction to not one substance, but many.

there are many who have been on benzodiazepines for as long as you had and have found them to be a useful psychopharmacological tool in treating anxiety-spectrum disorders with or without accompanying medication and without terribly ill effects.

i think you should really focus on the polypharmaceutical drug abuse that you engaged in, rather than placing the blame on benzodiazepines. the chronic misuse/use of alcohol, opiates, the z-drugs, and benzodiazepines all brought you to where you are today.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsongirl View Post
Wow. I poured my heart out and the responses are not exactly supportive. I need to say that I do think very limited use of benzos is okay in certain cases, such as the hospice patient.
Registered nurses are more educated on medical things but like MDs, we cannot know everything. We tend to "specialize" as they do.
And please understand that I am admitting my mind has been messed up for many years, and am slowly trying to piece my life back together. This post is a part of my attempts.
To those who want to quickly place the blame on alcohol - sorry, I quit drinking in 2007 and had no withdrawal. 30 years on benzos are what I am in protracted withdrawal from, not alcohol. My story is meant to warn people who may be tempted to abuse benzos.
You had no Alcohol Withdrawals because you were taking benzos. Benzos are used to to help people detox from alcohol addiction. Also as was mentioned above you stated that you were abusing any drugs you could get your hands on at work.

I support you in your recovery and truly do wish you the best. To be honest though your post's will not be received positively by people who responsibly use benzo's and need them desperately. You have made very bold blanket statements that benzos have caused all of your problems and suggested that they will cause major problems for others as well.

Your experience with drugs is unfortunate and it has caused you a lot of problems in life. I understand the self medication completely if you had underlying disorders.

I just want to explain that your experience is not the norm for people who properly use BZD's. This class of drugs has a good place and they benefit many people. To be honest the "benzo-bashers" who claim that they should not be used, are really really bad, etc. due to their bad experience really makes those of us who need and use these drugs responsibly quite angry. The more people who improperly blame BZD's on their problems, the more difficult it is for those of us who actually need them to get them prescribed.

Best of luck to you in your recovery.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:51 AM   #12 (permalink)
 
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I'm really sorry for you....
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:33 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by wilsongirl View Post
Wow. I poured my heart out and the responses are not exactly supportive. I need to say that I do think very limited use of benzos is okay in certain cases, such as the hospice patient.
Registered nurses are more educated on medical things but like MDs, we cannot know everything. We tend to "specialize" as they do.
And please understand that I am admitting my mind has been messed up for many years, and am slowly trying to piece my life back together. This post is a part of my attempts.
To those who want to quickly place the blame on alcohol - sorry, I quit drinking in 2007 and had no withdrawal. 30 years on benzos are what I am in protracted withdrawal from, not alcohol. My story is meant to warn people who may be tempted to abuse benzos.
When one pours their heart out they are accepting the risks of doing so. This is a support forum and we all support you in getting well. But certainly you understand that no one should be expected to support your every opinion.

"Specialized" or not, how could you not know the risks of quitting benzos cold turkey? As I said in your other thread, I was taught this In my highschool sophomore psychology class. That was about 15 years ago. You certainly know the Risk of Delirium Tremens associated with quitting alcohol cold turkey. It is pretty logical that quitting BZD's cold turkey would be equally if not more dangerous. It's basic RN education.

I think your years of poly-drug and alcohol abuse is why you were so thoughtless about all the risks involved in this situation. Truly, you were a serious drug abuser. It is good that you are working to get your life back in order. Just realize that no single drug is at fault, it is how you used the drug. A drug is inanimate and can not be blamed for anything. It all has to do with home it is being used.

Best of luck on your journey.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi Annie - the one thing that resonates with me is the memory loss and the sense of where did all that time go. I have had the same problem - and I did not take a mixture of pills , although for some of the time I was on the Xanax ( and Serepax before that,) I did drink a bit too. I think the benzos can cause a lot of problems with memory - they did for me.

It's terribly hard to look back on your life and not be able to remember large parts of it. That'w what taking Xanax every day for years did to me - I came off them many, many times - cold turkey and by tapering - a lot of those times I now don't remember, but I doubt the long term effects would be much different regardless of whether you did it quickly or slowly - the damage has already been done by that time.

One of the shrinks I saw when I was still in the process of getting off the Xanax told me that they make it difficult for new memories to be laid down. I would agree with this , as the only things that I can remember clearly are things that happened that had a huge emotional impact at the time - most other things are a blur, or are not there at all.

It took a lot of courage to write your post - don't feel humiliated, you are living this and you are the one that has to deal with the consequences - I have also reached a point in my life now where I can be honest with myself - there's really no other way to change otherwise.

My memory seems to be getting better -slowly. I took Lexapro for a few years after I stopped the Xanax for the last time. ( I can't remember exactly when I started that but it was about 3 years ago I think.) I was told by the shrink at the time that they could also cause some memory loss and confusion, and that was my experience with that medication too. I'm at the point now where I am trying to live with no meds at all - it's difficult dealing with all these emotions. I'm so used to taking a pill to alleviate the intensity of them. My nerves seem to have settled down a bit though - maybe it's age ( I'm 54 ), or maybe I'm just tired, but the anxiety is less than when I was younger.

I wish you all the best for the future - hopefully all the horrible feelings your experiencing will gradually go away and you're body and mind will adjust. It's taken a fair while but mine seems to have finally settled down. All the best anyway.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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People keep talking about the alcohol,, She drunk a few beers at night to go to sleep.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:57 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Yea this is a good reminder for people to not just expect medication or drugs in general to cure them. The honeymoon phase of taking drugs is the best, almost heaven-like. But then of course more side effects start popping up and making it hell literally especially when you come off. Thats how the drugs hook you, the honeymoon phase.

Good luck to you.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by SomniferumPapi View Post
Yea this is a good reminder for people to not just expect medication or drugs in general to cure them. The honeymoon phase of taking drugs is the best, almost heaven-like. But then of course more side effects start popping up and making it hell literally especially when you come off. Thats how the drugs hook you, the honeymoon phase.

Good luck to you.
that said, there are some who cannot function within daily life at all or without great impairment without the aid of medication.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:33 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SomniferumPapi View Post
Yea this is a good reminder for people to not just expect medication or drugs in general to cure them. The honeymoon phase of taking drugs is the best, almost heaven-like. But then of course more side effects start popping up and making it hell literally especially when you come off. Thats how the drugs hook you, the honeymoon phase.

Good luck to you.
Well this is true. You describe exactly why it is so harmful for people who don't actually need a medication, to take them. It is also very harmful to self medicate which is what caused the OP such major problems.

For me there was no honeymoon phase with benzos, there were no heavenly feeling. These drugs merely allowed me to leave my house, sleep and function. BZD's have not and never will cure me (or anyone) but they do allow me to manage living in an ok manner.

This is exactly why It confuses me so much that people use benzos recreationally or that they feel any euphoria from them. What you describe is relevant to people who abuse or misuse drugs or are simply looking to get high. But for people with a disorder that requires a medication I don't feel that it applies.

It's like using a painkiller to treat pain. Opioids, when properly used reduce pain, they don't make you high. The problem arises when people take more than they need or take them just to get high when they are needed, also when people self medicate.

Very few people are actually responsible for themselves, this is very disheartening and it has produced so many problems that it is difficult to obtain proper pharmaceutical care when you actually need it because generally we people are viewed very critically by doctors because so many patients have aused the medical system in order to obtain drugs just so they can get high or to self medicate with.

I am very empathetic to the fact that most people will not care about who they are harming in order to get what they want. But Having gone through the medical system for so long I have developed a distinct distaste toward individuals who abuse the aforementioned system.
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Old 12-05-2012, 02:04 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Yea I am weaning off Xanax as we speak. My pills were stolen from my car and I tried cold turkey thinking the seizure thing was for weenies that have no constitution and I was a big man for being able to quit smoking cigs and doing Oxy cold turkey so it wouldn't be a problem for me. Boy was I wrong, I didn't have a grand mal or anything, but within 36 hours I was seeing spots regularly and that was with K-pins at my disposal...I was also really adamant about researching painless suicides and just felt like a blunted unhappy person, so I talked to my doctor and we decided to give Ashton a shot and I am hoping by the time im 27 (I am 26 and a month right now.) I'll be pill free and almost back to normal GABA function....but yea those that are having Benzo's pushed on you and are on the fence I would deny them or at the very most take them as needed (Like 2-3 times a month FOR PANIC ATTACKS.). They are a life controlling drug that are downright painful to quit for 90 percent of people that start using them.
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Old 12-05-2012, 02:21 AM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by notthatsure View Post
Yea I am weaning off Xanax as we speak. My pills were stolen from my car and I tried cold turkey thinking the seizure thing was for weenies that have no constitution and I was a big man for being able to quit smoking cigs and doing Oxy cold turkey so it wouldn't be a problem for me. Boy was I wrong, I didn't have a grand mal or anything, but within 36 hours I was seeing spots regularly and that was with K-pins at my disposal...I was also really adamant about researching painless suicides and just felt like a blunted unhappy person, so I talked to my doctor and we decided to give Ashton a shot and I am hoping by the time im 27 (I am 26 and a month right now.) I'll be pill free and almost back to normal GABA function....but yea those that are having Benzo's pushed on you and are on the fence I would deny them or at the very most take them as needed (Like 2-3 times a month FOR PANIC ATTACKS.). They are a life controlling drug that are downright painful to quit for 90 percent of people that start using them.
I disagree. I think benzos have their place on the pharmacy shelf. Never having benzos pushed on me I decided I did need them due to extreme agoraphobia caused by anxiety. Also Insomnia that responds to nothing else. obsessive GAD of the worst kind. Disorders for which there is no other viable option.

I think the 90% statistic you mentioned here was pulled out of thin air and is not of statistically significant value. Most people who taper off of benzos correctly have a fairly easy time, with the exception of a rare few heavy long-time users who abused the rug heavily.

I had the same tough-as-nails attitude when I quite drinking cold turkey after several years straight of drinking heavily it was the most miserable experience of my life. Quitting Gabaergics cold turkey can be fatal, don't do it as you will endure much pain. Taper off the drug and you will be fine.

Again people have bad experience not because the drug is bad but because they make bad choices. Do not confuse one with the other. Benzos are fine when used and discontinued properly.

@nothatsure I am sorry you experienced so much pain and I wish you the very best with your recovery and getting clean from drugs.
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