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My Benzo Story
I recently discovered your website and thought my story might be helpful to others and therapeutic for me. I don't think the reasons I started taking Ativan are all that important but the process of getting off of it and "becoming a person" again is the interesting part. I had been told by a psychiatrist that Ativan could cause psychological dependence and not physical addiction, but I honestly feel that I shared responsibility for my addiction. At some point I knew I was addicted and was in deep denial before I was forced (I took a new job with drug testing, including benzos) to get off the Ativan. Ativan made me feel great and I did take the drug not just for anxiety but for the "high" and I have fond memories of the feeling it gave me especially when mixed with a couple of beers.
When I finally decided to quit, I did so fairly rapidly, tapering from 4 mg to 0.5 mg over about a month. I do not recommend this, and I was probably at risk of seizure. The day after I quit I had 4-5 days of horrible physical withdrawal, including "skin-crawling", insomnia, hypersensitivity to light, sound and touch and feeling like a robot instead of a person. One thing that amazes me even now is that I continued to work during my withdrawal and none of my co-workers seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary. It's amazing how much you can hide things although I had plenty of experience with deception at hiding my addiction. I was single at the time and didn't tell anyone what I was going through; I was afraid I'd be put in rehab and lose my job.
At the end of the 4-5 days I woke up and felt great, the symptoms seemed to be gone and I was ecstatic. Boy was I wrong! Deep depression followed and the physical symptoms came back though they got less intense and less frequent as the days, weeks and months continued. I started to feel like a person again after about nine months. I do believe if you can make it past the first "wave" (4-5 days) you will never go back to benzos because of the hell of the initial withdrawal. I still have occasional nightmares about it.
I was 22 when I started Ativan, 30 when I quit, and I'm now 41. I quit on August 17, 1990. I'll bet many who quit remember the specific date they stopped taking their last dose. I got married the following spring and now have three great kids. I would not have my family had I stayed on Ativan. It makes me cry to write this.
To any who are trying to get off – you can do it, but it takes a lot of strength. You will be a different, stronger and better person when you get to the other side.
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