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by Liz Wood

Liz Wood is the Midlands Co-ordinator for VOT (Victims of Tranquillisers) in the UK.

As time has gone by it has become more and more obvious that the benzodiazepines have intrinsic addictive properties; they would not be exchanging hands on the black market if they did not.

There are some symptoms that some researchers believe are seen mainly in benzodiazepine withdrawal and rarely seen in anxiety. Examples are perceptual symptoms like undulating floors. As a general rule however, these symptoms that develop during benzodiazepine ingestion and withdrawal that are different from the original problem are symptoms of a withdrawal syndrome. Usually there are a cluster of symptoms that appear together.

Some of the symptoms that occur can be attributed directly to benzodiazepines whilst others like weight gain are secondary symptoms related to the overall withdrawal effect i.e. inability to exercise due to muscular rigidity could result in weight gain. Also the symptoms that may have occurred due to an original anxiety problem may well be enhanced by the addiction. The very people the drug is supposed to help the most are those that it helps the least.

It is also worth mentioning that regardless of whether the drug is addictive or not, the therapeutic effects are not conducive to solving the original problems. In the very short term the sedative effects may be beneficial in situations of shock due to accident or death for example. However counselling, behaviour therapy and psychotherapy are less effective whilst the drug is being ingested.

List of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

Compiled by Stanley Coombes for VOT. It is interesting to note that during
ingestion and withdrawal he experienced all of these symptoms.

  - Double vision   - Sore and tired eyes
  - Blurred vision   - Screwing up of the eyes
  - Panic attacks   - Fear of being alone
  - Tiredness   - Tension between the eyes
  - Dizziness   - Agitated sight
  - loss of control of the movement
    of the eyes
  - Brain moving within the skull
  - Buildings appear to be leaning   - Speech appears to be two feet in
    front of you when speaking
  - Thoughts and feeling that
    you are dying
  - Legs arms and head very heavy
  - Difficulty in writing slowly   - Rapid blinking of the eyes
  - Tight band around the head   - Sharp throbbing pain in the wrists
  - Fear of water   - Loss of concentration
  - Hair loss   - Tinnitus
  - Speech difficulties   - Inability to write
  - Inability to read   - Seizures
  - Loss of interest in
    people and things
  - Pupils of eyes become minute
  - Iris in eyes changes colour   - Agoraphobia
  - Feeling of vulnerability   - Feeling of extreme cold
  - Extremely nervous and jumpy   - Muscle wastage
  - Impotence   - Unable to walk
  - Nightmares   - A fear of insanity
  - Loss of memory   - Pains in the temple
  - Depersonalisation   - Derealisation
  - Repetitive thoughts   - Heartburn
  - A feeling of impending doom   - Loss of self respect
  - Earache   - Sinus problems
  - Feelings of worms
    under the scalp
  - Feelings of the spirit being out
    of synchronisation with the body
  - Depression   - Problems of decaying
    teeth and gums
  - Insomnia   - Vertigo
  - Anxiety   - Allergies to food
  - Extremely disturbed   - Twitching of the head
  - Numbness, pain,
    pins and needles
  - Saliva running from the
    mouth while sleeping
  - Neuralgia   - Cracked and sore lips
  - Pains in the neck to
    the shoulder blades
  - Tickling and itching feeling
    over the whole body
  - Heavy pounding heart
    when climbing stairs
  - Breathlessness
  - Intense fuzzy feeling in the head           - Cuts and abrasions take
    weeks to heal
  - Severe muscular rigidity all over   - Demented and murderous thoughts      
  - Irrational rage   - Extreme thirst
  - Toe and finger nails change
    colour from pink to grey
  - Feeling bloated
  - Diarrhoea   - Constipation
  - Rashes and blotches on the skin   - Pains in the lungs
  - Pains in the chest   - Flashbacks
  - Severe cramping in the stomach   - Electric shock and muscular spasms
  - Swallowing difficulties   - Dry mouth
  - Hallucinations   - Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  - Inability to cope with a lot of information   - Feelings of shaking inside and out
  - Hyperactivity   - Aching joints and muscles
  - Restlessness   - Restless legs in bed at night
  - Paranoia   - Overbreathing
  - Arms and legs feel detached
    from the body
  - Grinding teeth
  - Intense jaw pain   - Jaws clamped together
  - Total loss of confidence   - Hysterical and inappropriate laughter
  - Waves, sparks and flashes of light   - Body feels like jelly
  - Sweating   - Inability to comprehend
    the simplest of things
  - Obsessive behaviour   - Suicidal feelings
  - Nausea   - Flu like symptoms
  - Disorientation   - Lack of co-ordination
  - Metallic taste in mouth   - Phobias
  - Fear of losing control   - Clumsiness

A Series of Benzodiazepine Articles by Liz Wood

See also the Main Symptoms Index

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