View Full Version : Benzo withdrawal/tapering while taking ADD meds?


Tominal
11-05-08, 07:14 PM
I have been tapering slowly off of a benzo (valium) for about a year and a half, and I'll be finished in about a month. I have been able to keep symptoms to a bare minimum by tapering extremely gradually.

My doctor put me on Vyvanse for the first time about 3 weeks ago. I was very concerned that amphetamine would aggrevate my benzo withdrawal symptoms, but I found that the exact opposite thing happened. My symptoms (which were primarily intense anxiety and a kind of lethargic depression) simply evaporated when I took Vyvanse. Yet, I still have extreme negative reactions to other stimulants such as caffeine or pseudoephedrine.

This surprising and very welcome experience has caused me to wonder why in the world d-amphetamine actually decreases my anxiety rather than increasing it. Granted, my taper rate is extremely slow and that is certainly an important factor in limiting benzo symptoms, but still---logic would suggest that any CNS stimulant would overwhelm my compromised GABA system.

I know that many people are able to taper off of benzos without a lot of trouble; I was not one of those people. I had very intense symptoms in the beginning until I found a taper rate that was gradual enough for me.

I would be very interested in hearing the experiences of any others who have tapered off of benzos following long-term use while taking ADD meds. Did the ADD meds aggrevate your symptoms or did they improve them?

Thanks for any input.

hollywood
11-06-08, 02:52 PM
why would you take valium for a solid year and a half?

Tominal
11-06-08, 03:58 PM
why would you take valium for a solid year and a half?

Perhaps I wasn't clear. I took valium daily for about 5 years "therapeutically" for anxiety and my tolerance climbed a lot during that period of time. My dose when I decided to quit was 30mg. This is not a massive dose by any means, but it's not tiny either.

Research indicates that for those who experience significant benzo withdrawal symptoms when they reduce their benzo dose, titrating gradually is the best way to keep symptoms to a minimum.

It has taken me about a year and a half to completely taper from 30mg. of diazepam to zero, because my doctor allowed me to set my own taper rate and the rate I chose was very, very slow. I have a high stress job and a family to support. Every time I would try to speed up my taper rate, I got slammed with more benzo withdrawal symptoms. So, I just kept it slow. And that is why it took me 1 1/2 years (over and above the 5 years I took it "therapeutically").

ADHDNEWB
11-06-08, 04:05 PM
Congrats on quitting the benzo train my friend. I was addicted to Xanax for about 10 years. I was taking up 14-20 MG a day - yes it was bad. Anyways, I was given Chlordiazepoxide AKA Librium, to taper off the Xanax. I would have to say that was the most HORRIBLE experience I've ever had to go through! Anyways, I had extreme levels of depression while quiting. At times I would find myself crying just from the pain, it really sucked. I found that taking 30 MG a day of Adderall helped control this. So I know where you are coming from.

The regimen I was on, took me about 3 months or so to come off the physically addicting side of it. Something I would never wish upon anyone - it was HORRIBLE!

Good luck!

Tominal
11-07-08, 01:59 PM
Thanks; it did suck--bad. Congrats to you as well! Coming off of 14-20mgs. of Xanax had to hurt!

If anyone reads this and needs help trying to figure out how to taper off of benzos feel free to PM me. I know the benzo support forums pretty well.

If anybody else has had experience taking ADD meds while tapering from benzos please post--I am intrigued by the notion that amphetamine can actually help with withdrawal related anxiety rather than aggrevate it (perhaps only in some ADD people?), but there are no data that I know of to support this rather paradoxical notion--just my experience and now that of ADHDNEWB. Thanks!

hollywood
11-07-08, 03:42 PM
Wow, sounds like a interesting ride. How's the anxiety doing now? When would you get anxious , was it all at once or was it cumulative from life. Huh, I'm just wondering what your doing for coping now that your coming off would be. I think it could be environmental to a point, I mean some of us are just stuck in the wrong places for too long. Good luck to you though, sorry didn't mean to sound like a jerk.

El Panzon Feo
11-08-08, 12:11 AM
Thanks; it did suck--bad. Congrats to you as well! Coming off of 14-20mgs. of Xanax had to hurt!

If anyone reads this and needs help trying to figure out how to taper off of benzos feel free to PM me. I know the benzo support forums pretty well.

If anybody else has had experience taking ADD meds while tapering from benzos please post--I am intrigued by the notion that amphetamine can actually help with withdrawal related anxiety rather than aggrevate it (perhaps only in some ADD people?), but there are no data that I know of to support this rather paradoxical notion--just my experience and now that of ADHDNEWB. Thanks!

Klonipin is a "benzo" right? I was taking 3mg to go to sleep at night when I started on Adderall. Immediately after I was taking 4mg to sleep, but after my next appt. the doc. brought up not being on them for ever, and indicated maybe a different ADD med. would be better if Adderall was creating problems going to sleep. But after that I tried tapering off, and it was very successful, just going from 4mg to 3.5 for a month, then 3 for a month, then 2.5, etc.....but after all I still take .5mg at night most of the time.....I'm too much of a night owl and have to get up too early.....plus I get the occasional bedtime-death-panic-bursts :( .....but the point is I believe the Adderall was very helpful in weaning off the tranquilizers, especially since I take my Adderall as precribed (actually I'm self-adjusting my dosage down at present)I drink much much less in quantity and frequency (like hardly ever compared to almost every day) and just because I don't really feel like it, not because I am trying to quit drinking or anything.

Tominal
11-08-08, 01:48 AM
Wow, sounds like a interesting ride. How's the anxiety doing now? When would you get anxious , was it all at once or was it cumulative from life. Huh, I'm just wondering what your doing for coping now that your coming off would be. I think it could be environmental to a point, I mean some of us are just stuck in the wrong places for too long. Good luck to you though, sorry didn't mean to sound like a jerk.

You don't sound like a jerk at all. I'll do my best to answer your questions.

I'm doing great with the anxiety now, as long as I take Vyvanse. It starts wearing off mid-afternoon, and when it does the anxiety starts creeping up a bit. I have beta-blockers I can take that help a bit (Inderal). But I am almost through with my taper, and I took it really slow and that makes a huge difference.

It was difficult to tell the difference between underlying anxiety and withdrawal-related anxiety. Before I started on vyvanse, my "background" level of anxiety was always artificially elevated to some extent due to my benzo taper. If I tried to taper faster (which I did from time to time), anxiety would go up significantly. There were other symptoms as well, such as tinnitus and light sensitivity. Most of those symptoms have been gone for a long time now--again--because I have tapered so slowly and I'm almost done.

This elevated "background" level of anxiety that I attribute to benzo withdrawal is not dependant on circumstances or events. It's there when I wake up, and it used to be with me constantly until I started taking vyvanse. It would vary in intensity, but it rarely disappeared entirely. I was fairly agoraphobic, but still managed to force myself to go to work and at least go through the motions. I was afraid to do normal tasks like open mail or answer phone calls. I kept my windowshades drawn and light low. I avoided contact with people and lost touch with all of my friends. I do not think I was ever clinically depressed, though I found my constant anxiety to be "depressing," if that makes any sense.

I would have brief "windows" where I felt pretty normal that would usually last a few hours and occasionally a few days. This is quite typical for people tapering off of benzos. Benzo recovery is rarely a linear process--there are ups and downs no matter how gradually one tapers.

When faced with a situation that would make anyone anxious (e.g., opening a bill I can't afford to pay; a fight with my wife, etc.), my anxiety would be off-the-charts horrible. In these situations, I simply shut down and could NOT function. This was building to a point where I basically was losing all hope. This was quite different from the way I was before "benzo illness." I hated situational anxiety as much as the next guy, but it would never render me totally non-functional. During benzo withdrawal (and before Vyvanse), it did render me non-functional.

I still get situational anxiety just like any "normal" person does, but the difference is that now that I'm taking Vyvanse the anxiety does not shut me down. Instead, I face it and try and do something to fix the problem. I'm not saying I'm perfect at this--I have strong procrastination/avoidance tendancies and it's going to take some time for me to defeat them, but this medicine is making that possible.

I also have other coping skills that I have developed over the years, because I always had a lot of anxiety. I now believe it was probably caused by years of untreated ADD, but regardless I already have decent skills like meditation, exercise, some CBT experience, etc. When I was living in "benzo withdrawal world" these coping techniques had little effect. Now that I'm taking Vyvanse, these techniques work again.

I hope that helps explain my experience. If not, I'm more than happy to try and explain further if you are interested.

Best,
-tom

Tominal
11-08-08, 01:56 AM
Klonipin is a "benzo" right? I was taking 3mg to go to sleep at night when I started on Adderall. Immediately after I was taking 4mg to sleep, but after my next appt. the doc. brought up not being on them for ever, and indicated maybe a different ADD med. would be better if Adderall was creating problems going to sleep. But after that I tried tapering off, and it was very successful, just going from 4mg to 3.5 for a month, then 3 for a month, then 2.5, etc.....but after all I still take .5mg at night most of the time.....I'm too much of a night owl and have to get up too early.....plus I get the occasional bedtime-death-panic-bursts :( .....but the point is I believe the Adderall was very helpful in weaning off the tranquilizers, especially since I take my Adderall as precribed (actually I'm self-adjusting my dosage down at present)I drink much much less in quantity and frequency (like hardly ever compared to almost every day) and just because I don't really feel like it, not because I am trying to quit drinking or anything.

Yes, Klonopin is a benzo and a potent one at that. Thank you for sharing your experience. While the experience of 3 people doesn't prove anything, it certainly is interesting. Of course, there are people who can take benzos for years and have little difficulty tapering off of them regardless of whether they take ADD meds or not.

In any event, it's wonderful that you have been able to benefit from benzos without having to deal with a difficult wthdrawal. Also, anything that helps keep drinking moderate is obviously a good thing. (I've also had my share of alchohol problems, but that's another story altogether).

I hate what benzos did to me and to a lot of other people that have had difficult withdrawal, but I am not totally "anti-benzo." They definitely work well if used infrequently, and for some people they work well even if used frequently.

Again, thanks for contributing to the thread.

-tom

bobC
11-08-08, 03:32 AM
My theory on this topic: (I may have this totally wrong)

The general answer is there are feedback effects. Low levels of NE may trigger low levels of gaba (otherwize your brain cells would turn off too long and die).

Vyvanse increases NE and prevents that feedback reduction in gaba from occuring.

BobC

PS.
I also believe there is a feedback effect between serotonin/gaba. I noticed an increase in tinnitus from SSRI's. It may indicate ssri's trigger lower levels of gaba, but the effect is only noticed in parts of the brain where gaba plays a roll and serotonin does not.

Tominal
11-09-08, 07:36 PM
Thanks bob. I'm not familiar with the phrase "feedback effects" in this context, but that's why God invented Google!

All other theories or experiences welcome--I really want to try and figure this out if at all possible, and the more input the better.

-tom

kdowns
08-01-13, 09:40 PM
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I took valium daily for about 5 years "therapeutically" for anxiety and my tolerance climbed a lot during that period of time. My dose when I decided to quit was 30mg. This is not a massive dose by any means, but it's not tiny either.

Research indicates that for those who experience significant benzo withdrawal symptoms when they reduce their benzo dose, titrating gradually is the best way to keep symptoms to a minimum.

It has taken me about a year and a half to completely taper from 30mg. of diazepam to zero, because my doctor allowed me to set my own taper rate and the rate I chose was very, very slow. I have a high stress job and a family to support. Every time I would try to speed up my taper rate, I got slammed with more benzo withdrawal symptoms. So, I just kept it slow. And that is why it took me 1 1/2 years (over and above the 5 years I took it "therapeutically").

Man, I finally met someone just like me. I'm 29 just like you, and we have a similar medicine story. I had horrible anxiety and panic attacks for a couple of years. Paxil helped a lot, but it had horrible side-effects and I had to stop taking it to join the military.

When I got back from Iraq, a semi-shady psychiatrist prescribed 3 MG of Xanax per day. I quit taking it cold turkey after a few months, and little did I know the hell that would ensue.

Anyway... I was switched by my family doctor (who practiced alongside an addiction specialist) to Valium to begin a taper. Started at about 30 MG daily, about the equivalent of 3MG Xanax.

Over a year later, I was only down to 15mg of Valium on the taper. I was having serious "dark clouds" around me some days, and just felt hopeless. I caved in to my fear of mixing meds and took doctor-prescribed Zoloft with the Valium which was supposed to "help with Valium withdrawal".

Well, that didn't work.

Then I moved back to Florida and began seeing the medical director of an enormous psychiatric practice. 60+ days ago, he diagnosed me with ADHD. Oh... My... Goodness.

My whole life, I had no idea that my anxiety, self-consciousness, mild depression, and PROCRASTINATION was caused by my massive case of inattention and "stepping all over" peoples' words when they tried to have a conversation with me.

So 60 days into Adderral treatment at 10MG XR 2x daily, my life has changed. It took me 2+ years to battle from 30MG of Valium down to 14MG. Then in the past 60 days, I have gone from 14MG per day to just 2 (yes, two) MG per day and going down!

I have very limited side-effects. Every couple of weeks, I might have one evening with minor anxiety (usually caffeine-related). Have had a small headache or two.

I guess the Adderral just keeps me from focusing on my fear of coming off Valium.

So I ask you this... Was it hard to come off the final 2mg for you? I feel ok, but I have a significant fear of having a seizure. Has never happened to me, but I'd love to hear from someone who quit Valium successfully, and also takes ADD meds. I'd love to share experiences.

Thanks to all who read this. This forum is a great place to share stuff.

cmjchris13
08-16-13, 01:19 PM
People suggested that I should'nt take adderall while tapering off and that it would raise my anxiety and such... Finally I decided to take it 30 minutes ago and now that 15mg ir has kicked in I feel really normal and theres a good euphoria that creates a sense of well being unlike the state of mind I was in without adderall. The adderall helps me get my mind off of any negative thoughts and I feel no anxiety. I believe small doses of adderall can help distract you from the ******** and alleviate symptoms. Glad I tried it out!

Hypoactive
08-17-13, 01:11 AM
I am extremely sensitive to both stimulants and sedatives.

before Adderall, I was prescribed four mgs klonopin per day. i felt like how many people on Lithium describe life -- sleeping the majority of life away, and the rest spent in a daze...yet, I *still* had social anxiety and panic attacks. wt??

i'm currently prescribed 60 mgs/day of Adderall -- i'm middle aged, and that much would make me have a freakin' heart attack! yet, Adderall IS (part of) the "answer" for me: just 5-7.5mgs, 2-3x per day, COMPLETELY eliminates my social anxiety and related panic attacks.

however, I still need a benzo in order to offset the jitteriness from the Adderall and to be able to sleep at night...

i'm currently prescribed 2mgs klonopin at bedtime -- but even that is far too much...so, I've been successfully tapering down, very slowly -- i'm currently at 1.25mgs, and will stop tapering once I reach 1mg....

to sum it up: I need both a low dose of a stimulant and a low dose of a benzo in order to be anxiety-free, jitter-free, and insomnia-free.

(btw, the major problem I have is remembering to TAKE my meds when i'm supposed to...tonight, for instance: as semi-usual, I forgot to take my klonopin at 9pm. finally remembered at around 12:30am...thus, the reason i'm typing at this very moment, lol.)

oh, and also btw (lol), my doc says that caffeine is a major NO-NO when on Adderall...I've (virtually) completely eliminated it from my diet. it was tough at first, but I eventually found that decaf Folger's and decaf diet Coke are very acceptable substitutes...although, I still miss my morning tea at times :( (decaf tea SUCKS!). I do have a bit of chocolate occasionally, which is the only source of caffeine I ever consume these days.

425runner
08-17-13, 08:36 PM
I was on 4 mg Klonopin before starting on Vyvanse and then Dexedrine. The Dexedrine ER has no side effects for me and can actually put me in a zone but I need to be alert and awake at work so I drink 5-hour energy shots. The Dexedrine doesn't give me any energy....it just clears my mind so instead of thinking 100 different things I can just focus on one. So basically, I'm tired during the day -have trouble getting going in the morning, I have to get up fairly early 5:30 am, and full of energy at night. I now take 0.25 mg Klonopin just to help me sleep. No more is needed..

People say benzos are addicting but I can't see how. If I take more then 0.25mg I feel tired all of next day and just don't care about anything. It's horrible...so I really don't understand how someone can get hooked on that.

SpaceBaby
09-20-13, 03:17 PM
I thought I'd bump this thread to say that I'm having a similar experience, with Vyvanse and Klonipin, but the dosage for the klonipin was 1mg. I actually began to taper it down myself and even asked the doctor to lower the dose to .5mg.

Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, but when I got my dose lowered, I felt a rebound effect after 6 hours if I didn't take my next dose (I'm supposed to take it twice a day). Apparently, now I realize that tapering out is going to take some time.

I'm guessing most people like me are "benzo train" so to speak in order to counter anxiety effects of the stimulants. I'm starting to wonder now after getting my doc to switch my Vyvanse to Ritalin will mess things up though.

For me, Vyvanse alone would normally would make me anxious, but with Ritalin that little spike of anxiety occurs after the Ritalin wears off. That's why I figured I'd stick to 2 doses of Klonipin a day, but taking it after my Ritalin wears off. My doc had suggested making the klonipin to go along with the Ritalin doses (3 doses a day), but I insisted otherwise... well, I'm still on left over Vyvanse and a refill of Klonipin, but I have to wait for the prior authorization of the Ritalin to actually start taking it and seeing what difference there is.

If my idea doesn't work out, I'm gonna just stick to what the doctor originally suggested...
(Yeah, I know, I sound stupid because I'm pretty much playing a bet on the doctor's better wisdom, but I explained that Ritalin didn't cause me anxiety until began to wear off).

I'm not really trying to be stubborn, it's just that my experience on Ritalin was better in that I was calmer (I just didn't have a benzo at the time to counteract the anxiety experienced after it wore off). If my experience is different this time with a benzo, then I'm definitely going to tell my doctor about it and will be more than willing to do whatever he says to resolve the issue.

*Facepalm* Maybe I should have told my doctor about my intent of tapering off klonipin... silly me. If I had mentioned that, perhaps he would have given me advice on how to do it.

Jshect
11-12-13, 01:41 AM
I am stuck on around .625 mg of Clonazepam and physically addicted. Luckily that's not a huge dose. Unfortunately taking any less than that causes pure hell. Tapering from .75 to .625 was pure hell. I need to get off this s*** so i will begin tapering again & i will probably be posting to this section regularly for support. Klonipin is bad news, stay away, except for extremely short term use, like to stop a panic attack. I have learned my lesson. Don't trust your busy, indifferent P-doc, RESEARCH EVERY MEDICATION THOROUGHLY.