Recovery Advocate

MY STORY ABOUT KLONOPIN

What happened to me after long term exposure to Benzodiazepine Tranquilizers.

By DAVID FAVA
This was me the day I left treatment. 30 days after my last dose of Klonopin.

Since 1996, I began suffering from debilitating panic attacks and could find no relief until one day, in the emergency room, a doctor brought me my first dose of Clonazepam. Within minutes, I began feeling relief.

It’s not Adderall or Oxy. It’s Klonopin. And doctors are doling it out like candy, causing a surge of hellish withdrawals, overdoses and deaths.” ~ Christopher Byron 2011

And so as the years went by and as I developed tolerances to each dose, I increased the dose until 2011 when I was taking between 12 to 15 milligrams a day and finding no relief. In fact, I was getting sicker and experiencing panic  and anxiety attacks exponentially worse than the ones I was having in 1996. I had neuropathy over most of my body and was having many other health issues that I later discovered were a direct result of years of exposure to the Klonopin.

In 2012, I submitted to a treatment facility in Costa Mesa, California and began a journey I can only describe as hell on earth – Benzo Hell – withdrawing from years of exposure to Benzo’s.

Benzo’s : A dance with the devil.

Benzo’s : A dance with the devil.

“It feels like I’m plugged into an electric socket and every move I make shoots voltage throughout my body. I’m nauseous and my stomach feels like it’s on fire. Of course, I can’t sleep, and I spend the whole day thinking something terrible is happening. I have to tell you,...
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Month 1

Month 1

I was so happy to be at home. In treatment, the days seem like weeks. I was alone and it was very difficult. I felt so comfortable being at home and being able to do simple things I was unable to do with such ease in treatment like showering, deciding...
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Month 2

Month 2

The second month was much like the first. Every couple of weeks I had a serious couple of days where my brain and body retaliated because I was depriving it of the drugs that I used to take including marijuana and the benzodiazepines. I became aware after a blood test...
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Month 3

Month 3

My wife and I began to go to yoga and we began a dietary fast together. The fast was referred to as the “Daniel Fast” which consisted of plant based foods, fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole wheat. The Daniel Fast is a biblically based partial fast. It is...
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Month 4

Month 4

I thought the fourth month would be less challenging. I was doing the “program”. I was clean and sober and going to meetings. I was doing yoga and getting a diet down that was nutritional. I was going to church each Sunday. I was praying with my wife each morning...
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Month 5

Month 5

Early December was difficult, much like the end of November. My withdrawal symptoms had not changed much and still impacted my day about 3pm and lasted about 6 hours before subsiding. I noticed new symptoms this month. My bones and muscles were extremely painful, especially the lower back and knees....
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Month 6

Month 6

Today, January 9th, I am 6 months free of Benzodiazepines after almost 15 years of use. I am seeing glimpses of the freedom possible ahead. Windows are lasting longer and waves are less severe and impactful - overall. I made the decision about the 5th of January to wean off...
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Month 7

Month 7

Today, February 9th, is my 7th month “birthday” free of Benzodiazepines. The past few days have been very hard for me because of continual abdominal discomfort. It was so bad it brought me to the emergency room. I wanted to check and make sure I was not having a recurrence...
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Month 8

Month 8

I have 8 months now. It is March. I am beginning to secretary meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have to find “chairs” to share their experience, strength and hope. I am going to a minimum of three A.A. meetings and two N.A. meetings each week. I am also attending Celebrate...
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Month 9

Month 9

I recently discovered a friend who is also undergoing a benzodiazepine withdrawal. He has about 55 days when I got my 8 month chip. He is my first sponsee. He is a computer specialist, going to school for an Information Technology major. I discovered he was addicted to opiates and...
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Month 10

Month 10

May 9th is my tenth month birthday. May has been a month where the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal have subsided substantially. The mornings are rough with anxiety and nausea and on occasion if I eat something unhealthy, my body will react in a big way, usually with nausea and digestive...
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Month 11

Month 11

On June 9th, I celebrated my 11th month of abstinence from the use of all drugs and alcohol (with the exception of my high blood pressure medication, Lisinopril). Month 11 is an improvement from previous months in that the symptoms have subsided and I am able to go for more...
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One Year

One Year

Today is July 9th of 2013. I celebrated my first year of clean time and sobriety. I did today what I have been doing for some time now. I got up at 06:30 and walked 2.3 miles, made some oatmeal for breakfast, made some juice out of a selection of...
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Month 13

Month 13

The first few days of my first year without anxiety medications was spent doing what I have been doing all year, going to meetings, eating nutritiously, walking doing yoga and meditation. The month of July and into August was pretty much uneventful other than I usually woke up around the...
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Months 14-16

Months 14-16

Months 14-16 saw the end of summer and fall in its beauty. I was able to enjoy fall more this year because I spent less time reeling from the constant waves of symptoms experienced the previous summer and fall. I spent the summer and fall in service secretarying meetings and...
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Month 17

Month 17

The most profound difference in month 17 from previous months is the reduction in the severity and number of symptoms. It has been a while since I had a full blown episode or flush of withdrawal symptoms. I still struggle in the early morning hours however. I wake between 4:30 and...
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Month 18

Month 18

I celebrated 18 months on January 9th of 2014.  This has been a long journey to say the least.  I have gone from taking a dozen medications and visiting the ER twice a month, to taking no medications, exercising daily, eating well and taking appropriate steps to maintain and improve...
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Month 19

Month 19

This month showed continued signs of progressive improvement. I was elected secretary of a very popular and long established meeting of Narcotics Anonymous.  Being of service is still an essential part of my recovery because when I am helping others, I am not glued on myself. I am walking an...
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Month 20

Month 20

Month 20 is by far the most significant of all the months of my recovery.  This month was less about the pain and suffering of withdrawal, the symptoms, the challenges of the mind and body and more about having courage to take steps I would not have considered early in...
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Month 21

Month 21

Month 21 continued to show improvement in number and intensity of symptoms.  Still waking up at about 5:30 in the morning with anxiety and minor shakes and trembles.  Most of the rest of the day is manageable with minor symptoms but no need for any medications. Walking between 6 to 10...
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Month 22

Month 22

My days and evenings include a lot to do about recovery.  My mornings begin with a walk of about three to five miles followed by a healthy breakfast of old fashion oats and fruit and a fruit smoothie. After breakfast, I usually go to a meeting of recovery, a therapy session or...
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Month 23

Month 23

Month 23 shows continued reduction in the number of physical symptoms as it relates to Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). I still wake up at about 5:30 in the morning with episodes of high anxiety, twitches and shakes. Getting up and going for a walk for about three to five...
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Two Years

Two Years

It has been two years since the beginning of my recovery journey beginning with treatment in Costa Mesa where I was helped to abstain from the use of benzodiazepine tranquilizers, specifically Klonopin (Clonazepam). The first thirty days were probably the hardest as there was question as to whether I would...
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Month 27

Month 27

At 27 months, I am still having waves that last a few days and in those waves, I experience heart palpitations, difficulty catching my breath and feelings of impending doom and depression. This is very discouraging because of the distance between my last use, July 8, 2012 and as of...
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Advocacy

Advocacy

Advocacy for the Benzodiazepine user who stills suffers involves providing information about benzodiazepine dependence, withdrawal and recovery. Recover advocate understands that the sufferer needs validation and authentication.  They need to know that they are not alone and that there are others who share experiences as it relates to benzodiazepine addiction...
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Autogenic Training

Autogenic Training

What is autogenic training? Autogenic training (AT) is a technique that teaches your body to respond to your verbal commands. These commands "tell" your body to relax and control breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and body temperature. The goal of AT is to achieve deep relaxation and reduce stress. After you...
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Benzodiazepine Tranquilizers

Benzodiazepine Tranquilizers

Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABAA receptor, resulting in sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties; also seen in the applied pharmacology of high doses of many shorter-acting benzodiazepines are amnesic-dissociative actions. These properties make benzodiazepines useful in treating anxiety,...
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My experiences with the 12 steps

My experiences with the 12 steps

For me, recovery began initially by agreeing that I was powerless against the addiction to benzodiazepines although it wasn't until weeks into treatment that I actually admitted it. It was while in treatment I realized how unmanageable my life had become. STEP 1 The first step in a 12 step...
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Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Physiological dependence on benzodiazepines is accompanied by a withdrawal syndrome which is typically characterized by sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty in concentration, dry wretching and nausea, some weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain and stiffness and a host of perceptual changes. Instances...
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