I found that these tools were essential to my successfully stopping ALL drugs and getting through benzodiazepine withdrawals (2012-2016).
- The 12 Steps – Sponsorship
- Transition from all Narcotics to Abstinence
- Faith Development – Prayer
- Being of Service to Others
- Dietary Improvements
- Autogenic Training
- Restorative Yoga
- Biofeedback / Neurofeedback
- Trauma Therapy
The 12 Steps – Sponsorship: The 12 Steps were instrumental in transforming the way I thought about life, the use of drugs and alcohol (recreational or prescribed) and developed in me as a result of working the steps with a sponsor, a spiritual foundation, adapting and incorporating spiritual principles that are changing my life today – one day at a time.
Transition from all Narcotics to Abstinence: Full recovery from the withdrawals from exposure to benzodiazepine tranquilizers in my opinion, requires a commitment to the goal of complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol and the adapting of different, more healthy techniques of dealing with life situations that may lead one to consider a “quick fix” to deal with physical or emotional pain, stress and anxiety. I was once told that my biggest problem was not my “addiction” to benzo’s but my dependency on certainty and comfort. The biggest challenge, notwithstanding the benzo withdrawals, is our approach to how we deal with things that are uncomfortable – stress, anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness, loss, etc.
Faith Development – Prayer: To overcome the insurmountable odds linked to benzodiazepine withdrawal, one must develop some kind of spiritual foundation, a belief in a power greater than ones self, to restore our sanity, health and well being (Steps 2 & 3). Prayer refers to the act of seeking through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, seeking only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out (Step 11). Prayer and Meditation are the means of communication between ourselves and God, prayer is from us to Him and Meditation is from Him to us. Einstein commented once that the solution to our problems cannot come from the source of which it originated (paraphrasing).
Being of Service to Others: Being of service to others is a two-fold subject. Firstly, it takes us out of our head. It removes our fearful, negative and catastrophic way of dealing with “benzo hell” and secondly, it gives us an opportunity to develop a habit which when we fully recover, will become second nature – helping our fellows.
Dietary Improvements: Dietary improvements means to become in tune with our bodies, our organs, and our metabolism. There are foods and drinks that we ingest that are chemically unsafe for our precious bodies. Processed foods and foods high in salt and sugar content are unhealthy. Foods with ingredients like “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” are used to describe oils or chemically modified fats. Synthetic dyes with numbers associated with them are free radicals (If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.) Diets high in natural whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains will not only keep our bodies healthy, but our minds as well.
Exercise: Exercise releases endorphin’s and dopamine that counter the hyper-excitable brain and provide a natural source of relief for the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawals. Exercise also “takes manual control” of our autonomic system which is severely chemically altered by exposure to benzodiazepines. What worked for me was walking. I started with just a half of a mile. I worked my way to 3-5 miles per day, 3.5 mph or faster.
Autogenic Training: Autogenic Training is a meditation technique that forces the hyper-excitable brain to relax. It creates an environment where the body’s other organs, by collateral damage due to exposure to benzo’s, can relax. It initiates a peaceful environment where the body can rest. It is a difficult habit to develop in benzo withdrawal but it is possible to acquire this skill and it is quite beneficial.
Restorative Yoga: Restorative Yoga is another means to take manual control over our faulty autonomic system and cause in our bodies and minds a means to relax. Combining Autogenic Training with Restorative Yoga increases its effectiveness. The technique uses props and pillows to allow gravity to stretch and relax our hyperactive body and mind.
Biofeedback / Neurofeedback: Through biofeedback or neurofeedback sessions, we can train the brain to calm down. This technique (Roshi) uses a tone (sound) and lights to train our brain to relax. It takes several dozen sessions to get optimum results if one is in severe acute or post-acute withdrawals, but it is very effective. For some this technique may be cost prohibitive so I remind those I advocate, that everything is negotiable. Also, check with your insurance to see what coverage’s you may have.
Trauma Therapy: Trauma therapy are valuable tools and techniques usually offered by an educated psychotherapist or social worker. These therapies are designed to help us deal with issues that we might, if untreated (PTSD) refer to drugs or alcohol as a means of relief. We must approach those who claim to be educated in these techniques with a fair amount of skepticism but with intentional and proactive purpose, I believe we can find authentic experts in these areas who want to help the benzo sufferer.
Such therapies include:
- Individual Psychotherapy
- Behavioral or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Group therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)