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 the Gabapentin based on disturbing research I had performed about the use and discontinuance of the drug. I had been taking 600 milligrams three times a day. I was taking a dose at 07:30, 15:00 and at 22:00. I dropped the last dose of the day. My intention was to reduce my intake one dose per week until I am free of them. My research on the internet seems to confirm that Gabapentin has its own withdrawal and severe side effects. The research compares Gabapentin withdrawal to Benzodiazepine withdrawal. As of today, I am having mild nausea and cramps in my waist area and feel lethargy. Occasionally I get the shakes and I have mild insomnia during the night that finds me awake and unable to go back to sleep between 3 am and 6 am.
As to my program, I have updates. I go to about three A.A. meetings per week and about two meetings of N.A. per week. I see my psychologist/biofeedback once a week as well as my psychotherapist. The psychotherapist is teaching me autogenic exercises. I go to the gym each Friday and do a 1 ½ hour session of restorative/yin yoga. I try to make it to the gym every few days if I can. I use the treadmill for 30 minutes and do some weight lifting. I try to do some meditation each day and will attempt to make a commitment to doing that twice per day.
As to nutritional supplements, I take each morning the following:
- 3,000 milligrams of Vitamin C with morning meal
- 2,000 milligrams of Vitamin D with morning meal
- ½ of a 1,000/500 milligram Magnesium/Calcium supplement in the morning
- 750 milligrams Amino Balance (19 essential amino acids) with morning meal and before bed
- 200 milligrams L-Theanine prior to morning meal
- 60 milligrams CO-Q10 with morning meal
- In the evening, I take the other half of the 1,000/500 milligram Magnesium/Calcium supplement.
I am as of this writing, taking 600 mgs of Gabapentin twice per day at 07:00 and 15:00.
I am doing my best to continue my journaling and each morning, I read a devotional and pray with my wife of 18 years.
I am doing my best to avoid unhealthy foods, caffeine, and making attempts to drink as much water as possible. I have researched and discovered that I should be drinking ½ my body weight in ounces in water each day. That would be 102.5 oz. per day.
On January 10th, I decided to reduce further my intake of Gabapentin. From 1,200 milligrams per day in two does of 600 milligrams to three doses of 300 milligrams, a reduction of 300 milligrams a day. I figured I would cut the dose 300 milligrams every few days or so until I was off Gabapentin completely. Gabapentin has a history since the 1990’s of treating people with seizures and neuropathy. I started to take Gabapentin because the original anticonvulsant prescription I received from treatment several months earlier, Depakote, was inflaming my liver. While it did prevent me from having grand-mall seizures, I did get very serious tremors from time to time along with many other withdrawal symptoms and about three months into taking Depakote, I discovered through blood tests that my liver had become inflamed, an adverse effect of the medication that in some instances can lead to liver failure.
My experience with Gabapentin in the beginning was that it was for the most part free of side effects but I probably would not have been able to tell if I had any because I was so impacted by the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal. As it turned out, immediately after reducing my dosage to 1,200 milligrams from 1,600 milligrams, I discovered I was having intense abdominal distress and increase occurrences of heart palpitations.
A few days later, I reduced my dose to 900 milligrams, the original prescribed dose and found a considerable increase in anxiety, stomach distress, diarrhea, morning nausea, tremors and agitation.
I am torn because research dictates it is best not to use Gabapentin for a long period of time else I might go through similar withdrawal symptoms as I have with Benzodiazepines. On the other hand, the Gabapentin is touted as the remedy to possible seizure occurrences as a result of undergoing post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It has been at least six months since my last use of Benzodiazepines and I am still having symptoms:
Tremors; sensitivity to audio and video stimulation; light sensitivity; feelings of fear, depression, hopelessness, mortality-doom; uneasiness; hot/cold flashes; chills; nausea; diarrhea; agitation; spike pain in left chest; abdominal distress; stuttering; skin sensitivity to touch, hot or cold, itching, rash; hair-loss; blurred vision.
As of the 13th of January, I am not sure what symptom is a result of what form of withdrawal. I have a 10 o’clock appointment tomorrow with my physician and will ask for another comprehensive blood test. The last test a month ago showed that my cholesterol levels had dramatically changed. My good cholesterol was below normal while my bad cholesterol had spiked over 50 points.
I purchased from the local health food store a small supply of Vitamin B3 (Niacin as Nicotinic Acid) which my research shows it increases the good cholesterol while reduces the bad in those who take it as a nutritional supplement. I took my first tablet today (250 mg, split ½ in the morning and ½ in the evening – 125 mgs twice daily).
Met with biofeedback doctor and was advised to use complex B vitamin but experience has taught me to not take too high a dose of vitamin B-12. B-50 seems to have what is needed. I purchased a product from Nature’s Life called B-50 Complex which includes Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, and Calcium. Will begin taking this once per day on the 16th of January. He also recommended using Jojoba Oil for the thinning and greyed hair on my head. The withdrawal process has taken a toll on my head hair. He recommended I rinse in and let stand and rinse out each time I take a shower. I am hoping to see some life come back to my head hair.
As of the 17th of January, I reduced my Gabapentin dosage again from 900 milligrams to 300. I began having withdrawal symptoms almost immediately. It is not clear whether the symptoms are post-acute from Benzodiazepines or typical inter-dose or acute withdrawal from the Gabapentin. Symptoms include nausea, tremors and shakes and painful abdominal distress from side to side. I wake up in the morning with insomnia, unable to go back to sleep.
I weighed myself today and I weighed in at 198.6. This is a drop from the 205 I weighed a few weeks ago and 208 a few weeks prior to that. My weight is within pounds of what my lowest weight was prior to going into treatment when I went from 242 to 192.
My cholesterol check made me nervous also because not only did my bad cholesterol drop, the good cholesterol dropped as well. My total cholesterol was 163. My HDL was 32 and the LDL was 103 as of the 14th. On the 11th of December 2012, my total cholesterol was 207. My HDL was 36 and my LDL was 147. On the 6th of December 2011, my total cholesterol was 133. My HDL was 37 and my LDL was 87. A good cholesterol reading of fewer than 200, a HDL reading of 40 or more and a LDL reading of less than 130 is good.
Today, January 25th, I received my 6th month chip at Sierra Pines. It has been two days since I have taken any Gabapentin, anticonvulsant medication. Although I have experienced a resurgence of some of the withdrawal symptoms somewhat masked by the Gabapentin, I am happy to be off the medication and free of them as well as the Benzodiazepines.
January 26th, I received a six month chip at Palm Ave A.A. Anticipate giving this chip to a friend at the same group.
Today, January 29th, I am suffering with a resurgence of symptoms including the shakes, chills, abdominal stress and loose stools. The psycho-babble that has been eluding me as of late is back. Sharp pains occur now and then in my abdomen and left chess. I have not taken a Gabapentin since the 23rd of January. Perhaps I am withdrawing from Gabapentin as well as the Benzodiazepines. Part of the psycho-babble is the fear that the nutritional supplements I am taking are in excess of what is needed.
To recap, I had been taking:
- One Amino Balance (750 mgs) in the morning and one before bed.
- One L-Theanine in the morning (200 mgs) * Theanine is POSSIBLY SAFE when used once per week for three weeks. It’s not known if daily use for longer periods of time is safe. L-Theanine is used to help treat stress, anxiety, insomnia, and help increase focus and attention. L-Theanine has been scientifically proven to work in these situations, however, there is no set l-theanine dosage as of yet. Every individual is different, but everyone should start with following the recommended direction on the product’s label. This will ensure safety, and users should not experience any side effects.
- One Vitamin D3 (2,000 I.U.) in the morning
- One Co-Q10 (60 mgs) in the morning
- One half of one Magnesium Calcium+ (2:1 ratio 1,000/500 mgs) in the morning and one half of one in the evening
- One half of one Niacin (250 mgs Nicotinic Acid) in the morning and one half of one in the evening
- One half of one Vitamin B-50 in the morning and one half of one in the evening
- Every other day I Juice with fruits and vegetables including 4 tablets of each of the Juice Plus (Garden, Fruit and Vineyard blend) and 1 teaspoon of Ascorbic Acid, split for two.
- I may add up to 2,000 mgs of Vitamin C depending on the kind of fruit and or vegetable juice I drink.
Today is the last day of January. I have been off Gabapentin for one full week. I am having daily windows and waves. The waves include the usual psycho-babble, heart palpitations, nausea and abdominal discomfort and loose stools. I still feel numbness in my hands and am taking Hydroxyzine (2x 50mgs.) in the evening when the waves peak. I quit taking all nutritional supplements with the exception of Juice Plus. I add this to the juice I make every couple of days. February 9th will be 7 months I have been in withdrawal.