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Benzo Withdrawal – What Works for Me, Symptoms & Supplements, GABA

9 min read
benzo withdrawal supplements to ease anxiety

GABA receptors are not just in your brain - They are also found in your stomach! So, even though GABA supplements don't pass the blood brain barrier, they still can help you through benzo withdrawal!

If you have made it to this page it likely means that you or someone you care about has experienced or currently is experiencing benzo withdrawal.  Most doctors won’t tell you the risks associated with taking benzodiazepines. In addition to that, they don’t understand what so many people are going through when you  start experiencing withdrawal or tolerance symptoms.  Today, I am going to share some of my personal body hacks that have worked to help me through the withdrawal process.  It’s a long road to recovery, but you can do overcome all obstacles and re-train your brain and rejuvenate your health.

You should read this!

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

I was first prescribed benzo’s when I was 19 years old (Ativan, aka Lorazepam).  Currently I am 45 years old, so you can say I have a bit of expertise (unfortunately) on the subject of benzo withdrawal.  Originally I was prescribed Lorazepam for anxiety attacks.  I literally went to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack.  They admitted me into the hospital and ran all sorts of tests, before they ultimately diagnosed me with anxiety.

I was prescribed Lorazepam, and let me tell you it worked wonderfully!  It was almost too good to be true.  The anxiety that plagued me all throughout my teenage years was “magically” lifted..  Unfortunately, the symptoms eventually came back and I was forced to increase my daily dosage multiple times over the years.

Each person reacts differently to benzos and what symptom may appear for one, it may not for another.

Some of the benzo withdrawal symptoms that you may experience :

  • Anxiety.
  • Panic.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle pain and stiffness.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Sensory distortions.
  • Nausea.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Agitation.
  • Tremors.

Don’t Quit Benzos Cold Turkey

When I made my first (of many) attempts to quit Lorazepam, I used the cold turkey method.  Without doing much research, I didn’t think that the withdrawal symptoms would be too severe or last for longer than a day or two.  Boy, was I wrong on that assessment.  From day 1, I experienced insomnia.  I literally had no hope of sleeping.  Forcing my eyes closed, had little effect on inducing sleep.  Soon, I would learn that insomnia would be with me each night, while my withdrawal symptoms intensified.

The next morning, I knew that I needed to try something to help me get some sleep or I wouldn’t be functional at work.  I headed to the pharmacy, and the pharmacist suggested that I get some melatonin.  I told him that I have quit taking my Lorazepam, and he didn’t seem to show much concern.  He said that melatonin would be just what I needed to help me fall asleep.

The good news is that melatonin, would help me to initially fall asleep, but it wouldn’t allow me to stay asleep.. Typically I would be awake within 90 minutes and would have to take another.  Additionally, I found that taking melatonin (several times during the course of the night) led to incredible amounts of fatigue and brain fog.

After the first sleepless night, I noticed that more withdrawal symptoms began to surface..  The anxiety that led me to taking the benzo in the first place returned with a vengeance.  It was as if I was constantly “charged”, feeling jittery and on edge. To explain what it feels like to someone who has never suffered from anxiety, is that all of your senses are heightened in an uncomfortable way.  You feel an unwelcome sense of doom..  Your heart races out of control.   The space around you feels smaller and you may even feel claustrophobic.

 

The first few days after quitting benzos cold turkey my main symptoms were :

  • Insomnia
  • Heart racing
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Extreme fatigue, yet unable to sleep.

 

When you quit cold turkey, the symptoms come on fast and you may feel like you wont make it through another day.  I can only speak through my own personal experience.  Your symptoms may be wildly different than mine.. They may be more or less severe, considering that we are all different and react differently during benzo withdrawal.

 

It was during benzo withdrawal, when I finally began to educate myself about how long the symptoms would last, and if I would ever regain my sanity.  I searched hundreds of websites and the answers varied widely.  Some said that they would only last a few days to a few months..  Well, I already found out that I wasn’t in the “Few Days” category.  I then found out that quitting cold turkey not only was not suggested, it can even be deadly!  Here I read how quitting cold turkey could cause seizures in as much as 30% of people!

 

A 30% seizure rate seemed like an incredibly large number, but even that didn’t sway me from continuing my purge from benzos.  I figured that I was 3 days in and I would be one of the “lucky” people whose withdrawal period was short lived.  I trodded on, but even more symptoms began to appear.  It was if my central nervous system was on a constant roller coaster ride in Hell.  One moment I would be calm and the next minute my heartbeat would race to the point where I became so dizzy, fainting was a real possibility.  I never was much on deep breathing exercises, but without them I’m quite certain that I would passed out on many occasions.

 

Other than the melatonin that I was taking to help me to fall asleep, my cold turkey lasted for 9 days until I could no longer take another anxiety filled night.  My work had suffered and my anxiety on day #9 was even more severe than what it was on day #1.. So, reluctantly I returned to my “therapeutic” dose and have since did the slow tapering process.. I was up to 3MG of Lorazepam a day, and am now down to 2MG.  It has been a month and will soon dose down to 1.75 MG and listen to my body.  I will maintain 1.75 MG for at least two weeks and maybe up to a month…

Your body will let you know when it’s time.  Using this method I have been able to still get a few hours of sleep and functional throughout the day.

 

Supplement Tips for Easing Anxiety

Update : I have been experimenting with GABA Supporting Adaptogens like Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, etc…  I have ranked the ones that are incredible for benzo withdrawal!

Many websites advocate not taking any supplements.  I partially agree with these statement, however, when your downtrodden with despair because the anxiety becomes too much, there are a few tips that really can help..  When your at your tipping point to going back to your therapeutic dose of benzos, there are a few supplements that will take just enough edge off your anxiety, panic, and central nervous system eruptions.

Here I Am With My Treasure Chest of Supplements! Some Work for Benzo Withdrawal – Some, Not So Much!

 

benzo withdrawal supplements to ease anxiety
GABA receptors are not just in your brain – They are also found in your stomach! So, even though GABA supplements don’t pass the blood brain barrier, they still can help you through benzo withdrawal!

The cupboard filled with supplements are just SOME of the supplements that I have tried over the years… You name it, I’ve tried it..  The vast majority of them, I wouldn’t suggest for benzo withdrawal.  Shown below are the supplements that I still use, and how they may help you as well.

 

Disclosure : I am an affiliate and make about 5% commissions on any order placed using one of my links.  This doesn’t change the price that you would pay anyway..  So, thank you for using any of the links that I recommend for benzo withdrawal!  I currently don’t make much money on the site, so anything helps.  Thanks again.. 🙂

 

I would also like to disclose that I am not a doctor.  These are my opinions from personal experience.. You should first consult a doctor about your anxiety and that your suffering from benzo withdrawal. 

 

GABA – Many websites say not to bother with GABA because supplements have difficulty crossing the blood brain barrier.  This is correct, so taking a GABA supplement most definitely isn’t a cure-all antedote to months (or years in my case) of benzo addiction.  However, I found out that GABA receptors aren’t only found in your brain, but they are also in your stomach as well as other locations throughout your body.  In fact, 90% of serotonin is located in the guy!  Who knew, that the stomach and brain were so closely connected, right??

So, which GABA supplement should you get?  While, I’m not sure that it matters, the brand I stick with is NOW… I prefer the GABA NOW Supplements because they are known for their quality, while also are one of the more economical options at the same time. They cost in the $8-$10 range for 100 capsules, so they don’t break the bank and I truly feel that they help to ease withdrawal symptoms while you taper down in your dosage.. I’ve did it the cold turkey method, tapering without supplements, and tapering WITH supplements.  For me, this process has been a much smoother transition.

Melatonin – Falling asleep when your going through benzo withdrawal isn’t easy… Melatonin, has helped me immensely but I have learned a few things.. More is not better.  I remember once taking 5MG melatonin supplements at a time.. I would take this 2 or 3 times during the night.. Big mistake, unless you like walking around like a zombie throughout the day..  You can literally have a  melatonin hangover.  This is why I suggest purchasing 5MG CHEWABLE melatonin like the one shown in the photo below.

Buying a 5MG chewable is more economical because you can break the tablet into so your taking approximately 1.25MG at a time.  So, if you take the pill three times during the night, then you are only consuming 3.75 for the night.. This will minimize the hangover effect and you will be able to have a more energetic day..  Any small assistance while you in benzo withdrawal will help you keep your sanity.  Nobody around you will understand what you are going through, not even your doctor. I have taken Lorazepam for more than a quarter of century, so as far as I’m concerned is that on this particular subject I know what I’m talking about. LOL.

So, which supplement should you choose?  Go with 5MG Natrol Chewables.  This is because some tablets are hard to break into smaller pieces..  The Natrol Chewables easily break into smaller pieces.  In addition to that, they are also inexpensive and do work well.

Those are all the supplements that I take on a daily basis.. During the day I only take Lemon Balm on occasion when anxiety gets out of control.  It takes the edge off.. However, it does work on GABA receptors in much the same way that benzos do.. You want to retrain your brain, so don’t take them unless your really bouncing off the walls and it’s affecting your work or you feel like reaching for your benzos..  Not only is the withdrawl process physical, it’s also mental.. You want to keep moving forward as you taper down.. Upping your dose is a big setback to you mentally..

That’s it!  Some people suggest taking B vitamins, Holy Basil, magnesium, and a wide variety of other supplements..  Keep it simple.  Yes, magnesium and B-Vitamins are helpful, but it’s better to get them through healthy eating.

Here are a few other tips that REALLY help you while your coping in withdrawal.

Exercise!! – Yes, but don’t over do it.. Extreme exercise can boost your cortisol (your stress hormone) and cause your adrenals to release more adrenaline..  So, while going through withdrawal let’s skip the 10K marathons for now ;).  Instead, take a long walk and even a slow jog..  Get your heart rate up and breath some fresh air.. You will be amazed at how helpful light exercise helps ease your anxiety.

Make a smoothie each day – Fill it up the blender with a lot of greens, and healthy fats.. In a typical smoothie I may add a half of an avocado (healthy fats are great for your brain and ease your anxiety), spinach, carrots, an apple, kale, etc…  You will feel your anxiety lessen within minutes after consuming a really healthy smoothie…  I just use a regular $20 blender and feel no need to upgrade to anything better.

I want to get into more subjects about benzo withdrawal because there are so many topics to cover.  Lorazepam, Xanax, Valium, etc… are all benzos.. They all have a different half life, so each one will bring a different set of problems. So stay tuned for more articles about my experiences with benzo withdrawal.

The good news is that your not alone.  Please Like “Healthy Body Hacks” on FB..  I share healthy tips and tricks on how you can rejuvenate both your body and mind.  I’ve been a human guinea pig for years… I’ve been my own “test subject” and have a lot of great topics to share!

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