Benzo Withdrawals – What Patients Say

Benzo withdrawal symptoms are the mental and physical reactions that occur to people as they try to come off of benzodiazepines or reduce their dosages.  The severity of the symptoms depends on how quickly the individual tries to withdraw, the dosage the person has become dependent on, genetics and a wide range of other factors that vary from person to person.

Benzodiazepines are one of the most addictive classes of drugs in the formulary and can produce severe withdrawal symptoms.  Some names of these drugs include Klonopin, Ativan, Serax, Doral, ProSom, Valium, Tranxene, Xanax, Restoril and Halcion.  These are not all the benzodiazepines there are.  If you are being prescribed a drug for insomnia, anxiety or any other mental or emotional state, ask your doctor if the drug is a benzodiazepine.

Some benzo withdrawal symptoms can show up even when the person is not reducing their dosage.  This is due to the development of tolerance escalation, where the body craves more and more of the drug just in order to feel normal.

Withdrawal-like symptoms may also appear as a result of the physical tolerance that occurs in the central nervous system from chronic usage.  This is sometimes referred to as being “benzo toxic”.  Common “benzo toxic” withdrawal symptoms include increasing cognitive impairments, anxiety problems, depression, agoraphobia (feelings of anxiety), muscular and gastrointestinal problems, which generally worsen if dosage is reduced too quickly.

An organization in Europe called The Tranquillizer Recovery and Awareness Place (T.R.A.P.) asked members of their benzo withdrawal forum to list benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms they experienced.  This was, oddly enough, a unique way of discovering these symptom; ask the patient; listen to the answers.  This sort of question happens all too infrequently, especially when it comes to withdrawal from psychologically oriented medications.

But as the creators of The Tranquillizer Recovery and Awareness Place so aptly state; “We feel that only the individual knows how they felt before the drug and how they feel during withdrawal and thus the individual is the best judge of what is a withdrawal symptom and what is not.”

Here is the list of symptoms given to T.R.A.P. from member of their benzo support forum:

Benzo Withdrawals Grouped as Primarily Involving Mood

Aggression, Anger, Agoraphobia, Agitation, Akathisia, Anxiety, Apathy, Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), Crying and feeling weepy, Deep depression, Despair, Dysphoria, Extreme dispassion, Fear, Fear of dying, Fear of losing control and going insane, Fearing symptoms are not withdrawal, Fearing that you will never get better, Fear of life, Fear that symptoms are permanent, Feeling emotional, Feeling frightened, Feeling hopeless, Feeling like jumping out of skin, Feeling that the world is about to cave in on you, Frustration, Jittery, Gloom and doom, Inability to appreciate humour and laugh, Inability to feel emotions, Inability to feel joy, Inability to feel pleasure, Internal feeling of anxiety with no corresponding external cause, Irrational fears, Irrational rage, Irritability, Lonliness, Low mood, Nervousness, No feelings of fun or laughter, Obsessive thoughts, Overwhelmed feeling, Rapid mood fluctuations, Sensitive feelings, Severe negative looping thoughts, Sudden sadness, Terror, Void of normal emotions

Benzo Withdrawals Related to Mental Status

Difficulty in distracting oneself, Feeling disconnected, Feeling drugged, Feeling freaked out, Feeling like a zombie, Feeling like being on a bad LSD acid trip, Feeling numb, Feeling scared, Feeling that you’re just going crazy, Feeling traumatised, Feeling unreal, Getting worried over small things, Hallucinations, Horrid visions, Hypomania, Images and songs keep repeating in mind, Inability to relax or sit still, Intrusive thoughts, Jumpiness, Loss of sense of identity, Misperceptions, Morbid thoughts, Morning madness, Not knowing who you are, Obsessive and compulsive thinking (OCD), Overwhelming feeling that you are going to die, Pacing, Panic attacks, Paranoia, Racing thoughts, Reduced stress tolerance, Suicide attempts, Suicidal thoughts, Thinking you are mentally ill, Unwarranted feelings of guilt, Visual hallucinations, Vivid dreams, Weird thinking, Wired feeling

Withdrawals Grouped under Eyes and Ears

Bloodshot eyes, Blurry vision, Dark-dim vision upon exertion or sunlight, Difficulty seeing, Drooped eyelids, Dry eyes, Eye twitching, Flashes of light in the eyes, Fuzzy eyes, Glassy eyes, Impaired vision, Occasional right eye pain, Pressure in the inner ear and outer ear, Red burning eyes, Sore eyes, Swollen eyes, Tearing eyes, Uncontrolled eye movement, Visual distortions preceding a migraine

Behavioral Benzo Withdrawals Grouping

Constant need to be occupied, Avoiding friends and people, Inability to occupy oneself

* For Treatment Protocols on Benzo Addiction see the Latest Information on our Addiction Treatment Programs

Grouped as Related to Cardiovascular Problems

Chest pains, Fast heartbeat, Heart palpitations, Heart pounding, Low blood pressure, Premature ventricular contractions (irregular heart beats), Pulsating all over my body(also visable), Pulse thudding, Racing heart, Severe pain chest, Skipping heart beats, Tightness in chest, Tachycardia, Slowed heart rate

Visual / Perceptual Related Withdrawal Symptoms

Derealisation, Depersonalisation, Distortion of body image, Feeling like legs and arms are not attached to body, Eye fluttering and twitching, Eye pain, Pain in eyes

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms Related to Psychosis

Auditory hallucinations, Catatonic episodes, Compulsive suicidal ideation, Confusion, Delusional thinking, Disorientation, Formication (sensation that I had fleas/spiders crawling over me)

Withdrawal Symptoms Related to Thinking and Memory

Can’t do tasks like make food, Difficulty reading, Difficulty thinking, Forgetting names of family members, Hard time with words, Impaired cognitive skills, Impaired communication skills, Inability to focus, Inability to function, Inability to learn, Jumbled thoughts, Lack of concentration, Memory and comprehension problems, Poor judgement, Poor memory, Short-term memory problems, Slow thinking processes, Spaciness

Muscular and Nerve Problems Due to Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

All muscles moving, All muscle tone feels flacid, Body feels twisted, Cranial tightness (felt my head was decompressing), Difficulty walking due to weakness and shaking, Face spasms, Inner tension, Inner vibrations, Jaw clenching (can’t open or close mouth properly due to the spasms and pain), Jaw Spasms, Legs and arms shake, Muscle twitching, Muscle spasms, Rigidness and jerks, Muscle aches, Muscle cramping, Muscle tension, Muscle wasting, Muscle weakness (especially in the legs, arms and hands), Jelly legs, Restless legs, Stiff arms and legs, Stiff muscles, Stiffness in back, Teeth chattering, Tension in neck, Tight achy muscles, Tight jaw and temple, Tight head, Tight muscles in left leg, Tight muscles in neck and shoulders, Trembling and shaking, Tremors, Weakness, “jelly legs”, All nerves firing off, Ankles reflexes diminished

* For Treatment Protocols on Benzo Addiction see the Latest Information on our Addiction Treatment Programs

Withdrawals Affecting Bones and Joints

Skeletal aches, Joint pain

Gastrointestinal and Urinary Tract Withdrawal Symptoms

Difficulty urinating, Bloating, Constipation, Choking, Diarrhea, Dry heaving, Fast and fine vibrations of the stomach, Gas, Knot in stomach, Loss of appetite and weight loss, Malabsorption, Nausea and vomiting, Severe pain in stomach, Swelling-bloating, Weight gain

Withdrawals Related to Mouth

Acid reflux, Dental pain (tooth pain), Dry mouth, Sore tongue, Metallic taste, Sore gums, Sore mouth, Too much saliva

Pain related Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Abdominal pain, Aching pain in legs, Bladder ache, Body aches, Headaches, Jaw pain, Lower back pain, Muscle and joint pain, Nail Pain, Neck pain, Nerve pain (hitting non-specific areas of the body randomly, but for short bursts), Pain in hands and feet, Pain in previous surgical sites, Severe bone pain, Severe head pain, Sore tongue and throat, Stinging pain, Teeth pain (felt like I had braces on), Throbbing pains, Throbbing legs, Waves of pain

Withdrawals Related to Respiratory System

Breathlessness, Chest discomfort and tightness, Difficulty breathing, Hyperventilation (overbreathing), Shallow breathing

Increased Sensitivity Due to Withdrawals

Chemical sensitivity, Cold extremities, Creepy crawlies on hands and arms, Feel cold even in hot weather, Food sensitivity, Intolerance to cold and heat, Intolerance to music, Photosensitivity, Sensitive to music, Sensitive to loud noises, Sensitive to light and stress, Sensitivity to smells, Very cold especially hands and feet

Increased or Diminished Sensitivity

Chemical sensitivity, Cold extremities, Creepy crawlies on hands and arms, Feel cold even in hot weather, Food sensitivity, Intolerance to cold and heat, Intolerance to music, Photosensitivity, Sensitive to music, Sensitive to loud noises, Sensitive to light and stress, Sensitivity to smells, Very cold especially hands and feet

Problems with the Sensory System

Brain nerve pain, Burning feet and legs, Buzzing throughout body, Chills, “Electric shock” sensations, Electric static shooting around body, Food doesn’t have much taste, Head sensations, Heavy sensation in forehead and eyes, Heightened sense of smell, Hypersensitivity to light, Hypersensitivity to odors, Hypersensitivity to sound, Hypersensitivity to stimuli, Intense burning head/brain, Intense burning scalp, Intense burning spine, Itchy head and face, Numbness and tingling in face, Numbness and tingling in feet, Numbness and tingling in hands, Numb area on bottom of left foot, Numbness in arms, Numbness in face and left side, Numbness in fingers, Numbness in head, Numb right foot, Numbness in lip and tongue, Pins and needles, Sensory disruption, Soapy taste in mouth, Stabbing pains in limbs, Tingling on scalp, Tinnitus

Benzo Withdrawals Affecting the Skin and Hair

Burning patches, Chapped skin, Cold sweats, Dermatographism, Dry itchy skin, Eyebrow loss, Feeling hot, Hair loss, Hives, Itching and stinging from head to toe, Itching sensation under my skin, Lashes falling out, Night sweats, Rashes, Rash under brows, Skin sensitivity, Sweating, Tingling skin, Very oily skin and hair

Sleep Related Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Anxiety dreams, Frequent awakenings during the night, Horrific nightmares, Hypnagogic hallucinations, Jolts that wake you up, Lack of deep sleep, Poor sleep, Rebound REM sleep, Severe insomnia and tiredness, Sleep paralysis, Twilight sleep, Waking early, Weird dreams

Withdrawals Affecting the Central Nervous System

Adrenaline jolts, Brain fog, Dizzy, Frozen feeling (like I need to get up and do something but can’t do the action), Hypervigilence about symptoms, Impaired vigilance, Increased nicotine craving, Lack of energy, Lack of motivation, Light-headedness (especially when I stand too quickly), Loss of balance, Loss of sex drive, Mental and physical exhaustion, Migraine headaches, Pounding in my head, Pressure in head, Pulsating in right temporal area especially upon exertion, Restlessness, Room spinning, Seizures, Severe fatigue, Thirst, Vertigo, Voice weak

Immune System Related

Fevers, New allergies, Ulcers in mouth, Worsening of allergies

Female Problems Connected With Benzo Withdrawals

Irregular Menstrual Cycle

General Body Related Withdrawals

Feeling as if been punched in gut and chest, Feeling heavy legged, Feeling unwell, Flu like symptoms, General malaise, Going from hot and sweaty to cold and clammy, Hot and cold flushing, Increased number and severity of infections, Severe body pain, Water Retention

For Treatment Protocols on Benzo Addiction see the Latest Information on our Addiction Treatment Programs