Withdrawal symptoms

Does there seem to be a lot of information about withdrawal symptoms?

There is a massive range of possible symptoms. Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms with which they are able to cope quite well, depending on their circumstances. The most important thing is KNOWLEDGE. If you know about and/or expect these feelings and symptoms it can make them easier to cope with – or at least prepare you.

How can I find out what might happen?

You may have experienced some symptoms and want to know if these might be due to the drug. Firstly, have a read of the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) which should come with your particular product. If a symptom is listed but its possible cause is still worrying you, then don’t hesitate to check with BAT.

In general, the more of the drug you are taking the longer it is going to take you to come off it (that’s pretty obvious!).

If there is such a thing, a typical pattern is for someone to experience several of the symptoms in the list but to find one really hard to cope with – let’s say as an example, anxiety or not being able to sleep. Sometimes this may relate to the problem that caused the drug to be prescribed in the first place. Other users may not experience this symptom at all or may experience it, but be able to cope with it. The unpredictability of these symptoms makes it difficult to deal with.

It doesn’t make much difference why the drug was prescribed in the first place – these symptoms will still be present. It might be more surprising for someone who has been prescribed Benzos for, say backache, to suddenly develop feelings of anxiety which they have never experienced in their lives before.

And if that wasn’t confusing enough, the symptoms experienced by a particular person at different times may vary both in their type and intensity. There seems to be no way of predicting this.

People who have no direct experience of taking these drugs, may find it difficult to understand the problems that you are experiencing. One advantage of a support group is the chance to compare notes with others who are in a similar situation.

Common Symptoms

This isn’t a complete list (although it looks as if there are a lot!) DO remember that one person will not experience all of these, although some are more common than others

  • Fear
  • General anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias, especially agoraphobia and claustrophobia
  • Lack of confidence
  • De-realisation (feeling that things aren’t real)
  • De-personalisation
  • Sleepiness or sleeplessness
  • Disturbed sleep or nightmares
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Over-excitement, restlessness
  • Lack of concentration, poor memory
  • Lack of interest
  • Minor problems appearing bigger
  • Sometimes suicidal thoughts
  • Sensory
  • Enhanced sensitivity to sound, light, taste or smell
  • Giddiness and sense of movement
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Tingling or burning sensations
  • Sensation of insects crawling under the skin
  • Numbness
  • Feeling unreal
  • Physical exhaustion, inertia (not wanting to do anything)
  • General aches and pains (muscle tension)
  • Weakness in arms and legs (Jelly legs)
  • Muscle twitching
  • Stomach and bowel problems, irritable bowel syndrome, hiatus hernia
  • Influenza-like symptoms
  • Jaw pains, toothache
  • Sweating
  • Feeling too hot / too cold, sometimes in rapid succession
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Rashes

Its often the case that people find one particular aspect of withdrawal more problematic than others. We have produced a series of factsheets which might help 

Extreme symptoms (after rapid withdrawal from high doses)

  • Convulsions
  • Psychotic symptoms including hallucinations and delusions
  • Delirium
  • Confusion

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