After years of being at the mercy of this drug, and going through an accidental, life-threatening cold turkey detox, I’m done. My story will soon come, but for now, I wish to share with you what my new routine to get back my life looks like.
Thanks to The Ashton Manual and other people sharing their stories, this is how I’m getting off benzos.
It all starts the day before. I sanitize my hands and working surface, then put my full dose of Clonazepam (Klonopin) into a small, washed mason jar able to hold 1 cup of fluid. I then measure out 1/2 cup of 3.25% milk (or as we say in Canada: homogenized milk). I myself am lactose intolerant, and haven’t had a drop of cow’s milk since my early childhood. I had to find a brand out there that was lactose-free and palatable. It is available. Yes, it has to be fatty milk. The Clonazepam needs a binder, and that’s fat. I do two jars at a time as a time saver. Looking up other’s attempts, relapse (going back on the drug) is higher if you use things such as water. I put the jars in the fridge overnight so that the Clonazepam can fully dissolve in the milk.
The first few tries were an experiment. You have to determine what rate is safe for yourself: meaning what at what level of medication to you take out and can still function. Some people it’s as low and fast as 0.5mL/week, others do fine at higher numbers, and I’ve also seen people do less at longer stretches. It’s all going to depend on how long you’ve been on this drug, your tolerance, and your ability to cope with some withdraw. It took me roughly a month to figure out what worked for me.
I make this very clear: at no point, even when completely off, will you be fully free of symptoms. There is a phenomenon called PAWS (post-acute-withdrawal syndrome) to which even after you’re completely off, there’s a period of time where you’ll experience the same withdraw symptoms. In some cases, the symptom may be permanent.
As you can see, I had to do what’s called a hold (when you stay at that dose) until symptoms were not debilitating. It’s good to keep a notebook or journal to track your symptoms. I also journal every night so that if I notice any recurring symptoms, I may want to hold. Major point being is once you’ve started to come off, you don’t go backwards. You ride the withdrawal waves until you’re ready to continue.
First thing in the morning, I take out a jar from the fridge, and start swirling gently for about a minute. This ensures the drug has fully mixed with the milk. Some people shake, others tip their jars upside-down and back to be certain. For me, this causes too many bubbles, and too much solution to end up in the lid. I then take a 10mL syringe (available for free in Canada at your drugstore, but you can also buy them online) and suck out the amount I’m titrating for that day. For the 0.5mL level, I use a second 10mL syringe with a clearer indication marker. To protect the ink on the syringes from not wiping off, I’ve wrapped them both in packing tape. I dump out the carefully measured amounts in the sink.
I lay out four small Tupperware containers, as these will be the doses I take throughout the day. Four is my number where I get an even distribution, it’s been different for others. I then equally pour – to the best of my ability – what remains in the jar into the Tupperware containers. I then add a small amount of water to the jar and swirl it around to get any last bit of Clonazepam, and drink the solution. It’s up in the air at this point if that’s psychosomatic. I do it regardless. I then drink what’s in one of the small Tupperware containers, doing the same water trick I did to the jar, then rinse clean. I put the lids on the remaining three and pop them in the fridge. I then sanitize the sink, my hands, and any surface I was using.
When this post is up, it will be day 157 in my journey to detox off of benzodiazepine. No promises of a 90-day cleanse, no seven days of reeling in my bed waiting for withdraw to set me free. This is a long, slow process. So far, I’ve gone from 1.5mg a day to 1.338mg. It’s a very slow wean. Any faster could kill me, and that’s no joke. If both an opioid user and benzo user who are going through severe withdrawal end up at the ER, the benzo patient is treated first.
I really, really, really, really want off of this garbage pill. That, I believe, is the most important thing if anyone else decides to do this. There can’t be an inkling of doubt of wanting off. That want is so strong that I’m willing to put up with whatever comes my way in the process. It has nothing to do with willpower, personal strength etc: what do I want more? Off. This. Drug.
If more interest is shown, I’d be willing to explain how this works in more detail, but I will not create personal titration plans for others. You can find a lot of how-tos on various platforms online.
I see the need for more people like me being vocal about this topic so that the information is accessible to everyone, and that people don’t feel alone. I did extensive research online, weighed my pros and cons, and took all my information to my GP and everyone who treats me medically.
I can do this.